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Health tips from Russert tragedy. C1 Army’s next robots will swarm like ants to support

Health tips from Russert tragedy. C1

Army’s next robots will swarm like ants to support a soldier. D8

next robots will swarm like ants to support a soldier . D8 WE BREAK MORE NEWS


like ants to support a soldier . D8 WE BREAK MORE NEWS AT TUESDAY / JULY

TUESDAY / JULY 1 / 2008

10 Stars make Southern League All-Star team.


Classif ieds: 532-4222

Southern League All-Star team. D1 Classif ieds: 532-4222 Local The annual Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza


The annual Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza hosted by the Exchange Club of Greater Huntsville has a new address this year Bridge Street Town Cen- tre. B1

Mayoral battles are featured as qualifying opens today for municipal offices in Huntsville, Madison and elsewhere. B1


The state Supreme Court sets a July 31 execution date for an inmate who came within a day of being exe- cuted last year for a 1982 contract killing. B3


In pre-July 4 speeches, Barack Obama, John Mc- Cain and their supporters give their views of patriot- ism. A7

The collision of two medical helicopters in Arizona is the ninth such accident this year, and 16 people have been killed. A8


The Pentagon is charging a Saudi Arabian with organ- izing and directing” the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, and will seek the death penalty. A3

Three men held at Abu Ghraib prison file a suit claiming they were tortured by U.S. defense contractors there. A3




S&P 500

+ 3.50

- 22.65

+ 1.62

Huntsville-based Avocent is cutting 110 jobs worldwide; about 20 will be in Huntsville, but there will be a net gain of about 20 local positions as work from other sites is transferred here. D8


Margaret Huntsville’s Margaret Hoelzer qualifies for the 100- meter back- stroke finals at the U.S.
qualifies for
the 100-
meter back-
stroke finals
at the U.S.
swim trials.

Full weather, C8

Forecast: High today Sunny, mild. 86 Low tonight 59 What’s inside Abby/C2 Editorials/A6 Bridge/C2 Horoscope/C2
High today
Sunny, mild.
Low tonight
What’s inside
puzzles/C2, E7

Huntsville, Alabama Vol. 99, No. 101, 40 pages Contents © 2008, The Huntsville Times

99, No. 101, 40 pages Contents © 2008, The Huntsville Times Photo courtesy of Blake Mathis
99, No. 101, 40 pages Contents © 2008, The Huntsville Times Photo courtesy of Blake Mathis

Photo courtesy of Blake Mathis

The once-neat line of tents shown below was a twisted mass of metal and canvas after the storm passed.


‘Nothing that we could have done’

Tent owner likens wind to tornado that skips around neighborhood


Times Staff Writer

The owner of the tents that fell dur- ing Sunday’s air show said he person- ally supervised the installation of the tents and described the incident as a freak weather circumstance.” In my opinion, it’s like a tornado when it takes out two or three houses but leaves one standing,” said Steve Whitman, owner of All Needz Rentals. The microburst had no warning. There was nothing that we could have done to improve the stability of the tents.” Whitman said Monday night that one side of the tents was secured with

3-foot-long stakes driven as far into the ground as they would go, and the other side was anchored by 55-gallon drums of water. Some tents were secured with only stakes while others had only water bar- rels, but the wind didn’t discriminate. The tents that toppled were pulled up on the sides with the stakes, and some tents with the same construction stakes on one side and barrels on the other didn’t budge, Whitman said. My family was under the tents and,

if I thought there was any danger at all,

I would have had tried to evacuate my

family and others, yet it happened so fast, there was no warning,” said Whit- man, who has a daughter the same age as Josiah Miller, who was killed. My- self, my family and my company em- ployees are grieving the loss of Josiah Miller. My wife and I also have children and cannot imagine the devastation and

I also have children and cannot imagine the devastation and Aerial photos courtesy of Blake Mathis

Aerial photos courtesy of Blake Mathis

The line of white tents, lower right, before the storm hit.

In today’s Times

Air show official says this is the worst accident he’s heard of. A4 Eyewitness accounts. B1 Emergency workers’ quick re- sponse came from preparedness. B1 What can be done that might pre- vent another storm tragedy? Editori- al, A6

On the Net:

Stories, photos, and video at:

grief that his parents and family mem- bers are going through at this time.” Whitman said he also provides pro- fessional tent installation for events such

Please see 'NOTHING' on A5

Airport officials mum

Huntsville International Air- port authorities declined Monday to release additional information or comment on the tent collapse

that killed 5-year-old Aaron Josi- ah Miller. Spokeswoman Laura Gipson said airport authorities are with- holding that information for now out of respect for the family.” More information may be re- leased today, Gipson said. The staff of Huntsville Inter- national Airport wishes to express


pathies to the Miller family,” Gip- son said in a written statement.

Microburst killed 11 in 1984 capsizing

Paddlewheel vessel was overturned by violent wind during SCI picnic


Times Staff Writer

Few in Huntsville had ever heard of a microburst” until a paddlewheel ves-

sel was capsized by one near Ditto Land-

ing. Eleven passengers drowned, in-

In Today’s Times

Microbursts hard to measure, and come and go suddenly. A4

cluding some children of SCI workers taking part in a company picnic. The company-leased vessel, a two-

story, 100-foot sternwheeler, was eeri- ly named SciTanic. The 1984 event drew weather experts

from across the country to study the cir- cumstances including Tetsuya Fuji- ta, the University of Chicago meteor- ologist who devised the standard for measuring the strength of tornadoes and discovered microbursts and their link to plane crashes. Early reports that a tornado may have swamped the SciTanic were replaced with the official diagnosis: a microburst.

Please see CAPSIZING on A5


‘Only son’ loved Braves and T-ball

Child, parents made ‘the sweetest family you could ever hope to see’


Times Staff Writer

Aaron Josiah Miller was more than what history will remember him to be.

Yes, he is the tragic face of Huntsville’s Airshow 2008, where a violent storm uprooted



and fatally



pound piece of air condi- tioning equipment on the boy. But before he was that,


equipment on the boy. But before he was that, toppled Josiah Miller had a wall-size mural

Josiah Miller had a wall-size mural of At- lanta’s Fulton Stadium in his room.

loved the At- lanta Braves so much his parents put a wall-size mural of Fulton County Sta- dium in his red and blue bedroom, who played his toy guitar as he sang John- ny Cash songs. He was and is the only son who will ever be born to Amie and Jason Miller. Complications after his birth deter- mined that, and his parents who were just 20 and 23 when he was born poured everything they had into him. Amie stayed home with him in their new and nice brick home in the Lime- stone County part of Madison, teach- ing him everything he needed to know to be prepared for school. They were attached at the hip,” said Amie’s mother, Marta Newby of Merid- ianville. Oh, she is going to miss him so much. They did everything togeth- er. And Jason, too. They made the sweetest family you could ever hope to see.” The last game of his inaugural T-ball season this spring, Josiah turned a dou- ble play, an unusual feat in a child’s first year of playing ball. His mother’s tears stopped long enough Monday evening to recall that moment. He caught a line drive from the pitch- er’s mound, and he tagged a runner out at second,” said Amie, 25. I was the dugout mom for that game, and he ran to me and said, ‘I did good, Mom! Give me a hug!’ ”

Please see SON on A5

Blind soldier determined to serve

Special Forces captain lost sight fighting in Iraq


The Associated Press

FORT BRAGG, N.C. When Capt. Ivan Castro joined the Army, he set goals: to jump out of planes, kick in doors and lead soldiers into combat. He achieved them all. Then the mortar round landed five feet

In today’s Times

President Bush signs a war-funding bill. A3 Iraq opens bidding for op- eration of its oil fields. D6

away, blasting away his sight. Once you’re blind, you have to set new goals,” Castro said. He set them higher. Not content with just staying in the Army, he is the only blind

officer serving in the Special Forces the small, elite units famed for dropping behind enemy lines on combat mis- sions. As executive officer of the 7th Special Forces Group’s head- quarters company in Fort Bragg, Castro’s duties don’t di- rectly involve combat, though they do have him taking part in just about everything that leads

Please see BLIND on A5

just about everything that leads Please see BLIND on A5 The Associated Press “ I don’t

The Associated Press

I don’t want them to take pity over me or give me something I’ve not earned,” Castro says.

he was just a beloved,




couldn’t wait

to start


garten, who



Continued from page A1

as Panoply and the Black Arts Festival. He’s put up hundreds of tents during his9 1 2 years in the business but has never seen an ac- cident like this, he said. Within seconds, about 400 linear feet of tents had fallen. Just 40 feet down, the wind loosened the stakes on another set of tents but they held fast, he said. The air-conditioning units were sitting on the ground outside the tents, but the powerful wind managed to blow one unit on top of 5-year-old Josiah Miller, killing him at the scene. Whitman said his thoughts are prayers are with Miller’s family, and de- scribed Friday’s accident as one of the most tragic mo- ments” of his life. I keep going back and thinking, ‘What could I have done? What could I have done?’ And there’s nothing.”


Continued from page A1

The weather forecast on the day of the SciTanic called for partly cloudy skies with a 30 percent chance of showers, a

high near 90 and clear and cool-

er that evening with tempera-

tures in the lower 60s. The Sci-

Tanic accident is one of several destructive incidents in the Huntsville area attributed to a microburst, a weather phe- nomenon characterized by ex- treme wind shifts and unpre- dictability. A 250-ton crane at the in- termodal facility at Huntsville International Airport was top-


flight squadron. When his parents told him they were taking him to the air show Sunday which was their sixth wedding anniversary to see the Blue Angels in flight, he reached that rung of excite- ment achievable only by 5-year- old boys en route to see their he- roes.

And then, the unthinkable. His dad tried

to catch it,” said Josiah’s Mamaw.” But a man can’t catch something


pounds, no mat- ter how hard he tries, no matter how much he’d rather it was him beneath the ma- chinery.

And that’s when Josiah Miller became part of a sad his- tory, though his celebrity should have been for something else.

Like how he could sit rapt through an entire Braves games on television or how he knew all of the words to Folsom Prison Blues” or how he could exist al- most solely on McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets. Anything but what it is.

Continued from page A1

He didn’t just play well. He looked the part, too. Before each game, the sandy-

haired, blue-eyed boy put on his uniform and stood on the tub in his parent’s bathroom so he could get a full- length look at his

uniformed self in the mirror.

He’d complete his conversion to ballplayer with a pack of Big League Chew bubblegum.He’d stick a big wad in his mouth and then share the rest with his teammates. He was terri- fied of Chuck E Cheese and the

Easter Bunny; he loved trains and family and music and watching planes land at Huntsville International Air- port. He loved the Blue Angels, too. On a recent visit to Orange Beach, his parents drove him to Pensacola’s National Aviation Museum so he could look at the display of the Navy’s precision

They (Josiah and his mother) were attached at the hip. Oh, she is going to miss him so much. They did everything together. And Jason, (his dad) too.”

Marta Newby Josiah’s grandmother

Jason, (his dad) too.” Marta Newby Josiah’s grandmother Mick Roney, left, and Homer Hickam helped recover
Jason, (his dad) too.” Marta Newby Josiah’s grandmother Mick Roney, left, and Homer Hickam helped recover

Mick Roney, left, and Homer Hickam helped recover bodies.

pled by a microburst in July


giant wheeled crane down a track at 30 mph until it col- lapsed when striking a bumper stop. The roof of a south Huntsville apartmentcomplexwasripped apart by a microburst in July 2003, displacing 38 residents. Local author Homer Hickam

well remembers that July day in 1984 when the SciTanic was blown over in the Tennessee River near Hobbs Island. Hickam was at Ditto getting ready to go water-skiing when the weather suddenly turned

wicked. He was flying earlier in

a Cessna and returned to the

Redstone Arsenal Airfield be-

cause of a sudden wall cloud. The threatening weather quick-

ly dissipated so he kept his river-

outing plans for the afternoon. When I got down to Ditto, I was there only a few minutes


rential downpour and high winds,” Hickam said Monday. Hickam reflected on the or- dealalongwithCityRecreation Services worker Mick Roney, who helped Hickam that day

Services worker Mick Roney, who helped Hickam that day The Associated Press Capt. Ivan Castro runs

The Associated Press

Capt. Ivan Castro runs alongside Spc. Robert Garner, left, while holding a tether with Sgt. Zane Platt for guidance during morning physical training in Fort Bragg, N.C.


Continued from page A1

up to it.

I am going to push the lim- its,” the 40-year-old said. I don’t want to go to Fort Bragg and show up and sit in an office. I want to work every day and have a mission.” Since the war began in Iraq, more than 100 troops have been blinded and 247 others have lost sight in one eye. Only two other blind officers serve in the active- duty Army: one a captain study- ing to be an instructor at West Point, the other an instructor at the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. An 18-year Army veteran, Castro was a Ranger before completing Special Forces train- ing,thegruelingyearlongcourse many soldiers fail to finish. He joined the Special Forces as a weapons sergeant, earned an of- ficer’s commission and moved on to the 82nd hoping to re- turn one day to the Special Forces as a team leader. Then life changed on a rooftop outside Youssifiyah, Iraq, in September 2006. Castro had relieved other paratroopers atop a house after

a night of fighting. He never

heard the incoming mortar round. There was just a flash of light, then darkness. Shrapnel tore through his

body, breaking his arm and shoulder and shredding the left side of his face. Two other paratroopers died. When Castro awoke six weeks later at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethes- da, Md., his right eye was gone. Doctors were unable to save his left. The Blinded Veterans Asso- ciation estimates 13 percent of all combat hospital emergency procedures in Iraq have involved eye injuries and more than half of the soldiers with traumatic brain injuries also suffer some visual impairment. That makes them the third most common injury behind post traumatic stress disorder and brain in- juries in Iraq. What he is doing is a strong example that blind individuals can lead exciting and mean- ingful careers,” said Thomas Zampieri, director of govern- ment relations for the associa- tion. After 17 months in recovery, Castro sought a permanent as- signment in the service’s Special Operations Command, landing duty with the 7th Special Forces Group. He focuses on mana- gerial tasks while honing the group’s Spanish training, a use- ful language for a unit that de-

ploys regularly to train South American troops. Though not fully independ- ent, he spent a weekend before starting his job walking around

the Group area at Fort Bragg to know just where he was going. He carefully measured the steps from car to office. Obviously, he cannot do some things that a sighted per-

son can do. But Ivan will find a way to get done whatever he needs to get done,” Col. Sean Mulholland said. What I am most impressed with, though,

is his determination to contin-

ue to serve his country after all that he’s been through.” Castro works out regularly at the gym and runs, his legs pow- erful and muscular. And though he has a prosthetic right eye and his arms are scarred by shrap-

nel, his outsized personality overshadows his war wounds:

Nobody escapes his booming hellos, friendly banter and lim- itless drive. He ran the Boston marathon this year with Adm. Eric T. Olson, commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command. Last year it was the Marine Corps Marathon. He wants to compete in the Ironman triathlon in Hawaii and gradu- ate from the Army’s officer ad- vanced course, which teaches captains how to lead troops and plan operations. I want to be treated the same way as other officers,” Castro said. I don’t want them to take pity over me or give me some- thing I’ve not earned.” Castro is married and the fa- ther of a 14-year-old son.

The Huntsville Times, Tuesday, July 1, 2008 A5

son. The Huntsville Times, Tuesday, July 1, 2008 A5 Photos courtesy of the family Josiah Miller

Photos courtesy of the family

Josiah Miller visiting the Blue Angels display at the Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla.

Boy, 7, hurt at show in serious condition

From staff reports

A seven-year-old Madison boy injured at Airshow 2008 was in serious condition Mon- day night at Huntsville Hospital. Matthew Pepper was injured when a mi-

croburst damaged a tent Sunday at the show at Huntsville International Airport. He was among 12 people hospitalized with injuries from the incident; the 11 other victims have been released, according to hospital spokeswoman Sue Esslinger.

diving for victims. The storm went away just as quickly as it came in,” Hickam said. Someone started scream- ing that there was a passenger boat that had overturned on the river. My friends with the speed- boat we raced out of there and

found the SciTanic upside down.” Roney was also at the mari- na tending to his boat. It start-

ed out nice and pleasant and it just blew in real quick before you knew it,” he said. Roney took shelter in his car, emerging min- utes later after the squall had passed. That’s when he noticed several boats racing out of the marina ignoring the no-wake zone. A marine police officer asked him to hop in the patrol boat after Roney told him he

had lifeguard credentials and had medic training in the Army. Hickam, then a NASA em- ployee and scuba diving in- structor, and Roney, then a life- guard and swim coach, were among the first to arrive at the capsized SciTanic. Acquaintances through swimming circles, they soon found themselves tag-teaming in the water in a frantic hunt for survivors. With Hickam in scuba gear and Roney using goggles and free diving, the pair swam in and out of the darkened riverboat to free bodies and look for mira- cles. Hickam kicked out a window and severely cut his arm while clearing out the broken glass for access.

Together, they began pulling out victims and swimming them topside to rescue workers on the overturned keel. Roney said Hickam soon warned him not to enter the up- side down boat. He said the floors weren’t made to be ceilings,” Roney said. Roney said the SciTanic ac- cident and his having seen two microburst-like events make him keenly aware of the danger of microbursts. They can come up with no warning,” he said. You wonder, sometimes. When I find myself out on the river or in an open area and a storm blows in, you wonder if it will be right on you.”