Tuesday, January 12, 2010

PR32 (BuNo 156511), a
US Navy  EP-3 reconnaisance aircraft
used to collect signals intelligence. 
I met LT Shane Osborne at the US Naval Institute in 2001. I was an employee there doing database work. LT Osborne was the aircraft commander and pilot of PR32 on April 1 2001, and was speaking at our annual meeting. PR32 was downed after a Chinese J8 collided with them in what came to be called the Hainan Island Incident.

They were flying a mission that I had flown many times, in this very same aircraft during my time as a Korean Linguist in the US Navy. Read the links if you are interested in what happened with LT Osborne. The short story is that after the J8 struck the P3, Osborne did some unbelievable flying, pulling the P3 from a 130 degree uncontrolled dive back to level controlled flight. He landed the heavily damaged aircraft on Hainan Island, and he was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for that. It was more than well-deserved.

If LT Osborne had been born fifteen years earlier, we would have flown together.  Regardless, we are shipmates, and I'm glad I met him and had the opportunity to tell him what I thought about what he did.

The VQ1 aircraft crew put their lives in the hands of we intelligence people on every mission, relying on us to detect threats like this J8, and we put our lives in their hands. I didn't think of it in those terms back when I was a twenty year old Korean Linguist doing the work. After flying with VQ1 for eight years and seeing the professionalism of all the VQ1 folks I flew with, I'm not surprised at Osborne's great performance in trying circumstances.

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