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December 29, 2005


Email box pinged yesterday, with this delivered:

December 28, 2005
DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers, who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

They died in Baghdad, Iraq on Dec. 26, when their Apache helicopter collided with another military aircraft in mid-air and then crashed. Both soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Killed were:

Chief Warrant Officer Richard M. Salter, 44, of Cypress, Texas.
Chief Warrant Officer Isaias E. Santos, 28, of Ancon, Panama.

The incident is under investigation.

Even though Bill is usually up on things like this from his own sources, I send these along to him, as the Aviation community is small, and a tight-knit group.

Bill responded with this:

Desertion lands pilot in jail for 10 months. Spartanburg soldier abandoned his Guard unit before Iraq deployment

By CHUCK CRUMBO, Staff Writer

An S.C. National Guard helicopter pilot has been sentenced to 10 months in a military prison for deserting his unit before it deployed to Iraq.

Chief Warrant Officer Alex Pitts of Spartanburg pleaded guilty to two separate charges of desertion and one charge of being away without leave (AWOL) under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Pitts also pleaded guilty to "missing movement" — a military charge for not reporting when his unit left McEntire Joint National Guard Base for Fort Bragg, N.C., and eventual deployment to Iraq.

Pitts was a member of Company D, 1st Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment. Two of the unit's pilots were killed Dec. 9, 2004, in a crash with another helicopter near Mosul, Iraq.

According to Army documents, Pitts reported for duty Aug. 10, 2004, and then "attempted to shirk combat duty by quitting (the) unit."

The Apache unit then left Aug. 13, 2004, for Fort Bragg with Pitts missing, the documents said.

Pitts resurfaced in December 2004 at Fort Hood, Texas. When Army officials learned Pitts was an aviator, he was ordered to go to Fort Bragg.

But Pitts never reached Fort Bragg. He later was apprehended at his home in Spartanburg and then sent to Fort Knox, Ky.

Pitts was to be held in the Personnel Control Facility until he could be transported to Fort Gordon for court-martial. When MPs went to Fort Knox on May 13 to pick up Pitts, who was restricted to the post, he was gone.

On May 26, authorities found him at a house he was renting in Spartanburg and took him to Fort Gordon, according to the Army report.

Prior to the call-up of his unit, Pitts spent 18 months training to be a chief warrant officer and an Apache pilot, said Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Pete Brooks.

Pitts pleaded guilty Dec. 12 to all charges at a court-martial at Fort Gordon, Ga.

Pitts also received a dishonorable discharge and was fined $100,000. If he doesn't pay the fine, Pitts will have to serve six more months in prison.

Desertion is a rare charge among National Guard members. Brooks said this is the first incident since he became spokesman for the S.C. Guard 14 years ago.

I've always thought that the sentence for wartime desertion should be "the duration of the conflict, plus 6 months, or final redeployment, whichever is later."

Just sayin'.

Bill largely agrees. What say you?

Update: Outlaw 13 provides *focus*.

As all the comments so far have been in reference to the aforementioned scumbag deserter...I'd like to put in my two cents about the late Matt Salter and his front seater Isaias Santos.

I know Matt from a previous assignment as did many of my co-workers. Matt was a great guy with a great family and his and Mr. Santos loss saddens all of us.

When you contrast their sacrifice with the cowardly actions of Mr. Pitts no amount of punishment is worthy the same he has brought on the Attack community, the Warrant Officer Corps and the United States Army. I personally would bush him to PV1 and have him ride convoy duty on RTE Irish for as long as his unit is deployed. As George C. Scott in Patton said, "You're going to the front my friend, and you may be shot and you may be even killed but I will not have this place of honor defiled by your presence." or words to that effect. (sorry didn't look up the script).

I could go on about how the system screwed up and allowed a person like Mr. Pitts through but all that would accomplish is to raise my blood pressure even more.

Mr. Santos and Mr. Salter will be waiting for us at Fiddlers us a cold one.

Thanks for the words, Outlaw. Now, at least, when people Google the Castle for Pitts... they'll get the good words about Mssrs Santos and Salter.