Open Mouth . . .
. . . . insert foot.
True story. I checked it on Snopes.
Question of the day for Luke Air Force Base: Whom do we thank for the morning air show? Last Wednesday, at precisely 9:11 A.M, a tight formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall, continuing west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet. Imagine our good fortune! Do the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying to impress the cashiers at Mervyns early bird special? Any response would be appreciated.
Tom MacRae, Peoria
The Squadron commander's response:
Regarding "A wake-up call from Luke's jets" (Letters, Thursday): On June 15, at precisely 9:12 a.m., a perfectly timed four-ship fly by of F-16s from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base flew over the grave of Capt. Jeremy Fresques. Capt. Fresques was an Air Force officer who was previously stationed at Luke Air Force Base and was killed in Iraq on May 30, Memorial Day. At 9 a.m. on June 15, his family and friends gathered at Sunland Memorial Park in Sun City to mourn the loss of a husband, son and friend.
Based on the letter writer's recount of the flyby, and because of the jet noise, I'm sure you didn't hear the 21-gun salute, the playing of taps, or my words to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques as I gave them their son's flag on behalf of the President of the United States and all those veterans and servicemen and women who understand the sacrifices they have endured.
A four-ship fly by is a display of respect the Air Force gives to those who give their lives in defense of freedom. We are professional aviators and take our jobs seriously, and on June 15 what the letter writer witnessed was four officers lining up to pay their ultimate respects. The letter writer asks, 'Whom do we thank for the morning airshow? The 56th Fighter Wing will make the call for you, and forward your thanks to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques, and thank them for you, for it was in their honor that my pilots flew the most honorable formation of their lives.
Lt. Col. Scott Pleus
Luke Air Force Base
Somewhat to his credit Mr. MacRae humbly ate a large portion of crow, and responded. Unfortunately, he just couldn't resist the opportunity to make an excuse or two. If you're going to apologize, just do it. I've heard this several times from military personnel: The net effective range of an excuse is zero meters. I think the lesson here is: do a little checking before you try to be really cute and get published in the local paper. Bottom line: MacRae was trying to be a smartass, and it didn't work out like he thought it would.
Here's MacRae's response:
I read with increasing embarassment and humility the response to my unfortunate letter to The Republic concerning an Air Force flyby.
I had no idea of the significance of the flyby, and would never have insulted such a fine and respectful display had I known.
I have received many calls from the fine airmen who are serving or have served at Luke, and I have attempted to explain my side and apologized for any discomfort my letter has caused.
This was simply an uninformed citizen complaining about noise.
I have been made aware in both written and verbal communications of the four-ship flyby, and my heart goes out to each and every lost serviceman and woman in this war in which we are engaged.
I have been called un-American by an unknown caller and I feel that I must address that. I served in the U.S. Navy and am a Vietnam veteran. I love my country and respect the jobs that the service organizations are doing.
Please acccept my heartfelt apologies.
Tom McRae, Peoria
Nice try, Tom, but your apology was a little lame also.