Congressman, families announce lawsuit to get answers in Osprey crash

WASHINGTON – The widows of two U.S. Marine Corps pilots killed in an MV-22 Osprey crash in 2000 and the congressman who pursued answers about that incident for years announced Tuesday they have filed a FOIA lawsuit against the Defense Department to obtain additional documents on the crash.

Trish Brow, widow of Lt. Col. John Brow, and Connie Gruber, widow of Maj. Brooks Gruber, joined Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday to announce the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Jones said the lawsuit was necessary after he filed a FOIA earlier this year to get documents on the crash, and DOD provided just a single page that was heavily redacted, with none of the answers he had sought.

The April 8, 2000, crash at Marana Regional Airport in Arizona killed 19 Marines. After a subsequent Osprey crash that year, the program was temporarily put on hold for additional development and testing.

Jones worked for almost 15 years to get the Pentagon to state that the pilots were erroneously blamed for the crash and to clear their names. Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work announced the pilots had been erroneously blamed in 2016, a major milestone for the families.

However, Jones still had unanswered questions. Primarily, he believes the Marine Corps covered up the Osprey’s performance issues at the time because the program was thought to be at risk of being cut. Jones and the families specifically are seeking correspondence related to the crash from the then-top Marine Corps officers overseeing the program, Brig. Gen. James Amos and Lt. Gen. Fred McCorkle.

“I would like to not be here,” Trish Brow said outside the Capitol, in front of a row of cameras, as she cited the personal cost she and her sons incur when revisiting the memory of the crash. “But it’s basic government,” she said. “The Marine Corps should be held accountable to someone.”

The lawsuit has been filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and seeks the correspondence and investigation reports associated with the crash.

Tara Copp is the Pentagon Bureau Chief for the Military Times. On Twitter: @TaraCopp

Tara Copp is a Pentagon correspondent for the Associated Press. She was previously Pentagon bureau chief for Sightline Media Group.

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