Army pilot pleads
guilty, gets 4 months
for fatal crash

A 37-year-old Schofield Barracks helicopter pilot will have to serve only 120 days in jail after pleading guilty yesterday to causing the death of his crew chief in a Black Hawk crash in Afghanistan in August.

Chief Warrant Officer Darrin Rogers, who faced a possible maximum 5 1/2-year jail term, also will be allowed to retire with his 20-year pension intact -- valued at $2 million over his lifetime. He pleaded guilty in a Wheeler Army Airfield courtroom to all charges yesterday, including violating a lawful order, reckless endangerment and destruction of government property (the helicopter).

Rogers, a Black Hawk pilot for 11 years, was originally sentenced by Col. Debra Boudreau, the Army's trial judge, to four years and two months in jail, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and dismissed from the Army. However, under a pretrial agreement signed by Maj. Gen. Eric Olson, 25th Infantry Division commanding general, Rogers will serve 120 days at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

Sgt. Daniel Galvan, 30, of Moore, Okla., was the only person killed in the crash of Rogers' Black Hawk, which was also carrying 11 Marines on Aug. 12 near the border with Pakistan.

On the witness stand yesterday, the widow of the victim, Sonya Galvan, said she wanted Rogers kicked out of the service. "This was an insult," Galvan said. "The plea agreement is an insult."

In pleading guilty, Rogers admitted that he had failed to obey an order "not to impress anyone" or violate any safety regulations while carrying the 11 Marines who were supposed to put on a demonstration for Gen. James Jones, commandant of the Marine Corps.

In testimony, Rogers admitted that after being urged on by one of the Marines to fly hard, he put the helicopter in a steep climb and rapid dive at an altitude of 300 feet, which prosecutors described as a joy ride.

During that maneuver, a chock block, which is used to secure the helicopter while it is on the ground, became dislodged, landing on the pilot's controls, and Rogers was unable to pull the craft out of the descent.

After the 12-hour hearing, Blas Galvan, Daniel Galvan's father, said he has always felt that only a trial would do justice for him and his family.

"Nothing done to Mr. Rogers would make me feel better," Blas Galvan said.

Sonya Galvan said, "My husband is able to fly and rest finally."

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