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Air Force rejects pilot's appeal in botched bombing

| Tuesday, July 20, 2004

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- A U.S. fighter pilot who mistakenly bombed Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan in 2002, killing four and injuring eight, has lost an appeal of his reprimand, officials announced Monday.

Earlier this month, Maj. Harry Schmidt was found guilty of dereliction of duty and was ordered to forfeit more than $5,000 in pay.

Lt. Gen. Bruce Carlson, who handed down the verdict, said in a letter of reprimand that Schmidt "acted shamefully" and exhibited "arrogance and a lack of flight discipline" in the April 17, 2002, bombing.

In his appeal, Schmidt said the reprimand was issued as a "desire to mount a public relations campaign rather than actually attempt to see justice done."

But the Air Force announced yesterday that Carlson had rejected Schmidt's appeal. The case will be forwarded to Gen. Hal Homberg, commander of the Air Force combat command, for a final decision, the Air Force said.

Schmidt, 39, said he mistook the Canadians' gunfire for an attack from Taliban fighters. The pilot said his superiors never told him that the Canadians would be conducting live-fire exercises near Kandahar airport that night.

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