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Letters to the editor: Doolittle and disgust

May. 16, 2013 - 06:16PM   |  
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Doolittle raider memory

Recent coverage in Air Force Times regarding the last Doolittle Raiders reunion [“Remaining Doolittle Raiders gather for final time,” April 29] brought back memories.

In 1967, I was on the Air Force ROTC staff at the University of California-Berkeley (or Beserkley, as it was commonly known). When we learned Jimmy Doolittle and the Doolittle Raiders were going to have their 25th reunion at nearby Alameda Naval Air Station, we invited him to our detachment to present our highest cadet award, “The Doolittle Award.”

Jimmy was a Cal grad, and he accepted on one condition: no advance notice on campus. He knew what the reaction would be. Remember, this was Berkeley in the ’60s.

Jimmy was a very humble, down-to-earth hero. He told a story about a phone call he got from a fellow pilot when he was working on the upcoming raid. His buddy asked him how they could contribute to the war effort.

Since everything about the upcoming raid was top secret, Jimmy simply replied, “We’re too old for this war. Let’s leave it to the younger fellows.”

After the raid Jimmy said he got a telegram from his buddy that said simply, “YOU SOB!”

We got to join Jimmy and the Raiders on an aircraft carrier and observed a long series of touch-and-go landings.

I remember just watching them on the deck and thinking the only thing I don’t agree with about the phrase “Greatest Generation” is that it does not give them adequate credit.

Col. Kenneth W. Edwards (ret.) | Corvallis, Ore.

Disgusted by sentence

Disgusted and sick to my stomach! That was my initial reaction to the May 6 article “MTI sentenced to six months; will remain in the Air Force.”

Staff Sgt. Bobby Bass’ crimes against military trainees speak for themselves. His conduct was both “bad” and “dishonorable”; however, he somehow merits a second chance and gets to remain in the service following his six-month prison sentence? Really? What does a person have to do in today’s Air Force to lose his career?

Wait, I already know the answer to that: have a waistline that’s a couple of inches over some ridiculous standard. Shame on those who failed to recognize bad conduct — committed against basic military trainees, no less — with an appropriate discharge.

Staff Sgt. Bass: I am ashamed after what you did to trainees and yet will continue to wear an Air Force uniform.

Master Sgt. Richard D. Harris (ret.) | Grand Forks, N.D.

Response to letter

Of course the Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno favors an assault weapons ban [“Strong voices on firearms,” March 25].

Every flag officer does, because when you have the privilege of leading our nation’s warriors, the last thing you want to do is be at odds with the commander-in-chief.

Give the man a break before writing a history report [“Gun registration is wrong,” May 13] in favor of your opinion.

Staff Sgt. Markeis McCray | Valdosta, Ga.

EPRs remain broken

I heartily agree with Robert F. Dorr’s April 8 column, “It’s long overdue to scrap both PT and EPRs — really.”

I know the intent of the evaluation performance reports was to stop promoting some who had earned personal favor over others who may have been more deserving based on actual performance and potential, but for the entire 24 years I was in the Air Force, EPRs were abused routinely, as were awards and decorations. I can’t tell you how many times I watched others get promotion point decorations for things I did but was not recognized or rewarded for doing.

The EPR system was essentially broken at every base where I served, even though for the most part I tended to get good ratings myself, with one glaring exception. While I made it to E-7 in record time for my career field, all it took was a single bad rater and I had zero chance of making it any further, because one rater favored the people he had been stationed with and frowned on outsiders cross-trained in from other career fields.

So I challenge those who read this letter to come up with incorruptible ways to report and reward performance and potential, because the EPR system still isn’t working, apparently.

Master Sgt. Greg Harris (ret.) | San Diego, Calif.

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