‘Splosive Bolts

By lex, on April 23rd, 2011

Still actuating on naval command-at-sea pins:

The commanding officer and executive officer of the amphibious transport dock Ponce were relieved of command Saturday for issues including failure to properly handle hazing, the Navy announced.

Cmdr. Etta Jones, the ship’s skipper, was ousted because of poor leadership and failure to appropriately investigate, report and hold accountable sailors involved in hazing incidents, according to a news release. She also failed to properly handle a loaded weapon during a security alert, which endangered some of her crew.

Lt. Cmdr. Kurt Boenisch, the executive officer, was removed because of his failure to provide support to the command and commanding officer, the release said.

Hazing was one of those things that, as a commanding officer, I had an extremely low tolerance for. Something to do with the sacred trust of leadership responsibility at every level, and the abuse of the power that sometimes came with that responsibility. I had spoken to the squadron on various occasions to let everyone know how I felt about the issue, because, 1) I was required to, and 2) it’s not fair to let the people find the mine field by stepping on the mines. A few months later I had a female airman get taped into a chair on the mid shift one night after the CPOs had all clocked out. A first class petty officer had walked by, seen the event and laughed it off. No harm done, and smiles all around.

When I found out the next day I called a squadron quarters at shift turnover. It was the shortest one in my career, perhaps a minute. The duty officer called the squadron to attention, the division officers gave their reports and then I spoke: “I’ve told you again and again how I feel about hazing,” I told the assembled throng. “I’m done talking,” and then stalked off with the command master chief, leaving the division officers and department heads to dismiss their people. Took everyone involved to captain’s mast the very next day. Each sailor came in the front door in full dress uniform, I read each of them the riot act, and had each of them escorted out another door so they couldn’t communicate with those in the passageway still awaiting judgment. I imposed no penalties that day, and we never had another hazing event while I was CO.

All harmless fun in the event, but those things we tolerate tend to lead to things intolerable, and if you don’t draw the line somewhere, careers must be broken.

But – and I hate to admit it – the USAF leadership, when they do go astray – tend to be a little more, shall we say, exotic in their detachments for cause. Sometimes they lose missiles. Sometimes they merely misplace them:**

Witnesses told of officers dating enlisted airmen, including a colonel who eventually married an enlisted female airman who worked in the wing. Sexual relationships between officers and enlisted airmen, one officer testified, were “rampant” and an “accepted practice.”

The stories prompted investigators to look into the workplace relationships of Col. Stephen McMahon, the commander of the wing’s operations unit. In the end, they determined McMahon probably had exposed himself when he went skinny-dipping on a temporary duty assignment, had sexually harassed female subordinates and had an inappropriate consensual sexual relationship with a senior master sergeant.

Never ride the working stock, a mentor of mine once said.

The incident(s) occurred during a detachment to the Netherlands Antilles.

Which, yes: I did have to look that one up.

**  10-20-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.

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Filed under Air Force, Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Lex, Navy, USAF

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