SF Lt. Cmdr. Kien Chen's Death

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CS TIGER CLAW 2654.074

Dear Mrs. Chen,

Please allow me to express my deepest sympathy on the death of your husband, Lt. Cmdr. Vince Chen, on behalf of the pilots and crew of the Tiger Claw.

Lt. Cmdr. Chen was an invaluable asset to this ship and this fighter wing. As I'm sure you know, he was known to his fellow pilots as "Bossman," and he was a natural leader within the squadron. The younger pilots all looked to him for instruction, and the officers in command listened carefully to his advice. As for myself, personally, I regarded him as a very close friend and trusted comrade. We shall all miss him personally.

I would like to relate the circumstances of Lt. Cmdr. Chen's death. Please be assured that he died in action, in accordance with the highest standards of Space Force honor and valor. I hope that this knowledge will be of some comfort to you and Lt. Cmdr. Chen's other loved ones.

On 2654.070 we were in LOCATION DELETED BY CONFED SECURITY system of the Roberts Quadrant, Vega Sector. The Tiger Claw was conducting sweeps of routes known to be frequented by Kilrathi spies and pirates. At 1600 hours, Lt. Commander Chen left the Tiger Claw in command of a wing of four Rapier fighters to conduct the regular afternoon patrol. At 1724 hours the wing detected and engaged a Kilrathi corvette guarded by three Dralthi escorts. The wing engaged the enemy, with Bossman accounting personally for two of the Dralthi, as well as coordinating the assault on the corvette, and were successful in destroying all ships with no losses. However, their ships were damaged in heavy fighting.

Two of the Rapiers had damage to weapons and communication systems. Bossman had only minor damage to hull armor. The fourth ship had damaged engines, and was unable to sustain normal cruising speed. Bossman sent the first two fighters back to the Tiger Claw at full speed (both landed safely), but remained to escort the fourth fighter.

At some point in the return trip, your husband met a Kilrathi patrol of four Dralthi. According to Bossman's flight recorder, the fighter he was escorting was destroyed early in the battle, but Bossman managed to destroy at least two, and possibly three, of the attackers. However, the enemy managed to damage his engines in such a way as to cause an overload in the reactor core. The radiation was of sufficient intensity to kill him instantly.

The Kilrathi did not make any attempt to salvage your husband's Rapier. We believe this is because the loss of their corvette made it difficult for them to take large prizes, and also because of the radiation hazard. Your husband's fighter was recovered and decontaminated, and his remains were buried at space. I trust you have already been informed of this.

There is one final fact about your husband's death that I feel you have the right to know. According to the flight recorder, your husband would had have time to eject between the damage to the engine and the radiation surge that killed him. I believe he chose to stay with his fighter in order to avoid the chance of being taken captive by the Kilrathi. Having some awareness of the Kilrathi's treatment of prisoners, I am in full agreement with your husband's choice.

At the time of his death, Lt. Cmdr. Chen had 30 confirmed fighter kills (including four confirmed kills on his final mission) and two confirmed cap ship kills. He was the third highest-ranking ace in this squadron at the time of his death, by kill-count.

Lt. Cmdr. Chen could have saved himself by returning with the other two fighters and leaving the last to fend for itself. Instead, he chose to risk himself to protect a comrade. The captain has recommended that Lt. Cmdr. Chen be posthumously awarded the Red Comet, for pilots honorably killed in action, and his second Bronze Star for valor in the face of the enemy. I have enthusiastically endorsed these recommendations.

With profound sympathy, Lt.CMDR Jeanette Deveraux


Behind the Scenes

From Official Authorized Wing Commander Confederation Handbook, edited by Chris McCubbin, "SF Lt. Cmdr. Kien Chen's Death", 48-49, HarperCollins Publishers.

Despite its title, Chen is referred to as Vince Chen, the only use of this name. The film uses Charles. The document's author, Jeannette Devereaux, signs her name "Deveraux", and her name is spelled as such throughout the book, including her personel dossier and nose art insignia.

The document itself is considered "unclassified", as opposed to the other three levels of classification in the book - "confidential", "secret", and "top_secret".