Drop Zone – 105

Written by: Larry Moskowitz; Watch Now: – Sorry, not available on Amazon

Five brand new jumpers exited the plane 800 meters short of their drop zone, with 75# of gear and 65# of parachute, landing unexpectedly in the water. Senior Chief PO Braken was jump-master and was court-martialed for culpable negligence. He claimed that the “jump light” had been green when he sent the men out, but the pilot claimed that he had realized they had been short and had not flipped it to green. JAG officer’s Bud (B) was assigned to defend, with Singer (S) as second chair, against Mac’s (M) prosecution. Mac had taken a long time drafting the charges and when PO Comstock died she amended the charges to involuntary manslaughter. Harm (H) explained that was what attorneys did when the outcome of a victim was in question. They can delay up to the statute of limitations but couldn’t change it once they had tried a person for a lesser charge. PO Scaline said he jettisoned his gear before hitting the water but that Comstock had not. Comstock had been blue when retrieved from the water.

Braken, feeling shaken, admitted to B and S that he had not been on the jump schedule and had been out drinking the night before the mishap but had been called as a last minute replacement. He said only Capt Miller (of the mishap board) knew of this and S advised him not to say anything more to anyone. Bud took issue with that, but S said she “intended to win” until Chegwidden (C), who had overheard their argument, asked them if they understood that the first chair was in charge. Mac talked to Dr Eric Miller but he refused to reveal anything to her. Instead, he just said “do what you always do.” That prompted her to have Gunny (G) check records and found a 12-year prior DUI. She told G to take his photo to all the bars in Norfolk. Mac called Miller on the stand and asked him only if the drug tests he did “would have” shown ETOH use and S shot up with her objection. Bud had to sit her back down, later telling her that she had just telegraphed to M that there was a problem in that area. Singer said “I underestimated her,” B responded “or overestimated yourself.” She said “it won’t happen again” and that night M found Part B of Braken’s mishap board report on the seat of her car open to the page and circled in red. She knew that it was information which she couldn’t legally see as prosecution attorney; but, took it to H (instead of reporting it) and then burned it in his stove.

Gunny had only finished half the search and asked M if she wanted him to continue. She responded, carefully parsing her words: “if those were your orders.” He then did find Krista Berren who had seen Braken drinking and M called her to testify. When she did, S was ready with her objections and B asked for exclusion of the testimony because it was obtained inappropriately from Part B. Mac contested so B said that he said he would trust Ms word and she had to admit she had seen it [not explaining the circumstances ??!!. Judge DeLario struck that testimony and filed charges against M. Chegwidden removed M from the case and assigned H. Over lunch B revealed that it had been S who had pointed out Ms transgression to him. PO Scaline testified that he had seen the green jump light then after Hs cross examination told Braken he had only gone off from what Braken had said. Bracken said “it had to be.” Harm came back with a plea bargain offer of negligent homicide with failure to use due care, dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and 3 years confinement. Bud disagreed then Braken began arguing. Harm gave him his full barrel closing argument that it was his job to not trust a .90 cent light and stick his head out the door to check for danger – which he would have done if he hadn’t been hung over. Braken finally agreed to the settlement. Harm called S into his office and said he didn’t know who put the report in Ms car but if he ever found out he’d “personally ruin that persons career.” Smugly she asked “are you accusing me?” He said “no, warning you not to let your personal ambitions overtake your abilities.” She retorted that she “wasn’t a thief or liar but she’d use any means necessary to achieve her goal of being the first female JAG.”

Elsewhere at JAG: Bud had his “wires” removed last week and can eat and speak again. Chegwidden was on a high, complimenting everyone to the point that H asked Tiner, “is he being jolly.” Harm had a dream of M and Renee kickboxing in a ring and when he tried to stop them M told him “YOU go to YOUR corner Hormone!” The dream of Mac then switched into Brumby, in boxing gloves and shorts, and when he turned away he saw his father in the crowd motioning for him to take Brumby on, just as he was punched in the face and awoke in a sweat. He called Renee and made a date for a walk in the park. She came still playing the martyr about him embarrassing her on the stand. Chegwidden asked H where to take a woman for a romantic weekend. He suggested the Virgin Islands. Chegwidden then played telephone tag with Dr Walden and asked her if she’d like to go to Aruba. She said no but suggested the Virgin Islands. Mac made reservations for a flight to Australia. Harm asked her if it was to “go to Brumby or get away from here.” She said “both.” At the airport, Mac unknowingly met Walden standing alone and struck up a conversation. Walden told her that she thought navy men were “so vigorous.” Then when Chegwidden appeared, she called him “admiral vigorous” to his confusion.

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