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Military Office Director Resigns in Wake of New York Fly-by

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 8, 2009 – The director of the White House Military Office has submitted his resignation in the wake of an April 27 aerial photo shoot with a presidential aircraft over New York City.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
CONTROVERSIAL FLIGHT - The White House released this image on May 8, 2009, showing a VC-25 presidential aircraft that was photographed flying over the Statue of Liberty in New York City by a photographer aboard an F-16 fighter jet. During the April 27 photo opportunity, the aircraft flew as low as 1,000 feet and many New Yorkers believed they were seeing a repeat of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Also on May 8, in the wake of the incident, Louis Caldera, director of the White House Military Office, tendered his resignation. White House photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Louis Caldera, who served as secretary of the Army during the Clinton administration, resigned his office effective May 22.

“I have concluded that the controversy surrounding the Presidential Airlift Group’s aerial photo shoot over New York City has made it impossible to effectively lead the White House Military Office,” Caldera wrote in his letter of resignation.

President Barack Obama has accepted the resignation, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

“The president has asked his deputy chief of staff, Jim Messina, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates or his designee to jointly review the organizational structure of the White House Military Office and the reporting relationship of its components to the White House and the Air Force, and to make recommendations to him to ensure that such an incident never occurs again,” Gibbs said in a written release.

On April 27, a 747-200 aircraft that often carries the president flew over lower New York. An F-16 fighter followed and took photos of the aircraft with iconic structures such as the Statue of Liberty in the background. The aircraft flew as low as 1,000 feet, and many New Yorkers believed they were seeing a repeat of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that killed 3,000 people at the World Trade Center.

The flyover caused much consternation on the ground, with many people in Lower Manhattan and across the river in New Jersey evacuating their buildings.

A review of the incident by the White House counsel’s office found “structural and organizational ambiguities” within the White House Military Office and urged a comprehensive study of the organization.

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