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16 Air Force Officers Punished Over Brown Crash

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 12, 1996 – The commander of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe has reprimanded 16 Air Force officers in connection with the plane crash that killed Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and 34 others April 3, DoD officials announced Aug. 6.

The plane, the military version of a Boeing 737 aircraft, was part of 76th Airlift Squadron, 86th Airlift Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The CT-43 jet was carrying a delegation of Commerce Department employees and American business leaders on a trip to the Balkans to help with economic restoration in Bosnia. It crashed into a mountainside on its approach to Dubrovnik, Croatia.

A combination of mistakes led to the accident, according to Air Force and civilian investigators. A failure of command, aircrew error and an improperly designed instrument approach procedure caused the crash, according to an investigation board report released June 7.

Once the investigation was complete, Air Force officials focused on their commitment to ensure accountability and to learn from the accident, DoD officials said. Gen. Michael Ryan, commander, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, directed punishment ranging from Article 15s to verbal counseling for 16 officers.

Brig. Gen. William E. Stevens, commander, 86th Airlift Wing, and Col. John E. Mazurowski, commander, 86th Operations Group, were relieved of command May 29. They received Article 15s for dereliction of duty. DoD officials said the commanders "negligently failed to ensure that non-DoD published instrument approaches were not being used by 86th Airlift Wing crews without first obtaining a terminal instrument procedures review and approval from [U.S Air Forces in Europe]."

Col. Roger W. Hansen, vice commander, 86th Airlift Wing, was relieved of duty May 29. He received a letter of reprimand for "failing to take appropriate measures to ensure the wing complied with the requirement to have non-DoD published instrument approaches reviewed for safety before they were flown."

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey G. Cliver, former director of operations, Headquarters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, received a letter of reprimand for "failing to exercise effective oversight of Air Force flight directives, failing to delineate responsibilities within his organization and for not inquiring into the apparent failure of the 86th Airlift Wing to comply with Air Force directives."

Four colonels and two lieutenant colonels received letters of admonishment, officials said. Two lieutenant colonels and two majors got letters of counseling. Two lieutenant colonels received verbal counseling.

Although the Privacy Act of 1974 generally protects the privacy rights of individuals who receive nonjudicial or administrative punishment, Air Force officials released the names of the senior officers who received the most significant punishment in the light of substantial public interest. Air Force officials said they will not release the names of officers who received lesser punishments to protect their privacy.

Article 15s and letters of reprimand are considered significant sanctions, officials said. Letters of admonishment, counseling and verbal counseling are lesser sanctions given to advise an individual to correct performance, officials said.

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