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Saturday night, October 13, 1990. I was practicing close air-support missions 12 miles south of Kuwait with a Marine Forward Air Controller, when my A-6E Intruder hit an uncharted, unlit, and abandoned 320-foot-tall radio tower at 200 feet and 450 knots (518 mph). The collision cut off about 12 feet of the right wing and six feet of the right engine intake from the jet.
I was able to recover the airplane to controlled flight and flew it about an hour to our base on the island of Bahrain.
Obviously there is much more to the story, but the heart of the matter is that at this point in my life, I was completely sold out to doing whatever it took to be the best Marine aviator I could be and was willing to do just about anything to further my career.
When the time came to make a report on the accident, I wrongly thought that the best course of action would be to lie and say I didn’t know the plane’s altitude when the accident happened. (More long story to this, but it was almost a day before I knew what I’d hit, and I was trying to deflect any overreaction from my commanding officer.)
Eventually I was caught in the lie, and my lack of integrity, rather than the accident itself, became the issue. I was given a punitive letter of reprimand for negligently damaging an airplane and had my flight status removed. I was asked to pick another job specialty in the Marine Corps, and I asked to be released from active-duty. That request was granted, and I got out of the Marines on June 1, 1991.
When all I had worked so hard to be and sacrificed so much to achieve came crashing down around me, I remembered Proverbs 3:5–6, that I should trust in God and His plan and He would direct my path, that He had a plan for me and that it was good.
Having accepted Christ as my Savior as a child, I began the process of making Him Lord in my life. Until then I had lived as though life were all about me; now I know it’s all about living in God’s Kingdom, in light of His love and the grace He offers everyone in Jesus Christ, even a sinner like me!