William Umbach

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William J. Umbach
Major William Umbach and his wife Marlene.jpg
Major William Umbach and his wife Marlene.
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Air Force
Rank Major
Battles/wars Operation Enduring Freedom
Awards Air Force Commendation Medal
Air Force Achievement Medal

Major William J. Umbach was a pilot in the Illinois Air National Guard.

Tarnak Farms incident[edit]

On April 17, 2002, over Afghanistan, Umbach and his air-partner Major Harry Schmidt were returning from a 10-hour patrol, at more than 15,000 feet, when they spotted what they believed to be surface-to-air fire. The flashes the F-16 flight observed were part of a nighttime Canadian Forces exercise involving anti-tank and machine-gun fire. Thinking Umbach was under attack, Schmidt asked flight control permission to fire his 20mm cannons, to which flight control replied "hold fire." Four seconds later, Schmidt said he was "rolling in, in self defense." He dropped a laser-guided bomb 35 seconds later. Schmidt's bomb wounded eight and killed four. Shortly after the bomb had detonated Schmidt was recorded as saying "I hope we did the right thing", Umbach replied: "Me too".[1]

Charges and reprimand[edit]

On September 11, 2002, Schmidt and Umbach were officially charged with 4 counts of negligent manslaughter, 8 counts of aggravated assault, and 1 count of dereliction of duty. Schmidt's charges were later reduced to a court-martial for dereliction of duty, and Umbach's were later dismissed.

Umbach was reprimanded for leadership failures and allowed to retire.[2] He has apologized for the incident.[3]

See also[edit]