Academic journal article Military Review

A Chain of Events: The Government Cover-Up of the Black Hawk Incident and the Friendly Fire Death of Lt. Laura Piper / Friendly Fire: The Accidental Shootdown of U.S. Blackhawks Over

Academic journal article Military Review

A Chain of Events: The Government Cover-Up of the Black Hawk Incident and the Friendly Fire Death of Lt. Laura Piper / Friendly Fire: The Accidental Shootdown of U.S. Blackhawks Over

Article excerpt

A CHAIN OF EVENTS: The Gov-- ernment Cover-up of the Black Hawk Incident and the Friendly Fire Death of Lt. Laura Piper, Joan L. Piper, Brassey's, Dulles, VA, 2000, 320 pages, $23.95.

FRIENDLY FIRE: The Accidental Shootdown of U.S. Blackhawks over Northern Iraq, Scott A. Snook, Princeton University Press, NJ, 2000,257 pages, $35.00.

On 14 April 1994, the pilots of a pair of U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle fighters descended below their man-- dated altitude restriction of 10,000 feet, misidentified two U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters on a routine mission in the Iraqi northern no-fly zone, and fired on both aircraft with-- out permission. In 10 minutes, 26 people died. In the aftermath of the shootdown, U.S. President William Clinton made a promise to "find the answers to the questions the families so rightfully seek." Unfortunately, the answers to so complex a problem are not so easily determined. Two authors, with widely differing back-- grounds and perspectives, set forth to find those answers.

Joan L. Piper, the mother of one of the victims, a grade school teacher from San Antonio, Texas, is married to a career U.S. Air Force (USAF) officer. Her credentials extend far beyond the horizons of a grieving mother. The experiences of 26 years of military service foster a depth of knowledge and understanding with which few can compare. In A Chain of Events, she demonstrates a clarity and tenacity of purpose that often belies her tragic loss.

Piper's book is much more than a tale of a mother's grief for her slain child; it is a poignant portrait of a daughter lost and a mother's grim quest for the truth. The book is a gripping story of a woman's search for closure after a tragic loss and a chronicle of a family's battle through the seemingly impenetrable walls of a stalwart bureaucracy. More than anything else, however, the book is an account of the strength and honor of a military family in crisis. Piper's conclusions are emotionally charged, yet nonetheless valid: her story is of a mother's search for an accountabil-- ity that consistently avoids her grasp. …

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