Monday, November 01, 2010

We Are the Flies in the Ointment -- Buzz On, Families, Buzz On!

The families of those fallen in non-combat deaths have gotten together in common cause several times in recent history.  We at Home of the Brave are the direct descendants of Until We Have Answers and MAMMA.  (See our website: for some history on this.) 

It is always a pesky development when actual citizens get together to fight against the lies told by our very own government or to fight for the release of information which is somehow deemed to be the property of the government which we help fund with our tax payments.  I think that mothers and fathers, especially, find this attitude totally unacceptable when it comes to the children which we have borne and raised.  You really shouldn't underestimate our tenacity and determination.  We have the right to know the truth.

Since I've just read a book titled, A Chain of Events: The Government Cover-up of the Black Hawk Incident and the Friendly-Fire Death of Lt. Laura Piper, written by her mother, Joan L. Piper, I'd like to fill in some of the history of Families rallying for a common cause around non-combat deaths. 

The Black Hawk Family group formed in 1994 and existed for several years after.  It formed as a result of a "friendly fire" incident in which two US Black Hawk Helicopters flying over Iraq were blown up with missiles launched by two US F-15 fighter jets in a truly unexplainable event.  Twenty-six people were killed, fifteen of them Americans.  No guilt was ever assigned in a military court system. 

As usual, the incident wasn't clearly reported as "friendly fire" until it was impossible to suppress the information.  There were military and civilian persons aboard the helicopters from England, France, and Turkey.  They were on their way to a meeting in Turkey with the full knowledge of US Military Air Surveillance.  The foreign governments were outspoken in their condemnation of this senseless attack.  Eventually, the Pentagon gave the families of those foreign nationals monetary compensation to quiet them down. 

Monetary compensation was eventually given to the American victims as well through the efforts of the family group.  That forced official recognition of the wrongful deaths of fifteen American military personnel. 

They also fought for purple hearts posthumously and eventually got them.  The battle was hard-fought, however, in order to accomplish this.  The government argued that the victims were not killed in battle and so did not qualify.  The families argued that they were over a battle zone and certainly in danger when the Air Force pilots decided to strike at helicopters which they did not properly identify.  Ironically, if the Pentagon had managed to cover-up the truth and the attack was believed to have been an enemy attack, purple hearts would have been automatically awarded.

Add the fact that helicopters flying slowly and low to the ground in the No Fly Zone of any nation posed little threat to other planes flying at much higher altitudes.

The Black Hawk families acted as their own detectives, eked out hidden information about the personnel involved in the attack and about mistakes made by many which added to this tragedy.  They had letter writing campaigns to obtain help from their elected representatives.  They managed to get some public admissions of culpability although, in the end, according to Joan Piper, the Pentagon managed to keep high ranking officers from honoring subpoenas served by the Government Accountability Office which would have brought the culpability out in the open and forced legal accountability.

It was an "almost" victory from the families, who, of course would never be the same again after the deaths of their loved ones.

Nevertheless, their fight yielded results which could be produced only by a group effort.  They did not shy away from the controversy and did not accept lies in lieu of sad truths. 

I find inspiration from reading the story of this group of families and I hope that those of you out there in America who find yourselves fighting a similar battle will be similarly inspired.  Keep up the good fight.
Donna Janeczko

Our View:  Army Owes Family Some Clear Answers

No comments: