NYT reported Two Navy helicopter pilots and their crews returned from New Orleans on Aug. 30 expecting to be greeted as lifesavers after ferrying more than 100 hurricane victims to safety. Instead, their superiors chided the pilots, Lt. David Shand and Lt. Matt Udkow, at a meeting the next morning for rescuing civilians when their assignment that day had been to deliver food and water to military installations along the Gulf Coast.
On first glance it would seem the pilots should be praised for rescuing 100 victims, but if they had done what they had been told to do, perhaps food and water for thousands would have been where it was needed, and could then have helped even more people"I felt it was a great day because we resupplied the people we needed to and we rescued people, too," Lieutenant Udkow said. But the air operations commander at Pensacola Naval Air Station "reminded us that the logistical mission needed to be our area of focus." The episode illustrates how the rescue effort in the days immediately after Hurricane Katrina had to compete with the military's other, more mundane logistical needs.
Actually it just emphasizes the need for a chain of command.... The next morning, though, the two crews were called to a meeting with Commander Holdener, who said he told them that while helping civilians was laudable, the lengthy rescue effort was an unacceptable diversion from their main mission of delivering supplies. With only two helicopters available at Pensacola to deliver supplies, the base did not have enough to allow pilots to go on prolonged search and rescue operations.
Captain Ed blogged One would think that a commander of a military helicopter crew that showed the compassion and quick thinking to use their supply run to New Orleans to rescue a handful of people would have received a commendation for his quick thinking. If so, one does not know the military, as the New York Times proves this morning. When they give orders, the military expects its officers to obey them.