Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

3 Air Force Officers Lose Jobs over Croatia Crash Commander Says He `Lost His Confidence' in Their Ability

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

3 Air Force Officers Lose Jobs over Croatia Crash Commander Says He `Lost His Confidence' in Their Ability

Article excerpt

The Air Force sacked three senior officers in Europe who were responsible for the military jetliner that crashed into a mountainside in Croatia, killing Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown and the 34 others aboard.

Technically the men were relieved of command rather than fired, but the disciplinary action in practical terms is ruinous to their Air Force careers.

The action - announced Thursday - was taken Wednesday against Brig. Gen. William Stevens, commander of the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein Air Base, Germany; his vice commander, Col. Roger Hansen; and Col. John Mazurowski, the operations commander responsible specifically for the 86th's flight operations.

They are the airlift wing's three senior officers. They are the first to lose their jobs over the crash.

The decision to remove the three was a result of facts developed during the Air Force investigation of the April 3 crash of the CT-43 passenger jet flying Brown's party from Bosnia to Dubrovnik, Croatia, the Air Force said. The Air Force has not disclosed what caused the accident.

Lt. Col. Virginia Pribyla, an Air Force spokeswoman, would not disclose the facts that led to the officers' removal. She said the Air Force would provide no details about reasons for the sackings until the crash investigation report was released. It might be released next week.

Col. Doug Kennett, a Pentagon spokesman, said the three officers were awaiting reassignment.

Maj. Gen. Charles R. Heflebower, commander of the 17th Air Force, made the decision to remove the men, Air Force headquarters at the Pentagon said in a statement. The 17th is the parent command of the 86th Airlift Wing.

Heflebower "has lost his confidence" in the officers' ability to "effectively discharge their responsibilities," the statement said, without elaborating.

Previous Commander

Lt. Col. James Albright, the previous commander of the 76th Airlift Squadron, had raised safety concerns about flights for VIPs like Brown in former Yugoslavia. …

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