A decorated Marine pilot who was at the controls of a helicopter that enabled Louisiana police to stop the gunfire of an active shooter on the roof of a New Orleans hotel in 1973 has died at the age of 84-years-old.
According to the Times-Picayune, Retired Lieutenant General Charles "Chuck" Pitman—who served four tours in Vietnam and whose military career spanned 40 years—and who piloted a "borrowed" military helicopter after a gunman attacked a Howard Johnson's hotel in downtown New Orleans has died.
At the time of the incident, Pitman—then a Lieutenant Colonel—was the commander of the Marine Air Reserve Training in Louisiana and had turned on his television to see the news of the attack happening.
He reportedly didn't ask permission to launch his mission to bring order back to the Big Easy. He simply grabbed another pilot and "commandeered" the CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter, picked up a few law enforcement officers with long-range shooting capabilities and took flight.
Upon arrival at the scene that had already claimed the lives of at least three people, Pitman began making passes over the hotel where the gunman—Mark Essex—had established a stronghold.
After several attempts to isolate and target the gunman, officers were able to end the threat.
Pitman was—by the letter of military law—not permitted to take action as he did, and briefly faced the threat of court martial but led a long and distinguished career until retirement.