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Posted on Jan 15, 2002 Print this Article

PARTIAL SUMMARY OF DEPOSITION TESTIMONY: APRIL 2000 - MAY 2001

The deposition witnesses quoted below provided testimony under oath that supported key elements of CMR's legal defense. All retired officers indicated that they were speaking for themselves and not for the Navy. Contrary to testimony given by Plaintiff Carey Lohrenz in December of 1999, all agreed that for many years there was extensive public debate in Congress, the Navy, and the media regarding the issues of women in combat and possible double standards in training. This was especially so in the aftermath of the 1991 Tailhook scandal and the 1994 death of Lt. Kara Hultgreen. They also agreed that Elaine Donnelly was sincerely concerned about the issue of safety and high standards in naval aviation. ADM. STANLEY ARTHUR, USN (RET) - APRIL 28, 2000 Adm. Stanley Arthur, former Vice Chief of Naval Operations, made several statements under cross-examination by CMR attorney Kent Masterson Brown regarding the intense controversy surrounding women aviators. Due to restrictive regulations interpreted by a Navy JAG, (which CMR has challenged in court) Adm. Arthur was not permitted to testify about the Navy's "decision making process" regarding the two women. Among other things, Adm. Arthur confirmed that: • His own promotion to become Commander in Chief Pacific (CINCPAC) was withdrawn in the face of political criticism, because he had supported male aviation instructors who washed out then-Lt. Rebecca Hansen from advanced helicopter training. • Adm. Arthur was asked whether the issue of double standards in carrier aviation training was a significant issue that the general public and the Navy should be concerned about. Unlike previous testimony from Lohrenz, he answered, "It certainly is." • The January 1995 letter that Elaine Donnelly wrote to Sen. Strom Thurmond asking him to look into questions being raised about the female aviators was "thoughtful" and "credible." He added, "It was put together in a form that I had to pay attention to it." • During a 1998 conversation with Mike Wallace on CBS 60 Minutes, Adm. Arthur agreed that the Navy had hoped that putting women on aircraft carriers would help its "image problems." He added, "This was a way that we could at least demonstrate that the...[apparent] reluctance of the Navy to deal properly with women coming out of Tailhook could be put aside; that we were, in fact, not the ogres that we were painted to be." • Adm. Arthur did not want pilots to graduate to the fleet who were not qualified, and wanted "nothing less" than the best pilots the Navy could produce. He had received information that the women were "qualified to go to the fleet," but added that something had to be done to "...remove the irritation factors, but yes, in the final analysis, you and I both agree we can't send pilots to the fleet that are not qualified, and in this case we sent people to the fleet not qualified." • Adm. Arthur admitted that he had not examined the training records of the two women personally, but was told that Lohrenz was doing very well when she first went to the fleet squadron. That information, he said, probably came from the Navy's chief public relations officer, Rear Adm. Kendell Pease, who testified later on the same day. · Rear Adm. Pease, who was Chief of Naval Information (CHINFO) from 1992 to 1998, was named in the 1997 Naval Inspector General's Report on Air Wing Eleven as the orchestrator of much of the media attention given to female aviators before and after the death of Lt. Kara Hultgreen. Under cross-examination by Kent Masterson Brown, Pease testified that he had no first hand knowledge of the training records of Lts. Hultgreen and Lohrenz. CAPT. W. STEWART "BUD" ORR, USN (RET) - MAY 9-10, 2001 The testimony of Capt. Orr was delayed for almost a year due to still-unsettled disputes with the office of the Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG). He was called for testimony because in 1995 Elaine Donnelly showed him training records received from a confidential source, and he assisted her in understanding aviation culture and technical terms. Capt. Orr's opinions were based on 27 years of experience, which included a combat tour flying A-4 Skyhawks in Vietnam. He was the first Navy pilot to fly the AV-8A Marine Harrier, and accumulated nearly 5000 hours in 17 types of aircraft, including the A-7 Corsair II, the F-14 Tomcat and F-18 Hornet. He testified that as a former training squadron commander and Carrier Air Group Commander (CAG) with 1029 carrier landings, he had probably seen more training records than most. Following his service as Navy Principal Deputy for Senate Liaison, Capt. Orr served as Executive Director of the 1992 Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces. Elaine Donnelly was a member of that commission. The Deputy Assistant Judge Advocate General imposed convoluted restrictions on Capt. Orr prior to the deposition, and a Navy JAG who was present would not permit him to testify about opinions formed on the subject of the lawsuit since his retirement from the Navy. Nevertheless, Capt. Orr made a number of unequivocal statements in response to questions from both attorneys: • Lohrenz' attorney Susan Barnes presented a one-page document, which she said was a summary of her client's scores in various phases of training. Capt. Orr had not seen the document before, but he immediately recognized that it did not include scores for the most difficult phases, Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) and Carrier Qualification (CQ). Such a one-page summary, he said, would not give an accurate perception of Lohrenz' performance as an F-14 pilot. (The CMR Special Report included FCLP and CQ scores.) • Capt. Orr affirmed that even though the training records he had seen in 1995 did not include every flight, "What I saw was enough information for me to believe that there was substandard performance that would never have been accepted in any other environment that 1 have been exposed to." He added that his opinion would be the same even if he had seen all of her grade sheets and Human Factors Board reports, and that he "had not seen unacceptable flying behavior of that magnitude before... " • When asked to translate the cryptic language and symbols used by instructors evaluating Lohrenz' performance, as written on the many unsatisfactory-grade "pink sheets" he had seen, Capt. Orr noted frequent comments regarding Lohrenz' unpredictable performance. He also explained why a tendency to land "high and fast" was dangerous when approaching the pitching deck of a carrier. When asked if her performance ever changed from the time she entered F-14 training, Capt. Orr answered, "In the documents I have read, there is definitely a consistent trend to be high, which is not safe." His opinions were based more on the written comments of instructors and landing signal officers than on numerical scores. · Although Lohrenz' attorney tried to get Capt. Orr to agree that simulator downs were less important than those earned in flight, he "categorically reject[ed]" that view, and reiterated what he had told Donnelly in 1995. Simulators are used primarily not to prevent harm to pilots who might be "killed" while practicing, but because aircraft and fuel are too expensive. The purpose of such training is "to create proper habit patterns," not bad ones. · Attorney Barnes suggested that special treatment given to Lohrenz was no different from individualized help given to other struggling aviators. Capt. Orr replied that extra attention is "fair within certain limits," but the Navy can only "allow so much deviation from the norm in order to ensure that the consistency of the product on the other end is what you need to have in the fleet." He had told Donnelly that in his experience two "downs" for unsatisfactory performance (also known as signals-of-difficulty or pink sheets) would normally lead to a FNAEB proceeding--two of which would wash out a pilot. · Capt. Orr testified, "I had never seen that many deviations on any one person and that person allowed to continue on." Nor had ever seen so many concessions--including the frequent, unprecedented provision of a "turning-spare" aircraft for Lohrenz' use--extended to a single trainee in a single course of training. · At that point, Lohrenz' attorney Susan Barnes asked Capt. Orr if he had ever heard of the term "must pump" pilot. She suggested that the two women were like such pilots, because their training was accelerated so they could deploy on a carrier with gender-integrated berthing. "You're kidding," said the astonished witness, who had been a "must pump" pilot himself and received them as a CAG. He continued, "Don't tell me either of these were `must pumps. ' " Capt. Orr explained that in his experience such pilots have been "the best they have"--top performers who are rushed through specialized training only to replace a pilot who was killed, or to meet other urgent needs of the Navy. · Lohrenz' attorney Susan Barnes tried to get Capt. Orr to agree that it wasn't so bad to leave an engine turning in the "octagon" refueling pit--a hazardous event for which Lohrenz received a signal-of-difficulty pink sheet. He refused to do so because of the danger such a practice poses to fuel handlers. As he had explained to Donnelly, due to constant high decibel noise, the ground refueling person "has to rely on the procedures which are established to preclude him from being hurt .... You have to trust that the pilots have been trained properly." With polite but forthright candor, Capt. Orr also informed attorney Barnes that even if an F-14 engine is idling at lower RPM, it can be ruined by the ingestion of headphones or other foreign objects. · Capt. Orr made it clear that he is not an activist, but in 1995 he assisted Elaine Donnelly in understanding the technical documents and records she had received from a source unknown to him. His main concern was flight safety, and he did not want the future of naval aviation to be degraded by institutionalization of what appeared to be a problem. He expressed respect for Lohrenz' abilities and did not second-guess ultimate decisions regarding deployment of the women that were made by active duty personnel. In compliance with the Navy JAG's instructions, Capt. Orr did not discuss the political situation existing at the time. · During the deposition, Lohrenz' attorney Susan Barnes questioned Capt. Orr about a "Memorandum for the Record" that he had written in May of 1996. The memo described a meeting requested by Gary Matsumoto, then an NBC reporter, who was working on a Dateline segment favorable to Lohrenz. During that private meeting, Matsumoto mentioned the names of several men who Barnes believed were part of an alleged "Tailhook Underground" conspiracy group plotting against Lohrenz. Then he told Capt. Orr that if he revealed the identity of Elaine Donnelly's confidential source(s), he would ask Barnes not to include him as a defendant in the lawsuit she was planning to file against Donnelly and CMR. • Capt. Orr told Matsumoto that he did not know Donnelly's source or most of the people named, but it was "preposterous" to implicate one man he knew well then-Battle Group Commander Rear Adm. Jay Yakeley. (In separate testimony given on November 8, 1999, Adm. Yakeley confirmed that he had no contacts with Elaine Donnelly in 1995.) The memo concluded: "I find the fact that he is, as a journalist representing the main `actress' in his proposed story, i.e, Lt. Lohrenz, to people such as myself as though he were a part of her defense staff and working closely with her lawyer a major deviation from ethical journalism at best, and outright misrepresentation in reality. I think... that he has lost his sense of objectivity, and is simultaneously pursuing two missions with great vigor and misplaced zeal--saving the career and reputation of Lt. Lohrenz, and destroying the credibility and reputation of Elaine Donnelly." (3 May, 1996) Note: According to a letter sent to NBC Dateline by east coast F-14 pilot and instructor Lt. Paul Onorato, who was then serving as Public Affairs Officer for Fighter Wing Atlantic, Matsumoto used "expletives and aggressive language "while trying to get information that would support his pre-conceived story line. Lt. Onorato, who did not know Elaine Donnelly at the time, displeased Matsumoto by refusing to discredit certain aviation terms in the CMR Special Report. As he stated to NBC: "I am concerned with Gary's view on this matter and feel he is misinformed and somewhat misguided in his pursuit of the story he is researching. I got the impression that Gary was listening only to what he wanted to hear and ignored anything 1 said that did not fall in with the storyline that he was writing ....Aviation safety is affected when a story of this nature is reported incorrectly." (17 May 1996) Matsumoto also angered west coast commanders by threatening the wife of Cmdr. Thomas Twomey, a naval flight officer who was deployed at sea at the time. Matsumoto told Mrs. Twomey that her husband would be court-martialed and thrown out of the Navy for his role in the alleged "Tailhook Underground" conspiracy. (During a November 5, 1999 phone call placed by Susan Barnes and monitored by the Navy and JAG and CMR attorneys, Cmdr. Twomey affirmed that he had no contact with Elaine Donnelly in 1995.) Documents produced by Lohrenz during the course of discovery include extensive correspondence between attorney Barnes and Matsumoto, whose involvement in the issue coincided with Lohrenz' disavowal of previous written statements she had signed following the FNAEB. Although Matsumoto had planned to produce two Dateline segments on the subject, he left NBC shortly after the first one aired on July 3, 1996. CL010602B The Center for Military Readiness is represented by Kent Masterson Brown, Frank Northam, and Chris Shaughnessy of the firm Webster, Chamberlain & Bean in Washington D.C. Tax deductible contributions to the CMR Legal Defense Fund may be addressed to CMR/LDF, P. O. Box 51600, Livonia, Michigan 48151. For more information, please see additional Summaries and Legal Defense Updates in the Issues section of this website.
Posted on Jan 15, 2002 Print this Article