In Thin Air – 163

Written by: Don McGill; Watch Now: – Sorry, not available on Amazon

The JAG sent Harm (H) to investigate the death by asphyxiation of Cdr Phil Zuzello due to a LOX (liquid oxygen) system failure. Zuzello was the RIO and long time friend of Lt Sam Albrecht. When H said that “things didn’t add up” Albrecht said that Zuzello had “barely passed his O2 demonstration” and it was his last mission. Then a Sr Chief told H to “look at” PO Moritz, the plane captain, who had been fouling up a lot recently. Moritz admitted that he had used graphite to get the LOX bottle to attach to the plane because it always stuck but said that he didn’t get any in the fitting. Apparently H didn’t believe him because he recommended charging Moritz when tests revealed graphite in the LOX system.

Mac (M) was sent for a JAG consult to Zuzello’s widow who eventually had to decide to “pull the plug” which raised the charge to negligent homicide. Then Chegwidden (C) assigned H to defend Moritz over Hs vehement objections – but was told that Moritz had specifically requested him on the recommendation of one of Hs previous clients. However, H didn’t do a very thorough job of defense and Moritz finally requested that C appoint someone else. Chegwidden “severed” H and gave the case to Turner (T). When H pointed out that he had been forced into the assignment in the first place C informed H that the assignment had “been a test” to see if he could be impartial and trusted for judgeship. Turner took over and recalled witnesses and did the thorough job that H should have done in the first place. He saw M and H talk about the case despite being severed and then when he heard M use “aviator talk” in court, he claimed misconduct on H. Turner and H traded sarcasms when C tried to talk to them about it. Harm said that he believed that Moritz should have to take the whole blame and would like to prove it. Chegwidden asked if “this involves a trip to a carrier,” then told H “not to press his luck” while he waited for the judges ruling on Ts charge. Harm convinced Albrecht to replicate the flight looking for a “roll-sas failure and wing rock” but uncovered that Albrecht had vertigo which nearly killed them both. Zuzello had told his wife that he had “had a close call” before he died.

Mac, seeking the truth, helped T discover that Albrecht had been using his backup O2 for 4 minutes before he reported the oxygen failure and began his slow descent and that Albrecht had also been a LOX tech before becoming a pilot. Albrecht had killed Zuzello to prevent him from reporting Albrecht’s vertigo problem. Moritz apologized and thanked H for what he had done. Turner heard it and asked if H would be “as easy on me” (accepting his apology). Harm said he would if T bought him a drink.

Hariett (Ht) manipulated and interfered with Bud (B) behind his back. She said she would take him to rehab and he said he had a week off. Then she called the doctor behind his back to find that he had “overworked” his good leg and then indignantly accused B of lying to her. She told Tiner (Ti) to stop sending a list of cases to B, then to lie and say that it had been Cs new policy and that C was out of the office. Bud found out and finally blew up at her over-protection. She claimed that all her manipulation was done “for him” prompting B to finally tell her “well it’s MY life, so leave the DOING (of it) to me.” Bud and Ht visited JAG bringing pizza.

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