Falcon's Cry: A Desert Storm Memoir

By Denise Donnelly; Michael Donnelly | Go to book overview

Near Miss

August 1996

When I get back to Sheppard, the medical evaluation board has the discharge papers ready for me to sign. Guess somebody is in a hurry. Turns out they aren't feeling too generous, either. For while the Air Force is more than willing to diagnose me with a fatal illness, they are only willing to grant me 50% temporary medical retirement. In English, this means that I will receive 50% of a full pension, and I will have to reapply next year for a review of my pension and status. Meanwhile, I am, in their medical estimation, 100% likely to die within two years.

I have the option of rejecting the MEB offer and requesting a formal hearing to argue my case for 100% disability retirement. I figure if they're going to tell me I'm 100% sick, I'll put my cards on that bet.

"I'm going to reject that offer," I tell the processing sergeant at the hospital. "I'm going to go for a formal hearing in San Antonio."

The sergeant, a plump man whose ruddy face is highlighted by the thick black rims of his Air Force--issue spectacles, is stunned.

"Most people are lucky to get 50%, Major Donnelly."

I guess he figures I'm making a bad move.

"I have to warn you that very few ever change the board's decision." In his mind, I suppose, since I am still able to walk with a cane, I must be nuts to pass up their offer.

"I'll take my chances," I say. "Where do I sign?" I scrawl my signature on the form where it reads, "I reject the MEB offer and wish to request a formal review before the board."

With that signature, I flick the magic switch. The Air Force bureaucracy swings into action, if action you can call it. They begin to do what they do best, which is to thwart the efforts of anyone who dares to question their authority.

They review every medical record that exists, dating back to 1981 and my induction, records which by now document my treatment outside the military medical system and my conviction that my illness is combat related. Obviously, I must be a troublemaker looking to make more trouble.

-156-

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Falcon's Cry: A Desert Storm Memoir
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Preface ix
  • Part I Air Warrior 1
  • Needle, Ball and Air Speed 3
  • Part II The Widening Gyre 13
  • The Apple Wars 15
  • Wild Blue Yonder 23
  • Velocity and Vector 39
  • Part III Victory Takes Wings 53
  • Lines in the Sand 55
  • Peaceday, Warday 67
  • Crossing the Fence 81
  • Crud 101
  • How Do You Spell Victory? 111
  • Part IV The Wings of Icarus 123
  • No Joy 127
  • Solo 137
  • Bogeys 147
  • Near Miss 156
  • Lost Wingman 170
  • Homecoming 184
  • A Full 360 204
  • Bandits, Twelve O'Clock 220
  • Part V Fallen Angels 231
  • Nordo 235
  • Epilogue 243
  • A Fighter Pilot's Glossary of Terms 245
  • Congressional Report-- House of Representatives 249
  • About the Authors 253
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