Who? David Koss. Still not ringing a bell? That is to be expected because in the world of politics, Koss is a complete nobody. An unknown.
An explanation is in order.
David E. Koss is a 42-year-old bachelor. He has no family. There is a question if he is Republican or a Democrat. It is not clear if he is even registered to vote. And, if so, in which state is he registered? His political positions on the major issues of the day are not publicly known. But he does have at least one admirable trait as will be explained shortly.
Koss is a commander in the U.S. Navy. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1991 and is currently eligible to retire from the Navy with 20 years of service. He is also a fighter pilot and, until last week, he was the flight leader and commanding officer of the Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, more popularly known as the “Blue Angels.”
As the world’s premier flight demonstration team the Blue Angels have been impressing audiences since 1946. To date, nearly one-half billion people have watched the Blue Angels perform. About eight million witnessed their aerobatics last year.
The mission of the Blue Angels is to showcase the skills of Navy and Marine Corps aviators as an aid in recruiting.
Koss viewed his selection just over a year ago to become the next commanding officer of the Blue Angels as a dream come true. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he explained earlier this spring.
He was no different from countless other young boys who watched the Blue Angels perform when they were youngsters. It became his lifelong ambition to join the Blue Angels. Of course, he had to pay his dues along the way.
First, he had to join the Navy, gain a commission as an officer, get selected for flight training, and transition into fixed-wing tactical aircraft. Fighters, specifically. Then he had to rise through the ranks and assume command of a fighter squadron. He had to demonstrate the acumen as a premier naval aviator just to merit consideration.
He did all of the above. Eventually, he became an F/A-18 Hornet pilot. Hornets are the Navy’s primary carrier-based jet that performs the dual-role of being an attack and fighter aircraft.
Before he joined the Blue Angels last September, Koss was the commanding officer of Navy Strike-Fighter Squadron (VFA)-14, the “Tophatters,” based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California. VFA-14 is one of the Navy’s oldest aviation squadrons that dates back to the earliest days of naval aviation. The unit is nearly a century-old. It most recently deployed with the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and its carrier air wing in support of U.S. operations in Afghanistan.
Koss had over 3,000 flight hours and he conducted more than 740 aircraft carrier landings. His personal decorations include the Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Air Medals with combat V, four Air Medals, two Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medals, the Joint Achievement Medal and various campaign and unit awards. He is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom.
This is what is so admirable about Koss. Last week, he resigned from the Blue Angels, the job he spent his entire adult life working toward. In a statement he said he was guilty of “not meeting the airborne standard that makes the Blue Angels the exceptional organization that it is.”
During the May 22 demonstration at the Lynchburg, VA Regional Air Show, the Blue Angels performed a maneuver in which several aircraft flew below the “hard deck,” the minimally-acceptable altitude. The flight demonstration team immediately ended the remainder of its performance and returned to home base at Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL to immediately commence a “safety stand-down.” No one was injured and no equipment was damaged.
As the squadron’s commanding officer, Koss did what he believed to be the proper and honorable thing. He offered his resignation. It was accepted.
It is the extremely rare occurrence when someone holds themselves to the highest of standards and then resigns when failing to meet them. Washington, D.C. would look a lot different if our elected officials did likewise.
Vote Dave Koss for president. What do we have to lose?