About That Mistaken Shootdown: The Rest of the Story

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Navy photo by Lt.j.g. Scott Timmester

The U.S. Navy stopped flying F-14s in 2006. Only one nation -- Iran -- continues to fly them.

Last week we reported that Navy Captain Timothy Dorsey, who accidently shot down an Air Force plane during a war game 25 years ago, has been nominated to become a rear admiral.

Battleland’s original piece on the erroneous attack reported – from the Navy’s investigation into the snafu – that the two downed Air Force pilots suffered only “minor injuries.”

Apparently that wasn’t completely accurate.

The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot’s Bill Bartel tracked down one of the two Air Force aviators shot down, and wrote about him Wednesday:

The pilot Dorsey shot down, Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Ross, said his own military career was hampered due to the debilitating back injury he suffered in the crash and eventually cut short by a medical discharge just months before he qualified for a regular pension.

“It cost me a lot,” said Ross, who estimated he has undergone more than two dozen back surgeries in the years since the crash.

“I don’t go a day without thinking about the guy who did this.”

…the missile spun the jet in such a way that Ross was pressed against the canopy rather than the seat as he ejected.

He broke a wrist, dislocated both shoulders and suffered a compression fracture of his spine.

Ross continued in the Air Force, but the injuries hampered his career, he said, forcing him to leave for medical reasons in 1997, less than six months before completing 20 years of service. As a result, he said, he receives a medical pension that is much less than regular military retirement pay.

Ross and others who oppose Dorsey’s nomination contend that his career was saved in part because his father is Vice Adm. James Dorsey Jr., who was assistant deputy chief of naval operations at the time of the missile attack.

Timothy Dorsey said the allegation is not true, adding that his father, who retired in 1991, was long absent from the Navy for most of his career.

The Navy stopped flying the F-14 in 2006. The only nation still flying them is Iran. One crashed in Bushehr province, the site of Iran’s first nuclear power plant, less than a month ago, killing both pilots.