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DoD Investigates F/A-18 Training Accident

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 14, 2001 – U.S. military officials are investigating the March 12 F/A-18 training accident in Kuwait that killed six coalition service members and injured seven others.

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Mike DeLong will head the investigation coordinated by U.S. Central Command. New Zealand and Kuwait have been invited to send representatives.

Pentagon officials said a Navy F/A-18 Hornet from the USS Harry S. Truman in the Arabian Gulf dropped three 500-pound gravity bombs near Observation Post 10 on the Al Udairi Test Range. The range is about 45 miles northwest of Kuwait City and 30 miles south of the Iraqi border.

The ordnance struck near the observation post manned by the forward air controllers responsible for directing the strikes, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said here March 13. The military personnel were in a small structure and tactical vehicles.

Five of those killed were U.S. service members; the sixth was a New Zealand military officer.

Army officials identified four of those killed as: Staff Sgt. Troy J. Westberg, of Wisconsin, a medical sergeant with 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C.; and explosive ordnance disposal specialists Staff Sgt. Richard N. Boudreau of Florida, Sgt. Phillip M. Freligh of Nevada, and Spc. Jason D. Wildfong of West Virginia, all with the 707th Ordnance Company of Fort Lewis, Wash.

Air Force officials identified the fifth American killed as Staff Sgt. Jason M. Faley, a tactical air controller with the 19th Air Support Operations Squadron at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Four of the injured, two Kuwaitis and two Americans, were treated and released, Quigley said.

Three other Americans were seriously injured and taken to a Kuwaiti medical facility. One has since been flown to Germany for surgery and is listed in serious condition, officials of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center said early March 14. They said the other two were expected to arrive at Landstuhl that evening.

Navy Cmdr. David O. Zimmerman was pilot of the F/A-18 Hornet and taking part in a quarterly air support exercise when the accident happened between 7 and 7:30 p.m. Kuwaiti time, Quigley said.

Zimmerman commands the USS Truman's Strike Fighter Squadron 37 and has logged 3,000 flight hours in the Hornet, the admiral said. Three days before the accident, he noted, Zimmerman dropped live ordnance at Udairi on a day mission and a practice bomb during a night run.

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Related Sites:
DoD News Briefing transcript for March 12, 2001
Navy F/A-18 Fact File

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