TACTICS AND MORALE
During the first week of October 1990, an F-15E Strike Eagle crashed on a low-level training mission, killing both crew members. A few days later, two F-111 Aardvarks
skimmed off the sand during separate low-level training missions. The fact that the crew members survived amazed everyone. On 9 October, an RF-4 crashed, killing both crew members. The following afternoon, an F-111 hit the ground - the third fatal accident in a week.
Gen. Horner and his staff decided they had seen enough. A three-day stand-down was ordered. We had been working nonstop since our arrival, and, clearly, had approached the edge of the
envelope. A few days of rest and relaxation now would pay dividends later on.
Flying resumed on Saturday, 13 October, but Gen. Horner now restricted all aircraft in theater from going below 1,000 feet. I understood the rationale behind Gen. Horner's decision, but to train properly with LANTIRN and to continue developing sound night tactics, we needed to get down at least to 500 feet.
During the second week of October, our squadron commander, Lt. Col. Bill Cottingham, was
relived of his duties. Squadron morale had been extremely poor of late, and cliques in the pilot group had torpedoed the unit's cohesiveness. LANTIRN pilots from the 34th TFS continued to feel their squadron should have been chosen to deploy. Duck
and I did not have the greatest of attitudes either. We did not want to leave the 4th, and we did everything we could to remain there. LANTIRN might turn out to be extremely important to the 388th TFW, but at that point, it seemed to have driven a wedge between the pilots in the 421st.