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This has clearly upset you a lot. Do you know him personally?
We put people on pedestals and it is hurtful when they fall off and let us and themselves down. Politics is a dirty business and has been the ruin of many a good man (I think I've just quoted a song?).
What a prat. What a waste. It doesn't wipe out what he once was and did though.
No, I didn't know the man personally. It just p.o.'s me because a) he's a congressman and not suppossed to do that. Nice example for the masses.....(I know, I know, I'm simple...an politician being crooked, how unorginal!) and b) because of what he did criminally, he forever does, IMHO, pretty much negate what he did in combat. I believe that every history book mention of Duke Cunningham will read "corrupt politician" and his aerial achievements will get a footnote, if that.
This is the coup de grace for Duke. He was doing plenty to sully his record long before that. He's basically as mad as a box of frogs:
1. Before a group of elderly cancer patients in Alvarado Hospital, Cunningham made obscene remarks and gestures. After he said the defense budget was the lowest in 25 years, a member of the audience, Charles Cotton, a WW II veteran, commented that it was “not low enough.” The embarrassed audience was shocked when Mr. Cunningham replied by giving Mr. Cotton “the bird” finger gesture and said “f--k you.”
Cunningham, who underwent prostate surgery in August, compared prostate cancer treatment to gay anal sex before the same group of elderly cancer patients at Alvarado Hospital. Cunningham said no man would enjoy prostate cancer treatment “unless he’s Barney Frank.” Cunningham then made an obscene gesture in reference to prostate examinations. The reference is to fellow Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), an openly gay Congressman.
2. Cunningham challenged U.S. Representative David Obey to a fist fight on the House floor: “I do not like to be threatened [having legislation challenged], and if the individual [Rep. David Obey] wants to threaten, we can handle that real good. . . . If the gentleman wants to do something he can just come right over here.”
“Was she [Paula Coughlin] totally innocent in this [the Tailhook Scandal]? I don’t think so . . . If you have clothes that are scant, if you have a past that is not professional, then that’s going to add to the problems.” [KNSD-TV 2/1994]
“I have flown an F-14 over this Capitol with a 20 mm gun that could shoot 6,000 rounds a minute. I could disintegrate this hall in a half-a-second burst.”
“Now we need to take a look at who befriended us. . . . While the Serbs, since before King Peter I, had been rooted in democracy, the United States has supported the Croatians and the [Bosnian] Muslims . . . .”
Just reading the New York Times article. He was taking the pish! Among other things:
1. His DC residence was a 42ft yacht loaned to him by a defence contractor.
2. Contractors bought him a Rolls Royce
3. They bought his house from him for around twice the market value.
4. They paid a $200,000 deposit on a condo for him
5. They paid for his daughter's graduation party.
6. Paid capital gains tax for him (presumably on the house sale among other things)
He's owned up to $2.4 million so far, but the investigation is ongoing and prosecutors have not ruled out further charges.
It would also appear that there are some people who demonstrate that he was a bit of a chopper back in the glory days (and if you read long enough, you will see they were able to answer the "boathouse at Hereford" questions)
Blimey! It's almost as bad as that other bloke who blagged a Govt limo for his wife, takes expensive "working" holidays in the south of France using the company jet, sprung his deliquent son from the clink after he was arrested for D&D, then demanded his own 747!
....and says "Yer know...." a lot with an accompanying smug grin.
Don't get confused between the man and the myth. There is plenty to suggest that while he was undeniably exceptionally good at waving the stick about (although airmanship may not have been his strong suit, as we shall see below), he was otherwise a waste of rations.
There are even widespread rumours in the USN F-4 community (including members of his Sqn) that his unscheduled dip in the Gulf of Tonkin was brought about due to fuel managment going out of the window while he was fangs-out in the fabled third engagement with Col Toomb, rather than a SAM. The Navy and the Government apparently staged the cover story of the SAM because they needed some good PR.
Now where's me tinfoil hat?
You are correct, Cunningham was the only USN pilot ace of Vietnam. I would also say that his backseater is one, but then I am not one of the FJ pilot community.
Which could add interest to this thread:
should the RIOs/WSOs/Navs be credited?
I would say yes, but would be interested to read other views.
The highest scoring ace in Vietnam was a WSO- Capt Chuck DeBellevue, USAF with 6 kills (4 with Steve Richie, 2 with John Madden). Pilots and WSOs were each awarded a full kill. Willie Driscoll (Cunningham's RIO) is likewise credited with the same five as Cunningham. I've saw the wall at USNFWS once, and both names appear below the silhouettes.
Last edited by Washington_Irving; 29th Nov 2005 at 12:40.
I believe he did run out of gas because he wanted the kill. No arguement there. And I'm fairly sure that one is suppossed to bring one's jet back, but since I wasn't there, I can't honestly pass judgement on his mindset at the time.
And USAF pilot ace Ritchie (now there's a piece of work! Yes, I have had to deal with him professionally. ) supposedly was groomed to be the USAF ace - sitting alert specifically waiting for MiG activity, better maintained bird, missiles, etc, etc.. Still, he did it, as did Cunningham. So, it is tragic to me that Cunningham would betray his oath as a Congressman for $ when he could have so easily have earned large amounts in the private sector.
It must really grip his sh1t to know that the only guy who out-scored him was a Nav! Plus, wasn't Richie grounded as soon as he got his 5th because the headshed didn't want anything happening to their new hero?
quote: The highest scoring ace in Vietnam was a WSO- Capt Chuck DeBellevue, USAF with 6 kills. Pilots and WSOs were each awarded a full kill.
Yes, you are correct. My question was should the backseaters be credited? The American Fighter Aces Association does not. (Is there a UK equivalent?) That is their opinion and since they are composed of guys who have done it, are they right?
I hold that the guy flying a few feet behind the pilot is just as important to the jet's mission and therefore is entitled. Doubtless, there are those that disagree and I'm interested to hear their opinions.
Worked with Chuck after he turned (F-4) pilot - and a very good one at that. He is an absolutely splendid bloke.
I've mislaid my book on the Viet Nam air war so I cannot answer Washington's question. But in aircraft such as the F-4, where most interception work (especially from BVR) required inputs from both crewmembers, both should be awarded the kills. The larger ego will usually claim them for himself though.
Apparently there was a chap on VF-96, something of a legend by all accounts, by the name of Diego "Duke" Hernandez- good stick, good officer, good chap etc. Cunningham, as a young nugget, decided he liked the name, so he started calling himself that.
Now answer me this. What kind of stroker insists on choosing his own nickname/callsign?