Congress Gets One Right

| January 22, 2013

This story has gotten some publicity elsewhere.  But  I haven’t seen an update on TAH since Jonn’s original article, so I thought I’d do one.

Apparently a key Senate committee recently refused to recommend approval for one Navy Reserve Captain recommended for promotion to RDML.  The guy they’re”blackballing” is a former naval aviator – with a confirmed air-to-air kill!  The nomination was returned to the White House without action, effectively killing it unless the POTUS chooses to nominate the individual a second time.

Personally, I’m OK with that.  The air-to-air kill occurred in September 1987, during a training exercise.  And the jet he downed – a RF-4C – happened to belong to the USAF.

As Jonn noted in his earlier article, the individual concerned is CAPT Timothy Dorsey, USNR.  A little background is perhaps in order.

In September 1987, during a training exercise in the Med, Dorsey (then a LTJG and an inexperienced pilot) apparently deliberately shot down a USAF RF-4C.  He seems to have “forgotten” there was a USAF aircraft in the area at the time, and interpreted his exercise clearance to fire as the “real thing”.

A contemporary description of the incident can be found here, while a more recent account – including quotations from the official Navy investigation of the incident – can be found  here.  The quotations from the ROI in the second article are IMO particularly damning.

After being pitched from Naval Aviation, Dorsey went into the Naval Reserve and changed career fields to Intelligence.  Dorsey was nominated last year to a RADM Intel billet in the Naval Reserve.  Reputedly the Navy knew of the derogatory info in his background at the time, but for some reason didn’t share that derogatory info with the SECDEF – who then recommended Dorsey’s nomination to the POTUS.

Dorsey reportedly never acknowledged his responsibility for the shoot-down.  According a retired naval aviator with apparent knowledge of both the incident and Dorsey:  “I would never have guessed (referring to Dorsey) he’d ever make it to commander, much less admiral.  In fact, I thought his career was over back when the shoot-down happened. He refused to accept any blame for the shoot-down and swore he was just following [rules of engagement] even though he knew it was a friendly. I mean, the guy did it on purpose.”

In other words:  “I was just following orders.”  Just exactly the kind of guy or gal you want serving as a GO/FO, eh?

Why didn’t Dorsey’s career end after the 1987 incident?  Well, it seems his dad was a Naval Aviator, a former CO of the USS America and a RADM at the time of the incident; he later made VADM.  So I’m guessing a little familial “top cover” may have had something to do with that.  Ditto that little matter of “forgetting” to inform the SECDEF of the derogatory info in Dorsey’s background last year.  My guess is that also just might have been another favor to Dorsey (or Doresy’s dad) courtesy of an old friend at DON.

But I could be wrong.  Maybe that was just a routine, garden-variety screw-up someone made while reviewing his files.  Maybe they just missed  the incident entirely when they reviewed his records prior to the RADM promotion board.

Yeah.  Right.

For once, it looks like Congress did the right thing.  We talk bad about Congress all the time when they screw up.  Here, I think it’s time to give credit where credit is due.

Thanks, Senators.  Thanks.

Category: Military issues, Navy, Reserve Issues

Comments (15)

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  1. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    Widely known throughout the Navy and the reserve components … Outstanding Non-Select!

    As we say at the the Boards … “No *&^%ing Way” … Press 0!

  2. AW1 Tim says:

    Concur. The guy was FUBAR. It’s especially galling that he NEVER evinced any remorse for his actions, even though it resulted in the permanent crippling of the AF pilot.

    It’s surprising to me that he was retained after that incident, although his dad being an admiral likely helped him somewhat.

    Still, the Navy should have cashiered him as an example, rather than allowing him to remain and retire as an O-6.

  3. PintoNag says:

    I remember hearing about that situation when it happened, and dropping Dorsey in wet cement after that incident would have been too good for him.

  4. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    Hopefully he continues to reap the benefits of the Karma he has sown throughout his career….1st class j3rkoff with a powerful dad avoids punishment due…nothing new in that statement, just glad he doesn’t get to be the same as his father…we don’t need a second 4sshole serving as admiral who is willing to cover up incompetence in junior officers….if the father had actually held his son to the standards of behavior expected perhaps the first incident never takes place and Dorsey is remembered far differently than he is today.

    Spare the rod, spoil the child. Dorsey is indeed that spoiled product, thank you Congress.

  5. OWB says:

    There were more than a few negative words spoken by members of the Air Force directed at the Navy over this incident. On behalf of all of us who took notice, it’s about time this clown is forced to feel the effects of his arrogance.

    Thank you, Senate, for finally doing something right.

  6. NHSparky says:

    And the Annapolis Protective Society strikes again.

    If this guy had been a blueshirt and done anything remotely like this, he’d have been buried UNDER Leavenworth.

    But daddy’s an Admiral? All good. Fuck up, move up!

  7. Hondo says:

    If anyone’s interested, here’s the guy’s bio. He’s a Tulane NROTC grad.,d.dmg

    No mention of his air combat record on it that I can see, either. But I do wonder why his Wings weren’t revoked after the incident.

  8. FatCircles0311 says:

    Goes to show how far we’ve come information wise. Before you could get away with this type of thing because of non exposure ,but now if you fart at the wrong time and it becomes public you’re done.

  9. Charles says:

    So there is a bunch being published and not being published about this whole incident and questions being asked. I am not defending the guy, rather the system here.

    The short story is that there is more then what the AP or Military Times has reported about who screwed up and who provided top cover for this incident. It wasn’t his father, that got him transferred over to the USNR and into the JAG/Intel corps. Rather it was his JAG lawyer on a plea deal because upon review of the all the facts behind the incident between miscommunication between the Carrier, CinCNavEur, UASFEur and all the intermediates. A set of missions were planned, the RF-4C had a mission system failure in flight and its secondary mission was authorized already by the USAF side (to simiulate a Soviet anti-shipping missile for the AAW screen commander), the USN was only told of a Photo op with a CAP intercept (since the RF-4 was supposed to simulate a typical Soviet Naval Aviation recon asset), the carrier based Airborne Intercept Controller used the wrong code words and the pilot asked twice to verify that the word was correct (the word authorized a war shot to happen) and the carrier said yes twice with the code word. Pilot pulled the trigger and shot a live missile. The reason the live missiles were due to Libya and the Soviets were being aggresive (remember this was only a year after the Ops against Libya and only afew months after Libya had fired some SCUDs against the Italian Island of Lampedusa trying to hit a USCG LORAN station there). The pilot’s JAG seeing all the screw ups going all the way up to CINCNAVEUR’s and some offices in the USAF Europe side, misplaced message traffic, live CAP being used instead of excerise only (a violation of already written policies), bad code words being used, etc; the JAG has this pilot fall on his sword to cover the others. The idea being that he would lose his wings and rotate to Reserves and end his career in the reserves not much higher then a O-4. Instead the infamous “Peter Principle” came into effect that this guy kept blowing through the roadblocks because the system had forgotten about his idiot move in 1987.

  10. Virtual Insanity says:

    So, along those lines, what ever happened to the USAF pilots who shot down the Army Blackhawks in Iraq?

  11. Just an Old Dog says:

    Not sure if it was just a nasty rumor or not, maybe some fellow jarheads can help me on this one. Frank E Petersen was the first African American Marine Pilot and General Officer. I was at Quantico and remember that his retirement came pretty abruptly. Rumor had it that he had been falsifying flight time to maintain pilot status and pay. Helluva nice guy and a pioneer for African Americans. If he was pretty much canned for that why should this guy get promoted for being an idiot.
    Back to training accidents/friendly fire. We had a f-18 drop a bomb that landed about 30 meters away from 3 battery ammo trucks in feb 1991,Luckily for us it was a “blue death” training bomb. The pilot supposedly got canned from deploying to the gulf.

  12. Hondo says:

    VI: the USAF appears to have handled that incident quite differently, though probably not to everyone’s satisfaction. Though no one was held criminally liable, a fair number of careers were ended.

    One of the two F-15 pilots involved was formally charged, but charges were later dropped. (The second pilot was not charged.) Both ended up dropped from flight status for a minimum of 3 years. Both ended up leaving the USAF not long after all USAF investigations were completed (one retired, one resigned).

    Several of the folks in the AWACS involved were similarly investigated. Only one went to trial. He was not convicted. Several also had letters of “evaluation” indicating they’d not met USAF professional standards placed in their personnel files. (There have been allegations that the AWACS crew were used as scapegoats due to pressure from HQ USAF; it’s unclear whether or to what extent that is true.)

    None of the direct participants appear to have later been promoted while serving in the USAF.

    The F-15 squadron involved was disbanded in 1999.

  13. DaveO says:

    He should have transferred to the Army. An Academy Ring is An Academy Ring. He’d already be 2-star.

  14. Hondo says:

    DavidO: you might want to read comment 7 above. The guy’s a Tulane grad.

  15. Billmill says:

    One thing on the Blackhawk shoot down that no one talks about is that Lt Col May one of the pilots in the incident, during Desert Storm flying as a Major in the 525FS/32FS combined squadron shared a helicopter kill with another F-15.

    When this incident happened myself and the rest of the guys on the line (I was at Southern Watch at the time) who knew May thought he had buck fever and this is what led to the bad visual ID of the UH-60’s as Hinds.

    The way the Air Force handled it was a discrace trying to hang an AWACS contoller instead of the indident pilots. At the end of the day the pilots should be held responsible for thier actions, in the Air Force this very rarely happnens since all the Generals of note are pilots.