by WorldTribune Staff, December 17, 2019
Following the Dec. 6 terror attack in Pensacola, Florida where three American sailors were killed and eight wounded, a group of U.S. Navy instructor pilots has asked the Pentagon for permission to arm themselves on base.
“We trust 18-year-old privates in combat with grenades, anti-tank missiles, rifles and machine guns, but we let service members get slaughtered because we don’t trust anyone to be armed back here in the United States,” a senior U.S. Army officer told Fox News.
“Why are we cowering in our offices, it’s insane,” the officer added.
The family of one of the three victims, Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, urged lawmakers and military officers to allow service members to protect themselves on base. Airman Mohammed “Mo” Haitham, 19, and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, 21, were also killed in the terror attack.
Watson, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy this past May, was captain of the 2018-2019 Naval Academy rifle team, according to the Naval Academy Athletic Department.
“He was well qualified to have a firearm and defend himself. If we are going to ask these young men and women to stand watch for our country, they need the opportunity to defend themselves. This isn’t the first time this happened and if we don’t change something, then it won’t be the last,” Adam Watson, Joshua’s brother said on Fox & Friends on Tuesday. “My brother was an excellent marksman. If my brother had not had that right stripped from him, this would be a different conversation.”
Two pilots said the Saudi terrorist had 10 minutes to carry out his deadly assault on defenseless Navy sailors at the Pensacola base’s “API” — aviation pre-flight indoctrination — building.
“It’s so stupid that on a military base, the shooter was allowed to roam free for so long,” according to one instructor pilot. “In a gun fight, that’s an eternity.” The pilot, like others interviewed by Fox News, did not want his name used because he was not authorized to speak with the media.
The first responders to the terror attack were local police officers, not members of the military, which the instructor pilots found insulting.
The gunman, Saudi Arabian Air Force 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, was shot and killed by a deputy from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.
One of the pilots said Navy brass denied their request to arm themselves on base.
The instructor pilots said the incentive to arm was obvious. “We need to protect not just the pilots, but our aircraft that are worth millions.”
One pilot called base security at NAS Pensacola and other Navy bases “mall cops,” because protection on the base has been outsourced to private security and many were “out of shape.”
“I have zero confidence the guy I show my ID card to at the gate could save me,” one pilot added. Fox News spoke to three Navy instructor pilots Tuesday.
“Our message is simple: arm us,” one pilot said. “We don’t want to count on cops or gate guards to save us in a crisis.”
Joshua Watson’s mother, Sheila, agreed: “He was my baby. It hurts me. It doesn’t really anger me as much as it hurts me. My baby was standing watch and he lost his life because he wasn’t armed.”
Watson’s father, Benjamin, described his son’s heroism: “We know that he was shot at least five times and then somehow found the strength, bleeding profusely to make it out the door to tell first responders. They came up to him and with basically his last breath, summoned his courage to give an accurate description of the shooter and his location so they could do their duty.”