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Remembering Iran Air Flight 655

by ALI CHENAR in Tehran

04 Jul 2010 23:1952 Comments
bodies2.jpg[ comment ] On July 3, 1988, an Iranian aircraft registered on the radar screen of the USS Vincennes. The U.S. Navy officers on the bridge identified the approaching aircraft as an Iranian Air Force F-14 Tomcat. Though they would later claim that they tried to reach the aircraft on military and civilian frequencies, they failed to try air traffic control, which would have probably cleared the air. Instead, as the aircraft drew nearer, the Americans fired two guided missiles at their target: a civilian Airbus A300B2, killing 290 civilians, including 66 children, en route to Dubai.

Twenty-two years ago, the Iran-Iraq war was well into its eighth bloody year. Then, as now, Iran was considered the foe; and Iraq, the ally. The U.S. government never published a complete report of the investigation and continued to assert that the crew of the USS Vincennes mistakenly identified the aircraft as a fighter jet and acted in self defense. While it expressed its regrets, the United States failed to condemn what happened and never apologized to the Iranian people. The Iranian government asked several times -- rhetorically -- how a guided missile cruiser, such as the USS Vincennes, equipped with the latest in electronic technology, was unable to distinguish a slowly ascending Airbus from a much smaller fighter jet. After Iran sued the United States in the International Court of Justice, the Americans agreed to pay $61.8 million in compensation to the victims' families. However, it did not escape any Iranian that the United States extracted $1.7 billion, a sum 30 times greater, from Libya as compensation for the victims of the Pan Am Lockerbie bombing, which took place the same year.

The immediate aftermath of the tragedy played a significant role in Iranian politics and influenced some major decisions. Many Iranians, including several politicians, read the attack as a signal that the United States would enter the war on Iraq's side. In fact, Iran accepted a ceasefire less than a month later, in part because the Iranian leadership was certain Iran could not prevail in a war against both Iraq and the United Stated, at least not if the war were waged in a conventional manner.

More than two decades later, the attack continues to permeate Iranian social psychology and fuel the strategic thinking of its military leadership. Many Iranians recall the event with a bitter sense of vulnerability. A foreign government, the United States, which was not in war with them, used brutal and lethal force against Iranian civilians.

Reza, who served as a volunteer Basiji from 1987-1988 and teaches chemistry now, admits he doesn't think about what happened too often. "Still, when I do," he said, "I remember how nobody cared! These were Iranian civilians who were killed and there was no condemnation."

For other Iranians, the lesson from the attack helps inform their thinking on current issues. Mohammad, a 60-year-old shopkeeper, said it made him side with the government in the nuclear standoff. "Look," he said to me, "if Iran had power -- and nuclear power -- they would not have done that to us. I know we are paying a high price for it now, but we have to have it. Otherwise, those Americans do as it pleases them, and there is no one -- absolutely no one -- to ask them why."

Though the sentiment he expressed was raw and probably not well thought out, it did not lack sincerity. In fact, for many Iranians, the shooting down of IR655 reminded them of how defenseless they were in their own region and in their own waters and airspace. The military has capitalized on this. Since the end of war with Iraq, Iran's military leadership operates on the presumption that it is incapable of winning a conventional war against a superpower. It also assumes that should such a conflict occur, Iran should not expect any sympathy or help from the international community. The silence over IR655, though convenient at the time for many U.S. allies, continues to haunt many Iranians. Predictably, it has been used by state media to convince segments of the public that Iran stands to gain little or no justice from engaging with the rest of the world. Many Iranian hardliners continue to use the tragedy to argue for a buildup and a militarily powerful Iran. They also use it to underscore the West's dual standards, should anyone forget.

Although no one speaks of IR655 in the United States, it poses a simple and important question about engagement in Iran to almost anyone who thinks of or strives for a democratic Iran, particularly the Green Movement. What will the United States do when the decisive moment comes? In choosing between a democratic Iran and a government that capitulates to it, will it opt for the one that serves its interests or the one that measures up to its principles? Will the United States again sacrifice Iranian lives to force the Iranian government to accept a short-term political order?

For those with a longer memory span, it's difficult to dismiss some of these concerns particularly when you recall that the reckless behavior of the USS Vincennes commanding officer earned him the Legion of Merits, "a military decoration of the United States armed forces that is awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements." For many Iranians, this is utterly incomprehensible.

Photo: Bodies of victims of Iran Air Flight 655 at an Iranian morgue, July 5, 1988.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

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The Vincennes incident showed the people of Iran what the u.s. is really about. Legion of Merit for the killer? What else would you think from The Great Satan?

Radical_Guy / July 5, 2010 12:17 AM


Lol. I am Satan. And this is what the USS Vincennes tradgedy taught the Iranian people and the rest of the world.............

When you have 2 nations at "cold war" with each other this is the type of thing that will happen.

This article failed to mention the numberous attacks against the U.S. navy in the Persian Gulf in the months prior to this. There were many, many attempts to disrupt shipping in the Gulf. Some were successful. Some were not.

When you have 20somethings on a warcraft being threatened daily, they probably will make a mistake. It was a terrible mistake.

The Libyian bombing of Pan Am Lockerbie was intentional. Intentionally designed to kill as many civilans as possible. This shoot down was entirely accidental. How does one jump to compare the 2 with regard to compensation???? The Libyians who purposely planned and excuted this attack are lucky to get away with a monetary award. If there were true international justice, they would be in prison for the rest of their natural lives.

muhammad billy bob / July 5, 2010 3:20 AM

muhammad billy bob, you answered your own question: what were us forces doing in the "Persian" Gulf to begin with? What does any of this have to do with two nations "at cold war"?!

Just for the sake of argument, if we were to accept that the shooting was accidental ... why the medals? and the lack of an apology?

And that "for the sake of argument" is ungrounded to begin with. There is EVERY reason to believe that the "accident" was in fact no such thing.

You sound like an Ahmadinejad puppet - only your master is his buddy Bush/Obama & Co.

Houshang / July 5, 2010 4:51 AM

@Muhammad Billy Bob, so an American vessel can shut down an airliner and say: "oops sorry, i did not mean to." by the way those Libyans spent the rest of their lives in prison as a matter of fact. This sort of thing did not happen because of a cold war or a mistake, it happened because the captain felt he could do this with impunity. The only successful attack on US Navy was the one carried out by an Iraqi MiG "accidentally" on USS Stark. In that incident US announced that the pilot "should have known he is attacking an American vessel. So Bob there is no excuse for killing civilians even in a cold war.....how about a Chinese vessel shutting down a Japanese airline going to Taiwan? would you accept this sort of thing happens because of the cold war between China and Taiwan? Murder is always murder.

Pedram / July 5, 2010 7:02 AM

@Radical guy: Putting aside the compensation issue, can you further go into detail about Iran's attacks on US ships in the Persian Gulf? Where there losses of lives?
Also, can you let us know why the commanding officer received the Legion of Merits?

Medio / July 5, 2010 10:48 AM

Medio -

Vincennes, was commanded by Captain Will Rogers III, and according to him there had been an earlier attack on his ship by Iranian motor boats. Now does that really make sense to you that a small motorboat would try to attack a large u.s. navel ship? This statement was never confirmed my any other independent source. And how did he know they were attacking? Bullet holes? Our motorboats are all over that region. Don’t we have rights? Is a motorboat speeding past a u.s. navy warship attacking? All his statements are B.S.

He identified our Airbus as an attacking u.s. Tomcat fighter from Iran. He stated that a radio warning was sent to the aircraft on civilian frequencies. The facts are that the warning was sent on civilian frequencies, but they were emergency frequencies not the normal air traffic control frequencies so the crew may have thought that this transmission did not apply to them.

Remember this was a scheduled civilian flight to Dubai. It was in established air lanes. The Italian navy confirmed that our plane was climbing, not diving which it would do if it was going to attack.

A scheduled civilian flight in established air lanes climbing – these are the facts.

This captain on June 2, 1988 tried to ram an Iranian frigate, he launched helicopters to buzz Iranian small boats and he would daily fire on Iranian military boats.

Rogers was awarded the Legion of merit by then President George H.W. Bush for exceptionally meritorious conduct and for being an outstanding commanding officer from April 1987 to May 1989 for his service ac the commanding officer of the Vincennes, during which they shot down our civilian plane.

And all this was a mistake? And the world wonders why we need nuclear weapons.

Radical_Guy / July 5, 2010 8:25 PM

This was a sad day. I remember Rafsanjani and other Mullahs crying like babies on TV, with their turbans hanging and wrapped around their shoulders (equivalent to a half-staff flag), and I was thinking, man, what political showmanship!

I was outraged of course, as I am sure any American would have also if another nation's military had shot down a US civilan plane.
But I do not blame them for not showing us much sympathy or remorse especially after the disgraceful hustage taking episodes in Iran and Lebonan, and the histeric shouts of "Death To America", calling their nation "The Great Satan" while burning their flag.

There is plenty of blame to go around.

Ahvaz / July 5, 2010 10:03 PM

It's always the civilians that suffer. Flight 655 was a tragedy for Iranians not made easier by lack of an apology from the United States. I find it hard to believe the military can't tell the difference between a civilian plane and a military plane or that it was an "accident". If an "accident" somebody should have been relieved of command. As a christian I would rather argue with a friend than fight with an enemy any day. It's hard to make friends with Iranians when your government's foreign policy shows little or no concern for civilian's lives or wellbeing. As for the U.S. being there in the first place, you can thank our energy policy ( or lack of one ).

Eric / July 5, 2010 10:50 PM

@ Houshng,
Khomeini knew the only way he could end the war and save some face would be dragging US into it. When he started the oil ranker war he undoubtedly knew that bunch of big Navy will show up to escort the tankers and that is what exactly he wanted.

I have no doubt that it was an accident (RIP to the afllen) in which US did not gain any thing except world wide propaganda feed. BUT khomeini could exploite itorder to finish the war, cease fire was signed about 40 days after the IR655 tragedy.

I disagree with the F-14 scenario because USN back then the primary user of Tomcat knew very well that F-14 was an Interceptor with zero capability of air to ground/sea capability. So IF it was an F-14 it could just be fly over escorted with the formation of same type of fighters in USN service.

And that "Medal" show boating is just disgusting.


Aryajet / July 5, 2010 11:36 PM

it is really simple, some civilian lives are valuable and a war on a random country has to be waged for them and some civilian lives are meant to be lost as "casualties" "die in cross fire", or be lost in "incidents". It is regretful but unfortunately it is usually the price that has to be paid. They should be thankful for the money they were paid and how dare they to ask for an apology or make accusations for any wrongdoings. By the way, clearly US tankers like many US bases around the world, were there in the first place only to defend and fight for US "freedom" and "democratic values" and the iranians who can not comprehend why this commander was awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct it is because they are islamic radical extremists who hate US because of its democratic values and they think americans are "infidels"!

Aram / July 6, 2010 3:19 AM


You disgust me. Just imagine if someone hands you a fistful of dollars for your loved ones in the name of "democratic values."

I doubt you possess the intellect to comprehend me.

Niloofar / July 6, 2010 5:34 AM

So let me get this straight. Are you saying the USS Vencinnes intentional shot down this plane knowing it was a civilian airliner prior to the shoot down?.........Does it make sense a small motorboat would attack a U.S. warship?...Have you seen the recent footage of Iranian "military" exercises in the Gulf? Lots of small motorboats. That's their military capbabilty, and have been, and were definately at that time many attempts using small motorboats. The USS Cole was attacked by a small motorboat that did significant damage.

That being said, why do you need nuclear weapons? Would nuclear weapons stop an attack on Iran? No, it would only encourage such an attack.

There are many other issues of your posts that are incorrect. I may address them later but now I've gotta go. Try to see things in real terms.

Muhammad billy bob / July 6, 2010 5:42 PM

The U.S. government "shows little or no concern for civilans lives or wellbeing"? Now that is just an outright lie.
I do not support the U.S. interventions in other countries, but it must be said that the U.S. is extremely concerned about civilan lives and wellbeing. The U.S. military has very strict procedures to avoid civilan casualities as much as possible. Many times these procedures are at direct conflict to U.S. troops safety. There are many times when U.S. troops are being fired upon and an easy solution would be to indiscriminately bomb the nearby areas that the fire is coming from. But the U.S. does not do that. Any other countries military would do that.

The U.S. is extremely concerned about civilan's lives. So concerned that they have many of their soldiers killed for fear that they would cause unneccessary civilan deaths.

muhammad billy bob / July 6, 2010 6:06 PM

Dear Niloofar,

Calm down, pedigreed Persian princess.

Aram is being ironic here, making his point obliquely but effectively.

He makes satirical use of flag-waving Americans' own hackneyed slogans to expose the crassness of their ideology of empire.

It shouldn't take much "intellect" for a reader to figure that out, just some basic reading comprehension skills.

Ali from Tehran / July 6, 2010 8:11 PM

With regards to this legion of merit medal...It is a rather ordinary medal given to sailors who complete crusies. My brother received one for an ordinary submarine cruise completed. Which he later traded with a Russian freind for one of his medals.

muhammad billy bob / July 6, 2010 9:03 PM

billy bob -

Our small boats harass the u.s. navy they do not attack the u.s. navy. They place themselves is positions where the u.s. navy has to maneuver around them, etc. I am not aware that they have ever shot at a u.s. navy ship.

The u.s. wanted revenge for their embassy taking and the other things people on this board mentioned and that is why they did it – even a blind man could see their motivation, an empire!

And a medal is a medal. If they don't mean anything why does the u.s. give them out?

Radical_guy / July 6, 2010 9:35 PM

Accident or intentional, we all know why the US warship was in the middle of a gulf surrounded by inhospitable, dead, empty desert:

Protecting energy lines to feed our addiction to oil.

One day a civilian plane is shot down, another, toxic black tar washes up on Florida beaches. It's a curse.

Ahvaz / July 6, 2010 9:41 PM


"your boats" do you own these boats???......Anyway,...The U.S. navy sees any size boat that is "harrassing" them, logically, as a threat with the potential to cause damamge to their vessels. They can, and do maneuver around them, until there is no room to maneuver or it is too dangerous to maneuver.

A medal is a medal? Not exactly. Why does the U.S. give out the Legion of merit? To get sailors to re-enlist. In this case it was used to escort a captian out of the service without a fuss. The U.S. gives all kinds of "ribbons", the little rectangluar things on the upper right of a soldiers dress uniform. This is just one step higher than that. It's not the Congressional medal of honor which has only been given posthumesly since the Vietnam war, and rarely before that.

muhammad billy bob / July 6, 2010 10:56 PM


Oil is a curse...But it is the most economical effiecent source of energy we have at the time or for the forseeable future. It brings many, many benefits to the world.

Regraless of Eric's opinion, no "energy policy" can effectively take the place of oil. All the alternatives are prohibitively expensive. There is no natural way to make these alternatives feesible. Only coersion from government to make oil more expensive and force others to pay for the alternatives "out of sight".

What I find interesting is how the people of the middle east have been sitting on the world greatest natural resource ever for years, and seem to be totally squandering that great potential with petty hang ups from the distant past. Such a resource should make all rich and comfortable, except they are too busy trying to control everybody else's lives.

muhammad billy bob / July 6, 2010 11:09 PM

Thank you for reminding me. I just glanced at it and admittedly I did get inundated by it.
I do apologize to Aram. I did not judge him correctly.
I do make mistakes. That is only human.

Niloofar / July 6, 2010 11:30 PM

Dear Mo Billy bob,

yes, you are right. oil is the easiest (economicly efficient--but not physically efficient) way to get energy, for now anyway.

The problem is the consumption of oil not only as energy, and also its byproduct: plastic in form of cheap crap that is made in China and consumed in America. I read somewhere , but I am not certain about the numbers, that US has 5% of the world's population but has 80% of the worlds energy consumption. Well, that's crap. US consumption needs to be tamed, for its/our own national security, and for its economy and our planet .

The problem with middle eastern countries, and the reason oil "is a curse" is that oil is too easy to get to, too profitable, and so these countries dont need to develope a complex and efficient economy. instead they rely on the easy money from oil. It also gives a limitless supply of dollars to the despotic government that can fund itself, instead of relying on its population's ingenuity and work. they can afford to screw their people, and still have enough money to keep going, make deals with developed countries, and buy the tools and leverage they need to enslave their people. Iran can afford the massive brain drain of its population, as long as oil is 60% of its economy.

I try to imagine Middle east without oil:

The net worth of an average Abu Dhabi citizen is a whopping $17 million!!! where would they be without oil? What have these people done to contribute to the world and human race to deserve that kind of networth?

And Iran? I look at Turkey, and think man, we would probabely have been much better off witout oil. We had 3000+ year of bright history where our people continuously bounced back from all kinds of invasions, adversity, and even genocide, untill about 100 years ago when we went into a state of lethargy and stagnacy. Yes oil is our curse.

Thanks I enjoy our conversations. Interesting point about that medal. Did not know that.

Ahvaz / July 7, 2010 5:46 AM

Hey Muhammad Bill Bob, I know the story and it was a mistake OK! but awarding the legion of merit to the stupid captain was a disgrace to humanity!!!
surely it's a shameful decision and leaves no room to defend it!

Amir / July 7, 2010 8:31 AM

With regards to use of nuclear weapons, Mo Billy Bob believes:

"In todays technology it is much, much better to use smaller more targeted weapons to kill the combatants and true believers as much as possible with the fewest non combatant deaths."

He has also enlightened us with this pearl about the victims of the IR flight:

"When you have 20somethings on a warcraft being threatened daily, they probably will make a mistake."

And, he has proclaimed to be "anti-authority" elsewhere.

Here is a synthesis of Mr Mo Billy Bob:

It is okay to kill innocents, even with nuclear weapons, as long as it is what one could call an accident and not "too many" are killed. But, in case an accident happened, well it is just youth and inexperience, or maybe they just don't follow the "authority".

Did I capture that accurately?

Jay / July 7, 2010 9:35 AM

Dear Radical_guy,

You have to fact-check rigorously when dealing with free-spirited grunts like Pentagon Bob, aka "Mo Billy Bob".

His clarifications on the Legion of Merit are inconsistent with the description I found on Wikipaedia.

In his post of July 6th @ 9:03 PM, he says:

"With regard to this legion of merit medal....It is a rather ordinary medal given to sailors who complete crusies [sic]. My brother received one for an ordinary submarine cruise completed."

Later, at 10:56 PM, he compounds the misdirection by stating:

"Why does the U.S. give out the Legion of merit? To get sailors to re-enlist. In this case, it was used to escort a captian [sic] out of the service without a fuss."

But look up the medal on Wikipaedia, and you get a totally conflicting account:

"In contemporary use in the U.S. armed forces, the Legion of Merit is typically awarded to Army, Marine Corps and Air Force general officers, and Navy and Coast Guard flag officers and captains occupying command or very senior staff positions in their respective services. It may also be awarded to officers of less rank and senior enlisted personnel, but these instances are rare and typically by exception."


So as they say in Deep South USA: "Who should I believe, my lying eyes or your blind dogma?"

My thinking is that the Americans awarded the Legion of Merit to Captain Rogers and lesser honors to his crew because doing otherwise would have tacitly conceded guilt or malfeasance, demoralizing other white-trash heroes serving the cause of freedom and democracy in the Persian Gulf.

In Chapter 8 ("Drinking the Poisoned Chalice") of his book, The Great War for Civilisation, Robert Fisk describes the reckless incompetence of American naval crews cavorting around the Gulf in the weeks preceding the destruction of IranAir Flight 655:

"In Dubai, I went straight to the British air traffic controllers who had so often helped me during the 'tanker war'. They had heard the radio traffic over the Gulf on that fatal Sunday morning -- and their story was horrifying.

"For weeks, they told me, they had been appalled at the apparent lack of training and efficiency of US naval personnel challenging civilian aircraft. The pilots of airliners on scheduled flights down the Gulf from Kuwait were being repeatedly and aggressively challenged by American warship crews who seemed not to know that they were cruising beneath established air lanes.

"In one incident -- well known to the controllers but kept secret from the press -- a US frigate had stationed itself off the Emirates coast and radio-challenged every civilian flight approaching Dubai International Airport. In desperation, the British duty controller at the airport called the US embassy in Abu Dhabi and told American diplomats to instruct the ship to move away because it was 'a danger to civil aviation'. Civilian helicopter pilots off the coast had often complained that American warships challenged them on the wrong radio frequencies."

Robert Fisk. "The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East" (Harper Perennial: 2006). pp 322-323

Ali from Tehran / July 7, 2010 9:45 AM

The final question in the article are very telling. The answers are very clear. Such "decisive moments" are soon approaching and the answer has not changed in 20 years. Obama couls have at least used the occasion to show good faith instead of his empty speech in Cairo.

I can't believe I finally found something I agree with Ahvaz and his oil comments linking it to the Gulf off of Florida. I guess anything is possible.

Pouya / July 7, 2010 10:14 AM

When will people realize cooperation is many times more effective than competition.

T / July 7, 2010 12:51 PM

Ali from Tehran -

The only thing I saw in the american south was a bumper sticker that said, "My Wife - yes, my dog maybe, my gun never"

Radical_Guy / July 7, 2010 7:05 PM

I do not think it is "ok to kill innocents".
Neither do very many in the U.S. government and military.

Ya'll are being very dishonest. You are giving the impression that Capt. Rogers was received as some kind of national hero. He was absolutely not. Quite the opposite. My brother was an officer in the U.S. navy. I was an officer in the U.S. army (the only thing seperating an officer from noncom is the officer went to college). I understand how these medals work. And how the U.S. uses these things.

Have any of you seen a radar screen on a ship? Given the very tense war conditions at the time it is easy to see how a mistake, tradgic and terrible, can be made.

Alot of the fault for this accident goes to the war conditions in the region at the time. As I said in my first post, things like this happen when there are such tense conditions. It is not a good thing. It is just a reality. Just as there have been thousands of deaths, military and civilan, in the Koreas since the "end"of the war.

muhammad billy bob / July 7, 2010 7:38 PM


I used to have a key chain that said "Guns, God, Guts...three that set us free....

Other than the God part, a truer statement was never made.

In today's south you'll see lots of Obama/Biden stickers. I don't know why they keep them up. They won, big deal, it's over get on with it.

My bumper sticker is "vote Libertarian".

muhammad billy bob / July 7, 2010 8:13 PM

How do you propose to curb U.S. consumption of oil? Coersion is the only way to do such. The use of force in one way or another is the only way to achieve this.

Even with the very bad effects oil has had on the world. It has had that much better effects in the world. The only reason you and I are conversing now is because of oil. The world is truely becoming " a small world". This is because of oil. The peoples of the world are finally able to interact with each other because of oil. Trade between the U.S. and China has been very good. Even with the cheap crap.Even with the Chinese oppression of it's people. There has never been 2 countries who've had free trade with each other that have gone to war with each other.

There will come a day when oil is no longer as plentful, and therefore as cheap as it is today. This will be well after we are all dead. But for the time being, it is infinately better to rely on oil. Doing otherwise would mean costs so prohibitive, reliability so uncertain, that we would be taking several steps backwards. The "energy policies" of Cali. have already shown us just a taste of such policies that many in power today in D.C. would like.

muhammad billy bob / July 7, 2010 9:04 PM

Mo B B
"Coersion is the only way to do such"

No, There is also public awareness; taking personal responsibility; paradigm shift that not every thing the earth provides is for our taking. (BP disaster is a perfect example. May be the oil 1 mile under water should just be left alone!)

Education, not coersion. Americans can no longer behave like "cowboys on a spaceship".

Oil, like dynamite is a double-edged sword. I dont think it is particularly cerebral to point out the obvious benefits of oil.

Cali's current situation has little to do with their energy policy. They got in a hole because their politicians want to on one hand give out lots of public benefits and social programs (for reelection), and at the same time are afraid to raise any taxes to pay for it (it would be political suicide). Lots of warm and cozy social programs, and no way to pay for it, and throw in a housing bust, and you get California. It had little to do with their energy policy.

"There will come a day when oil is no longer as plentful, ......well after we are all dead"

......May be sooner than we think.

Ahvaz / July 7, 2010 11:07 PM

Ali_from Tehran,

Let's take a close look at your assertions, and the sources you base these assertions on...

You state that Robert Fisk wrote " A U.S. ["frigate"] stationed itself off the Emirates coast and radio-challenged every civilan flight approaching Dubai International airport".

1) radio-challenged? what does that mean? Did they ask them to identify themselves? Is that a challenge? Is that hostile? 2) Every civilian flight? What about the military flights? 3) Every civilian flight? Do you know how many flights arrived at the Dubai International airport. If it is anything like most international airports it would be a considerable number. Too many flights for one U.S. "frigate" to challenge each one.

Regarding your wikipedia search of the Legion of merit medal... The fact that it is given to the Coast Guard should be your first clue it's not a medal of any consequence. I was an army guy, my brother is the navy guy. I never heard of anyone in the army who I was associated with receiving the legion of merit medal. They very well could have, but if they did it was obviously such a non-event that I never heard of it. The only honor most of my associates were concerned about was the Combat Infantryman's Badge. My brother made a career with the U.S. navy. Spent 20 years leaving as a Lt. Cmdr. last october. He did receive the Legion of merit medal (I thought it was just a navy medal) after completing a routine submarine cruise where they watched, or spied to you paranoid types, several Russian exercises. It maybe ironic that he did trade this medal with one of our families' Russian friends for some of his medals.

As I do not live in the deep U.S. south( I live in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina) I have never heard the phrase "who should I believe, my lying eyes or your blind dogma". Eventhough, I doubt there is such a phrase commanly known in the deepest south of Alabama and Missisippi. I don't see the wor Dogma being thrown around as a common phrase.

In any regard to these nuiances, It is obvious. Obvious to anyone that is willing to look at the realities that this was an accident. Cetainly not planned, not ordered not the design of the U.S. Navy to shoot down a civilian aircraft. The Captain was not given a heroes welcome, he was quitely shown the door.

muhammad billy bob / July 7, 2010 11:16 PM

I still see Bush-Cheney 04 stickers. Go figure.

Ahvaz / July 7, 2010 11:30 PM

More weasel words above @ 7:38 PM from our fact-challenged Pentagon Bob (aka 'Mo Billy Bob').

In a gallant sally last May, this brainy cream of the US officer corps annexed Iran to the Ottoman Empire:

"Oh yeah, Iran didn't have an idependent [sic] government 150 years ago as it was a part of the Ottoman Empire." (Mo Billy Bob, May 2, 2010 3:51 PM)

Now Pentagon Bob ventures to say:

"I do not think 'it is OK to kill innocents'. Neither do very many in the U.S. government and military."

This from a serviceman whose psychopathic buddies purposefully bombed most of Iraq's water pumping stations, municipal water purification nodes and sewage systems during Gulf War 1, in gross violation of the Geneva conventions, and whose government then barred Iraq from receiving the spares needed to repair those facilities, condemning hundreds of thousands of innocents to death from dysentry and other preventable water-borne diseases.

Then, adding falsehood to farce, Pentagon Bob asserts:

"Y'all are being very dishonest. You are giving the impression that Capt. Rogers was received as some kind of national hero. He was absolutely not. Quite the opposite."

In fact, Captain Rogers and the USS Vincennes received a rapturous heroes' welcome in San Diego in October 1988.

And in 1990, Captain Rogers was personally awarded the Legion of Merit by the US President, Papa Bush, for "exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as a commanding officer ... from April 1987 to May 1989."

Not exactly banished to the dog-house, eh?

For those readers who don't want to outsource their knowledge of events to Pentagon Bob, I suggest Newsweek's July 13, 1992, account of the Vincennes' conduct and the subsequent cover-up, "Sea of Lies":


The Vincennes was not the hapless victim of circumstance. It was looking to pick a fight. Rogers and crew spoiled for a chance to trigger a battle and win combat decorations. In that respect, they were successful.

And for your information, Pentagon Bob, I have seen radar screens in warships, submarines and ELINT/COMINT aircraft in South Africa. Been there, done that. Not impressed.

If radar and fire control equipment is too complicated for you and your redneck buddies, transfer yourselves to less stressful duty peeling potatoes and cucumbers in the officers' canteen. 'Be all that you can be', not more.

Ali from Tehran / July 7, 2010 11:33 PM


I was referring to California's situation regarding the rolling blackouts, failed attempts at solar, wind and the absolutely revulsion at nuclear power solutions.

Not their fiscal budget, which is also a disaster, as you correctly pointed out.

Education and the desire to not "harm the earth", can not go against the basic human instinct for survival. It's nice to say that not everything the earth provides is for our taking. But every human has an inner self protection. Is it worth having an oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico, if that allows me to get to work at a price that doesn't make getting to work as expensive as the pay I receive from working? I'd say yes. Is it bad? I'd say yes also. There are remedies for those affected. Not the remedies the U.S. government has in mind, but real compensation based upon real losses to livelyhood. Decided by jurors of their peers.

muhammad billy bob / July 8, 2010 1:02 AM

Mo B B

You call it human instinct of "survival", I see it as human instinct of "greed". And you are right. It is more powerful than simple education, until people realize that their greed in one area is at their own personal detriment (or survival

As far as going to work, one can do that at 12 mpg or 49mpg. It is a choice.

Back to the subject. I agree that the shooting down of the plane was due to hunman error, incompetence, or both, but not intentional. But giving the captain a medal of any kind was stpuid, insensitive and a slap in the face of the victims' family. It was a blunder, and as you can see it has enranged many. Of course, wouldnt be outraged if a foreign government shot down a US plane and gave the person responsible a medal or simply "shown the door". It was an arrogant move and a blunder that left a big scar in Iranian psyche.

Ahvaz / July 8, 2010 3:30 AM

I can't believe anyone could think that this tragedy was an accident. The Navy claimed they mistook the plane for a fighter jet. It's preposterous. Do you realize how big an airbus holding almost 300 people is? An F-14 only has two seats....there isn't even room to stand up!

Take a look at this diagram to view them side by side: http://www.mohammadmossadegh.com/news/iran-air-flight-655/

Masi / July 8, 2010 11:51 AM

The facts are that the u.s. imperialists want Iran's oil, and are prepared to go to war to get it. They and the u.k. have started the green movement that appeals to the traitors in our society.

They are going to attempt to overthrow the elected government of Iran anyway they can. Iran needs to prepare for war and needs nuclear weapons as a check against the u.s. imperialists aggression.

Radical_Guy / July 8, 2010 8:14 PM


So, you, personally, can tell the differnce between any aircraft on a radar screen. You've seen the screens, correct?

I am no longer in the service. I only spent my 5 years from '89 to '94 in the U.S. army. My "psychopathic" buddies just love to kill babies? If such was the case, It would be much easier for these pshychopaths to just fire bomb large areas with napalm like what was done in WWII. That'd kill alot of babies. Why mess around with water supply that support combatants as well as civilians? Just napalm them all. That's what every other country does, if they are capable. Why not just launch inaccurate missles at the closest metro area you can to see how many people you can kill? Why mess around with shooting just one commercial airliner?
"The USS Vencennes........was looking to pick a fight.".....That's exactly my point. They were involved in a fight, regarless of your opinion of who picked it. The Vencnnes was there because oil tankers (see other posts) were being attacked by both Iraq and Iran. The Iranian government held U.S. diplomats hostage just 8 years earlier, The Iranian government was constanly threatening the U.S. It was very tense inhospitable conditions. I've not been through radar training upon a ship. have you? I have not been on a ship under curcumstances such as this? Have you? I have been in a mechanized infantry unit during war. In that expierence, I had to make decisions very quickly that would involve the death of people. My one major goal was that these deaths would not be my pshycopathic buddies. My secondary goal was to not kill anyone not threatening us. Not to mention the severe consequences we were all made very aware of if we acted inappropiately against those who were not a threat. Be it civilans or combatants that were desiring surrender. There were many lectures by lawyers.

Anyway, I will not be responding for awhile. I'm going on vacation to see my brother in D.C.

muhammad billy bob / July 8, 2010 8:19 PM

What? The U.S. navy didn't know there were civilian flights traveling through established air corridors every day? Wasn't that Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein after signing a deal to provide precursor chemicals to make chemical weapons used against the Iranians during the Iraq-Iran war? Didn't over 100,000 Iraqi's die because of a preemptive war over nonexistent " weapons of mass destruction"? Oops! We minimize casualties in a strange way. If we replaced the words "Iranian", "Iraqi", "Muslim" with "human beings" we might find a better way to deal with our differences.

Eric / July 8, 2010 8:39 PM

"The Libyians who purposely planned and excuted this attack are lucky to get away with a monetary award. If there were true international justice, they would be in prison for the rest of their natural lives."

If there were true international justice, or even with the present hypocritical international justince norms, if the victims were, lets say Israeli civilians, USS Vincennes commanding officer would be in prison for the rest of his natural live.

Anonymous / July 8, 2010 9:58 PM

P off Radical Guy,
I doubt you are even Iranian.

Ahvaz / July 8, 2010 10:49 PM

Pentagon Bob (aka "Mo Billy Bob"),

A much needed vacation too, my dear Oracle of the Appalachian Woodlands: the latest word salad you posted above is even more rambling and incoherent than your typical nonsense verse.

That the Vincennes was spoiling for a fight -- in Iran's territorial waters to boot -- and the contention that the US Navy conducted itself in the Gulf like an irresponsible, ill-trained rabble, are not my personal "opinions," spun conveniently out of whole cloth.

I am relating the views of Newsweek's investigative journalists (see link in my earlier post above) and the British air traffic controllers of Dubai International Airport (see an even earlier post of mine on this thread), as related by the Sunday Times' correspondent.

It was indeed very nice of America not to firebomb Iraq's cities. Hats off to you and your aviator drinking buddies.

But the fact remains that the chivalrous USAF guided its smart bombs onto Iraq's water and sewage infrastructure. Your government later acted thru the sanctions regime to deny Iraq the spares needed to repair those facilities.

That is the modern equivalent of the ancient practice of poisoning water wells, a much easier way of decimating the local populace than putting each person to the sword.

Outside your white-trash bubble, targeting Iraq's water infrastructure was a war crime, a crime against humanity no less egregious than firebombing a city.

Ali from Tehran / July 8, 2010 11:30 PM

Ahvaz -
I guess you have found me out, you are right I am really George Bush.

Peace be with you my friend.

Radical_Guy / July 9, 2010 1:46 AM

thats funny radical guy. again, Peace off.
Only Lebanese Hizbollah talk like you.

Ahvaz / July 9, 2010 6:18 AM

Thank you, Eric and Anonymous!

Masi / July 10, 2010 12:28 AM

Ali from Tehran,

Thanks, it was a much needed vacation.

Your attempts at personal insults are really quite humorous. You're "white trash" assumptions, particularly. I'm native-american. Eastern band of Cherokee nation, to be exact. But there is probably some "white trash" mixed in there.

Anyway, those are your "opinions". That you are trying to support by the "opinions" of writers from newsweek, and, if correct, British air traffic controllers, as reported by the "opinions" of Sunday times reports. These people do live in a bubble, much more so than I do.

With regards to "my government".....Isn't it your government also??? I haven't voted, nor endorsed any winning politican or policy the U.S. has had in the last 30 years. In fact, I've voted, and endorsed and spent my property to reverse almost all U.S. government policy as much as possible.

muhammad billy bob / July 12, 2010 7:47 PM

Pentagon Bob (aka 'Mo Billy Bob')

Go home.

My exposes on your dissembling posts are not aimed at convincing you to leave your cozy bubble; my intention is to caution my own compatriots not to take your meretricious punditry at face value.

Ali from Tehran / July 13, 2010 2:00 AM

Ali from Tehran,

I am home.

"your compatriots"? Do you mean the people of the U.S.? These are your compatriots, no?

How about exposing yourself?

muhammad billy bob / July 13, 2010 7:08 PM

Pentagon Bob (aka 'Mo Billy Bob'),

Expose myself?

Is that a normal thing to do in the Appalachian wilds?

Anonymous / July 18, 2010 4:09 PM


LOL. I left myself open for that one.

No really, you speak of "your government", and "your compatriots".

Just a haphazard guess, but I'd bet (not much money), that you are a U.S. citizens who has voted for at least one member of the current U.S. government, and supported many of this governments policies.

Wheras, I have voted against all the current and past politicans in my districts and for national offices in my lifetime. I've never been to the pentagon.

I think you are a hypocrite. The U.S. government is much more your government than it is mine. And It's policies are much more endorsed by you than I.

muhammad billy bob / July 18, 2010 8:37 PM

Sorry Anonymous, I forgot to add in the tag line Of -Ali from Tehran, whom I was addressing the rest of the post.....

muhammad billy bob / July 18, 2010 8:54 PM