Oct. 03–A North Carolina Congressman announced Tuesday that he was filing a lawsuit for all records related to an Osprey crash that killed 19 Marines.
U.S. House of Representative Walter B. Jones, NC-3, held a 22-minute press conference from Washington D.C. announcing the filing of a rare Freedom of Information Act request lawsuit seeking all records pertaining to the 2000 V-22 Osprey crash in Marana, Arizona. The families of the Osprey’s two pilots — Maj. Brooks Gruber and Lt. Col. John Brow — flanked the congressman in an outdoor press conference on Capitol Hill.
The widows, Connie Gruber of Jacksonville and Trish Brow of California, Maryland, made brief statements during the press conference.
Gruber said her family remained supportive of the Marine Corps mission but demanded “full, transparent disclosure” into the matters surrounding the crash that claimed the life of her husband. She implored closure to this case for the sake of their “children and for grandchildren these pilots will never know.”
Brow and Gruber were piloting their Osprey as part of a training exercise with 17 Marines stowed in the rear of the aircraft when it crashed.
“To be blamed for the death of 18 other people is horrendous. To get that knock on the door at 5 a.m. is horrendous. But to have to fight this battle many years later is ridiculous,” Brow said.
Jones, Gruber, and Brow and her two sons, who at the time of the crash were seven and eight years old are plaintiffs in the lawsuit represented by Washington-based national security attorney Mark Zaid. Zaid is also the executive director of the James Madison Project, a Washington, D.C. organization that was established in 1998, to promote government accountability and the reduction of secrecy, as well as to educate the public on issues relating to intelligence and national security through means of research, advocacy and the dissemination of information.
After spending 14 years to clear the names of Gruber and Brow, Jones is demanding the release of documents that may explain why they were unfairly and incorrectly blamed for that tragic crash.
In March 2016, both pilots were cleared of any culpability of the Marana crash by then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work and the DoD.
Zaid said copies of the lawsuit will be sent today to the Marine Corps, Navy and Department of Defense office of Inspector General who are all named in the lawsuit. Zaid said the three entities will have 30 days with which to respond then a federal judge in Washington, D.C. will set the calendar for a future court date.
“This is government at its basics with checks and balances,” Brow said. “The United States Marine Corps should be held accountable.”
Reporter Mike McHugh can be reached at 910-219-8455 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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