FORT WORTH, Texas -- For 11 years, Connie Gruber and Trish Brow have lived in the shadow of a tragedy and with a stigma they would like to erase.
Their late husbands, Marine pilots Maj. Brooks Gruber and Lt. Col. John Brow, each with an exemplary record, were at the controls the night of April 8, 2000, when the MV-22 Osprey they were attempting to land in Marana, Ariz., suddenly rolled uncontrollably, crashed and exploded. All 19 Marines aboard died.
It wasn't long before the official finger of blame was pointed at Brow and Gruber. A "combination of human factors" -- a series of mistakes and misjudgments -- caused the crash, according to the Marine Corps investigation.
That explanation was translated into "pilot error" by the media, commentators and even, in so many words, by some Marines.
It's a verdict that Connie Gruber and Trish Brow want to see changed -- for their husbands' legacies and for their children who, in the Internet age, will forever see their fathers' names linked to that crash. John Brow and Brooks Gruber, the widows say, were victims as much as any of the other Marines on the V-22 that night.