Lt. Gen. Jon Davis wrote the letter as a reflection on his 37-year military career in Marine aircraft. He has served since 2014 as the deputy commandant for aviation, amid Budget Control Act sequestration, decreased pilot retention, and reduced flight hours.
After taking command of the Corps’ air assets three years ago, Davis wrote, he initiated readiness reviews of five of the service’s key air platforms. “A key finding common to all of these reviews,” he wrote, “emphasized the importance of retaining highly qualified enlisted maintainers.”
Each report “discovered a lack of Marines possessing the requisite skills our ready force demands, causing us to reestablish and increase our benchmarks,” he wrote. But he cautioned that the problem wasn’t with the Marines working in squadrons today: “This is less an issue of individual capability and is more strictly related to density of personnel.”
Aviation mishaps continue to plague the Corps. The Marines had nine major aircraft crashes, resulting in 14 fatalities and 11 lost aircraft, between February 2016 and February 2017, Military.com reported. And the Naval Safety Center saw seven Class A Marine aviation mishaps — incidents that involve a fatality, loss of aircraft, or $2 million in damages — since October 2016 alone.
Davis has been outspoken about these issues for years.
“Average aircrew flight time has reached historic lows,” Davis testified in a House Armed Services Committee hearing on aviation readiness in July 2016. “Every lost day, every missed hour, is missed experience this nation depends upon in the future.”
But just as Davis’ tenure came to a close this week, the Marine Corps experienced its worst aviation disaster in a decade, when the KC-130 Hercules transporting personnel and equipment from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina to Naval Air Facility El Centro in California exploded in mid-air over Mississippi.
“The KC-130 has one of the lowest mishap rates of all Marine Corps aircraft,” Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns said in a statement. “Over the past 15 years, there have been only three Class A Flight Mishaps involving all Marine Corps models of the C-130, including the crash on July 10th. In 2002 there was a mishap in Pakistan which resulted in 7 deaths and a mishap in California with no fatalities.”
Clearly, something has changed.
“Fixing the problem requires both tracking the qualifications and retention of these enlisted maintenance leaders,” Davis wrote. “We cannot get to the finish line without the hard work and dedication from each and every Marine and Sailor who continue to work tirelessly to keep our aircraft safe and flying and their families who continue to show love and support when it is needed most.”
An Oregon Air National Guard F-15C Eagle that made an emergency landing on Wednesday ditched its entire arsenal of live air-to-air missiles before touching down at Portland International Airport, The War Zone reports.
President Donald Trump announced in December that he would withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, but Sen. Lindsey Graham has since made a strong push to keep a small residual force along the Turkish border along with troops from European allies.
The former Navy SEAL among a group of eight men arrested earlier this week in Port-au-Prince on weapons charges says he was providing security work "for people who are directly connected to the current President" of Haiti.
"We were being used as pawns in a public fight between him and the current Prime Minister of Haiti," said Chris Osman, 44, in a post on Instagram Friday. "We were not released we were in fact rescued."
It's a photo for the ages: a Marine NCO, a Greek god in his dress blues, catches the eye of a lovely young woman as her boyfriend urges her on in distress. It's the photographic ancestor of the much-loved "distracted boyfriend" stock photo meme, made even sweeter by the fact that this is clearly a sailor about to lose his girl to a Devil Dog.
Well, this photo and the Marine in it, which hopscotched around Marine Corps Facebook and Instagram pages before skyrocketing to the front page of Reddit on Thursday, are very real.
The photo shows then-Staff Sgt. Louis A. Capozzoli — and he is absolutely not on his way to steal your girl.