Thursday, October 08, 2009

A "U" For Judgment

One of the thing I have found amusing during my regular trips to Iraq is reading the letters column in the "Stars and Stripes" newspaper. Without fail at least once an issue someone steps forth to distinguish themselves with their stupidity or outright selfishness. A few days ago I was both embarrassed as an Army Aviator and glad that this Lieutenant was not a member of my unit.

It seems that SEP 30 was the official "wear-out" date for one-piece tan/sage green and two piece flight suits that are not of the ACU variety. Having been forced to wear my A2CUs for a while now I wasn't aware of this and we were unable to mark the passing of this uniform properly. Please, everyone, a moment of silence for our good friend and chick magnet the one piece flight suit.


Here in all its glory, is a letter to the editor written by 1LT Allen, United States Army lamenting the demise of our good nomex friend...

Flight suit was best for wings Stars and Stripes
Letters to the Editor, Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It’s finally complete: The Army’s process of destroying esprit de corps was accomplished Sept. 30, 2009. If you don’t know, this was the wear-out date the Army set for aviation one-piece flight suits (tan and green), and the two-piece tan aircrew battle dress uniform (ABDU).

Although the other services continue to utilize the one-piece and two-piece flight suits, the Army has decided its years of service have been completed.

More important than the function of the one-piece flight suit is the fact an aviator can wear his or her wings earned on the flight suit. The process of becoming a pilot does not end with the 16 months of flight school (that’s for a UH-60, longer for other airframes). Every pilot and crew chief has an annual evaluation that encompasses everything from flying, aerodynamics, hydraulic systems, electrical systems, fuel, turbine engine, all the way to the anatomy of the eye, and altitude physiology.

You, being the rest of the Army that sits in the back, can rest assured the aircrew you are with are some of the most dedicated individuals in the Army. I know some people will read this and be upset (these are the same people who earn their Combat Action Badge while waiting in line for their iced coffee just because they saw the plume from a rocket). As a UH-60 pilot and platoon leader with the privilege of being around senior warrant officers and crew chiefs, whose sole mission in life is to support the ground forces commander, I will say it again: Pilots are the most dedicated individuals in the Army, and they deserve to be able to wear their flight suit with the wings they continue to earn well past graduation day from flight school.

First Lt. James Allen
Joint Base Balad, Iraq


I don't know what 1LT Allen expected to achieve by writing this letter. I'm sure he brought unwanted attention to himself and his unit. I'm sure what he wrote won't change the minds of anyone involved in the decision to give us a flight uniform that costs four times as much as the one-piece version and wears out faster...but we do pretty much look like everyone else which was the point. Instead of pointing out logical reasons for why the uniform should be retained he resorts to emotion and hyperbole. I hope he feels better because if he thought writing a letter to Stars and Stripes was going to achieve something...then I've got beach front property in Arizona I want to sell him.

If LT Allen or anyone else needs to wear their wings to make themselves feel special, them I would suggest that they take a long look at themselves in the mirror and think about the reasons that they serve. We (aviators) exist to serve the guy on the ground. You know those guys that "sit in the back" as the LT so quaintly puts it.

I'm not that upset by the LT's letter, saddened is the more accurate term. For the record I didn't get my CAB for seeing a rocket plume while standing in line at the BK, it was for a more direct type of action with the enemy...something I'm sure 1LT Allen has done plenty of.

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