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Pensacola Naval Air Station
Shane Osborn, the pilot of the EP-3, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Shane Osborn could walk around Pensacola in his flight suit and most folks wouldn't give him a second look.Naval flight officers aren't exactly an endangered species in this neck of the woods.But when Osborn, a flight instructor at Pensacola Naval Air Station, visits his college alma mater in Nebraska, heads turn and people whisper. That's because they know who Osborn is and what he is -- a Navy hero. On April 1, 2001, Osborn was the aircraft commander and mission commander of an EP-3 ARIES II reconnaissance plane that was flying in international airspace over the South China Sea.The plane was intercepted by two Chinese F-8 fighters, one of which collided with the reconnaissance plane.With 23 other crew members aboard, Osborn recovered the plane from a free-fall and eventually landed on the Chinese island of Hainan. Osborn was even supposed to go on a tour to promote his book, "Born To Fly," beginning in the fall of 2001.His first book-signing was scheduled for Nov. 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center. But two months before that signing date, the World Trade Center was toppled in a deadly terrorist attack on the United States. Osborn canceled the book tour immediately. "I volunteered to go to Afghanistan," he said, because that's my job.My job is not to sell books." Osborn, 29, said he truly was born to fly. One of his earliest memories is flying in a yellow J-3 Piper Cub with a friend of his father.He left the Boy Scouts to join the Civil Air Patrol.His head always was in the sky. "I planned on being a pilot in the military since I was 4," said Osborn, sitting near the pool of his home off Gulf Beach Highway near Innerarity Point."It just always fascinated me.I always had that as a goal, and I never wavered.I was a pretty determined kid." Osborn, a South Dakota native, attended UNLon an ROTC scholarship.He received his commission in 1996 -- the same year he first was sent to Pensacola for flight training. He then was assigned to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron VQ-1, based in Washington state, and began flying reconnaissance missions routinely in international airspace over the South China Sea. "It was just a routine mission," Osborn said."I had only been mission commander for a few months.The crew hadn't been together that long, but we had some good people." Chinese pilots regularly intercepted airplanes on similar missions, Osborn said.So, seeing two Chinese planes closing in didn't surprise him and his crew too much. "But (one of the pilots) became more aggressive," Osborn said."There was a loud noise, and our plane just shook," Osborn said."I heard his nose hit ours.His jet was cut in half." In "Born To Fly," Osborn remembers it sounding "like a monster chain saw hacking metal." Soon, Osborn and his crew were upside down, and the plane was in an inverted dive.The plane plummeted 7,500 feet before Osborn was able to regain control. "I was fairly certain we wouldn't make it home," he said."I thought that we were all finished." With the plane righted but severely damaged, Osborn's crew destroyed classified material on board and prepared for an emergency landing at Lingshui Naval Air Base on the Chinese island of Hainan. "It wasn't a warm greeting," Osborn said."But we were alive." Osborn kept his cool as two trucks with soldiers greeted the plane and ordered the crew off. Osborn's response? "Can we use your telephone?" The 24 crew members were held for 11 days and faced relentless interrogation.Osborn shielded many crew members for most of the ordeal, telling his interrogators none of the crew members in the back of the plane could see the crash and had no details to provide. At one point during his interrogation, while being asked the same questions he was asked during a previous interrogation that was videotaped, Osborn told his questioner: "Watch the videotapes." Osborn soon was separated from the rest of his crew and subjected to sleep deprivation, but no real physical torture. After 11 days of questioning and repeated orders to Osborn to apologize for the crash -- he never did -- the crew was released."Once I got home, it was pretty busy," Osborn said."I was just happy that we all made it home healthy and with our honor intact.That was most important." Osborn could have ridden through the rest of his time in the Navy as a celebrity.But even as his book was released, he was preparing to fly reconnaissance missions again, this time in Afghanistan, locating targets for United States firepower. "I wanted to do something to help," he said."If something bad happens to America, we just want to make it right.That's job satisfaction." Osborn returned to Pensacola in August 2002 to train the next generation of Navy pilots.His friend Good said Osborn's experience carried much weight with the young flight students. Osborn never intended to make a career out of the armed forces.He has a year and a half left on his current seven-year commitment.Then he, his wife, Teri, and their 6-year-old son, Avery, plan to make a home in Nebraska. "I don't really know what I want to do," he said.
Shane Osborn's campaign revealed that Ben Sasse lived in Washington for over six years and still owns a home there, painting him as a D.C. insider who now wants to represent Nebraskans.
- Osborn lived out of state "for much of his adult life. Whoops! Osborn lived out of state during the time he was serving our country in the Navy. I'm proud to be a veteran and proud to support Shane Osborn.
Osborn to headline Heroes of Siouxland event this weekendShane Osborn will arrive in Siouxland today as the special guest of the Heroes of Siouxland recognition event this weekend.Earlier this week, he attended the Black Hills Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, S.D., riding around on a borrowed motorcycle.His motorcycle is back in Pensacola, Fla., where he lives and works as a Navy flight instructor.During a phone interview with the Journal from the rally, Osborn said he is excited to return to Siouxland to participate in the Heroes of Siouxland event.Osborn said he met Zortman at the Offutt Air Show in Omaha last year."He said he was with the Red Cross and asked me if I was interested in helping out," Osborn said."I said, 'Absolutely, of course I'll help the Red Cross out.' They have done a lot of great things, not only in the local areas, but all over the world."Osborn arrive tonight with his skipper and a few fellow flight instructors to play golf and interact with event participants.He said he had to laugh when Zortman said he would be in a golf tournament because Osborn said he isn't a very good golfer."I like to golf, but I haven't done it very many times," he said."It will be interesting, and a lot of fun -- I guarantee you that."Two years ago the Navy EP-3E Aries II electronic reconnaissance aircraft Osborn was piloting collided with a Chinese fighter plane.The plane plunged into a near-inverted dive, and Osborn pulled it out.The crippled plane landed at a military base on the Chinese island of Hainan.Over the next 11 days, the Chinese interrogated Osborn demanding that he admit causing the death of the Chinese fighter pilot.Osborn refused and shielded the crew from interrogations by his captors.After he was released, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Meritorious Service Medal.Since then, Osborn has flown combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom over Afghanistan.He transferred to VT-10 in Pensacola where he is a flight instructor, flying twice per day with student pilots.He flies the T-34, which is the Navy's primary trainer, and the newer T-6A.He also has written a book, "Born to Fly."In June, Osborn was married to his wife, Teri, and has adopted her 6-year-old son, Avery.During his keynote speech Sunday evening at the Heroes of Siouxland banquet, Osborn said he will talk about his experiences and heroism."I appreciate the fact that in recent years people have redefined the word to a more proper definition," he said."I consider anyone who serves their community and country in a selfless manner to be a hero."He will also discuss growing up in the Midwest and how that has made him who he is today.
Shane Osborn Shane Osborn on Tuesday, May 4.Osborn is a Navy EP-3 pilot who was forced to land his spy plane in Chinese territory to save his crew of 24. (Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20030516/DCF023LOGO ) Osborn will be on hand to talk about his book, "Born to Fly: The Untold Story of the Downed American Reconnaissance Plane," in the Navy Memorial's Arleigh and Roberta Burke Theater at 7:30 p.m. His book details the incident that occurred on April 1, 2001, when Osborn and his EP-3 crew were on a routine surveillance mission in international airspace over the South China Sea.Two Chinese F-811 jet fighters intercepted the slow-flying U.S. Navy aircraft.One Chinese pilot flew so erratically that his jet collided with the EP-3's left propeller.The collision chopped the Chinese plane in half, killing the pilot.The EP-3's nose blew off and the aircraft sustained such further damage that it fell into a steep near- inverted dive.Shane, his two fellow Navy pilots and engineers, overcame the nearly impossible and kept the crippled plane in the air.They had no choice but to land at the nearest airfield at Lingshui Naval Air Base on the Island of Hainan. The Chinese then captured the 24 crew members and ruthlessly interrogated Lt.Osborn over the next 11 days.After he and the crew won their freedom, Osborn was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for courage and superb airmanship and the Meritorious Service Medal for leadership. After the incident, Lt.Osborn remained in the Navy flying combat missions over Afghanistan from November 2001, through February 2002. Currently he is serving at the Washington Navy Yard on the Navy's Discharge Review Board. Osborn will be available to sign his book at the Navy Memorial, following his talk in the theater.His book will be available for sale, on site, at the U.S. Navy Memorial's Ship's Store. The U.S. Navy Memorial is located in the heart of the nation's capital on 7th and Pennsylvania Ave., in North West, Washington, D.C.It is located adjacent to the Archives/Navy Memorial Metro Stop.