Updated 15 May 1998. URL is /opine/murray.html
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At first the authorities said yes, it was an F-16 that somehow overrode three safety switches and fired on Murray on February 29, 1996. But, hey, they were practice shells, not combat shells. No explosive charge, not to worry, Murray.
Next the story was that "no one can prove these three-inch, [some clearly labeled] shells are military. The plane would have fired 100 shells in one second, and there haven't been 100 shells found, so it wasn't us." Next news flash, as the days went by, alluded to making an effort to trace the shells, more of which keep turning up in Murray yards. The shells should have penetrated at least six inches, not so easy to spot with our snow.
The "air authorities" cheerfully told Sheriff Brooks Mounsey that there was noting criminal in the strafing of Murray. Wells County Detective Lt. Barry Story reported that the shells had to have been fired from north of Murray, from the air, from the angle of the damage.
Next: "the shells simply fell out of a wheelwell as a plane lowered its wheels to land." Uh huh... and went through a roof, a ceiling and hit a bed with enough force to splinter it? That just doesn't quack like a duck.
On March 25, another casing was discovered in a yard farther north than where any had been found before that. We are all breathless and staying tuned.
It's May now; the pilot has been named. Far be it from me to add to his misery. He was trying to serve his country, a thankless enough task. It may be your turn or mine to really screw up, next time.
This has been the strangest incident around here since we learned that cadmium was dumped from airplanes a bit north of us in cold war experiments. Hmmm, maybe that deserves a page some day.
JULY 4, 1996. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, in a thorough article by Ron Shawgo, brings us the results contained in a 300 page report of the Murray Incident. You can't hurry Murray!
What did you guess the final word would be? As I expected, it is "pilot error," although I had hoped it would be "equipment failure." Since it is considered just a mistake, there won't be a court martial. There will be a Flying Evaluation Board.
The board might be the result of the pilot doing almost the same thing on March 1, although then he targeted one of his fellow pilots. He thought the cannon wasn't loaded. (He had shot all the ammo earlier, but the gun was still technically considered *hot.*) He didn't shoot, as far as I can tell from the newspaper.
The paper reports that the Guard feels the pilot "misunderstood...critical instructions." The pilot has 17 years experience. The newspaper said he is not answering phone calls.
September 1996: News reports say the pilot has asked to be transferred to ground duty, voluntarily. This transfer will probably negate the need for a military review for him.
Remember the cadmium experiments performed on Fort Wayne, just up the road from Bluffton. It seems that government airplanes used to spray cadmium on the unsuspecting populace there, "to see what would happen." Uh-huh. Right. Wonder if they still do stuff like that? Surprises from the skieses.
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