Just days after former A-10 pilot Colonel (ret.) Martha McSally, a candidate for Congress appeared on FOX’s On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, A-10 legend, Tom Norris, appeared on the James T. Harris Show, to answer questions raised about the A-10 in McSally’s interview.
Harris, a popular southern Arizona radio host on KQTH, first broke the news that the Air Force had hoped to scrap the A-10 just a year ago this month. Since then, he and others, including McSally’s opponent for the CD2 spot, Command Chief Master Sergeant (ret.) Chuck Wooten, have fought to save the low and slow flying aircraft, which has saved so many troops on the ground.
Since last August, Harris has had numerous A-10 pilots on his show to discuss their experiences, including McSally. While McSally has been critical of the efforts by CD2 incumbent; Representative Ron Barber, on behalf of the A-10, she has been AWOL. As a result of her current carping, A-10 pilots started sharing their stories with each other of their encounters of the McSally kind.
Harris’s listeners got a taste of what they are saying to each other privately last week. Harris told his audience, “I wanted to have someone who really understood the capabilities of the A10 and the questions that were being asked by Greta to get a counterpoint. So, I’m bringing on the resident A-10 legend of the James T. Harris show, Lt. Col. retired Tom-Chuck Norris.”
The following is the second half of the interview:
Harris: Because I think a fraud is being perpetrated on, on, the nation. She appeared in Fox News in two articles yesterday, and on Greta Van Susteren (Wednesday night). It is not a coincidence. It’s not an accident; it’s part of the design. But the nation does not get to choose whether or not she represents our district.
It’s the people here, we get to choose and I think they need to understand that what she’s shoveling out there in D.C. and what they are trying to foist upon us is fraudulent.
Norris: I think what the voters out there need to know is she doesn’t even know how many bullets the airplane holds. She said in her interview, and I’d be getting a lot of crap if I didn’t bring this point up, she said on her Op-ed and more than once in the interview that the airplane holds 1174 rounds. She’s implying that that’s what she carries, you know every time she flew the airplane. Well the reality is – and it be a small point to some again – if Fox News has vetted her as a military expert, but she flew the airplane for multiple years. And I can guarantee you, she never ever, ever, flew that plane with more than 1150 rounds. And that’s because the bullets come in certain can sizes, 575 and two cans fill an airplane and that goes to 1150. So she doesn’t even know how many bullets the airplane she flew carries, going into combat carries.
Harris: The one thing I want to point out – this may be nit picking – but every time she says she was a fighter pilot it irks me. Because I don’t think the A-10 community calls themselves that, as a matter of fact as you were talking you said on many occasions they are part of the attack community. There is a difference, yes?
Norris: Yes, there are people that have flown the A-10 and then there’s attack pilots. The reason Ms. McSally will never be an attack pilot, besides her incredible ineptness in the air, was because she put herself first before anybody on the ground. Like she told me back in 1995 back at Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base during a debrief, “It doesn’t matter how good a pilot I am, it doesn’t matter how good I execute close air support. What matters is getting me promoted.”
It is that attitude that has driven so many in the attack community to question McSally and her motives. Since her decision to run for office, her version of events and her encounters with people do not match others’ recollections. While the pilots understand that all politicians embellish their resumes, McSally has treaded on still tender territory at times.
While her appearance on Van Susteren’s show caused a stir, it was a recent Facebook posting by McSally on the 17th anniversary of A-10 pilot; Amy Svoboda’s death, that showed her fellow former pilots that she had taken resume embellishment to a whole new level.
“17 years ago tonight I was leading a 4-ship flight of A-10s on a night vision goggle (NVG) tactical training mission on the Barry Goldwater Range west of Tucson. It was a very dark night with no horizon to tell up from down and NVGs were still fairly new for us. I turned and saw a fire on the ground on the range South of us, then heard the emergency call for help from the flight lead. After the shock and disbelief, I quickly discovered one of the A-10s had crashed and soon realized it was Capt Amy Svoboda’s plane since I heard each of the other pilots on the radio except for her.”
I took over as on-scene commander for the search and rescue while her flight lead went to air refuel. We hoped she had ejected before the crash. Over and over I called her on the radio and got silence in return and we looked all over through our NVGs for any signs of life. We hit bingo fuel and had to fly back to DM not knowing her fate–a very lonely and quiet flight. We found out the next morning that she had perished.
Amy was an exceptional officer and pilot who was respected and loved by many. I got used to being the only female after transitioning into fighters, so it was great to have a “wingwoman” in the squadron when she arrived. Her death cut short a promising career and full life. She served faithfully and honorably, and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Her family remains in Tucson and they are in my thoughts and prayers today and so often in these last 17 years since that dark night.
Svoboda’s very good friends at the time, are now outraged that McSally would use the death of Amy to gain sympathy from voters. “17 years later she’s still trying to beat her small chest,” wrote one pilot. “Yes, sad how she is still capitalizing on Amy’s tragedy. She is despicable,” wrote another.
Contrary to McSally’s claims, according to many “in the squadron,” reports one A-10 pilot, knew “in fact that Amy hated McSilly because she always required “special” treatment. Amy wanted to earn her way in life due to her merits, not special handouts. McSilly created a situation where she actually decreased the 354FS combat capability due to her lack of interest (and frankly capability) in being a good CAS pilot and made it more difficult for the other women who have followed her into the A-10 community. McSilly interjected herself into the Craig Button suicide when in fact Craig had no contact with her at DM (they were stationed together at Laughlin AFB TX, same thing they were not friends). She tries to make herself sound like a hero by highlighting her role in a tragedy.”
It is that feeling of inauthenticity that has caused McSally to fail in her previous runs at Congress, according to southern Arizona residents. She seemingly appeared out of thin air when Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords announced her retirement, and other than a handful of spots given on a few small community boards handed to her by GOP establishment members, McSally has never established herself as a member of the community with any vested interest in it other than it has a vulnerable congressional seat.
Arizona Senator John McCain is one of the powerful forces behind her. He arrived in Arizona politics much the same way as McSally and appears to be following the game plan he employed all those many years ago. This year, McCain, who controls the Party’s establishment, was censored by a vast majority of precinct committee persons across the state.