May 3, 1997 in Nation/World

A-10 Pilot Feared Airing Of Gay Affair, Paper Says

Associated Press

The Air Force suspects the A-10 pilot whose plane crashed into a mountainside committed suicide for fear his homosexual affair with another flier was about to be exposed, the Tucson Citizen reported Friday. An Air Force spokesman called the story “unsubstantiated.”

“Any reports to the contrary are irresponsible,” said Maj. Ed Worley, an Air Force spokesman in Washington. “Nothing has been found thus far which provides answers on what happened.”

The newspaper quoted an unidentified military source close to the investigation who said Capt. Craig Button, 32, may have flown the jet into a 13,000-foot Colorado mountain because an estranged lover was about to reveal the affair.

Maj. Joe LaMarca, spokesman for the Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, also said the report was unsubstantiated.”

LaMarca said the Air Force decided only Wednesday to convene an accident investigation board that will look at all aspects of the case, including Button’s personal life.

The newspaper has made “some very clear assumptions or accusations of a military investigator close to the source,” LaMarca said. “I’m here to tell you that the board just convened, and I’m not even sure whether all the investigators are out there yet.”

If Button, who was single, had been found to be homosexual, he could have faced discharge. The Pentagon deems homosexuality incompatible with military service.

Button’s $8.8 million plane was the last in a three-plane formation heading toward a bombing range in southwestern Arizona on April 2 when it veered off course, eventually crashing near Vail, Colo.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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