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August 2, 2013

News Briefs August 2, 2013

Air Guard pilot ejects after jets collide

Two Air National Guard fighter jets collided midair, forcing one of the pilots to eject into the sea and be rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter a few hours later off the Virginia coast, officials said Aug. 2.
The other pilot involved in the collision was able to fly back to Joint Base Andrews, Md. Both jets were from the 113th Wing D.C. Air National Guard and were on a routine training mission Thursday night when the collision happened about 35 miles southeast of Chincoteague on Virginiaís Eastern Shore.

The Coast Guard said the pilot of the jet who was rescued at sea early Friday is in good condition.

The Coast Guard said it was alerted to the pilotís ditching by a distress signal from his ejection seat at about 10:30 p.m. Two other Air Force planes that were taking part in the training remained in the area and helped guide Coast Guard rescuers to the downed pilot, said Petty Officer David Weydert, a spokesman for the Coast Guardís 5th District in Portsmouth, Va.

One of the F-16s that stayed on scene (and) was in communication with the downed pilot and helped relay information to our helicopter, he said.

The pilot was pulled from the water by a rescue crew aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter that was based at Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C. It was faster to send the helicopter instead of a small boat from Chincoteague, Weydert said.

At the time of the rescue, seas in the area were about 4 feet high.

Weydert said the downed pilot was able to light a rescue flare to become more visible to the search and rescue crew.

The Air National Guard said the cause of the collision is under investigation. It has not released the names of the pilots involved. AP

VA won’t move body of Indy gunman

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is denying a request to remove an Army veteran’s body from a Michigan cemetery, where he was buried with military honors in violation of federal law after killing an Indianapolis woman last year.

Michael LeShawn Anderson was buried in Fort Custer National Cemetery in Augusta, Mich., in June 2012 after fatally shooting Alicia Koehl in her office at an Indianapolis apartment complex. Police say he wounded three others before taking his own life.

Koehl’s family says Anderson shouldn’t have received the honors given other veterans. They want his remains removed from a place meant to honor heroes.

Congress passed a federal statute outlawing military burials in national cemeteries for those who commit capital crimes in 1997. The law was intended to prevent the body of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, a military veteran, from being buried in a national cemetery.

VA officials have acknowledged that Anderson’s burial in a national cemetery violates the law but say the agency lacks the authority to exhume remains in a situation where an ineligible veteran was buried in a national cemetery. AP

Air Force delays deadline on jet transfer comments

Responding to criticism from Alaska’s congressional delegation, the Air Force is giving people more time to comment on its plan to move an F-16 squadron from Fairbanks to Anchorage.

The new deadline on the draft environmental impact assessment will be Aug. 30. It had previously been Aug. 2.

The three members of Alaska’s congressional delegation – U.S. Sens. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young – had complained to military officials that there wasn’t enough time for people to properly comment on the plan, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported July 31.

The three members of the delegation, along with scores of Alaskans at public hearings this month, have expressed misgivings about moving the squadron from Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.

The Air Force claims the move will save $227 million. However, critics point to the draft statement, which notes the economic impact to the Fairbanks and North Pole areas.

According to the document, the move would create a 2.5 percent hike in unemployment in the Fairbanks North Star borough, and increase the vacancy rate in rental units by 8 percent.

The Senate Defense Appropriates subcommittee on Tuesday approved language supported by Begich and Murkowski that would not allow the Air Force to spend money to move the F-16 Aggressor Squadron from Fairbanks. AP




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