Rep. Jones served two military pilots’ widows well in quest for truth about Osprey crash

The names of Maj. Brooks Gruber and Lt. Col. John Brow, both of the U.S. Marine Corps, were long attached to the cause of a helicopter hybrid – a V-22 Osprey – that crashed in 2000 in an Arizona training mission. Gruber was the pilot and Brow the co-pilot, and they and 17 others died.

For years, the widow of Gruber, Connie Gruber, has fought to clear her husband’s name from blame and was joined in the effort by Brow’s widow. They didn’t give up, and now Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work has ruled that the crash had multiple causes and that the pilots were not solely to blame as earlier Marine reports seemed to indicate they were.

A key figure in Work’s findings was U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, of North Carolina’s 3rd District, which includes the Camp Lejeune Marine base. Jones listened to Gruber and determined in his mind that the blame was too quickly put on the pilots because the Osprey was a controversial project.

“They needed a scapegoat,” Jones said, “and the best scapegoat is the man who can’t talk, who can’t defend himself.”

Work got on the case and reviewed the findings, as Jones had. The congressman is due a lot of credit here for taking up the cause of a couple of widows and demanding that truth will out. Bureaucracies, including military bureaucracies, make mistakes, but when the reputations of honorable Marines are at stake, mistakes must be corrected. Now the families of these men can have some comfort in knowing the whole story has come out, at last.