Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Colonel Tomb

On the tenth of May, 1972 Lieutenant Randy Cunningham and his RIO, LT(JG) Willie Driscoll, flying a Phantom F-4J, ShowTime 100, would shoot down two MIGs, making them the first American aces of the Vietnam War. Then they would shoot down a third. This account from Ace Pilots:

They were participating in a strike against the Hai Dong railyards, on flak suppression, when a score of enemy fighters challenged them. ... After dropping their bombs on some warehouses, Showtime 100 loitered to cover the A-7 fighter-bombers still engaged. Responding to a call for help, Cunningham took his F-4J into a group of MiG-17s ("Frescoes"), two of which promptly jumped them. Heeding a "break" warning from Grant in Showtime 113, Cunningham broke sharply and the lead pursuing MiG-17 overshot him. He instantly reversed his turn, putting the MiG dead ahead; he loosed a Sidewinder and it destroyed the MiG.

... VF-96 Exec, Cdr Dwight Timm had three MiGs on his tail, one being very close, in Timm's blind spot. ... After more maneuvering, Cunningham re-engaged the MiG-17 still threatening his XO. He called again for him to break, adding, "If you don't break NOW you are going to die." The XO finally accelerated and broke hard right. The MiG couldn't follow Showtime 112's high speed turn, leaving "Duke" clear to fire.

Calling "Fox Two," Cunningham fired his second Sidewinder while the MiG still inside the minimum firing range. But the high speed of the Fresco worked against it, as the Sidewinder had time to arm and track to its target. It homed into the tail pipe of the MiG-17 and exploded. Seconds later, Cunningham and Driscoll, finding themselves alone in a sky full of bandits, disengaged and headed for the Constellation. 

As they approached the coast at 10,000 feet, Cunningham spotted another MiG-17 heading straight for them. ... The MiG's nose lit up like a Roman candle! ... In an effort to out-climb the MiG, Cunningham went to afterburners, which put him above the enemy aircraft. As he started to pull over the top, the MiG began shooting. This was Cunningham's second near-fatal mistake; he had given his opponent a predictable flight path, and he had taken advantage of it. Duke rolled off to the other side, and the MiG closed in behind.

Not wanting to admit he was getting beaten, he called to Willie, "That S.O.B. is really lucky! All right, we'll get this guy now!" With the MiG at his four o'clock, he nosed down to pick up speed and energy. Cunningham watched until the MiG pilot likewise committed his nose down. "Gotcha!" he thought, as he pulled up into the MiG, rolled over the top, got behind it. While too close to fire a missile, the maneuver placed Duke in an advantageous position.

He pulled down, holding top rudder, to press for a shot, and the MiG pulled up into him, shooting! He thought, "Maybe this guy isn�t just lucky after all!" The Communist pilot used the same maneuver Duke had just tried, pulling up into him, and forcing an overshoot. The two jets were in a classic rolling scissors. As his nose committed, Duke pulled up into his opponent again.

As they slowed to 200 knots, the MiG's superior maneuverability at low speed would gave him more advantage. A good fighter pilot, like Kenny Rogers' poker player, "knows when to hold, and knows when to fold." This was the MiG's game; it was time to go. When the MiG raised his nose for the next climb, Cunningham lit his afterburners and, at 600 knots airspeed, quickly got two miles away from the MiG, out of his ATOL missile range. ... Cunningham nosed up 60 degrees, the MiG stayed right with him. Just as before, they went into another vertical rolling scissors.

... Driscoll strained to keep sight of the MiG, as Duke pitched back towards him for the third time.

Once again, he met the MiG-17 head-on, this time with an offset so he couldn't fire his guns. As he pulled up vertically he could again see his determined adversary a few yards away. Still gambling, Cunningham tried one more thing. He yanked the throttles back to idle and popped the speed brakes, in a desperate attempt to drop behind the MiG. But, in doing so, he had thrown away the Phantom's advantage, its superior climbing ability. And if he stalled out ...

The MiG shot out in front of Cunningham for the first time, the Phantom's nose was 60 degrees above the horizon with airspeed down to 150 knots. He had to go to full burner to hold his position. The surprised enemy pilot attempted to roll up on his back above him. Using only rudder to avoid stalling the F-4, he rolled to the MiG's blind side. He tried to reverse his roll, but as his wings banked sharply, he briefly stalled the aircraft and his nose fell through. Behind the MiG, but still too close for a shot. "This is no place to be with a MiG-17," he thought, "at 150 knots... this slow, he can take it right away from you."

Now the MiG tried to disengage; he pitched over the top and started straight down. Cunningham pulled hard over, followed, and maneuvered to obtain a firing position. With the distracting heat of the ground, Cunningham wasn't sure that a Sidewinder would home in on the MiG, but he called "Fox Two," and squeezed one off. The missile came off the rail and flew right at the MiG. He saw little flashes off the MiG, and thought he had missed. As he started to fire his last Sidewinder, there was an abrupt burst of flame. Black smoke erupted from the Fresco. It didn't seem to go out of control; the fighter just kept slanting down, smashing into the ground at about 45 degrees angle. 

Just who the third pilot Cunningham shot down that day is the subject of dispute. Some say it was "the top Vietnamese ace known as 'Col. Tomb' in the media" other said it was "a flight leader or squadron commander of the 923rd Regiment".

On November 29, 2005 Congressman Randy Cunningham pled guilty to receiving $2.4 million in bribes from military contractors and evading more than $1M in taxes, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

"I broke the law, concealed my conduct and disgraced my high office," Cunningham, 63, said outside the federal courthouse. "I know I will forfeit my freedom, my reputation [and] my high office." Cunningham left without answering questions.

AE Houseman, (thanks for a reader for pointing out the name error) in his poem To An Athlete Dying Young wrote about the human need to keep youthful triumph safe from the corruption of time.

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

Commentary

They were two different days, separated by 32 years. The grandfather paradox argues that the past exists independently of the present, that it remains graven in the mind of God, beyond our power to alter -- or to besmirch. Whatever Randy Cunningham did in later life, it remains true that on the tenth of May, 1972 ShowTime 100 would shoot down two MIGs, then a third. ...

91 Comments:

Blogger Huan said...

great post! moving and tragic.

11/29/2005 04:05:00 AM  
Blogger Cardozo Bozo said...

If the past is immuntable, it's only because no one controls the present. (Thinking more 1984 than 'Back to the Future')

In other worlds the Ace pilot would never become one of the Nation's leaders, because those spots are reserved for a clan or political elite. Perhaps once they become the Leader they simultaneously become the Ace, because they pronounce it is and always was so.

In that different world the bribes would have been taken, and it would have been business as usual. Just the cost of doing business when dealing with the government, right Mr. Sevan?

But this is America. This is the country where a fighter Ace can become the a nation's leader, and a nation's leader must still answer to a judge.

I weep not.

11/29/2005 04:40:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

Leaders are constantly under attack. The ones at the top are most vulnerable. No one to hold them accountable but the relentless devil himself.

11/29/2005 04:45:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Heard about Duke from Jed Babbin, but have not read a bit about it yet.
Cunningham not only had a storied past, but was right on every issue I was aware of.
Very Sad.
---
Not surprised he would plead and tell the truth:
How is it that so many lying Dem sleazebags seem to evade justice by way of continuing on a lifetime of evading the truth?
(Could there be a serious political imbalance in the "Halls of Justice?")
---
Last I heard, Congress was well on it's way to sealing up the Clintonista Sleaze Cisneros' case so that we the people will never know the truth.
Time marches on, and I guess I will eventually find out details about Duke's downfall.

11/29/2005 04:59:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"I learned in Vietnam that the true measure of a man is how he responds to adversity," Cunningham said.
"I cannot undo what I have done, but I can atone."

11/29/2005 05:54:00 AM  
Blogger Goesh said...

We should rejoice anytime a career politician holding the Public trust is held accountable for criminal conduct and leaves office in disgrace and is jailed like the common thug he or she is. That a decorated warrior cries like a damn baby when caught is disgusting to say the least. I was filled with revulsion when I saw him blubbering.

11/29/2005 06:01:00 AM  
Blogger Underwhelmed said...

A man's character is a sum of all his actions. This ace's account is so overdrawn now that there is no chance to square things up. Let him be damned.

11/29/2005 06:10:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

" jailed like the common thug he or she is"

He may have been corrupt,but thug he was not.a thug is violent.

11/29/2005 06:10:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Cunningham's achievement on 10 May 72 is all the more remarkable when you consider that he was flying what could only be called the wrong airplane.
The F-4 was designed as a single seat aircraft armed with 20MM guns. When missiles seemed to be the ultimate answer to air combat they yanked the guns out, put a radar operator behind the pilot - and stuck two air conditoning systems where the guns had been (probably the weirdest systems arrangement of any aircraft).
"Duke" would have been far better off with the guns back and without the second crew member.
But you go to war with what you have, even if it is far from optimum.
Prior to WWII a certain New York Congressman was a paid agent of the USSR - and got off scot free, without having to ever admit his treason.
Like the airplane he flew in combat, Cunningham was operating in an environment that he was not designed for.

11/29/2005 06:10:00 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

As always, a great thought provoking post. Thank you.

11/29/2005 06:14:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

How about the fact he ADMITTED his guilt, no excuses, just his guilt. How many times have people had excuses? Yes he took money, bribes, peddled influence. But unlike so many, he is accepting his guilt, coming clean, making restitiution, loosing his job, aiding the government in helping the case, serving time...

yes he was caught red handed, yes he really had no choice since he was caught, but in this world he DID have a choice, he could have hired million dollar lawyers and been just like the oil for food guys, or 9/10ths of the convicted felons that walk around distorting reality...

11/29/2005 06:24:00 AM  
Blogger Keith Jacka said...

Careful.

Alfred Housman — not John Houseman.

11/29/2005 06:38:00 AM  
Blogger fjelehjifel said...

Wretchard writes: "The grandfather paradox argues that the past exists independently of the present, that it remains graven in the mind of God, beyond our power to alter -- or to besmirch."

Tell it to Pete Rose!

11/29/2005 07:05:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

yeah man wretchard good post.

lawyers guns and money.

Duke handled his guns well.

11/29/2005 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

A very sad story about a true-blue idol with clay feet. This story of the battle w/ Col. Tomb has been told many times, and I think this was before we instituted Red Flag to get back to the kill ratios we had in earlier wars.

Cunningham is going down hard, like it seems Republicans do when caught. Compare this to the Clinton/Gore "fund raising investigations" that led to dozens of guilty pleas, record fines from everyone from Lippo to Loral, and some of the most amazing excuses I've ever heard. Remember when the VP's office Lotus Mail Server was supposedly destroyed by someone using the wrong tape? !!! Many who read this blog have IT backgrounds, and know that a business critical Lotus Notes system would be backed up to a fare-thee-well and could never be accidentally wiped as described in the cover story.

Somehow, people that the Clintons and Gore knew for over a decade were all implicated, plead guilty, paid fines, fled the country, etc. - but somehow the principals in the story were completely untouched. Yeh, sher.

Duke Cunningham lived to die another day, but at least he admitted his guilt and will take his punishment. So sad is human frailty, especially among the fiercest among us.

11/29/2005 07:42:00 AM  
Blogger Doug Santo said...

It is a mistake to exult in the demise of Randy Cunningham. Obviously, he has made mistakes. He got caught; he owned up to it; and he will be punished. He expressed personal responsibility for his actions; he expressed contrition; and he expressed a desire to repay his friends and admirers through community service of some type.

This man was and is an American hero. A hero who got caught up in the Washington political atmosphere.

I am sad about Randy Cunningham...very sad. But, I still admire and respect him the same way I still admire and respect Pete Rose. Courageous and talented people also make mistakes. Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. Randy Cunningham should be in the annals of American heroes.

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA

11/29/2005 07:42:00 AM  
Blogger Martel-Sobieski said...

In this neck of the woods Cunningham is something like close to the nearest thing we have available to a "hometown hero." (Is it just me, or is this almost an anachronism anymore?) San Diego (myopically) stil believes it's a small "Navy Town" despite being 100 times more diversified and 10 times larger than it was 30 years ago when Downtown San Diego was nothing but an endless boulevard of seedy sailor bars, obsolete sailor arcades, sailor strip joints and linoleum-encusted sailor-diners, and the most forlorn stretches of official military-industrial and civic concrete and masonry ever erected.

San Diego has grown up mightiliy, it is now all shining steel and glass, a crane on every other block, a shiny new condo tower on every corner, a friendly gang of wetbacks out in front of Home Depot to help you put in that new masonry-and-iron fencing to keep themselves out of your yard, and more official graft, corruption, malfeasance, incompetence, influence-peddling and scandal than anyplace in the Nation.

That Randy "Duke Cunningham, having cashed in on his reputation in order to join in this hog-trough of a cesspit of a shit-encrusted toilet of a sewer of political corruption that is San Diego, no one should really be surprised at how sordidly it all ended. What is surprising is that he had the balls to stand up and take his medicine like a man instead of forming a phalanx of greasy, beady-eyed, morality-deficient lawyers and ramrodding through to some kind of "sleaze-bargain." The way this town works, there would no doubt be some friendly old-boy "judge" who is just as compromised by filthy lucre as Cunningham to let him off with some kind of a misdemeanor.

Maybe the sun fries thier brains, maybe there's something in the water, maybe it's just proximity to Tijuana, but San Diego is the Third World of U.S. Politics, a Banana Republic of scandal that would do any Central American capital proud.

Randy "Duke" Cunningham just proved it yet again.

11/29/2005 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger Jrod said...

32 years from now I look forward to reading stories of the heroism and bravado displayed by our elected representatives who served in Iraq and Afganistan. Surely by then there will be a cure for corruption...?

11/29/2005 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Meanwhile, Sandy Berger walks out with classified documents from the National Security Council pertaining to terrorism under the Clinton adminhistratoin stuffed in his socks, is caught, confesses ... and he pleads guilty to a misdeamnor, nothing else is done, and he's bopping around a free and jovial man today.

I guess if you're a Democrat in charge of preventing bad guys from actually KILLING people it's not as big a deal as a Republican war hero who took bribe money.

11/29/2005 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

The grandfather paradox, for any that care, would be defeated if the theory of the multiverse was accurate.

Every space-time unitary value, potential or otherwise, has its own inviolable coordinate. These coordinates are pre-arranged like tiny bells, to be rung or bypassed as individual narratives proceed forward in time.

Causation rings many of these bells, chance rings some, choice rings others. But whether they are rung in this world or another, they exist eternally and forever as coordinates of possibility.

Going back and killing your grandfather presupposes the admixture of two independent narratives. If it were possible to jump from one narrative to the next, to go from 2005 to 1945, on closer inspection you would see not a jump backwards, but an entirely new narrative, one that was always there, always possible--and finally realized.

11/29/2005 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Before I'd pass judgement on Mr Cunningham's life, taken for the full measure of the man that he is and was.

What were the bribes for?
Military hardware?
Was it shoddy or second rate equipment?
Overpriced?
Late for shipment?
What do you sell for 2.4 million?
What did it buy?

How many US troops may have died because of Cunningham's corruption, if any?

What was the true nature of his criminal behaviour?
What was the REAL cost to Society?

Good thing he got 'Col. Tomb' when he did, at least for Mr Willie Driscoll's sake.

11/29/2005 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

I'm very curious why everyone is praising Cunningham for admitting his guilt and avoiding a trial.

pork rinds for allah said...
How about the fact he ADMITTED his guilt, no excuses, just his guilt. How many times have people had excuses?


His is admission is not honorable. At most he is making the best of a bad situation. If he were not caught and cornered he would have continued on his crimminal path.

Duke's past heroics, and they are amazing, are irrevocably damaged by his actions.

11/29/2005 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

As for Cunningham, he has succeeded in supplying his name with an irremovable asterisk. Better for him if it qualifies his heroism. Most likely it will follow his corruption.

Sad.

11/29/2005 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger PSGInfinity said...

jrod,

Sadly, no, although I take it that you're asking the question rhetorically. Life's lessons must be felt to be believed, and all must learn them, independently. Some of us are better students than others, and no curriculum can overcome hubris.

What's really tough is that we know several of our current young heroes will stumble later in life.

11/29/2005 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Desert,

Looks like a lot of Cunningham's transgressions centered around getting business for MZM: http://www.publicintegrity.org/wow/bio.aspx?act=pro&ddlC=40

Look what they do: classified engineering, supplying translators to Iraq, they recently opened a 70-man classified sub-contractor facility to IMC in WV, which Sen. Byrd "helped."

Sounds a lot like the kinds of operations Rep. Murtha built in Johnstown and W. Pa.

In this kind of business, there's no way of knowing if the work was shoddy or worth what we paid.

The fact that others do the same doesn't make it any less criminal. (Not saying Murtha has done anything wrong! Byrd I won't defend.) The fact that he took a plea and is cooperating is the best we can say. We can't demand honesty and integrity from the other side if we don't demand the same from our side.


Nancy Pelosi already grandstanding and trying to smear all Republicans in Congress with this. I suppose she imagines we all forget the $700K in "consulting fees" that Webb Hubbell got from folks like Lippo - after he was convicted, and for which he did nothing visible.

All of this pales compared to moving controlled technology from State to Commerce, and then having Hughes and Loral "accidentally" give away our secrets to the PRC.

Like I said, if one of our guys is guilty, so be it, let him pay the price. I just regret that Ken Starr focused on Whitewater and Monica, instead of the major damages inflicted on the US in Chinagate.

I'm only referencing comparable crimes here, what Sandy Berger and the former administration did regarding Al Qaeda is in a far more serious class, also ignored, forgotten and denied by Dems today.

11/29/2005 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

I’m in Cunningham’s district in San Diego. He had attained something of here status here. I know people who are close to him. It’s just a damned shame.

San Diego is a little big town, or a small town that thinks it’s all grown up. Back in the 80’s there was a great exultation of corporate governance and its’ efficiencies compared to public government. The notion was promulgated that if government was run like a business then certainly that government would become more efficient. But in the rubric of social spending it also stands that a more efficient government can do more with less.

Enter the notion of profit. In the 90’s San Diego passed a number of local measures, they were passed to pay for repairing pot holes, street lights, and to buy pencils for impoverished children, but to date, not a penny of these self imposed taxes have been spent for their intended purpose. Instead the revenues have made their way in the general fund, where they have been invested into speculative mutual funds and the like. San Diego government has all the drawbacks of a bureaucratic institutions’ and all of the greed and mismanagement of a strip club. The new mayor is going to piss of a lot of unions to balance the budget. He is an ex San Diego Sheriff and is beholden only to the emergency services. This is, after all, governments only true charter.

Forget the SoCal environment, this band of elected bandits have become complacent because there hasn’t been a hangin’ in San Diego for a long time. Sooner or later the people with pitch forks and torches will have to stand up.

11/29/2005 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

here i sez

11/29/2005 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

HERO!
Crimony

11/29/2005 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger troutjacki said...

It is a sad day but in the end I am not surprised. Randy Cunningham was the only Navy ace since the end of WWII to become an ace flying navy aircraft. He retired as Commander. Think about that. The most accomplished naval aviator in the post war navy didn't even make Captain. I asked a friend, who was a very accomplished fighter pilot and CO of the Navy Test Pilot school about it. He told me the Duke was a reckless pilot whose career had been saved by his hero status. They let him get his twenty years and then got rid of him.

11/29/2005 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Too bad, but "war hero" has long not mixed well with politics. From about the time a valiant corporal with an Iron Cross for acts of conspicuous valor went into politics...

Military medals don't translate into brains, ethics, or an ability to lead. Just ask John Kerry about that - as he is surfeit in all three areas.

Sometimes you do get a man who is a military hero that excels in politics. John Chaffee of Rhode Island, say...Washington & Andrew Jackson, certainly. Or a man who was personally never in combat, but who was a genius as a manager of men, like Eisenhower.

But most heroes riding medals and being a man's man don't cut it in politics.

Best to think of military valor as a very special, very honorable thing we should admire and celebrate the man for - but a skillset that doesn't automatically translate into being a good politician anymore than medals in combat make oneself a good doctor, stock broker, or singer on Broadway.

As for Cunningham going down while Clinton sleazeballs walk - if enriching oneself on political connections and clout was a crime, Kissinger would be in jail for life as would all the Bush Family henchmen at the Carlyle Group. And Cheney wasn't hired as Halliburton's CEO for his brilliant insight into the oil biz, but for his ability to pick up a phone and gain millions in business advantage by the sweet words issuing from his lips to the Energy Committee. Washington DC is full of that. It's disgusting. sleazy, and mostly legal since the lawyer foxes make the rules the taxpayer henhouse runs on.

When politicians screw up in getting the vigorish, it is when they step outside the "rules" of the game. Spiro Agnew actually getting envelopes of cash, Gov John Roland of CT getting free remodeling on his vacation home, Dan Roestenkowski getting cash for franking mail stamps he never used and "special" loans from the Congressional Bank.....stuff that the common man and the law knows is blatant graft.

The cleverer politicians use wives, family, and law firm partners to legally siphon up graft. Hillary was the "rainmaker" at Rose Law exploiting "connections". The whole DeLay family was employed by his Campaign to suck up corporate donor dollars in their family salaries. Tom Daschle's wife was a housewife until he became a Senator heading several Committees - then she became a "Lobbying Genius" on retainer to several firms. Was Wendy Lamm on the Board of Enron and knocking down 100K consults on her own merits or because hubby Phil was a powerful Senator?? This game is replayed all over DC and corporate America with the relatives, friends of, and especially the "retired" connected insiders from Capital Hill, the Executive, and Pentagon brass.

It's how the fatcats get fatter. It's legal.

Duke Cunningham, Spiro, Gov Roland were just too stupid to play the game properly. Those caught up in Jake Abramoff's corruption - DeLay, Rep Ney of Ohio, Conrad Burns of Montana, and several Democrats - all failed to factor in Abramoff's unquenchable money grubbing greed to show his Hollywood relatives HE was a Player as well.

Thanks for serving our Country, Duke Cunningham! We honor you for that....but have a prison stretch that will help reform your greedy soul. I just wish the rules were amended so Wendy Lamm, Hillary, Tom DeLay, Jr., and Kissinger were in adjoining cells.

11/29/2005 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger AST said...

Jet jockeys have to be pretty cocky and a little reckless in order to be good at what they do.

He may have felt that his achievements entitled him to more than his retirement.

Or he may have thought he could get away with it because he was Duke Cunningham.

Or maybe the people who gave him all these gifts flattered him into thinking they were gifts from admirers, not businesses seeking a quid pro quo.

Whatever the reason, he's a tragic hero in the Aristotelian sense. He was riding high, until his fatal flaw, hubris, led him to his downfall.

He's a golden boy and a felon. I wonder if there will be a Top Gun II.

11/29/2005 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Thank you Wretchard,

He is, and was a good man. He was my Congressman...

He did not make a mistake, he committed a crime.

He did the adult thing and will begin paying the price for his actions. I can think of many others that are not the man he is...

The think I like about conservatives is the fact that there will be friends backing him to the level proper, but we accept that the choice to commit the crime was his and his alone. He stands alone in atonement - but not alone in life.

11/29/2005 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

He was one of those almost mythical figures in military aviation, and his exploits were looked on with great admiration. But, unfortunately, I can't say that this surprises me, when this is done by any politician. I also have a hard time giving him credit for his "admission"; there were questions about house and boat deals several months ago, which (in retrospect) was obviously the early stages of this process. And he didn't admit to anything then. I also had wondered in the past why he did not make it past the rank of Commander. But what a great pilot!!

In case anyone is wondering, "Showtime" would have been the generic call sign for the planes in his squadron, and the "100" or "112" would have been the side number of a specific aircraft in that squadron.

11/29/2005 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

Great posts!

I thought he was a friend of Hal Lindsey the author and preacher. A crime like this is writ large in the scriptures. He must have drifted far from the simple clear Word. This may be a great opportunity for him to become reacquainted with the One with whom we all have to do.

He actually seemed to be out of his element in Washington.

Yet he did get "Colonel Tomb". He got him for you and me and we have benefitted mightily.

I have tears in my eyes.

Later.

11/29/2005 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger Westhawk said...

Mr. Cunningham's life thus ends in disgrace - we are very curious about the backstory behind these crimes. Was Mr. Cunningham really interested in all of this opulence, or is there another explanation?

Something else to consider is that he may be the last American human "ace" - the next American ace will very likely be a robot.

In our post

Disgrace opens up a chance for cleansing

we further dicuss the Cunningham scandal.

We assert that the story is far from over. This will likely create a crisis at the Pentagon over procurement corruption. The Bush administration would be well advised to get on the offensive over this broader issue, even if it means that some of their allies will fall.

Westhawk

11/29/2005 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Desert Rat: That is a good point. Much is made over procurement bribe scandals but I am unaware of a single case where such misconduct resulted in the the U.S. taxpayer paying a dime more for the product or servce.
Now - Congressional pork, absurd requirements, ridiculous grand schemes, small and disadvantaged business set-asides, grants and contracts for unneeded items, endless studies - those cost the taxpayer billions and billions every year - and also frequently damage our defense capability. And they are legal.
Bribes are illegal, and correctly so - but usually that is all there is to it.

11/29/2005 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Let me toss my grandfather two cents in the discussion.I am no ace at anything in my military time but surviving a few firefights without disgrace and fighting alongside sterling comrades.
That was then,this is now.At twenty in the heat of battle,adrenalin,loyalty and native cunning can win you accolades and a chance to grow fat and middle aged.And that's where the real rub comes.
It's harder in my experience to be a hero in life than to be a hero on the battlefield.JFK was asked how he became a hero.He said "It was easy,they sank my boat"Being heroic in character and integrity over the long haul is the mark of the true hero.
King David had the stones to kill the giant on a hot afternoon ,but didn't have the moral strength to say no to his desires and was as big a fool as Duke Cunningham in his middle years.We're all pretty complicated.Duke's still a noble warrior,but he sold his good name for a handful of nothing and that's a shame.

11/29/2005 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

C4 states....

sjiofdsdn dfn;kasd nas[fdk jaldj sdlksdf

yep there's a zionist/jew hiding behind all the problems...

mr "jew"

Jake Abramoff.....

C4, once again can find the hidden zog agenda in everything..

congrats...

11/29/2005 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Just for comic relief:

The Phantom was a 30 ton tractor trailer, or oil tanker, chasing the Fresco, a 7 ton truck, only they were sharply compact shapes, like a ray and a shark.

The Phantom could climb at 50k feet per minute, causing itself to build up huge kinetic energy, that the Mig at a fraction of its weight would never achieve. Like David's stone in his sling, Duke's F-4 was the big clumsy lug in this fight.

Like the sharks and rays, these pilots had wings and tails, that they threw against the relentless sea of compressibility. When Cunningham's plane stalled, for even a second, it was 30 ton tanker truck ready to tumble into gravity's grasp.

The fact that he took this crazy chance with the re-born Red Baron on his tail tells you all you need to need to know about a fighter pilot.

. . .

the end of the story sounds like the missile burrowed into Tomb's tail, but the warhead didn't explode. Nice shot, just like a gun.

(I'm hoping Exhelo, RWE and all others jump in and correct and improve this retelling.)

11/29/2005 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger sammy small said...

I hate to be picky but the MiG story is missing some things that cause it to lack continuity. Minor details though. Duke was a great fighter pilot.

The F-4 tended to depart controlled flight at high angles of attack when any aileron was added. Thus the nose drop and often a roll reversal. Quick action would recover and prevent entering into a spin. But is was very distracting during fighting conditions. He was lucky to be higher than the MiG when he departed. His recovery seemed to put him into a firing position pretty handily.

A vertical rolling scissors is not a desired manuver for the F-4 either. The quick loss of airspeed makes maneuvering very difficult. Once the nose has to fall through the horizon, it becomes very difficult to regain a nose high position again without regaining airspeed in a nose low condition. You become very predictable without much airspeed to maneuver. Not a good position to be in. Basically Duke was in a situation where it was going to be either him or the MiG that did not come home that day. His skill proved out.

11/29/2005 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger CasonBlog said...

Adversity can create opportunity. I wish Duke luck in the rehab of his flawed character. Fighter pilots are type A personalities, and they tend to take charge of their surroundings.

11/29/2005 07:43:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Pork,
Thanks, I missed that one skimming over the trash er, post.
Goes to show we can help each other if we carry on with antennas extended and speakers employed.

Expose the agenda in sjiofdsdn dfn;kasd nas[fdk jaldj sdlksdf

11/29/2005 08:02:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

What's wrong with Kissinger, Pork Rinds for Yahweh, if Jake Abramoff is so egregious a name? Kissinger has grubbed more money for influence than Abramoff could ever dream of. Same with Cohen Consultants.

It is hard to talk corruption in DC and not mention Abramoff, because his greed was so overpowering and he made a habit of predating on native Americans. He also flaunted what he did and has involved several top Republicans and at least two Democrats in his ethics scandal. There is also rumors of the Gambino mob and a dead rival in Florida. Abramoff will be a media treat for years of feasting on....

Anyways, my point was that most influence peddlers make their millions unethically, but legally - and it is just the stupid ones (Cunningham) and the extraordinarily greedy ones (Abramoff) that work their scams such that the law snares them.

And again, that "war hero" no more qualifies someone to be a good politician than a Broadway singer..

11/29/2005 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

sammy's description reminds me of some of Yeager's exploits and mishaps in 104's beyond the envelope.
Maybe he or tony or rwe could enlighten us on those.
The F-4 was an amazing airplane.
I had completely forgotten what little I once knew about it's predecessor which was a complete dog.
Was reminded when looking it up on the net after meeting a pilot here that had flown it.
Ex commercial pilot, he wasn't really all that interested in aircraft.
Nonchalantly answered that he had made about 300 carrier landings! I was so focused on his answers that I forgot to ask what if any combat experience he might have had but did not consider mentioning.

11/29/2005 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Fine and necessary for Bush to deplore Duke's transgressions.
Disgusting and disheartening that he does not do the same with ALL the corruption, given that so much the Dems activities was much more destructive in terms of aiding our enemies.
The fact that he did not clean out his left wing justice department and CIA at the outset is sad, and a dereliction of duty.
Why did he not condemn Congress for sealing up the Cisneros investigation after 10's of millions of our dollars were expended checking out that corrupt group of individuals? I know, new tone and all that.
Bottom line is both he and most of the GOP elite in DC, as well as some posters here, are aware of the MSM price to be paid, and how much smoother sailing can be if we just pretend not to see what is so clearly evident from Clinton/Gore/China, to Berglar/Gorelick/Clinton/WOT, and scores of others conveniently swept into the dustbin of "history."
My request of such posters here is to consider the present state of play:
We can be SURE the MSM will do their due diligence rooting out Right Wingers as they did with Duke.
Doesn't it behoove US to try to balance things by putting a little more focus on the left's transgressions?
(NOT at the same time lying and denying about our side. That's a specialty of the Democrats.)
Folks like AJ Strata, right wing radio and others are doing a great job, I wish we all would take responsibility for adding some balance to the exposure of the "Culture of Greed and Corruption." tm.
To always remain above the fray while condemning our own will only result in a more corrupt situation by empowering the left.

11/29/2005 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The most widespread corruption/ripoff overall is mentioned in annoy mouse's post:
Before finishing his sentence, I "knew" it would end in "General Fund."
Here on Maui, one example is that the Maui Police Dept keeps ZERO dollars of the fines received for their work.
...Off to Honolulu to the "General Fund," to be properly skimmed and disposed of.
Same for our centralized "Education" system here: It all ends up in Honolulu.

But the greatest ripoff by far that I am aware of is the stealing of Billions in Social Security Taxes, which through some shoddy sleight of hand ends up in the GENERAL FUND.
The Piper will be paid.

11/29/2005 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

U.S. Paying Iraqi Papers to Run Favorable Stories.
Secret effort to disseminate propaganda in the Iraqi media comes as U.S. officials are vowing to promote democratic principles.

Dem/MSM censorship of all positive stories while focusing on negative is "NEWS."

Favorable stories are PROPAGANDA.

"While the articles are basically truthful, they present only one side of events and omit information that might reflect poorly on the U.S. or Iraqi governments, officials said. Records and interviews indicate that the U.S. has paid Iraqi newspapers to run dozens of such articles -- with headlines such as "Iraqis Insist on Living Despite Terrorism" -- since the effort began this year."

11/29/2005 09:04:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

The F-4 was, arguably, the all-time greatest military aircraft, when you consider the length of time in service, the varied missions it flew, and the great success it had.

11/29/2005 09:20:00 PM  
Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

It sucks when you get caught! This wasn't a single error in judgement, he did this over many years. Millions of dollars...come on! He did seem upset at his press conference, but I would have been more impressed if he had turned himself in, rather letting the wheels of justice "run him over."

11/29/2005 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger hollymer said...

Very sad end to a promising early life but I want to know how/why he was "outed". I guarantee there are many, many more Cunninghams in Congress. Why him and why now???

11/29/2005 10:40:00 PM  
Blogger 13times said...

It seems to me that your take on the grandfather paradox fits perfectly when applied to men such as Gen. G.A. Custer.

There are two Custers, one that led calvary units to stunning victories and post Civil War Custer who is besmirched as a war criminal. The federal government sanctioned the Indian Wars and sent men like Custer to do the job. No matter how Custer is viewed now, he did what he was odered to do.

There is only one Lt. Randy Cunningham and no one ordered him to take bribes or cheat on his taxes or to screw other contractors out of a fair bidding process.

Club Fed or Naval Consolidated Brig, Charleston, South Carolina?

11/29/2005 11:11:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

I have to echo desert rat's thinking:

Before I'd pass judgement on Mr Cunningham's life, taken for the full measure of the man that he is and was.

What were the bribes for?
Military hardware?
How many US troops may have died because of Cunningham's corruption, if any?
What was the true nature of his criminal behaviour?
What was the REAL cost to Society?


I do remember see a PBS special on the Navy "Top Gun" training school which is really named Miramar Naval Air Base in San Diego, California (in my back yard). The show told about Duke Cunningham's dog fight with "Col. Tomb" or "Col. Toon." The historians believed that it was the longest jet dog fight in history. Cunningham thought he shot down the best North Vietnamese Ace at that time. But, it now appears that "Col. Toon" was probably a composite of one or more pilots with the same handle - and maybe a Russian pilot - at that.

'Colonel Toon'

The pilot was mis-identified as North Vietnam's leading ace, "Colonel Toon," allegedly with 13 aerial victories.
Exactly whom "Duke" shot down on his final kill of the day, the one that made him an ace, has been the subject of conjecture. Early on, sources claimed the pilot was the top Vietnamese ace known as "Col. Tomb" in the media. Later research has shed more light on the subject; in fact, "Col. Tomb" did not exist. He was most likely a flight leader or squadron commander of the 923rd Regiment. Whoever the Vietnamese pilot was, the historic dogfight made "Duke" Cunningham the first US ace of the Vietnam conflict.

See: Flying Aces

[No such NV Ace]

...Cunningham and the power of his trusty F-4J prevailed and the MiG dived away to make a fundamental error of opening the range and presenting his tail. The American made the most of the opportunity. He curved after the enemy plane, placed the gunsight pipper over it and squeezed the trigger. The Sidewinder detonated beside the tail of the MiG, which didn't blew up, but simply flew into the ground. For many years, stories were explained around, about Lt. Cunningham shooting down the greatest Vietnamese „ace", „Col. Tumb" or „Toon". Yet, during his visit to Vietnam, Dr. Toperczer couldn't find any records about a man with this name. Actually, there were very few pilots in the SRVAF, and they knew each other very well from the training and from joint service. Yet, nobody remembered any „Col. Toon" or „Tomb" (the name „Tomb" doesn't even exists in the Vietnamese language) , and in 1972 there was not a single flying pilot in the SRVAF with the rank of Colonel. Also, if the SRVAF would have an ace with 13 kills to his credit, the Northvietnamese propaganda would certainly have used him.

See: acig

[more research shows he was probably a composite]

*From: "Robert S. Hopkins, III" ...from H-War Subject: REPLY: Foreigners in North Vietnam Author's Subject: REPLY: Foreigners in North Vietnam Date Written: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 12:35:00 -0600 Date Posted: Thu, 1 Apr 1999 09:15:00 -0600 The question of foreign pilots flying MiGs for the Vietnamese Peoples' Air Force (VPAF) is still a mystery. On 10 May 1972, U.S. Navy pilot and RSO Randy Cunningham and Willie Driscoll downed three MiG-17s, making them the war's first aces (they had two previous "kills"). The final victory was over what "Duke" Cunningham told me was one of the best pilots against whom he had ever flown. The pilot of this final "kill" was reportedly a "Colonel Tomb" (also "Toon"), the VPAF leading ace with 13 "kills." When Cunningham, first in his capacity as an instructor at VF-126 (one of the U.S. Navy Adversary units) and later as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, tried to get copies of audio tapes made of the radio transmissions between the pilot of the last MiG he and Driscoll shot down and the Vietnamese ground controllers, Cunningham was (and still has been) denied access to them as "too sensitive, and he lacked a 'need to know'." In my own research on this issue (published in the late _Journal of Military Aviation_, I address the *possibility* that the pilot was not Vietnamese and was perhaps Russian. If so, this would have been especially sensitive, considering it meant that U.S. and Soviet pilots were in direct combat with one another, regardless of the nationality of the airplane. This is not unheard of, as Soviet pilots are now known to have flown in DRK MiG-15s during the Korean War. Jack Broughton, a retired F-105 pilot, relates in his book _Thud Ridge_ that on one occasion he saw a VPAF MiG-19 so close that he could visually discriminate the pilot, who, he said, had the blondest hair and the bluest eyes, suggesting someone other than an Asian. At least one source with whom I spoke suggested that the mysterious Colonel Tomb was a special radio identification given by U.S. Electronic Security Command eavesdroppers (who monitored VPAF air-to-ground and ground-to-air radio transmissions) to *any* non-Vietnamese pilot who was airborne. We know that the Soviets did send instructors to teach the VPAF pilots, especially when they acquired later variants of the MiG-21. It is not inconceivable that one or more of these instructors found themselves in combat. [A similar situation occurred over Egypt when Israeli F-4s and Mirage IIIs shot down five Egyptian MiG-21s piloted by Soviet instructors.] Perhaps other members of this discussion group can shed further light on foreign pilots flying with the VPAF. R*** S. Hopkins, III, Ph.D.

[and]

two email copied: *From: "Sherwood.J***" Sherwood.J***@***.navy to: H-War Subject: REPLY: North Vietnamese Fighter Aces Date Written: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 08:20:30 -0400 Date Posted: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 14:22:43 -0500 This is an unclassified list compiled by Rob Young of the National Air Intel Center History Office: Nguyen Van Coc 9 Luu Huy Chao 8 Mai Van Cuong 8 Pham Thanh Ngan 8 Nguyen Hong Nhi 8 Nguyen Van Bay 7 Vu Ngoc Dinh 6 Nguyen Ngoc Do 6 Dang Ngoc Ngu 6 Nguyen Duc Soat 6 I have another more definitive list compiled by Istvan Toperczer, a Hungarian Air Force officer and the author of the _Air war over North Vietnam: the Vietnamese People's Air Force: 1949-1975_. However, I need to consult with him before posting that list on H-War. Both Toperczer and Young vehemently deny the existance of Toon and have hard evidence to back up their claims. Anyone interested in this subject should consult Toperczer's book. I met with Toperczer two weeks ago in Budapest and learned that he is working on a more detailed follow-on work to be published in the near future. He also informed me that Osprey plans to reprint his first book. He's a very skilled researcher who has interviewed many of the top Vietnamese officers, and in my opinion has compiled the definitive statistics on this issue. John D****l Sherwood, Ph.D. Naval Historical Center
...

See: Archives

11/30/2005 12:06:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

I had read about the controversial existence of Col. Tomb and had always assumed he was some other senior NV pilot. The idea that he might have been an Eastern bloc pilot never occurred to me. There is however the suggestion by a certain Darrel Sherwood of the Naval Historical Center, who wrote a book called Afterburner, that "Colonel Tomb" was "a Major Ton with 10 kills".

11/30/2005 01:13:00 AM  
Blogger ledger said...

Yes, I read Sherwood's reports and Ton maybe the one. I understood that Cunningham could actualy see the pilot during the dog fight. Hence, I would guess Cunningham who know what the pilot's race was. Which lead back to Ton or another Asian pilot.

11/30/2005 01:36:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

More about the possible Major Ton.

11/30/2005 01:37:00 AM  
Blogger ledger said...

Yes, it could have been Le THANH Dao. But, why could not Congressman Cunningham get the actual voice tapes from the US Military - unless they of very sensitive nature - like a Russian pilot speaking.

11/30/2005 02:15:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

The argument that Cunningham's graft didn't have any effect on others just doesn't hold water.

The contractors that paid him surely make huge margins or they wouldn't be doing what they're doing. But the money still changes hands and it has to come from somewhere. As usual it is the average working stiff that pays the piper.

As a taxpayer I'm outraged. Whenever such an exercise is exposed, heads must roll. I hope the A.G. digs to the bottom of this and makes some examples.

As a patriot, I'm saddened by the circumstance of one who has put his life and extraordinary talents at risk for his country, a good man gone bad.

He must atone as he has already indicated.

11/30/2005 05:04:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

An AIM-9 does not make such a big bang that you can be sure you will see it. The first Mig-21 the USAF shot down they hit it twice with Sidewinders because the did not realize that they had got it with the first one.
The Israelis noted this and produced their own version of the Sidewinder, with a warhead so large that the enemy jet went up in a fireball - and took the precious trained pilot with it.

I would have to consult my copy of Cunningham's book, but I believe the combat that day ended with Cunningham and his RO having to punch out after they got the third Mig.
As for the taxpayer taking the hit for the bribes - those profit margins that enable the bribes are carefully controlled and approved by DoD. The taxpayer would be out the same big bucks whether the companies payed the bribes or not.
Needless to say, "Bribed a Congressman" will not be considered as a legitimate expense by the auditors, so it comes out of other funds.

11/30/2005 06:07:00 AM  
Blogger bearstar said...

The Col Tomb story comes from the movie with Robert Mitchum from the 50's about Korea and the F-86's.
In movies you always need a bad guy, an adversary.
It was just repeated .
From the accounts of Duke's exploits, it sounds like he was very lucky on that particular day and it has occurred to me that at least he will be serving time in an American prison rather than the Hanoi Hilton.

There is a great sadness within the fighter piot community because of his now known failings, his loss of honor affects all of those of us who served in Vietnam regardless of our jobs.
And I am very sad that he chose to allow himself to be so arrogant as to believe the rules did not apply to him .
I have known of drug dealers who covered their asses better than he has.

Regarding those of you who attack Clinton on a regular basis, or any other sitting President, your aim is too low.
Presidents are just figureheads, it's all of those unelected people who come in with each administration that cause problems with corruption, some of the people who were in Nixon's administration have now been in Washington for over 30 years .
Neither party, and I am an Independent, has a corner on self righteousness .
The Republican party ran against Jimmy Carter right up until Clinton was elected.
And I suggest that if you continue to berate Clinton, you will make the same mistake again.
What passes for a Democrat in one area of the country passes as a Republican in a different part of the country .
It serves no purpose to attack one man while there are 400 plus Representatives and 50 US Senators who are also quite responsible.
In one such " discussion " I was challenged by someone who told me he was as far as the right as you can get

( politically that would include the Klan and the Nazis )
" You liked Clinton don't you " Told him yes, I did.
Didn't bring up the fact that I also liked Harry Truman, Eisenhauer, Kennedy, respected LBJ , voted for Nixon the first time, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush Senior.
This devisiveness reminds me in history how it must have been prior to the Civil War and also the Revolutionary War .

Duke forgot the basic principle of a fighter pilot's rules " Cover your 6 "

11/30/2005 06:32:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

Had he "covered his six" better he would still be taking bribes. The problem is when politicians do something that requires "covering their six."

11/30/2005 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

OT, but I think of interest to many here:
. Meaningless Hot Air Links "Xooglers" a site by two X Google Employees and also a nice Business week article.
If you are interested in the energy/hardware it takes to run the net, be sure to download the pdf at one of the links. (in comments? I forgot, will check.)
Disk Capacity is radically reducing energy needs.

The pdf shows that transporting net archive by boat to Sidney is faster than by cable!!!

11/30/2005 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

bearstar says,
"Neither party, and I am an Independent, has a corner on self righteousness."
---
...but you think being an "independent" is better than being a dem or gop:

I think supporting the GOP (and outliers like Senator Liebermann) at a time when the Dems have largely lost all connection to a patriotic reality is superior.

...and Destructive Presidents like CARTER and Clinton are part of our history, as is the revisionism in real time practiced by the MSM, and many "moderates" and "independents."

11/30/2005 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Quiz,
What are the first 3 presidents with the most places and things named after them?

11/30/2005 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Make that the first 3 historical figures in our history.

11/30/2005 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

rwe said:

"As for the taxpayer taking the hit for the bribes - those profit margins that enable the bribes are carefully controlled and approved by DoD. The taxpayer would be out the same big bucks whether the companies payed the bribes or not.
Needless to say, "Bribed a Congressman" will not be considered as a legitimate expense by the auditors, so it comes out of other funds."

rwe, get serious, whether the contractor calls it "contingency" or "overhead" or "bribe money" on his books, it's still part of his cost of doing business. If he wants to stay in business, his price will need to cover his cost, hence his contract price has to go up.

I would say that the "millions of dollars" that ended up in Mr. Cunningham's pocket is probably the tip of the iceberg of money that is earmarked for same by defense contractors and others if they expect to do business with our government.

Either way, it ends up costing US as taxpayers more to supply the DOD. Your justifications are part of the problem.

Obviously you've spent too many years on the side of big bureaucracy to have remebered Econ 101.

I understand what others are saying about the cost in lives and other national resources being far greater in value to what has happened here, as in a contemporary congessman from PA calling for immediate pullout of troops in Iraq, for whatever motivation.

11/30/2005 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Seems this debate on Bribery and etc, "Money in Politics" is no longer relevant:
That was all fixed by:
"Campaign Finance Reform"

Thank McCain and Feingold, President Bush, and the Supremes.

11/30/2005 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger RCM said...

The defense of Randy Cunningham's wrong doing reminds me of an ethically disoriented acquaintance’s discussion of a speeding ticket with the awarding officer:

“But officer, you don’t understand!”

“Don’t understand what, sir? You were going 50 mph in a 35 mph zone.”

“But officer, that white Cadillac passed me doing at least 60 right when you clocked me.”

“Sometimes one car will block out another car when the reading is taken - you were going 50 though; this gun was calibrated this morning.”

“But officer, he was passing me, he had to be going 65!”

“Sir, you were clocked 15 miles over the speed limit.”

“But officer, he is a dangerous threat to society.....going 70 mph like that!”

“Please sign here sir.”

“But,...but officer... he was more deserving......”

“Excuse me, sir. How fast did you think you were going, anyway?”

“Well,...er...about 50,....but he was going......”

“Have a nice day, sir!”

The moral to this story is simple: It doesn’t matter what other people did when you’re the one being judged -- it only matters what you did.

I certainly understand the angst that many here feel about the Clinton sleaze bags getting off for even worse incidences of law-breaking, but ask yourself, what is the standard?

If the standard is that of honesty and integrity, Randy Cunningham got just what he deserved. I do believe that his past and present are toted up correctly only by God and that evaluation will never be known to us.

Many have had failures in their lives that had they become public, they too would have been humiliated...even shamed. I have asked God to forgive me for my mistakes and He has...and He will do the same for Randy...if he asks for forgiveness, honestly, from his heart.

Based on the belated goodness in him that allowed him to accept the guilt of his actions and "do the right thing" in helping the government pursue this case, there is a deeper question.

Will he ever forgive himself? If not, and if he is one possessing a conscience, that is a silent, driving, and painful consequence that will last him a lifetime. That in addition to his time in prison.

He should pick up one of Chuck Coleson's books about his time during Watergate. It was a hard thing to say back then, but today Coleson says that Watergate was the best thing that ever happened to him. It got him back to top-dead-center and an honest relationship with his maker.

11/30/2005 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

Cunningham did eject. He ran out of fuel.

That day was the culmination of many events starting with John Boyd's discovery of EM and the very poor kill ratio in Vietnam leading to the Navy opening the Fighter Weapons School.

The F4 has an advantage at low altitude over most other fighters due to the thick air which makes it wings and control surfaces very useful and the thick air can feed the engine allowing the F4 to gain and dump speed faster. Its interesting to note that Cunningham used rudder over aileron at the end of the engagement - he had to keep his nose up - Boyd taught the same thing at Nellis. Its also interesting to note that at the time of the engagement, Cunningham had very little fuel left making the F4 a rocket sled due to its very low weight.

Tomb gambled by engaging the F4. A fully fueled F4 could have departed the fight, reengaged, and departed if it did not get a good shot, and just circled and waited Tomb out.

Why Tomb was out over the water is a good question - was he trying to pick off damaged aircraft as they left the battle? Or did he come from somewhere else and was about the go into the fight?

Outside of this envelope of low altitude - the F4 is at a disadvantage from a pure EM perspective. However, the extra set of eyes and brain that the REO brings to the battle can more than compensate for this.

You can read about this in Wilcox's "Scream of Eagles"

As for whom Tomb was is known by some due to the communications intercepts that should still be around from those days. But this will probably stay classified.

11/30/2005 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Fernand_Braudel said...

During the time of the Roman Republic, bribe takers were punished by death...

...woe to the people that tolerates bribery any less.

11/30/2005 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger Kyda Sylvester said...

Whatever Randy "Duke" Cunningham did on the tenth of May, 1972, it remains true that on the 29th day of November, 2005, "Congressman Randy Cunningham pled guilty to receiving $2.4 million in bribes from military contractors and evading more than $1M in taxes".

11/30/2005 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

enscout: Oh come now! Do you really think that if a contractor can charge the Govt, say, $25M for something, that he will charge only $23M just because he does not have to pay a bribe?
If he gets the contract and the charges are allowable and his bid is competitive, then he will charge it. Because he can. And because he can't charge so many other things.
If he can charge $25M and pocket the bribe money instead of paying it out he will do it.
Admittedly, he may have to charge $22M or less to get the contract if he does not have a friendly Congressman on his side - and that is the real problem for the taxpayer - and it is also very dependent on the situation.
Without the Congressman there might not be a contract at all for anyone. Which is probably how it should be in virtually all cases.
I am familiar with one case where Congressman Murtha told the USAF to buy something it did not need - and futhermore would scrap it when it received it - because he wanted to get some money to one of his constituants. And I only know that when I overheard it while dealing with another piece of pork for a certain Senator from AK.

11/30/2005 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Bearstar - great post.

I'm embarrassed to say I was the first to muddy this thread with "political" references. But my primary point was to COMPARE similar events, and the way the political parties and the MSM treat them.

Here's a neutralized version of my original observation:

Cunningham is going down hard, like it seems Republicans do when caught. Compare this to the Smith/Jones "fund raising investigations" that led to dozens of guilty pleas, record fines from everyone from Acme to Zippo, and some of the most amazing excuses I've ever heard.

11/30/2005 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

rwe:

maybe I'm missing something here. Doesn't the gov't award contracts based on the competitive nature of bids? Doesn't the low bidder, if he meets the spec and delivery requirement get the award?

I imgine it's different for cutting edge stuff like fighter aircraft and such, but for the great majoity if DOD expenditures, it works like private sector.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

If that is the case, when I submit a bid for 200,000 cases of MRE's I have to calculate my costs, add my margins & let the bid fly.

If I've been around the game long enough to know that my competition has been giving bribes to senator x, well then I'd better be paying someone with equal clout a visit with my payola or my bid ends up under the table. Hence, my bribe money guarantees equal exposure.

But it also adds to my cost & therefore, unless I cut my margins, adds to my quoted price as well.

This all adds up to an inflationary spiral for cost of goods procured by DOD.

Tell me what I'm missing.

11/30/2005 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Kyda Sylvester,

That's true and so obviously true that is amazing that anyone forgets it. Our grandads and grandmas may have been hell-raisers at one time, or perhaps, saints at another, depending on how we remember them. I remember listening to a radio interview by Salman Rushdie who was asked why he titled his latest novel "Shalimar the Clown" and not just "Shalimar", since the character was tragic. Rushdie instantly replied, "because I want the reader to remember that his life began in sweetness".

11/30/2005 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger mdubs105 said...

Westhawk said "Something else to consider is that he may be the last American human "ace" - the next American ace will very likely be a robot.". This is incorrect. That honor goes to United States Air Force Capt. Steve Ritchie and Capt. Chuck Debellvue. Ritchie shot down his 5th plane in August 1972 - 4 months AFTER Cunningham. Chuck Debellvue , his rear seater was actually the leading scorer of the war with 6 kills -- much to the embarrassment of the driver ( front-seater) community.

11/30/2005 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger mdubs105 said...

The description of Cunningham's 5th kill is very revealing about the future Congressman's temperment. If you read between the lines what you see is an opportunist who was willing to go outside the lines a little to get his 5th kill.
Aerial warfare as practiced by the Navy and USAF in Vietnam was a TEAM sport. One on one jousting was NOT encouraged. Read the story again with a critical eye....Kill #3 and #4 came within a TEAM environment - Cunningham and Driscoll are in the middle of the fight both giving and receiving help from wingmen. SInce it was a Linebacker strike, this meant they also had support from Wild Weasel aircraft who were keeping the SAMs (Surface to Air Missiles) off the strike package.
But now read about the 5th kill. They are alone in the sky - someone got lost - either Cunningham was a flight lead and his wingman got lost, OR Cunningham lost his lead. Either way the situation is not good. You are over North Vietnam ( heading for the coast) at 10,000 feet and are alone. No wingman, no Wild Weasel support. Chances are high that they were low on gas and probably needed to find a tanker since they were outbound.
Now along comes a MIG 17 . Cunningham could have easily blown right through him and continued for the coast. He already had 2 MIGS for the day - an incredibly successful mission !
Instead Duke Cunningham sees his opportunity to get that 5th MIG so he decides to engage.
He does so in a manner that breaks the first rule of aerial combat - choose your fight in a manner that uses your plane's advantages to best effect.
Above 540 KCAS the MIG 17 was no threat to an F4 - above 500 knots the MIG has to operate in afterburner at a huge fuel flow AND his controls stiffen and become less responsive. To make things worse his Atoll missiles do not operate at this speed due to the poor seeker head and buffeting from the way the missile was strapped to the plane. Morale of the story - keep your MACH high... Cunningham instead gets into a rolling vertical scissors with the MIG! This is playing to the MIG'S strong suit.
The only thing that makes sense is that the F4 did not have enough gas to fight at high speed with repeated passes.
Anyway - once committed to the fight Cunningham has a chance to break off and leave. He separates by two miles - but then incredibly goes back! Search the internet for the story and you'll see that Driscoll actually suggested that they might want to go home at that point. But Cunningham wants that 5th MIG! His Fangs are out and he isn't going to take no for an answer. REASON - MIGS were in fact RARE. He might never get another opportunity like this and he was going to seize the moment. So back he goes and eventually they splash the MIG.
Cunningham was one lucky MOFO that day - subsequent to the MIG kill his plane was hit by a Surface to Air Missile and he and Driscoll rode the plane out over the water and ejected.
One suspects that the NAVY was not thrilled with Cunningham's performance in the dogfight with the 5th MIG. Going it alone over enemy territory is reckless when you don't have to. Risking your life and that of your RIO for a bit of glory is doubly bad. Getting your plane shot out from under you is triply so. However - given that Cuningham was now an ACE this was probably all swept aside, and instead they made him a "hero".
Don't get me wrong - Cunningham was a hero regardless of his status as an Ace . All the pilots who daily flung their craft into the air over North Vietnam where they were effectively human skeet for NVN gunners are heroes. The Flak, SAMS, and MIGS made the environment incredibly deadly.
However - Duke's performance that day reveals his willingness to bend or break the rules when an opportunity presented itself. Sadly he appears to have followed the same approach as a Congressman.

11/30/2005 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger Kingwolf said...

Nothing that Cunningham has done as a Congressman will diminish the fact that as a fighter pilot, he was the first and only Ace of the Vietnam War and shot down three MiG's in one day. In that respect, he is a hero.

Nothing that Cunningham did as a fighter pilot in 1972 will diminish the fact that as a Congressman, he betrayed his trust to the American public by taking bribes. In that respect, he is a criminal.

12/01/2005 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/01/2005 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

For all you airplane nuts, here's a pic of the P-38 Lightning and the F-4. Maybe the Phantom's only competitor in the "multi-role" category.

Lightning and Phantom Formation

12/01/2005 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger mdubs105 said...

once more into the breach-- according to KINGWOLF , Duke Cunningham was the First and ONLY ace of the Vietnam war...this is incorrect- there were in fact 5 Aces in the war - the official list of Vietnam War Aces is as follows:

VIETNAM ACES

6 Charles D Bellevue, Capt USAF (non-pilot)
5 Randall Cunningham, USN
5 William Driscoll, USN (non-pilot)
5 Jeffery S Feinstein, Capt USAF (non-pilot)
5 Richard S Ritchie, Capt USAF

Because there were two seat aircraft ( the F-4 phantom, the F-105 F & G, The A-6 intruder) in service during Vietnam, kills were officially credited to both the pilot and the RIO ( Navy term) or EWO ( Air Force term)...aka the "guy in the back" ( actually the A-6 pilots sat side-by-side, but I don't think they had any kills anyway).

Note that the highest scoring ace was an Air Force EWO!

also notable as a two war ace was Col. Robin Olds of Operation Bolo fame who shot down 4 planes in Vietnam, and 12 in WWII .

12/01/2005 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

Mdub wrote:

"Cunningham's 5th kill is very revealing about the future Congressman's temperment. If you read between the lines what you see is an opportunist who was willing to go outside the lines a little to get his 5th kill.
Aerial warfare as practiced by the Navy and USAF in Vietnam was a TEAM sport.."

And some other innacuracies from somone who has never either known a naval aviator nor played any of the sims.

Cunningham was alone heading out to sea when he was engaged. He could either extend and leave the fight or engage. As a fighter piot his job is to Kill Migs. Period.

If there had been ten Migs, then he should have left. But one or Two? If he'd left the fight, he'd be shirking his duty. Cuningham did the right thing.

The battle itself is considered a masterpiece - the manuever fighter vs the energy fighter on the envelope between where the two planes have advantages and disadvantages. Cunningham used all the tricks he learned at Top Gun and put them to good effect.

As for how he got downed, it was a SAM.

http://www.acepilots.com/vietnam/cunningham.html

Dogfighting is a team effort, but if you are alone and get jumped, then you have to decide what to do. As a grad of Top Gun, Cunnigham should be able to best any pilot the enemy throws up in a one on one.

12/01/2005 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger Kingwolf said...

I see that the minutia bogs down the point. As revised:

Nothing that Cunningham has done as a Congressman will diminish the fact that as a fighter pilot, he and his co-pilot were the first Aces of the Vietnam War and shot down three MiG's in one day. In that respect, he is a hero.

Nothing that Cunningham did as a fighter pilot in 1972 will diminish the fact that as a Congressman, he betrayed his trust to the American public by taking bribes. In that respect, he is a criminal.

12/02/2005 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger mdubs105 said...

Red River posts...."And some other innacuracies from somone who has never either known a naval aviator nor played any of the sims. "...

If SIMS are your source for knowledge on this subject you are way out in left field . SIMS? SIMS are BS. In real life you can die when you play "you bet your ass"... many did...for the record my dad flew 100 Missions over North Vietnam and I personally know many USAF and NAVY pilots who flew in Vietnam.

Ask the professionals who were really there - the general rule of thumb was "no wingman, no engagement". Obviously if you were jumped this doesn't apply - but Duke was not jumped - he chose to engage.

" As a fighter pilot his job is to Kill Migs. Period. "

You've been playing too many SIMS...Duke's job was not to kill MIGS. His job was to protect the strike package. Period. Any MIGS he happened to shoot down were merely a bonus. North Vietnam was not Germany in 1944 where we were looking to grind down the Luftwaffe. The whole point was to get the B-52's safely to and from the target.

Now - I'm not saying he was wrong. The attitude is always "every man a tiger" - and you certainly have to be aggressive to be a fighter pilot.... I have asked several fighter pilots specifically about the situation and they all said it was a judgement call.

My point was perhaps he was a tad reckless or opportunistic. He's outbound so definitely low on fuel and looking for a tanker. He has no wingman, and he has no Wild Weasel support to protect him from SAMS. Out of the blue a MIG appears. What if the MIG'S wingman was lurking nearby waiting for him to take the bait? Then it becomes 1 vs. 2 !

You comment "The battle itself is considered a masterpiece - the manuever fighter vs the energy fighter on the envelope between where the two planes have advantages and disadvantages. Cunningham used all the tricks he learned at Top Gun and put them to good effect."

Your romantic description merely underscores my point. What was he doing fighting in the envelope between which the two planes have advantages and disadvantages? Duke probably thought he could wax the dumb guy, only to find he had a tiger by the tail. The smart pilot doesn't look for an even fight. The object is to kill the enemy, not engage in an even contest.

Fortunately for Duke his training enabled him to defeat his opponent. That's why we have Top Gun. The fact that he was shot down by a SAM also points out that perhaps he didn't correctly assess all the variables. He was damn lucky to survive the SAM. Death or a trip to the Hanoi Hilton could have easily been the price for that last MIG. The list of pilots killed by SAMS over NVN is unfortunately quite long.

12/02/2005 10:35:00 PM  
Blogger Dan M said...

Duke was in a brothel, {Washington, D.C.} and he got caught sampling the wares, {money}.

That's what happened to him.

He was caught taking the money while in office. But others, wait to take the money of the Saudi after leaving office.

He proved unable to long sustain the temptation of easy money.

That just makes him human. He wasn't a saint. He was the Duke.

And if he ever came around Philly, Pennsylvania, I'd be right proud to take him out and get him a great Hoagie, and a beer. And I'd be proud to shake his hand.

12/04/2005 10:16:00 PM  
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Blogger robert said...

Not to disparage any part of military service, but why should we be surprised by Cunningham's actions? Are not all of our servicemen taught to exploit every opportunity? to risk all, including life for the sake of the mission? to hesitate at nothing, not even at taking deliberately the life of another? Is it not even preferable for our military to create men with no conscience, except that of their superiors? Have we not seen over and over through our histories that the best of all soldiers, commanders, and conquerers are the very worst of men in civil life, and that rare is an exception to this?

9/17/2007 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

No man, or woman, for that matter, is perfect. Great deeds, and terrible failure, seem inextricably linked at times. It takes great wisdom and great character not to fall into weakness. We must learn to act in accordance with our best nature.
YourWingman

-Sarah

9/17/2007 09:47:00 AM  

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