AIR FORCE SOUGHT SCAPEGOAT - DROVE
T/SGT MECHANIC TO TAKE OWN LIFE - THOMAS
MUELLER SHOOTS HIMSELF IN HEAD AS SEARCH
PARTY CLOSES IN - UNFAIRLY BLAMED FOR
BOTCHED CONTROL ROD HOOK-UP - PILOT DIES
IN CRASH AT SPANGDAHLEM AFB IN GERMANY
BRASS CHARGED MUELLER WITH "DERELICTION
OF DUTY" AND "NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE" - BOARD OF
CORRECTIONS REVEALED PROSECUTORS HAD
WITHHELD EXCULPATORY EVIDENCE - GENERALS
WANTED MUELLER COURT-MARTIALED ANYWAY
© 2011 MilitaryCorruption.com
By MAJ GLENN MacDONALD, USAR (Ret)
In the last conscious moments of his life, Air Force T/Sgt. Thomas Mueller agonized over the injustice that had overtaken him. Up in his hiding place - a hunter's shack perched in a tree - he slowly brought the pistol to his head, said a prayer, and pulled the trigger.
The German-born NCO had been charged with "dereliction of duty" and "negligent homicide," which would have ended his 17-year military career and put him in prison for a long time. Mueller decided he would deny the generals their "pound of flesh." His court-martial was set to begin on that day.
He and a fellow sergeant had been accused of performing faulty maintenance on an F-15C fighter-jet based at Spangdahlem AFB. The result - a pilot, Maj. Donald Lowry Jr. - was killed as the plane cartwheeled into a fireball on take-off May 17, 1995.
BOARD OF CORRECTIONS CRITICAL OF PROSECUTION
WITHHOLDING EXCULPATORY EVIDENCE
It was a bitter irony that the Air Force Board of Corrections later found that zealous prosecutors had withheld evidence that Mueller was not guilty as charged.
"Most disturbing was the way the Air Force leadership allowed this case to be handled. Prosecutors resisted the inclusion of potentially exculpatory evidence from the review and report and managed to have a good deal of it excluded from consideration in the pending trial . . .
"In all fairness, how can an enlisted mechanic out in the field be held solely and totally culpable for a problem the Air Force had been aware of, (near misses in 1986 and 1991), for nearly ten years and done little or nothing to rectify?"
So deceitful was the prosecution's actions, they intercepted and opened mail addressed to the sergeants from a safety expert who sought to help them, then "sat on" the correspondence for more than a month. The fix was in. The defendants must be court-martialed at all cost. Nothing less than a guilty verdict will do.
CONTROL ROD PROBLEM KNOWN TO AIR FORCE
FOR YEARS - YET NO CORRECTIVE ACTION TAKEN
The cause of the tragic problem was the way control rods, which affect the wing flaps, are hooked up on the fighter plane during routine maintenance. While the thin metal rods are color-coded, the connections they attach to were both green. Cross connected rods was a mistake that had been made before.
MilitaryCorruption.com has learned in 1986 an Air Force document disclosed "Cross-connecting the rods is an easy mistake to make. We ought to fix it so they can't be connected wrong." Yet, nothing was done.
Once again, five years later, the same problem occurred. Fortunately, in that instance, the pilot tested his flaps before take-off, saw something was amiss, and didn't proceed.
This information, plus the fact that Mueller didn't even touch the rods himself - he was supervisor for T/Sgt William Campbell, who actually made the error - was ignored by prosecutors, pursuing Mueller with all the subtlety of a pack of wild dogs chasing a wounded deer across an open field.
Mueller was "scapegoated" because he looked but didn't notice the mistake. Thus, like Campbell, he was charged accordingly. The generals wanted someone to blame, and these two enlisted men were targeted.
How ironic that Mueller's unit, part of the 52nd Fighter Wing, was the outfit that mistakenly shot down two U.S. Army helicopters over Iraq in 1994, killing 26 people. Neither of the two F-15 pilots who blasted the choppers out of the sky were brought to court-martial for their role in the tragedy. Of course, they were officers. Fighter-pilots, too. Not lowly junior non-coms, a couple of mechanics with no powerful friends or top connections.
HE DIED ON HIS WEDDING ANNIVERSARY
October 3, 1996 was to be the start of Mueller's court-martial in Germany. It was also Tom and Rosa Mueller's 19th wedding anniversary. When his wife awoke, she found the sergeant gone from their bed.
Frantic, she called his father Peter, who had flown in from the States to be there for his son's trial. Soon the Air Force mounted an intensive search.
Mueller's car was located near a mountain stream, but no sign of the sergeant. Rosa knew this was an area where her husband and their two sons loved to fish. And a short distance away was a hunter's lookout, a small shack reached by a ladder in a tree. Was the missing man hiding there?
"Thomas, Poppa is here. Come out, son" Peter Mueller pleaded from the ground below. But he was held back from the surrounded shack and his words drowned out by the yells of the camouflaged Air Force personnel congregating below.
AS SEARCHERS CLOSED IN, MUELLER PULLED THE TRIGGER
Just as Maj. Dee Mills started to climb the 10-foot ladder, a lone shot rang out. Thomas Mueller was dead, but not before suffering incredible psychological torture at the hands of the Air Force.
On the shack's window frame, Mueller had written: "Rosa, I love you. I was not negligent."
Back home, his grieving widow found a note the sergeant had written to Maj. Lowry's family: "I know I am going to heaven. And in heaven, I cannot hurt anyone else, not even by accident."
[EDITOR'S NOTE: The other NCO charged in the maintenance incident was allowed to leave the service after charges against him were dismissed. Some of you responsible for hounding Mueller to his death are reading these words now. Hang your heads in shame, you scum, if you even have a conscience. To the men and women of today's Air Force, know that gross injustice and corruption (Gen. Fiscus, Maj. Metzger) is worse than ever. Curtis LeMay would spin in his grave to know his beloved Air Force was now run by the likes of Gary North and Norton Schwartz.]