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U.S. Downing of Iran Air Flight 655

July 09, 1988

Having recently served aboard the warship Vincennes as a civilian educator, I want to point out the extraordinary nature of the technical skill and humanism of the officers and crew of the ship.

One of the first Aegis "billion-dollar" cruisers, the Vincennes and its battle group in 1986-87 patrolled to Oman, on the edge of the Persian Gulf, constantly training its crew on how to best use its state-of-the-art radar and defense capabilities. Those capabilities included the ability to detect and counter enemy capabilities above, on and under the sea.

Due to the ship's importance, its crew and their training were given special attention by the Navy.

Moreover, attention to safety and absolute verification of targets were constantly stressed. While on the ship's bridge, observing training exercises in the Indian Ocean, I personally witnessed incidents in which missile and cannon firings were aborted when any question of safety arose.

For these and the known facts of the case, I am sure the Vincennes was doubly careful in targeting and then shooting down the Iranian plane that appeared to be threatening it and its accompanying U.S. ships.

Its skipper, Capt. Will C. Rogers III, acknowledged that he will live the rest of his life with the memory of his fateful decision, careful as it was. Such is the burden of commanding our fighting forces!

WILLIAM S. CALDWELL

Laguna Niguel

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