Admiral nominee rose through ranks despite ‘illogical act’

When Lt. j.g. Timothy W. Dorsey intentionally fired his fighter jet’s missile at an Air Force reconnaissance plane, nearly killing its two aviators and destroying the aircraft during a training exercise, it was hard to imagine then how his Navy career would wind up 25 years later.

The official investigation into the 1987 shoot-down said the F-14 pilot’s decision “raises substantial doubt as to his capacity for good, sound judgment.” The Navy banned him from flying its aircraft.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta this month announced to the Senate several nominations for promotion to admiral.

On the list is Navy Reserve Capt. Timothy W. Dorsey, the same man who, while assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga, committed what the report said was an “illogical act.”

Capt. Dorsey today is the inspector general for Navy Reserve Detachment 106 in Norfolk, Va.

His promotion to admiral has some in the aviation community shaking their heads, especially because minor discretions by flight officers over the past decades have resulted in reprimands and the ends of careers.

Lawyer Charles Gittins, a former Marine Corps aviator, has represented several naval officers whose careers were ended for what he considered minor misconduct.

“It is shocking that the Navy would promote an officer with this background to flag rank, particularly in an environment where the Navy relieves commanding officers of their commands at the drop of a hat for trivial or insubstantial reasons,” Mr. Gittins told The Washington Times.

Capt. Dorsey’s father, James Dorsey, was at the time of the incident commander of the carrier USS America and an aviator. A year later, he became assistant deputy chief of naval operations at the Pentagon and later attained three-star vice admiral rank.

In his civilian job, Capt. Dorsey is general counsel at USA Discounters in Virginia Beach.

He said Thursday that he did not want to discuss the shoot-down or his career because he is about to take a Navy Reserve intelligence post.

“I’m going to have to decline to talk right now, based on the kind of job I’m going to be taking,” he said. “I’m not really big on talking to press for anything.

“It means heading up some intel factions. So it’s really not something I would typically do. I [would] rather not see my name in the paper at all right now because of the job I’m getting ready to take. A lack of press is good on what I’m getting ready to do.”

Capt. Dorsey kept his Navy career on track by reinventing himself, first as a Reserve intelligence officer and then as an inspector general in charge of investigating wrongdoing. In 1995, he earned a law degree from the University of Richmond.

A 2010 alumni magazine profile says Capt. Dorsey “has endured countless physical and mental tests in his 47 years - first, as a fighter pilot flying F-14 Tomcats, and later during the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq as an intelligence officer interrogating prisoners.”

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