Retired Air Force officers arrested for F-35 sit-in at Leahy’s Burlington office
By: Aidan Quigley for VTDigger, Sept. 9, 2019
BURLINGTON — Police arrested two retired Air Force officers Monday evening for refusing to leave Sen. Patrick Leahy’s office in downtown Burlington, as part of an ongoing protest against the basing of F-35s at Burlington International Airport.
Retired Col. Rosanne Greco and retired Lt. Col. Roger Bourassa delivered a list of requests to Leahy’s office late afternoon, pledging to stay until Leahy agreed to them. Greco and Bourassa arrived at Leahy’s office at 4:30 p.m., an hour before it closed at 5:30, and were arrested just after 6:45.
Leahy and his staff played a central role in the decision to base the jets in Burlington, VTDigger reported last year.
While Leahy has denied working to sway the basing process, his staff worked with military officials on media messaging and other issues. This frustrated military officials, some of whom believed the result had been predestined for political reasons, according to internal government documents.
Two F-35s are set to arrive at Burlington International Airport this month, and two more are scheduled to arrive every two months until the full fleet of 18 reaches the region next summer.
Greco and Bourassa demanded that Leahy “direct” the Air Force to delay sending the F-35s to Vermont until the F-35 has 1 million flight hours; public hearings are held; funding is secured to purchase all the homes in the “unsuitable for residential use zone”; the Department of Defense provides more information on the F-35’s nuclear role and there is a full investigation of the basing process.