Beyond out of control deficits, wasting our tax dollars, there's a human cost to poor oversight of government contracts. It's a lesson I learned 30 years ago at the end of the Vietnam War.
When I arrived in Thailand in early January 1975, I felt lucky to have friends who were already there - including several friends from the Air Force Academy and pilot training.
Brian was killed in a helicopter crash on January 28th, 1975, along with four other crew members. Brian died because a government contractor supplied substandard bolts that were supposed to hold the flight controls together on his helicopter.
People used to laugh at how much the Pentagon paid for hammers and toilet seats. But there was a reason to pay for special treated bolts for helicopter flight control systems. Brian and his crew died because of it.
On May 13, 1975, Larry Froelich and his crew were also killed in a helicopter crash. They died because a part was left out of a rotor blade on their helicopter. The rotor blade was inspected, which means someone had signed off that it was properly built--even though it was missing a crucial part. The rotor blade failed, Larry and 22 others on the helicopter died.
You can find the names of Brian Rye, Larry Froelich and the others who died with them on the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C. Go down to the `V' where the two sides come together, then go up a few names on the left side. These men weren't killed by hostile fire--they were killed by poor management of government contractors, and those who put profit ahead of "supporting the troops."
Thirty years later, Pentagon auditors continue to uncover fraud, substandard equipment, or no equipment being provided to the troops in Iraq. Contractors continue to make profits from our tax dollars, and the men and women of our armed forces continue to die when the right equipment could be saving lives.
It's well past time for change. Our troops, our citizens and our taxpayers deserve much better.
You can learn more about our campaign at www.charliebrownforcongress.org
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Next week, faulty intelligence and the last name on the Vietnam Wall.