Re "U.S. once shot down innocents", (Letters, July 23): Letter writer William Blackburn attempts to equate the Flight 17 incident with the 1988 takedown of an Iranian airliner by the USS Vincennes, but omits some inconvenient facts. The Iranian airliner was aimed directly at the Vincennes, at a low altitude, failed to respond to warnings and was coming from the direction of an Iranian military base - exactly the flight profile expected of a hostile aircraft.
The Vincennes captain had seconds to make a decision. Given that in 1987, the USS Stark was fired on in the Persian Gulf with American lives lost, he rightly decided to protect his ship.
Malaysian Air Flight 17 was flying away from the missile launcher, at an altitude reserved for commercial airliners, and no radio contact was attempted. Flight 17 was hardly in an attack mode.
I am hard-pressed to see a legitimate comparison between the two events.
-- Michael McMurry, Suisun City