Military and Civilian Response

"Everyone got involved and pitched in. No one shied away."

—Lt. Gen. Henry H. Shelton

While medical personnel responded to the Green Ramp disaster, Fort Bragg's military and civilian community provided leadership and essential services. Individuals tracked casualties, communicating timely information about them; they assisted both the victims and their families, tending to their physical, emotional, and financial needs, as well as promoting spiritual healing; and they performed public affairs functions, coordinating with the news media and preparing news releases.

Command and Control

After hearing of the crash, Fort Bragg's corps, division, and installation commanders used the procedures and techniques of a combat system, the emergency operations center (EOC), to respond to the crisis. Accustomed to executing missions on short notice, the XVIII Airborne Corps' G-3 (operations officer) immediately activated the corps EOC at corps headquarters and sent a liaison to the operations center at Pope Air Force Base and that at Womack Army Medical Center. The 82d Airborne Division established the division EOC at Womack and the Fort Bragg garrison the installation EOC at garrison headquarters. The next day, 24 March, the corps EOC passed control to the installation EOC, which functioned until the twentyninth, as the installation commander ultimately had overall responsibility for Fort Bragg's response. The division EOC, however, remained active for several weeks since most casualties were from the 82d.[1]

Based on guidance from General Steele, the division commander Col. John J. Marcello, the chief of staff, set up the division EOC in Womack's Patient Administration Division (PAD). The G-1 (personnel officer), Lt. Col. Randy Stansfield manned the EOC with G-3 people. They built a data base on all the casualties and became the central point of contact for soldiers in the hospital and for family support Colonel Jones, Womack's deputy commander, believed that the presence of division and corps representatives at the hospital helped in the tracking of casualties.[2]

The division EOC had to provide the commander with critical information "just as you do in war," Marcello recalled. Important data included the status and changes in status of every soldier. "We were trying to get a grasp on what was happening to our soldiers," General Steele said. By 1600 the 82d Airborne Division also had established a tactical EOC on Green Ramp to help verify the names of all the casualties, their status, and their evacuation destination. Because the crash produced many victims simultaneously, some were tagged inappropriately. Womack's chief of surgery, Colonel Eggebroten, recalled: "We spent a long time in the afternoon and evening trying to figure out who we had and the numbers of patients that we had. We probably need to put more PAD people in our MASCAL plan.7' The division found it easier to track down the casualties in units that had accurate jump manifests. By midnight the division EOC had uncovered the names and status of all the soldiers injured in the crash. In coordination with Womack PAD personnel, the 82d discovered that its 1st and 3d Brigades and Division Support Command were involved in the accident. Most of the casualties, however, were in the 2d Battalion, 504th Infantry, and the 2d Battalion, 505th Infantry. Other injured soldiers belonged to corps units, such as the 525th Military Intelligence Brigade.[3]

To check on the status of patients and to provide family support, the division EOC created communications outposts at each regional hospital. Portable tactical satellite terminals, FM radios, and cellular telephones were used to communicate with the detailed liaison officer on duty at the nurses station of each hospital's intensive care un~t. Each casualty's family was assisted by another division representative7 who met the family at the airport, arranged for transportat~on, and helped in any way. The EOC also used a contracting officer to reserve lodging at local hotels for families who did not stay on post. Finally, the 82d Airborne Division sent a liaison team to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio to check on the severely burned casualties transferred to the U. S. Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR), colocated at Brooke Army Medical Center, and to take care of their families' needs. By this time "the families were starting to roll in," recalled General Steele.[4]

General Steele was known as a compassionate and caring commander, possessing a strong moral character. He and his subordinate, Command Sgt. Maj. Steven R. Slocum, saw what needed to be done for the soldiers and did not hesitate to make it happen. Other casualties, not from the 82d Airborne Division, benefited from Steele's and Slocum's determination to do everything that possibly could be done to help the accident victims and their families. According to Steele, Slocum "did yeoman's work" in the aftermath of the tragedy.[5]

Because of the accident General Steele required that officers and noncommissioned officers from the 82d's 1st and 3d Brigades receive casualty assistance training. Col. John P. Abizaid, the commander of the 1st Brigade, and Col. John Schmader, the commander of the 3d Brigade, were on the casualty notification teams and usually informed the families of their loss. Within twenty-four hours of the crash the teams had tracked down and apprised the family or friends of each soldier who had perished (see Appendix). Steele believed that the immediate training of casualty assistance officers "enabled them to notify quickly the ones who lost loved ones and ease the anxieties of wives and family members."[6]

In addition to notification, the casualty assistance officers discussed survivor needs and benefits with the victims' families. They arranged for medical evaluation boards to provide early retirement for the soldiers who were near death in order to increase their dependents' benefits; the widow would receive the retirement and the child the death indemnity compensation, about $750 a month. The division EOC had to ascertain who was married, who had children, who was critically injured, and who should be processed first among the casualties. Because of this effort, only one soldier with children died before the division was able to retire him early. "Retiring people was a focused effort, day and night," recalled Colonel Stansfield, who coordinated the work with the XVIII Airborne Corps casualty assistance personnel. General Steele recalled that "Corps, Department of the Army, all of them just opened the door and said: 'Call. We have the board ready; we can do this procedure in a matter of minutes.' Things that would take a year when it's not a crisis were happening in a matter of minutes over the phone." Later, the corps recommended clarification of Army policy to allow posthumous medical retirement for all casualties.[7]

"To lend some form to the process," the 82d Airborne Division created a crisis action committee. The committee functioned like the Targeting Board, which synchronized the division's wartime activities. Representatives of the groups involved in the response—division, corps, the Red Cross chapter, military wives, family support, Army Emergency Relief, and public affairs—served on the committee, which held its first meeting on the afternoon of the twenty-fourth "to get everybody together," then twice a day for about a week, and every twenty-four hours thereafter. "That first meeting went for several hours, General Steele remembered. "We were trying to work our way through all the issues and how we should solve them."[8]

The first meeting produced a crisis action plan, in which "askings and responsibilities were defined. The committee tasked the 82d Airborne Division to arrange for Air Force transportation of the accident victims' families and friends; ensure financial support for family members; organize funerals; prepare a memorandum of information with details on the memorial service; activate a division hub at Fort Sam Houston, to include dedicated telephone lines; organize support at the Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Virginia; coordinate equipment accountability; improve information flow to and from the family support group, coordinate press coverage; and request community assistance, such as food for hospitals. General Steele told Colonel Marcello that he considered the work of the crisis action committee to be "one of the major lessons we learned from the whole process.

As chief of staff, Colonel Marcello used the redline message system to send subordinate headquarters current information about the accident, such as up-to-date casualty lists, hospital visiting hours, data about the memorial service, and so forth. Jane Marcello and Pam Steele, in heading the family support group, received the messages and informed the brigade, battalion, and company commanders' wives; the latter, in turn, called more wives in the telephone organization. Within a short time the distaff side of the division was receiving accurate information on a timely basis. General Steele believed that the redline system enabled people to receive information privately, without having to request it, and helped to quell rumors.[10]

Thinking about unit performance, Colonel Stansfield credited the recent Warfighter exercise, in which commanders and their staffs had learned about crisis handling, including mass casualties, with helping the division to respond effectively to the disaster. "For a while, it was almost surrealistic," he said; "it was almost like we are just doing Warfighter," which had ended the second week of March 1994. "So we were ready.... If this had happened ... nine months ago ... things would not have gone so well," thought Stansfield. He surmised, however, that if he had to respond again to a similar situation, he would try to retrieve more quickly the corps' personnel records because they were critical for processing retirements.[11]

At the battalion level, command and control of the accident's aftermath rested squarely on the shoulders of the unit commanders—Lt. Col. Lloyd Austin of the 2d Battalion, 505th Infantry, and Colonel McChrystal of the 2d Battalion, 504th Infantry. For McChrystal, "the accident was an organizational management challenge." He established the battalion EOC at battalion headquarters under the command sergeant major and the S-3 (operations officer). He also set up a small command post at Womack and, for three hours on the twentythird' on the airfield. The battalion EOC did its own casualty accountI ability, hospital liaison, and family I support, coordinating all with the division EOC. McChrystal ordered the two units on training to return to Fort Bragg, prohibited early dissemination of information about casualties, and tried to bring the wives of his injured paratroopers into the company areas to ensure that they received the care and support they required. He stayed at the hospital command post until 0500 on the twenty-fourth, creating master lists of tasks and the people to perform them. He sent soldiers from each company to Womack to serve "almost as reaction type guys," to take care of "the thousand little things that would come up." He appointed liaison people to be with the families of casualties, whether dead or alive, and sold~ers to participate in the next-of-kin notification process. He coordinated everything with corps, division, and brigade personnel and "got tremendous support from them."'[12]

Although the various emergency operations centers were central to the military and civil response, confusion and duplication of effort, not unusual after a disaster, were apparent. Several after-action reports recommended consolidation and streamlining of functions. The XVIII Airborne Corps suggested that its adjutant general's office, working in conJunction with Womack's Patient Administration Division, "be the official voice of patient tracking for dissemination to command group units, and PAO [public affairs office]," since patient tracking was a medical and adjutant general mission. The 16th Military Police Brigade (Airborne) complained that its military police (MP) details to multiple operations centers—the corps EOC, the installation EOC, and the division's tactical EOC—had left the unit understaffed and ``confused," and thus proposed having only one operations center in future mass casualty situations. The installation EOC reported that because the corps EOC was functioning simultaneously, confusion resulted about where the incoming reports were to go. The installation commander recommended formalizing the installation EOC and establishing "lines of responsibility" for each. Only one center could be the lead or operational EOC in handling the specific crisis. In fact, the corps believed that a generic response plan that defined responsibilities would have improved coordination of act~vities during the mass casualty. Perhaps, however, some confusion and duplication of effort were inevitable on a post whose organizations were structured and whose personnel were trained to respond to multiple contingencies, rather than to specific situations.[13]

Family Support

The Weaver Conference Room on the second floor of Womack became a center for family support. Here hospital social workers, psychiatrists, chaplains, and family support group members took care of the emotional and material needs of the victims' families and friends. The hospital staff identified and greeted family members, participated in the death and casualty notification process, accompanied the families during their visits to help with their emotional reactions, and scheduled special counseling for children and adolescents at their schools or at the Rumbaugh Child and Adolescent Mental Health Clinic nearby the installation. The family support center organized various types of assistance—food; lodging, usually at Moon and Hardy Halls and the Fisher House, all on Fort Bragg; transportation; baby sitting; and legal advice, ensuring that adjutant general officers were present. The local chapter of the American Red Cross, Army Community Services, and Army Emergency Relief stationed representatives in the Weaver Conference Room to offer their services as well. In addition, Sharon Thompson operated a family assistance activity at the Fort Bragg Community Center and was the point of contact for people around the nation who were inquiring about their loved ones.[14]

The family support group concept, as institutionalized in the Army Family Action Plan, binds Army spouses to assist families on a regular basis but even more so during a unit deployment or a crisis. Military wives demonstrate their adeptness at handling the emotional needs of families, especially the spouses of injured or dead soldiers. Pam Steele, Jane Marcello, Kathy Abizaid, Anne McChrystal, and Charlene Austin were key players in the support group. The "Trauma in the Unit" discussions, which most commanders' wives take with their husbands as part of the one-week command team seminar at Fort Leavenworth's Command and General Staff College (CGSC), guided the support group m handling the families' concerns and helping them after the tragedy. The commanders' wives could be seen carrying their "Trauma in the Unit" guides with them into the Weaver Conference Room. Although the family support group was not a formal organization, formal instruction at CGSC about such matters again paid dividends.[15]

The family support group embraced the same tone of empathy and kindness as set by the division commander. Shortly after the accident, Colonel McChrystal remembered Steele's words: "We will take care of families. We will do this. I don't care what it costs.... This is what we are going to do. This is my intent." The general's statement provided direction for his officers and their wives; they worked as partners in the aftermath of the tragedy and facilitated the tasks of the family support group.'6

A nucleus of military wives arrived at Womack shortly after the accident and stayed until the early hours of the morning, providing support to the families that gathered there. They gave hugs, held hands, listened, obtained food, made contacts for plane tickets, and did what was necessary to organize assistance. According to Pam Steele, the wives dealt with the emotions by keeping a sense of levity, a sense of humor; by talking about the accident; and by "feeling the sorrow." The division commander's wife was there for them as well as for the families.[17]

Anne McChrystal had been responsible for family support within the 2d Battalion, 504th Infantry, since shortly after her husband had assumed command eleven months before the accident. Believing that it was easier for a company "to grow closer," she ran family support at the company level, seeing to it that there were company Christmas and Halloween parties. However, the Pope Air Force Base crash, in which her husband's battalion had suffered the most casualties, was her first experience with a tragedy "of this magnitude," and she relied on Pam Steele and other wives for guidance. The cohesiveness of her husband's battalion eased her task. "If you have a close knit unit family, support will kick in," Anne McChrystal remarked. "Some young wives made a bond that will never be broken with wives of the injured and dead, baby sitting for them and just staying with them." With Mrs. Steele and Mrs. Abizaid, Anne McChrystal visited the casualties and their families on the wards of Womack and the regional hospitals during the first twenty-four hours after the accident. Later, they accompanied their husbands to San Antonio, continuing their support of those undergoing burn ther_p ~ ~ ~_ apy at the USAISR burn unit.[18]

The family support group found the Weaver Conference Room to have a hospitable environment for helping families. The room was large, with chairs and a hallway where people could talk privately. Within twenty-four hours Sprint Telephone Services had donated cellular phones for use by the staff and families. The Red Cross planned meals, and local restaurants donated food.

The hospital EOC, one floor below the conference room, provided copies of casualty updates. Unit representatives in the division EOC became the link between the conference room and the division casualties on the sixth floor. They escorted families into the conference room and introduced them to the family support group. "They would let us know that a family member was coming in, and we would let them know where the family member was going to stay or what needed to be done," Anne McChrystal recalled. Since the family support group coordinated all assistance through military channels, she believed that the establishment of a division EOC at the hospital shortly after the accident helped the group carry out its mission.[19]

It was symptomatic of the closeness and cohesiveness of the units of the 82d Airborne Division that the response to the Green Ramp disaster went so well. A good, closely knit unit will succeed where a poor unit will not. "If someone wanted to be very bureaucratic, [he] could have made this a nightmare," said Colonel McChrystal. But the division commander set the right tone right away.[20]

Families also received support from casualty assistance centers on post. One center, the adjutant general's Emergency Casualty Assistance Center, which had never been tested, was highly successful. Casualty assistance officers and families were able to process government agency benefit documents and complete the affairs of the deceased at one location The center also coordinated housing, transportation, and other services for the families while they were in the Fort Bragg area.[21]

Although family support went well, a generic response plan would have improved Fort Bragg's crisis management. Some duplication of effort existed. Seven or eight assistance centers—each with a different mission, providing some unique form of support—were involved in the disaster; however, they seemed to be unaware not only of each other's presence, location, or mission, but also of the kinds of support they could receive from the public. The director of casualty assistance believed that a number of the Fort Bragg agencies should have been eliminated or integrated with traditional assistance centers, such as the emergency operations center and the family assistance center. If this were not feasible, he recommended that each assistance center should at least "provide clear written guidance" about its role and its "relationship to other supporting agencies," as well as develop a "needs" list for coordinating in advance with each other and sharing with the public "on an as-required basis" during an emergency.[22]

Ministry and Pastoral Care

Like family support groups, military chaplains comforted and aided those involved in the accident on Green Ramp. After hearing about the mass casualty, the Womack chaplains went to the emergency room, arriving before the first victims came in. The chaplains assisted in litter carries of the injured soldiers, offering them consolation and prayer. They moved from patient to patient in an attempt to calm the "frightened injured" and the "frantic caregiver."[23]

Installation chaplains arrived at the hospital within fifteen minutes of the emergency. Maj. Keith I. Jones, Womack's chief of ministry and pastoral care, assigned duties to his subordinates. Army chaplains were to minister to family members at hospital entrances, including the regional facilities; help establish the Weaver Conference Room as the family sup port center; and provide spiritual and emotional comfort to patients and staff on Wards 6A, 7A, and 9A. Because of the "quickly evolving situa t~on and the possibility of "early morning deaths," Womack chaplains instituted a duty roster to ensure continued pastoral care. In the end, more than eighty chaplains helped soldiers, families, and friends to deal with spiritual needs as well as unseen emotional scars.[24]

Chaplain Bebber drove to Womack, after his experiences on Green Ramp. His accessibility to wards and rooms enabled him to locate patients faster than the record-keeping personnel at the hospital EOC. When he found injured soldiers from his brigade, he notified his command. He checked on the condition of the soldier he had rescued on Green Ramp, having noticed the victim's dog tags at the time of the incident. Seeking rest and support, Bebber entered the Weaver Conference Room, where chaplains had begun round-the-clock manning, and "debriefed [himselfl w~th other survivors and those who needed to know what had happened." After midnight he went home. Before entering the house, Bebber removed his uniform so, in his words, "I would not take its smell and sight into the house. I did not want my family, especially my children, to see it. Its horror rema~ns clear in my mind and senses even now."[25]

Immediately after the accident Lt. Ronald L. Owens, chaplain of the 2d Battalion, 504th Infantry, which suffered eighteen soldiers killed, called his unit together for counseling. Recently, Owens had participated in an exercise at Fort Polk's Joint Readiness Training Center, where he had experienced a mass casualty drill. He credited that exercise and his time spent working in a trauma unit and on the USAISR burn wards with helping him to perform his pastoral duties after the crash. On the evening of the twenty-third Owens helped mental health specialists plan formal critical incident stress debriefings and began to prepare for funerals and memorial services.[26]

Although the Air Force suffered no fatalities, Pope Air Force Base was profoundly affected by the accident. Air Force personnel witnessed "th~ngs [they] should not have to experience [in life]," stated Maj. Larry E. Towne, an Air Force chaplain. They encountered one "of life's ugliest moments" Air Force chaplains were there to help them assess who they were and what they believed about God and the universe in which they lived. as well as to try to make some sense out of what had happened.

Chaplain Towne "provided a listening ear for many who needed to release their emotions, . . . obviously shaken" after the accident. He talked to survivors who gathered near the road; in particular, he worked with the graves registration personnel, who prepared the bodies. Seemg and handling the victims—some violently dismembered, others burned beyond recognitiOn created unbelievable stress. People under stress need to talk, and the chaplains were trained to listen. They spent the next few weeks helping many through the healing process.

Public Affairs

While chaplains ministered to the spiritual and emotional needs of those involved in the accident, Fort Bragg's public affairs officers interacted with the news media and prepared press releases. Immed~ately after the emergency the XVIII Airborne Corps public affairs office (PAO), which had primary responsibility for press relations, received calls from local, national, and international news media outlets. All requested information on the crash, numbers of dead and injured, interviews with casualties, and access to the accident site. The corps PAO coordinated with the Fort Bragg military police to allow reporters to meet corps public affairs officers at a specified location near the scene of the accident and at other sites on post.[29]

To handle phone calls from local citizens, families, and friends about casualties, the XVIII Airborne Corps set up a toll-free hotline at the family assistance activity at the Fort Bragg Community Center. Volunteers and employees of the center manned the switchboard. Social workers, chaplains, and psychiatrists worked the phones too "in order to comfort the families," said Margaret Tippy, Womack's public affairs officer. She provided reporters with the hotline number, which the news media publicized.[30]

After learning of the accident, Margaret Tippy visited the hospital EOC to obtain information about the collision. She immediately updat ed Fort Bragg's other public affairs offices about the crash and began working closely with them in communicating with the news media and local communities. The XVIII Airborne Corps' director of community relations, Lisa Johnson, arrived around 1445 to help Tippy; Johnson had been media relations chief during DESERT SHiELD/DEsERT STORM and was experienced in dealing with the public during a crisis. The 82d Airborne Division PAO and the 22d Public Affairs Detachment (Mobile) also sent representatiws, increasing Womack's public affairs officers to four. The Womack PAO had no communication network with public affairs offices outside of Fort Bragg; hence, Tippy could not coordinate activities with her counterparts at the regional hospitals.[31]

The corps PAO authorized coverage of Womack but only at a distance, thus preventing the appearance of a cover-up while maintaining privacy. Reporters began to gather at the hospital around 1445, but by darkness they were accosting patients and families in the parking lot. Tippy then relocated them to a designated area not far from the hospital. She felt that by corralling them in one place she could retain better control. About every half hour Tippy visited the emergency room or the hospital EOC to obtain information. Then, one of the four public affairs officers went on camera every hour with an update. The news media, "by and large, were compassionate," Tippy remembered, "and helped to get the word out to the community"—publicizing the hotline number; broadcasting Colonel Eggebroten's request that anyone who did not need to be at Womack stay away; organizing food campa~gns; d~rect~ng people to drive with their lights on and to wear red, white, and blue ribbons in honor of the casualties; and squelching a rumor that Womack needed blood donors. In these respects, the press was of great help in the Army's response to the disaster.[32]

Scores of radio, print, and television reporters had descended on Fort Bragg to cover the Pope Air Force Base crash. They "could have filled an over-strength combat company." ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN television crews shuttled in caravans between Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base, in search of "live" interviews for their morning and evening news shows. At least one tired and harried public affairs officer went with them. Sometimes, the reporters' requests for information caused a logistical nightmare for the Fort Bragg public affairs officers. Phones rang continuously.[33]

From the start Margaret Tippy, the organized and businesslike but compassionate public affairs officer, was concerned about media scrutiny and protecting the privacy of patients and families. To ensure that the news media were "not so close that a zoom camera could pick up someone's face," she proposed that a media center be established away from the hospital. The corps PAO, however, denied this request, because of manning problems; uncertainties about location and its usefulness to the media; disrupting activities of the officers club, normally the media site for any large-scale crisis; operational costs; and a desire not to prolong the crisis story. The corps believed that a media center was necessary only for long-term events. A media center notwithstanding, no photographs of injured soldiers were allowed during the initial phases of the mass casualty, and the reporters were kept out of the hospital for three days.[34]

To provide the public with information about the Green Ramp disaster, Fort Bragg held three press conferences on the twenty-fourth. The corps PAO arranged a joint press conference at 0645 for the installation and corps commander, General Shelton, and Pope's 23d Wing com mender, Brig. Gen. Bobby O. Floyd; survivors and clinical specialist spoke as well. The Womack PAO held the second press conference at 1300 outside the hospital. A general surgeon defined burn treatment, a psychiatrist, a chaplain, a social worker, and a medical supply officer explained their respective roles in the disaster response, and Colonel Timboe, the hospital commander, shared his insights. Later in the evening the division PAO hosted the third press conference in front of Womack. Secretary of the Army Togo West, who had visited many casualties that day, praised their morale and high spirits. "To a man and woman, they said they were ready to get back to what they signed up to do, reported West when interviewed. Fort Bragg's public affairs officers coordinated media events and press releases with the corps PAO to ensure that all involved at Fort Bragg spoke with one voice. The corps commander, in turn, had direct responsibility to the community.[35]

Community Support

The Fayetteville and Fort Bragg communities have traditionally come together in times of trouble. But the magnitude of the tragedy on Pope Air Force Base resulted in a new level of community response. The community shared the enormous grief and offered untold practical assistance.[36]

Immediately following the accident, the Fayetteville community began calling Fort Bragg to offer support. After Womack Army Medical Center requested food to feed its increased staff, Pizza Hut delivered free pizzas to the hospital and to soldiers of the 16th Military Police Brigade. A former paratrooper worked for the pizza company. Ira Hamm remembered delivering two pizzas to the MPs controlling traffic near the emergency room entrance. "I did it because I've been in their shoes. I know what it is like," he said. The gesture was appreciated. "It's nice to know that there are people out there who care about soldiers," commented one MP. The press publicized the show of compassion, and gifts of food began pouring into the hospital from McDonald's, Taco Bell, Hardees, Papa John's, Domino's Pizza, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. "A gentleman showed up from Krispy Kreme and delivered box after box of doughnuts—I have no idea how many," said Margaret Tippy. "The outpouring of help [was] just tremendous."[37]

The community extended other forms of assistance. Housew~ves baked brownies and cookies and delivered them to the post. People donated money that the family support group set aside for the families. Bags of food and toiletries showed up in the foyer of the Fisher House, where families of sick soldiers stayed. Hundreds of volunteers offered their time and energy. The Fayetteville Regional Airport reserved two runways for military use. "It was good for those not directly involved to be helping.... [It was] good for them emotionally," stated Pam Steele. The mayor of Fayetteville spent much time with General Steele during the aftermath of the accident.[33]

The Pope Air Force Base disaster helped Fayetteville and Fort Bragg to "turn a corner" in their relationship. Relations between Fort Bragg and its surrounding civilian communities were strained during the Vietnam War, but the communities became closer agam dunug DESERT STORM. The tragedy on Green Ramp strengthened the bond between the civilian and military communities that the Gulf War had established and enhanced "the resources that military people can always be depended upon to muster" in time of need.[39]

Fort Bragg's military and civilian communities came together in the immediate aftermath of the Green Ramp disaster to support the casualties and their families. Emergency operations centers, assistance hubs, family support groups, chaplaincies, and public affairs offices, each with a unique mission and service—timely information, casualty accountability, family subsistence, counseling, and public news— responded to the crisis. Because these organizations were designed to handle several contingency operations at a time, some confusion and overlapping of duties almost certainly resulted. Nevertheless, the myriad resources that these multiple agencies threw into the response ultimately led to success. While Fort Bragg and Womack Army Medical Center officially prepared to mourn their losses, Fort Sam Houston, Brooke Army Medical Center, and the Institute of Surgical Research in San Antonio organized to receive the severely burned soldier patients and their families.


[1] After-Action Review, XVIII Airborne corps, 12 Apr 94, sub: Pope Air Force sase Crash, p. 2 (hereafter cited as XVIII Abn corps AAR).

[2] Interv, Lt Col Iris J. west with Maj Gen William M. Steele, 20 Apr 94 (hereafter cited as w. Steele Interv); Interv, Maj Christopher G. Clark with Col John J. Marcello 11 Apr 94 (hereafter cited as Marcello Interv); Interv, Lt Col Iris J. west with Lt Coi Randy Stansfield7 12 Apr 94 (hereafter cited as Stansfield Interv).

[3] First quotation from Marcello Interv, 11 Apr 94; second quotation from w Steele Interv, 20 Apr 94; third quotation from Interv, Lt Col Iris J. west with Col Wiliiam E.Eggebroten and Lt Col George W. Weightman, 12 Apr 94 (hereaher cited as Eggebroten and Weightman Interv). See also Stansfield Interv, 12 Apr 94.

[4] Quotation from W. Steele Interv, 20 Apr 94. See also Marcello Interv, 11 Apr 94.

[5] W. Steele Interv, 20 Apr 94.

[6] Quotation from ibid. See also Marcello Interv, 11 Apr 94; Stansfield Interv, 12 Apr 94.

[7] First quotation from Stansfield Interv, 12 Apr 94; second quotation from w. Steele Inter, 20 Apr 94. see also XVIII Abn corps AAR, 12 Apr 94, p. 14.

[8] First quotation from Marcello Interv, I I Apr 94; remaining quotations from w. Steele Interv, 12 Apr 94.

[9] Memo, Col John J. Marcello, Chief of Staff, 82d Airborne Division, to Crisis Action Committee, 24 Mar 94, sub: Action Plan for 82d Airborne Division Crisis Response.

[10] W. Steele Interv, 20 Apr 94. The redline message system involves information printed on red-bordered paper, used for visual impact.

[11] Stansfield Interv, 12 Apr 94. The Warfighter series is part of Fort Leavenworth's battle command training program.

[12] Interv, Lt Col Iris J. West with Lt Col Stanley A. McChrystal, 22 Apr 94 (hereafter cited as S. McChrystal Interv).

[13] XVIII Abn Corps AAR, 12 Apr 94, pp. 8, 19. See also pp. 3-5, 9-11, 18, 20, 28.

[14] Memo, Col Stephen L. Jones, Dep Cdr for Clinical Services, WAMC to U.S Army Center of Military History, 3 Apr 95, sub: Medical Response to the F-i6 Crash at Pope Air Force Base, 23 March 1994 (hereafter cited as S. Jones Memo), Interv, Lt Col Iris J. West with Pam Steele, 22 Apr 94 (hereafter cited as P. Steele Inte ), Interv g a ricia Lewis with Anne McChrystal, 12 Apr 94 (hereafter cited as A. McChrystai n erv). The Fisher House was one of twenty houses donated by the Zachary and iza eth M. Fisher Medical Foundation, to house family members of sick servicemen on U.S. military bases.

[15] P. Steele Interv, 22 Apr 94; S. McChrystal Interv, 22 Apr 94; A. McChrystal Interv, 12 Apr 94.

[16] Quotation from S. McChrystal Interv, 22 Apr 94. See also W. Steele Interv, 20 Apr 94.

[17] R. Steele Interv, 22 Apr 94.

[18] A. McChrystal Interv, 12 Apr 94. ]9 Ibid. 20 S, McChrystal Interv, 22 Apr 94.

[21] XVIII Abn Corps AAR, 12 Apr 94, p. 21. 22 Ibid.

[23] Memo, Maj Keith I. Jones, Chaplain, WAMC, to Chaplain, U.S. Arny Medical Command, Fort Sam Houston, Tex., 6 Apr 94, sub: WAMC MASCAL AAR.

[24] Quotations from ibid. See also "And Now They Turn to God," Fayetteville Observer-Times, 25 Mar 94, p. 15A

[25] Memo, Capt Gerald K. Bebber, Chaplain, 525th Military Intelligence Brigade, to Chaplain, XVIII Airborne Corps, 12 Apr 94, sub: After-Action Report, Green Ramp Catastrophe, 23 March 1994.

[26] Interv, Sgt Patricia Lewis with Lt Ronald L. Owens, 11 Apr 94.

[27] Quotations from Larry E. Towne, "Why Did It Happen?," Tiger Times (Pope Air Force Base, N.C.), I Apr 94, p. 14. See also Ruth Sheehan, "Many Crash Survlvors Suffer Severe, Life-Threatening Burns," News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 25 Mar 94, p. 16A.

[28] Quotations from Kimberly N. Mason, "Ministers Console Victims," Tiger T,mes (Pope Air Force Base, N.C.), I Apr 94, p. 14. See also Towne, "Why Did It Happen?," p. 14. The Air Force offered counseling to the two pilots who eJected from the F-16 that crashed into the C-141.

[29] Afler-Action Report, XVIII Airborne Corps Public Affairs Office, n.d., p. I (hereafter cited as XVIII Abn Corps PAO AAR).

[30] Quotation from Interv, Lt Col Iris J. West with Margaret Tippy, 14 Apr 94 (hereafter cited as Tippy Interv). See also XVIII Abn Corps PAO AAR, p. 1

[31] Tippy Interv, 14 Apr 94; S. Jones Memo, 3 Apr 95

[32] Quotations from Tippy Interv, 14 Apr 94. See also S. Jones Memo, 3 Apr 95 Margaret Tippy, Information Paper to Health Services Command PAO and Army PAO 29 Mar 94, sub: After-Action Report on Womack Army Medical Center Public Affairs Activibes Involvmg InJured Soldiers From Aircraft Crash, pp. 1-2 (hereafter cited as Tippy Info Paper); XVIII Abn Corps PAO AAR, p. 1.

[33] "Horde of Reporters Descends on Bases for Crash StorX' Fayetteville ObserverTimes, 25 Mar 94, p. 14A.

[34] Quotation from Tippy Interv, 12 Apr 94. See also Tippy Info Paper, 26 Mar 94, p. 2; S. Jones Memo, 3 Apr 95; XVIII Abn Corps PAO AAR, p. 1.

[35] Quotation from Henry Cuningham, "Army Secretary West Touched by Disaster," Fayettevllle Observer-Times, 25 Mar 94, p. 21. See also S. Jones Memo, 3 Apr 95 Tippy Interv, 12 Apr 94, Tippy Info Paper, 29 Mar 94, p. 1

[36] "A Shared Calamity," Fayetteville Observer-Times, 26 Mar 94, p. 16A.

[37] As quoted in Shannon Rasmussen and Michele R. Hammonds, "Community Acts Bravely During Crisis at Pope," Paraglide (Fort Bragg, N.C.), 24 Mar 94, p. IA.

[38] Quotation from R Steele Interv, 22 Apr 94. See also W. Steele Interv, 20 Apr 94; Kathryn Quigley, "Community Reaches Out To Comfort, Aid Families," Fayetteville Observer-Times, 25 Mar 94, pp. 15-16.

[39] First quotation from Interv, Lt Col Iris J. West with Maj Patricia D. Horoho, 12 Apr 94; second quotation from "A Shared Calamity," p. 16A.

page updated 30 May 2001

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