A 10-officer court-martial panel today found Joint Base Lewis-McChord pilot Jared Foley innocent of dereliction of duty and reckless endangerment in the 2011 death of an Army paratrooper from the West Virginia National Guard.
Foley, 37, had faced two and a half years in prison for approving an airdrop that led to the death of Sgt. Francis Campion, 31, of Hollidaysburg, Pa.
Foley closed his eyes and seemed to hold back tears when the court-martial panel president read the verdict. Capt. Sarah Carlson, one of Foley’s defense attorneys, could not stop from crying.
All of the attorneys in the case declined to comment through their command. Foley also declined to comment.
He embraced a courtroom full of supporters, most of them Air Force officers in flight suits or brown leather jackets.
His case caught the attention of airmen throughout the service because Foley was a well-respected pilot who believed he was following Air Force regulations when he permitted what became a fatal airdrop on July 10, 2011 over a Montana air field.
Foley maintained that the Army leaders on the ground and in the air cleared the last jump even though a previous one had resulted in a soldier landing outside the established drop zone. The soldiers said the jumper landed off course because of his own error.
Furthermore, Foley said yesterday that the feedback he received from computer reports and service members on five previous passes over the airfield showed that the mission was going well.
Lt. Col. Eric Carney, Foley’s former commander at Lewis-McChord’s 7th Airlift Squadron, said he had faith in the military investigation and in the care the Air Force takes to ensure safety of its crews and passengers.
He testified to support Foley on Thursday. Today, he reiterated that Foley is “an outstanding officer.”