Yesterday, a US Navy fighter jet crashed into an apartment building in Virginia. Predictably, the religious are calling the disaster a “miracle.” Their justification in this case is the fantastically improbable fact that no one was killed. They have, however, managed to overlook the blazing inferno and widespread property destruction.
Admiral John Harvey came out with his religious sentiments, although he distinguished himself by at least recognizing his revelations had no place in official reports:
“I don’t speak for anybody’s religious beliefs, but the mayor and I both agreed that if you want to define a miracle, what happened here yesterday meets that definition for me”…
Put yourself in the Admiral’s position. A jet crash in a civilian area is the kind of thing that gets Admirals fired. This is a national incident that calls for heads to roll… unless maybe nobody was killed. It is certain that stateside, U.S. casualties would not be written off as a simple accident.
This calls to mind the low-flying antics of two Navy pilots that sent 20 Italians to their deaths in 1998. Flying at over 500 mph and about 300 feet off the ground, well under half the allowable altitude, that pilot sheered through a ski lift cable. The gondola, full of skiers, crashed to the ground. The U.S. military claimed jurisdiction and chalked up the incident to bad maps. The pilots were dismissed for destroying a tape but served no jail time.
Lest we think there were no miracles hidden in the loss of those 20 Italian lives, a military mechanic assessed the situation like this:
“It was a miracle he didn’t lose that right wing,” said a military mechanic who saw the Prowler after it landed. ”It was a miracle he didn’t get into a tailspin and crash.”
Maybe the mechanic was being too candid about military priorities. The families were eventually awarded just $2 million per victim, only 75% chargeable to the United States. (U.S. quibbling about its “obligations” forced the Italian government to step in for initial payments.) Replacing a crashed jet entirely would have cost the military over $50 million with no arguments.
The investigation is underway to determine the causes of the Virginia crash. The pilots are in the hospital, the talking points are out, but the facts and the outcomes are still unclear. Hopefully transparency and accountability will be the outcome of this most recent military disaster. Now that would be a miracle.