Military: Wait to be fired
Pilot can’t quit over vaccination
April 21, 2000
By Rod Hafemeister
Belleville News-Democrat

A pilot who asked to resign after refusing to take the controversial anthrax shots has been told he can’t quit because the Air Force is probably going to fire him.

Capt. Clifton P. Volpe, who had been flying VIPs from Andrews Air Force Base, Md., submitted his resignation on April 10 and requested an honorable discharge.

“They held onto it all week,” Volpe said Thursday. “Then on Friday, my commander notified me in a letter that they held it and were returning it to me because they were beginning discharge proceedings.”

The proceedings could result in Volpe receiving what he asked for — or he could end up with a general discharge under honorable conditions or an other-than-honorable discharge, an administrative equivalent to a dishonorable discharge.

The squadron at Andrews is a subunit of the 375th Airlift Wing at Scott Air Force Base.

Wing spokesman Lt. Col. Allan Dahncke said Volpe’s squadron commander, Lt. Col. Kenneth Konicki, returned Volpe’s resignation with the approval of wing commander Col. Bradley Baker.

“From what I understand, the application was returned on April 13,” Dahncke said. “Discharge action was initiated against Capt. Volpe by Lt. Gen. (Walter S.) Hogle (Jr.), commander of 15th Air Force at Travis Air Force Base (Calif.) on April 17, and Capt. Volpe was served with it on
the same day.”

Commanders were not required to forward Volpe’s resignation request to the secretary of the Air Force because “notification of possible discharge action had already been briefed to him” before he submitted it, Dahncke said.

Volpe, who claims he has been subjected to repeated harassment and indignities since he refused the vaccine in October, said he thinks his commanders are misusing the regulation.

“It’s ironic that they sat on my case for six months,” he said. “As a result of all the retaliatory attention I received, I submitted my request for resignation. Then they suddenly decide to discharge me.”

Volpe, 27, is a 1995 graduate of the Air Force Academy. He said he believes the shots are making service members ill.

Last month, Maj. Sonnie Bates, a C-5 pilot at Dover Air Force Base, Del., was allowed to withdraw his demand for a court-martial and received a general discharge after refusing the shots.

Originally Published, April 21, 2000 Belleville News Democrat, Belleville, Illinois
(c) 2000, Belleville News-Democrat, Belleville, Ill.

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