St. Louis Public Radio News
9:34 am
Fri January 24, 2003

Hearing Ends For Illinois Pilots in Bombing Case

Barksdale Air Force Base, La. – A military hearing is over for two Illinois fighter pilots. Former St. Louisan Harry Schmidt and William Umbach are charged with the accidental bombing of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.

Yesterday, the men apologized to the victims' families. Schmidt told the Canadian families that he was expected to make a perfect decision with imperfect information. Umbach told them he and Schmidt honestly believed they were under attack and were doing their best to defend themselves. Both expressed anguish for the four who were killed.

The mother of one of the victims called Umbach's remarks "very sincere" but said Schmidt was just "trying to defend himself."

Lawyers for Majors Schmidt and Umbach said the pilots were not warned that Allied forces were conducting exercises in the area and they thought they were under enemy fire.

A judge will now recommend whether there should be a court martial. That non binding decision isn't expected for weeks.