The Greatest Blue Falcon Ever

File photo (1989) of an F-14A live-firing an AIM-9. Just not at an American jet.

File photo (1989) of an F-14A live-firing an AIM-9. Just not at an American jet.

Here’s a story of a guy who’s probably the ultimate Blue Falcon — of all nations, services, and epochs. Yes, he’s that bad. First, the backstory: Timothy W. Dorsey is probably the worst example ever of how an Admiral’s son can rise in rank in the Navy despite, shall we say, limited competence.

Dorsey’s father, James Dorsey, was an aviator who rose to three-star rank (Vice Admiral) in Pentagon billets after his shipboard days ended. So Timothy’s career skids were greased, and in the 1980s, he skated through training and into the cockpit of an F-14, then the Navy’s premier fighter plane. Career-wise, he blew past aviators with better skill and judgment.

At least, until 22 Sep 87. As an investigating board put it, in the words of board chairman VADM Kendall E. Moranville:

The September 22, 1987, destruction of USAF RF-4C was not the result of an accident, but the consequence of a deliberate act. His subsequent reaction [to the radio command] demonstrated an absolute disregard of the known facts and circumstances.

He failed to utilize the decision-making process taught in replacement training and reacted in a purely mechanical manner. The performance of Lieutenant Timothy W. Dorsey on September 22, 1987, raises substantial doubt as to his capacity for good, sound judgment.

We necessarily rely on the self-discipline and judgment of pilots to prevent such incidents; we have no other choice. Nothing, in my opinion, can mitigate Lieutenant Dorsey’s basic error in judgment.

Yes, Dorsey, carrying out what was supposed to be a guns-cold practice intercept of a friendly reconnaissance jet, armed, locked, and fired an AIM-9 Sidewinder entirely on his own volition. The two pilots in the Air Force jet ejected and survived with minor injuries. Then, he lied about it, displaying a shoulders-wide streak of moral cowardice in his character. A former squadron mate:

I would never have guessed he’d ever make it to commander, much less admiral. In fact, I thought his career was over back when the shoot-down happened. He refused to accept any blame for the shoot-down and swore he was just following ROE even though he knew it was a friendly. I mean, the guy did it on purpose.

For most people that board’s dry understatement, “substantial doubt as to his capacity for good, sound judgment,” would have, shall we say, nailed the three wire on their Naval career.

But most people can’t rely on Admiral Daddy Dorsey (at the time of Timothy’s RF-4 kill a RADM) to run interference. Dorsey Junior couldn’t fly — they clipped his wings after that staggering display of poor skill and character, forbidding him from ever flying a Naval aircraft again, although they still allowed him to wear the wings on his uniform — but he continued onward and upward in the Naval Reserve. Fast forward to 2012 (we’ve changed the order of some of the quoted paragraphs):

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta this month announced to the Senate several nominations for promotion to admiral.

On the list is Navy Reserve Capt. Timothy W. Dorsey, … who, while assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga, committed what the report said was an “illogical act.”


Dorsey intentionally fired his fighter jet’s missile at an Air Force reconnaissance plane, nearly killing its two aviators and destroying the aircraft during a training exercise…

His promotion to admiral has some in the aviation community shaking their heads, especially because minor discretions by flight officers over the past decades have resulted in reprimands and the ends of careers.

Compare Dorsey’s career trajectory — “Mess up and move up” — with what happened to anyone who attended Tailhook in the wrong year. In the end, he didn’t get his Admiral’s Star, but it took an Act of Congress (albeit without the capital A) to stop the promotion.

One wonders what Capt. Michael W. Ross and First Lt. Randy H. Spouse think about Dorsey. Who are they?

“The airplane just starts shaking like you wouldn’t believe,” Ross said. Both he and Sprouse thought they had collided with the F-14.

“I’ve got fire lights – let’s get out of here!” Ross shouted.

“I’m gone!” Sprouse said from the back seat as he pulled an ejection handle rigged to both seats.

Back on the F-14, [Dorsey’s backseater] Holland took to the airwaves. “Mayday! Mayday!” he shouted. “Got a kill on a Fox 4!” Within moments, the Navy brass was on the radio, demanding answers.

“I’m sorry,” Holland recalled Dorsey saying as they circled the downed aviators and watched the burning wreckage sink. “I guess I kind of screwed this up.”

That was before he started applying the DAMN method:

  1. Deny everything;
  2. Admit nothing;
  3. Make counteraccusations;
  4. Never change your story.

Within 30 minutes, a rescue helicopter from the Saratoga plucked Ross and Sprouse from the water and took them to the carrier. Their injuries were relatively minor – primarily a badly bruised hand for Ross and a dislocated shoulder for Sprouse.

Indeed, while Dorsey’s willful screw-up didn’t have big consequences for Dorsey, it did for RF-4C pilot Ross, who’s full of reconstructive hardware and in pain every day, to one extent or another:

His ejection caused a powerful whiplash that resulted in a degenerating spine and a premature end to a career he believed was on a path to make the rank of general.

“I’m not trying to say I flew when I was unable. I never did that,” Col. Ross said. “But it got to the point where I started getting myself in positions where I was doing more desk work than flying.”

All told, he said, he has had seven back surgeries in which surgeons have installed screws, plates and rods to keep him functional.

Fished out of the water and taken to the Saratoga, Col. Ross waited for an apology from Lt. Dorsey. It did not come until last year, when the former Air Force pilot received a note from Capt. Dorsey as his nomination was pending in the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Meanwhile, what’s a man who’s got a really bad character, and has decided to ply his Navy trade part-time as a Reservist, going to do with the rest of his waking hours? What the rest of the cheats, connivers and chiselers do: go to law school. And he became head, general counsel, and spokesman for a racket that cons lower-IQ lower-enlisted guys in military towns into overpaying for shoddy merchandise, and then gouges them with lawsuits, filed thousands of miles away in Virginia, where Blue Falcon Dorsey, like Admiral Daddy Dorsey before him, is “connected.”

Now, recently Dorsey’s personal and political pal, Attorney General Mark Herring of Virginia — whom you may remember as the guy who tried to singlehandedly erase all concealed-carry reciprocity of VA with other states, until the state legislature folded that dictate until it was all sharp corners and proceeded to clean out his polyps with it — announced that he had a great deal in the form of a settlement.

The deal is a great one — for Blue Falcon Dorsey and the other crooks of USA Discounters. They get rid of all past, present and future legal liabilities with a $40 million slush-fund infusion to Herring and other state AGs, cleaning up their balance sheet — and letting them continue to cheat service members to their heart’s content. Cha-chingg!

And the deal is a great one — for Herring, giving him $40 million in off the books money he can sluice to his pals in connected “non-profits.” Just in time for the 2016 election! Cha-chingg!

The deal is a crappy one for the service members that Dorsey used to, still does, and will continue to rip off, as Dorsey and Herring do the grip-n-grin and laugh about the chumps.

In the bad old days when a base/post, brigade/wing, or battalion/squadron commander was king, he would put chiselers like Dorsey’s USA Discounters “Off Limits” and let them work their wiles on the civilians. You can see why the last few Secretaries of Defense and the Navy, and their political buddies like Mark Herring, and their crony capitalists like Four-More-to-Ace Dorsey, have wanted to see the services “fundamentally transformed.”

But it turns out not to be necessary, because Almost Admiral Four-Short-of-Ace Lawyer Timothy W. Dorsey and his gang ran USA discounters into the ground. And it went bankrupt in 2015.

Don’t worry about Dorsey, though. You know ol’ Blue Falcon paid himself first.

(Many hat tips to Jonn and NHSparky at This Ain’t Hell for most of the links in this post. There was also a good story in the Washingtonian, but it’s not online any more, just a comic-book style illustration of Dorsey smoking the RF-4).

23 thoughts on “The Greatest Blue Falcon Ever

  1. James F.

    The 2013 WASHINGTONIAN article “Shot Down” by Shane Harris is still online thanks to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, which is an attempt to back up the Internet. (Link in nick.)

  2. Toastrider

    OT, but Hog, Google is tossing up a ‘This site may be hacked’ warning in the search function. Could be a false alarm, but better safe than sorry.

    1. Hognose Post author

      That seems to come and go. The hack is an attempt to game Google results. And as you see, they are on to it. I talk to the hosting guys and they weed it out, and then the bastards do it again.

  3. Aesop

    At some point, you have to wonder that douchenozzles like Dorsey don’t slip and fall in front of busses, simply disappear in the wilderness, or at the very least get a “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” intervention some dark night…

    1. Jim Scrummy

      I vote bus. “What’s the frequency Kenneth” is to late in life. It should’ve happened when he was a kid…it might have knocked some decency into this POS.

    1. collimatrix

      And proceeded to a career of being a small-time-big-time cheat, yes. I have to admit, I was skeptical when I read:

      “Here’s a story of a guy who’s probably the ultimate Blue Falcon — of all nations, services, and epochs.”

      But Weaponsman makes a strong case.

    2. Toastrider

      This wasn’t just a ‘blue on blue’ during combat, either. This was a TRAINING mission. On what planet would it be considered sane to launch live ordnance at another unit during a training exercise?

      Daddy Dorsey must’ve had to expend some serious political capital to keep his boy from getting hammered. He’s damned lucky nobody died.

      I do owe Hognose a big thank you, though. I imagine this guy will last me for weeks in the ‘well, regardless of my flaws, at least I’m not THAT asshole!’ sentiment. I’ll be feeling down or sad about something, and I can cheer myself up by noting, ‘Well, at least I’m not Timothy Dorsey!’.

      1. John Distai

        Why have live ordinance on a training mission with other friendly’s as “the enemy”? That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Someone please fill me in.

        1. LSWCHP

          Yeah…during my service career we were scrupulous about ensuring that only blanks were used during field training to avoid either somone being shot, or a projectile blowing up a blank firing attachment and killing the firer. So warshot missiles on a training mission seems odd, but perhaps that’s how the USN rolls.

          Even so…*why* would the guy have launched on a known friendly during a training exercise in peacetime? I have a more than passing familiarity with missile launch sequences, and it’s *not* something that can happen accidentally, so really, WTF? Was he a nutter who did it for the lolz? And no apology to the dudes he shot down? Sheesh…

          1. Haxo Angmark

            the USN often uses passing airliners as mock-targets for AA missile drill. At least once in recent memory, a missile got fired. And hit the target.

          2. Hognose Post author

            The only time I’m aware of USS Boat taking on an airliner, they had mislabeled it as an Iranian F-14 displaying hostile intent (the F-14 was safely on the ground at Bandar Abbas). It was a bad shoot, but not an exercise shoot. And the captain’s career was keelhauled (along with those of most of the JOs in the CIC).

        2. bloke_from_ohio

          As I understand it, you can lock the weapons out from firing and do simulated launches. I have seen it done with live missiles during dry runs and tests. The button-ology is a bit hazy but it can be done.

          They do make AIM-9s and AIM-120s that are just the seeker heads with no rocket motor or warhead for use in training and testing. Those can’t fire since there is nothing in them to go woosh or boom. In testing the services often use missiles with seekers, motors, and telemetry computers where the warhead goes. That lets the folks on the ground monitor what the weapon is doing via a data link. Both test weapons and training weapons are still a one to one replica of weight and size for the “real thing” though. You don’t get to shoot the real things often since the inventory of target drones is always limited and the weapons themselves start at roughly $800K and go up from there.

          Someone with more experience than I would have to confirm that you can’t “play” with the real things (called all up rounds or AURs) mounted up. I know you absolutely cannot have a mixed load of real and training missiles regardless of what you are doing.

          According to a wise MSgt I worked with, the USAF learned not to mix the two types the hard way. Somebody else accidentally shot down their wing commander. During an impromptu training session tacked onto a cross country flight, the shooter locked the would be bogie (target) with a training missile on one side of the jet. Only, the live missile on the other side was the one to come of the rail and engage his target. Between the lock and fox (launch) the bogie had moved into a position where the shooters fuselage blocked the seeker field of view (known as screening). The computer on the jet simply cycled to the weapon on the other side that could see the target and followed instructions. Since you don’t want pilots managing cycling between the missiles based on seeker screening in a dog fight, it is hard to fault the design.

          In this case the shooter initially selected the training weapon, and the computer simply overrode his selection. While it was dumb in hindsight to roll out with a mixed load, he thought he was “firing” a weapon that will always stay firmly on the rail. The guy is still a team killer, but the situation is slightly less damnable. The wing commander lived after ejecting from his airplane.

          In the version I heard, it was an F-16 sortie that pulled this stunt. But, the same thing would happen with the F-15, or F-18.

          1. Air

            If I recall, this was a “target of opportunity” in the Med. The F14 had live missiles because it flying CAP for the carrier. This F4 was in the area. The F4 Crew was talking smack to Timmy. Timmy was getting agitated and heard “Red and Free” whether it was from his RIO or Controller on the CV. So he lit them up, figuratively and literally. After this incident, the Navy (at least) started calling sim bad guys as “Orange” vice “Red”, in the hopes that a DorseyII wouldn’t happen.

          2. Hognose Post author

            … and so far, it hasn’t happened. Making Timmy a footnote to naval aviation history! He finally apologized to Ross a couple years ago, when the Senate was holding up his star, in hopes that Ross would put in a good word for him. Ross, for his part, doesn’t seem to have lost any of his understandable fury at him.

        3. Hognose Post author

          He was a live CAP (Combat Air Patrol, the guys who keep USS Boat from being surprised), and they were doubling up by running a training intercept on the RF-4, just as the RF was using the carrier TF as an imagery target. The Navy does this all the time and had never shot the Air Force down before (or since). Because no asshat ever actually fired the freakin’ missile.

          1. Air

            The TAO of the Vincennes at the time of the Iranian F14 shoot down got a couple stars. There was enough confusion, cross chatter and lines of bearing that the TAO had reason to believe that the airliner was a F14.

          2. Hognose Post author

            Well, the Captain didn’t. That’s what happens when you’re Captain… You screw up, your career is toast. The barely-qualified Ensign OD (or your fully qualified TAO) screws up… your career is toast.

            I bet the LCDR in the back of Terrible Timmy’s F-14 didn’t get a flag!

          3. Geodkyt

            Yeah, Hognose, especially since the GIB (Guy In Back) of an F-14 is supposed to be somewhat in the loop on engagements. In fact, I thought (but am not an F-14 expert) that he could prevent a launch from back there…

  4. John Distai

    There’s a book called “The Sociopath Next Door”. Sounds like this guy.

    Just yesterday, I was teaching my children about people starting businesses where the business model was to screw the less sophisticated. It’s disgusting enough as it is, but it’s even more disgusting if you do it from people in your own “group”. It dawned on me that this would be the type of business a sociopath would be involved in.

    I wonder if “USA Discounters” had commercials like this?

  5. James F.

    A friend of mine served in Royal Irish Rangers in the ’90s and he told me about an incident where a trooper on a field exercise took a Carl Gustav simulator–functionally a single shot rifle–loaded it with a live round of rifle ammo he wasn’t supposed to have, pointed it at another RIR trooper and shot him in the head.

    There was no actual reason for this–maybe he didn’t believe it would actually hit the other guy.

    I assume the RIR shooter went to prison for manslaughter, since he didn’t have an Admiral for a father, but that’s the kind of person you want to weed out before he puts on a uniform. It’s crazy not to weed him out afterwards.

Comments are closed.