The commanding officer of a Marine Corps air squadron has been relieved of his post due to errors uncovered after one of the unit's jets sliced through gondola cables at an Italian ski resort, killing 20.
Lt. Gen. Peter Pace, commanding general of Marine Forces Atlantic, ordered Lt. Col. Richard A. Muegge relieved of his command of an electronic warfare squadron based at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and reassigned to an unspecified position at the base, the Marine Corps said Saturday.Pace's decision came after three days of hearings at Camp Lejeune into allegations of dereliction of duty against Muegge and three other officers in Marine Electronic Warfare Squadron-2.
Maj. Max Caramanian, the squadron's director of standardization and safety, was punished with a letter of reprimand. Allegations against the squadron's second-in-command, executive officer Lt. Col. John G. Koran III, and the unit's operations officer, were dismissed.
"The command investigation team found supervisory error in acquiring and disseminating pertinent fllght information within the squadron. Although the investigation team determined that the supervisory error did not cause the mishap, they recommended appropriate administrative action," the Marine Corps said.
Muegge and Caramanian will not lose pay, benefits or rank as a result of the reprimand.
Muegge testified at a June hearing that the squadron was briefed two months before the Feb. 3 tragedy on a 1,000-foot altitude minimum for pilots flying in the region around the Aviano, Italy, air base. Fliers apparently did not know about a 2,000-foot restriction the Italian government had imposed in October, testimony showed.