Marines Relieve Osprey Commander, Allege Falsification

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 2001 - Marine officials have relieved
the commander of the MV-22 Osprey squadron in New River
Marine Corps Air Station, N.C., following allegations he
ordered personnel to falsify records.

Marine Lt. Col. Odin F. Leberman "was relieved, I think
it's fair to say, because the wing commander had lost
confidence in his ability to lead, as had the [Marine
Expeditionary Force] commander," said Lt. Gen. Fred
McCorkle, deputy commandant for Marine Aviation. McCorkle
spoke at the Pentagon Jan. 19.

Navy officials received an anonymous letter and a tape
alleging that Leberman - then-commander of Marine Medium
Tilt-Rotor Squadron 204 - had ordered subordinates to
falsify maintenance records.

The experimental tilt-rotor aircraft is already under
investigation by an independent commission. The commission
will review the entire MV-22 program. The Marine Corps
requested a delay in the decision to move the Osprey to
full-rate production.

The investigation follows a crash in December that killed
the 4-man crew. On April 8, 2000, an Osprey crashed in
Arizona killing 19 Marines. The aircraft has been grounded
since the second crash.

Marine officials said, based on all the information they
have, there is no connection between the two accidents and
the allegations of falsified maintenance records. "In fact,
the anonymous letter ... specifically states that this was
not what caused the previous two mishaps," McCorkle said.

The Marine Corps Inspector General Brig. Gen. Timothy F.
Ghormley led the team that arrived at the squadron. They
sequestered all maintenance records and are conducting an
investigation. The eight-member team consists of five
Marines, including Ghormley and two maintenance experts,
one Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent, and two
other civilian investigators. They arrived at MCAS New
River Jan. 18.

Headquarters Marine Corps spokesmen said the investigation
continues. "General Ghormley and his team have broad
authority to take the investigation wherever they need to
go. No deadline has been set to determine what happened and

Current plans call for the Marine Corps to purchase 360 MV-
22Bs, the Air Force to buy 50 CV-22A special operations
aircraft and the Navy to purchase 48 HV-22Bs. The Air Force
has two test Ospreys at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The
aircraft are covered by the Marine Corps grounding order.
The Air Force plans to start training crews for the
aircraft in September 2003, with initial operating
capability at Hurlburt Field, Fla., set for February 2005.

There are a total of 12 Osprey aircraft. The Marine Corps
has eight, two test aircraft are at Naval Air Station
Patuxent River, Md. and the Air Force has the rest.

McCorkle also discussed the December accident. He said the
cause of the crash appears to be that the aircraft
experienced first a hydraulic failure and then software
problems. He said the craft was in 100 percent fixed-wing
mode when it crashed. The information came from the crash-
survivable unit - the black box - aboard the aircraft.

Related Site of Interest:
  • DoD News Briefing: Lt. Gen. Fred McCorkle Briefs on MV-22
    Maintenance Allegation
    , Jan. 19, 2001