Season 1 Episode 13

Defensive Action

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Mar 13, 1996 on CBS

Episode Recap

Tom Boone (the CAG on the Seahawk) and his RIO Lt. Arnoldi are on a mission over Bosnia with Lt. Painter and Lt. Entwhistle. A Serbian Hind helicopter approaches. Painter and Entwhistle's F-14 has a mechanical problem and they have to eject, which they barely manage to do before their aircraft explodes. Suddenly the CAG yells, "The bastard, he's strafing them! He's strafing them in their chutes!" and boom, he fires on the Hind and destroys it. At JAG headquarters, Harm, Meg and Cmdr. Lindsey watch a ZNN report about the incident that says Painter and Entwhistle are still missing. Lindsey says the CAG claimed the Hind was strafing Painter and Entwhistle, to which Harm replies, "Bastards." The Serbs have denied this. Harm and Meg have to go investigate, but not before Lindsey hands out a few cigars to celebrate Harm's promotion. Meanwhile Painter is stuck in a tree. He manages to get down but he has a leg injury and there are Serbs nearby, plus he can't find his survival radio. Harm and Meg land on the Seahawk. Harm watches a Tomcat take off and a crew member says, "You still miss it, don't you sir?" Harm says, "Only when I'm back on board, or see a jet, shaving in the morning, in my dreams, eating a pizza, watching a movie!" The skipper congratulates Harm on his promotion but he's concerned because the Tomcat crew is still missing. Boone says to Harm, "I guess they'll give anyone an extra half stripe these days," his version of a compliment. He wants to get the interview over with. Arnoldi talks to Meg about Entwhistle possibly being caught in a fireball when he ejected. He says he saw the Hind strafing Painter and Entwhistle. Boone tells Harm, "When I saw him firing on my men, I took him out, and I'd do it again, peace treaty or no." He says doesn't think politics should dictate peoples' contact in a combat situation. Boone and the JAG officers get called to the bridge and they find out Entwhistle's body has been found. Painter is still MIA. And Boone is getting court-martialled even though Harm and Meg haven't finished their report. Harm and Meg meet with Cmdr. Krenick. Boone insists on sitting in. Harm says he'll do the talking. Krenick says that the violation of a cease-fire is a serious matter. Boone can't keep his mouth shut and he immediately exclaims, "THEY are the violators, they were shooting at my men!" Krenick is skeptical and asks who gave him the right to fire on his own initiative. Boone says, "The Navy, when they handed me my command!" Harm tells him they'll argue this in court and Boone says a lawyer is not going to tell him how to exercise his command. Harm tells him to keep his mouth shut, like that's really going to happen. Krenick says she isn't allowed to bring up the matter of a deal, but she says hypothetically that if she were Harm she would be asking about a deal. Harm asks what the deal would be and she says the CAG resigns and admits he was wrong. Boone tells her to go to hell, "hypothetically." Krenick accuses Harm of being a cowboy, but it sounds like a backhanded compliment. Boone says he'll be judged by line officers and that's good enough for him, but Harm says he won't be judged in a vaccum. Painter is still stranded and now it's night and Serbs are eating dinner around a fire close to where he's hiding. One of them throws away a chicken bone and Painter grabs it and eats it. State Department officials come to observe the court martial. Krenick admits that Boone has an excellent record but she says he fired without provocation and without orders. The officer who autopsied Lt. Entwhistle says he didn't have any bullet wounds but was killed by burning jet fuel and shrapnel from the destroyed F-14. On cross-examination from Harm, he admits that not all of Entwhistle's remains were recovered and that he could have had bullet wounds that weren't found. The CAG agrees to talk to Cmdr. Krenick without his lawyers present. She says that the conflict could get worse and suggests that the CAG should admit he was wrong and resign so it can be defused. He tells her he'll think about it. Boone talks to Harm, and in a rare vulnerable moment, asks how it felt knowing he'd never fly off a carrier again. Harm says it was terrible, until he found another way to serve. The CAG says it's easier for a young man to adjust and Harm says no, it wasn't easy. The CAG jokes about flying drunk tourists to Vegas. He says he would lay down his life for his men so why not his career? Harm thinks Krenick just talked to the CAG because she is scared. Arnoldi (Boone's RIO) testifies that he saw the Hind fire on Painter and Entwhistle, but Krenick gets him to admit that he didn't actually see this, he just heard the CAG say the Hind fired. The CAG testifies. Krenick asks him about the time he got shot down in Vietnam. It was a "friendly fire" incident; another American pilot mistook his F8-B Crusader for a MIG. The CAG says, "He WAS an Air Force pilot." The court members laugh. Krenick mentions that the CAG had encountered hostile aircraft in the same place he saw the Hind and she suggests that he was frustrated. He yells that he didn't shoot the Hind out of frustration and insists that it was strafing his men. Harm and Meg are having dinner with Boone when Chuck DePalma from ZNN comes over to say an emergency beacon has been detected that could be a signal from Lt. Painter. But there won't be a rescue mission until the trial's over and Washington thinks it might be a trap. Boone wants to go back to the Seahawk but Harm reminds him that he's in the middle of a court martial. Boone says, "I'm not going to abandon Painter!" Harm says he'll go to the Seahawk instead and tells Meg to handle the defense. Harm goes to the Seahawk and says he needs to fly over the area for his defense of the CAG. The skipper doesn't like how Washington is handling this so he lets Harm fly over the area in a helicopter with some Marines . . . and a parachute. Harm jumps from the helicopter. This is definitely NOT in his job description. Boone and Meg talk and he still insists he did the right thing. He wants to make a closing statement but Meg says only lawyers can do that. So he says he'll represent himself and fires her. Harm finds Painter lying in tall grass. The pilot grabs Harm and hugs him. Harm examines his leg injury, noting that it isn't a bullet wound, and puts a makeshift bandage on it. Krenick makes her closing argument, basically saying that Boone made the kind of mistake that the Navy cannot allow. The CAG gets up to speak, saying he'll be brief because he is not a lawyer. He says that he has spent hundreds of hours in combat and knows gunfire when he sees it. He says he would fire on the Hind again to protect his men even if it meant ending his Naval career. Harm helps Painter walk through the forest and tells him about the court martial. Painter can't say if the Hind was firing on him because he doesn't remember anything after his ejection until he got stuck in the tree. He says he'll go before the court and lie but Harm says he can't do that. Painter is exhausted and extremely sore. He looks like he might have a fever from a wound infection. He and Harm have to stop before they can reach a clearing. Harm reassures him and says the Marines will get them out. Boone is sure Harm will find Painter. Meg says that if Painter is found, his testimony could overturn a conviction if there is one. Boone says, "Is that why you think I'm worried about Painter, Lieutenant?" She says no, but it would be the icing on the cake. They are notified that there is a verdict. The CAG tells Meg she makes a hell of a wingman, for a lawyer. His version of a compliment. Boone is found not guilty by a majority of four to three and the judge says he's free to return to his command. Krenick tells the CAG it was a brilliant closing argument. He says it was the truth. Krenick says that's why it was brilliant, then demands to know where Harm is. Meg says, "Somewhere in Bosnia, trying to find Lt. Painter." Krenick says, "He really is a cowboy." "No, Commander" Boone tells her. "He's a naval aviator who knows what it means to put it on the line." Krenick wants to accompany Boone and Meg back to the Seahawk. Boone says, "Why not, Commander, you might learn something." Harm cuts off a piece of Painter's chute to take with him. The Marines manage to get him and Painter onto the helicopter despite being fired on by Serbs. Scary situation. Back on the Seahawk, the CAG yells to Painter, "It's about time you got back!" Painter says he took a long weekend in the mountains. The CAG demands that he ask permission next time. His way of saying, "I'm very glad you're alive, I was worried." Krenick tells Harm about the verdict. Harm says it should have been unanimous. He shows them the piece of Painter's chute. Lo and behold, there are bullet holes in it. Boone pokes a finger through the cloth and says, "Twelve point seven millimetres, standard ammunition on a Soviet Hind." Meg says she'd like to see the faces of the court members who voted to convict, but Krenick says there's no way to know who they are. Boone smiles, says he knows who they are, and walks away. Meg asks how he would know. Harm says, "He's the CAG!" Damn right he is.

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