Inside the Beltway: Crew comes home

They were last airborne on July 19, 1967: the four-man Navy crew from the USS Hornet that took off in an SH-3A Sea King helicopter to rescue a downed pilot in Ha Nam Province, North Vietnam. Hit by anti-aircraft gunfire, the helicopter crashed and the men never returned. Nearly 46 years later, the pilot and his crew will be united again for a final time.

They will be buried as a group with full military honors on Thursday in Arlington National Cemetery after their remains were recovered following an extensive search that began in 1982. The Defense Department’s POW/Missing Personnel Office confirmed their identities.

Navy Lt. Dennis W. Peterson, 28, of Huntington Park, Calif. was the pilot, and the last to be identified on March 30, 2012. His crew, Ensign Donald P. Frye, 23, of Los Angeles; Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Technicians William B. Jackson, 32, of Stockdale, Texas; and Donald P. McGrane, 24, of Waverly, Iowa — were all identified in 2009. They were attempting to rescue Lt. Comdr. Richard D. Hartman, who had been at the control of a single-seat Douglas A-4 Skyhawk when he was shot down a day earlier.

Peterson stated he had Hartman in sight and was going in for the pickup. The Sea King approached Richard Hartman’s position from an altitude of 1,000 to 1,500 feet. As it passed directly over a concealed 37 mm anti-aircraft artillery gun emplacement that had not been damaged during the night’s bombing, enemy gunners opened fire, repeatedly striking the now vulnerable helicopter,” noted an account compiled from government and private sources and published by Task Force Omega, a POW/MIA interest group.

“Escort aircraft watched as Lt. Peterson tried to take evasive action, but was hit repeatedly and flew directly into the ground and burst into flames at an estimated speed of 100 knots. Unfortunately no one was seen to exit the aircraft before or after the crash,” the account noted.

Hartman died in captivity. His remains were repatriated in 1974 and he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

BUY AMERICAN

Reassuring findings from Gallup: “Forty-five percent of Americans say they recently made a special effort to buy products made in the United States. When asked why, these shoppers mainly cited patriotic or altruistic goals related to the national economy, including creating and keeping jobs in the U.S., rather than product-specific considerations such as quality, safety, or cost,” says analyst Jeffrey Jones.

Sixty-four percent report they’re willing to pay more for American products, incidentally. And their reasons: 32 percent were motivated by patriotism, 31 percent by an urge to create jobs in the U.S., 20 percent because it’s good for the U.S. economy and 13 percent because the products are of better quality.

TEA PARTY PICKS

Dr. Ben Carson, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, Republicans, are among 18 potential White House candidates of importance to tea partyers, who resolutely cling to their traditional American values and prime directives no matter how many times the mainstream media declares them “dead.” The group has launched a presidential poll, with some strident trimmings. The Tea Party Patriots’ 2016 Straw Poll, organized by a grass-roots organization that represents 3,000 local groups, comes with a declaration of intent: “We need to show the D.C. establishment politicians that we, the people will rally behind only the most pro-Constitution, pro-free market, fiscally responsible candidates in America, and all others need not apply,” the group states.

Early 2016 surveys already have debuted from New Hampshire public radio and Fairleigh Dickinson University this week. Tea partyers see their poll as a way to distinguish themselves.

“We can show the moderates at the helm of the GOP that we refuse to be locked out of the nominating process in 2016,” insists Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin. “No matter how hard they try, they will never be able to hand-pick another weak, centrist candidate for president. Not on our watch.”

And who are the other 15 candidates on their poll? On the list:

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida and John Thune of South Dakota; Rep. Paul Ryan; Govs. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, John Kasich of Ohio, Rick Perry of Texas and Scott Walker of Wisconsin — plus Mitch Daniels, Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum.

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