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Air Force Disciplines Wing’s Vice Commander In AWACS Crash

April 12, 1996

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ A 27-year Air Force veteran was removed as vice commander of the flying unit at Elmendorf Air Force Base and given a letter of reprimand for a jet crash that killed 24 crewmen.

Lt. Gen. Lawrence Boese on Thursday removed Col. Wayne Heskew, who also headed the base’s bird-hazard program.

Canada geese sucked into the two left-side engines brought the Airborne Warning and Control System jet down 43 seconds after takeoff on Sept. 22, investigators ruled in January.

The Air Force disciplined four other officers. Their names and the actions taken against them were not released.

Because the investigation found no criminal negligence, none of the officers face courts-martial, Alaskan command spokesman Maj. Brad Peck said.

Contributing factors to the accident were the base’s failure to keep geese off the runway infield and an air traffic controller’s failure to tell the jet’s crew he spotted geese on the field before takeoff, the Air Force has said.

Boese cleared Master Sgt. John Edwin Leis, a senior air traffic controller, of wrongdoing.

Since the AWACS crash, Air Force bases across the nation have begun reviewing bird-hazard programs.

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