We remember that, as a young lieutenant, Timothy Dorsey shot down a USAF RF-4C Phantom during a training exercise, an act that was deemed both deliberate and illogical by the mishap board. The event ended his flying career, but did not derail his forward progress in the Navy. His nomination for flag rank rests with the Senate Armed Services Committee.
What we did not know, until now, was the fate of the man he shot down:
Col. Ross, a Milton, Ga., resident, estimates he has spent well over $100,000 on medical bills, paid by depleting his savings. He lives on Air Force retirement benefits and Social Security disability checks.
In one of his dozens of surgeries, doctors three years ago performed an anterior lumbar interbody fusion. Surgeons “removed my guts” during the eight-hour operation to reach his spine, then put them back, he said.
In 2010, a flight surgeon who had begun treating him in 1991 wrote on his behalf to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which was reviewing his disability status.
“I would like to assure you that indeed his current medical problems and level of disability are unquestionably and completely attributable to his combat-related shoot down and the subsequent injuries he received in the following high-speed ejection,” wrote Lt. Col. Scott Phillips. “He can no longer walk more than a few yards without assistance.”
I bear no personal animus towards Captain Dorsey. People make mistakes, sometimes even inexplicable ones. No doubt he has worked hard and long since that fateful day to refashion himself to excellence in another career path.
Still, it’s ironic that the negligent shooter should find himself on the brink of making flag rank, and the shootee should struggle with the VA to defend his disability payments.
No one ever said that life was fair.