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Naked photos in aircraft cited in Navy reprimand

By Julie Watson

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 04:25 a.m. HST, Jun 04, 2014

SAN DIEGO >> A former Blue Angels commander tolerated inappropriate sexual comments and pornographic images in the workplace -- including photos of naked women in the cockpits of the precision flying team's planes, the Navy said Tuesday.

Capt. Gregory McWherter was found guilty of violating two articles under the military's code of justice during nonjudicial proceedings convened Monday in Pearl Harbor. The articles were failure to obey an order or regulation and conduct unbecoming of an officer by fostering a hostile command climate and failing to stop "obvious and repeated instances of sexual harassment, condoning widespread lewd practices within the squadron and engaging in inappropriate and unprofessional discussions with his junior officers," the Navy said in a statement.

He will be given a letter of reprimand that will go in McWherter's permanent file and is widely seen as a career-ender in the service. McWherter told Navy officials he did not wish to speak to the media, said Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, a spokesman at Naval Air Forces.

Under McWherter's command, pilots had explicit pornography, including photos of naked women, in aircraft cockpits, according to the investigation.

There was also a rooftop painting of male genitalia in blue and gold at the team's winter training facilities in El Centro that could be seen by Google Maps, the Navy report stated. The painting existed through the end of the 2012 airshow season.

The Navy probe also found "sexually charged, raunchy, and homophobic humor" on maps and itineraries.

McWherter was relieved in April from his duty as executive officer of Naval Base Coronado in California amid the allegations during his second stint as the Blue Angels' leader from May 2011 to November 2012. The Navy said it did not find problems during his first stint as the flying team's commanding officer from 2008 to 2010.

"The investigation concluded that McWherter witnessed, condoned, and encouraged behavior that, while juvenile and sophomoric in the beginning, ultimately and in the aggregate, became destructive, toxic and hostile," the Navy said in a statement.

The Navy said investigators found no evidence the behavior led to sexual assault.

Harry Harris Jr., commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, ordered the investigation after a service member filed an official complaint with the Navy on March 24.

The Blue Angels' mission is to publicly represent the best of Naval Aviation, and Harris said "the actions of Capt. McWherter jeopardized that mission."

"Commanding officers have an enduring obligation to maintain a proper work environment at all times and in all places and spaces, and they will be held accountable as appropriate when they fail," Harris said.

Several junior personnel who served under McWherter received formal written counseling for their behavior, but McWherter was held accountable for the actions of those in his command, the Navy said.

The Blue Angels are reviewing procedures, said Vice Adm. David Buss, commander, Naval Air Force Pacific, and its new commanding officer, Thomas Frosch, started implementing measures to clean up the workplace.

McWherter also was president of the Tailhook Association for about eight months before he resigned amid the probe.

The San Diego-based nonprofit aviator fraternity said it knew nothing of the allegations against McWherter. The group dealt with its own scandal in 1991 when Navy pilots at its Las Vegas convention were accused of sexually abusing female officers.

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iwanaknow wrote:
Let this be a warning...........................eyes are watching.............
on June 3,2014 | 09:46AM
inverse wrote:
Simple rule to apply, did this Captain talk or act in the same way he would to his daughter or other female family member as he would talk or act with all the people he had authority over? Rhetorical question, the answer is no, and worse yet the Blue Angels are one, if not the most scrutinized outfits in the Navy, so no excuse for this Captain to pull this cr a zp and not expect to be held accountable. What if the Veterans Administration, UH or DOE had similar type accountability for mess ups?
on June 3,2014 | 11:10AM
cojef wrote:
Military, especially staff officers are held to higher standard of conduct. Misbehave and chances of becoming or promotion to "flag" officer is gone. If eligible, retire, if not resign.
on June 3,2014 | 11:35AM
Jerry_D wrote:
It's too bad that the fragile feelings of female workers were blown out of proportion to effectively ruin the career of this otherwise outstanding military officer. Over what? Some petty expressions of a sexual nature (yes...PETTY as in minor, no big deal, c'mon get over it, etc.). Call me mysogenic, call me chauvinistic....but I'm generally very empathetic and sensitive to both sides of an issue, and in my opinion this "political correct" c.r.a.p. is getting way out of hand.
on June 3,2014 | 11:11AM
honopic wrote:
OK, Jerry. Since you asked.... I call you mysogenic (sic - the word is misogynistic) and chauvinistic. The idea that you claim to be "very empathetic" to the female workers' point of view is ridiculous. What if those naked photos were of a woman from your own family? How would you feel about this "petty" offense then?
on June 3,2014 | 03:25PM
Jerry_D wrote:
I wouldn't be offended at all. It's called "free will." Women have the freedom to do whatever they want with their bodies...and that includes taking off their clothes for the camera, should they so choose. And you have a problem with that....really?
on June 3,2014 | 08:29PM
bsbsbs wrote:
on June 3,2014 | 11:02PM
Jerry_D wrote:
By the way, an Article 15 "non-judicial punishment" is exactly that, punishment administered without going through the judicial process. It is not a trial, nor is it an acceptance of guilt. It is the military equivalent of a civilian "arraignment" where the accused pleads "no contest," and accepts the punishment because doing so is more convenient than going to court (or, in this case, the accused accepts "non-judicial punishment" rather than going to a summary, special, or general "court-martial"). Welcome to you'all's first lesson in JAG! lol
on June 3,2014 | 11:23AM
honopic wrote:
Welcome to "JAG" you say? Why would you welcome someone to the Judge Advocate General? I think you mean the UCMJ - the Uniform Code Of Military Justice, which determines whether offenses are NJP or should go to trial. How presumptuous of you to call this our "first lesson." Those of us who have served know what an Article 15 means.
on June 3,2014 | 03:34PM
Jerry_D wrote:
No, I mean JAG. And how presumptuous of YOU to imply that I've never served. I was the LEGAL ADMINISTRATION CHIEF for an 1,100 member squadron in the USMC (that's "United States Marine Corps"), and earned the NAVY ACHIEVEMENT MEDAL for passing an IG (that's "Inspector General") inspection with an OUTSTANDING score. Tsk tsk little one...and chill out. Your moody tendencies -- so typical of a WOMAN -- are starting to show. (Says the evil misoGYNISTIC antagonist).
on June 3,2014 | 08:35PM
bekwell wrote:
So . . . do the marines really wear silk underwear? (I'm Retired, U.S. Army, 5th Infantry Division, no medals, no rank, no commendations. Just did my job and went home.)
on June 4,2014 | 04:51AM
Jerry_D wrote:
By the way, an Article 15 "non-judicial punishment" is exactly that, punishment administered without going through the judicial process. It is not a trial, nor is it an acceptance of guilt. It is the military equivalent of a civilian "arraignment" where the accused pleads "no contest," and accepts the punishment because doing so is more convenient than going to court (or, in this case, the accused accepts "non-judicial punishment" rather than going to a summary, special, or general "court-martial"). Welcome to you'all's first lesson in J.A.G.! lol
on June 3,2014 | 11:25AM
Compassionate_Cat wrote:
Simply put if there were not lewd and sexual material in the workplace we would not be having this discussion. Poo poo this man is a Captain, he should set an example. Society will no longer tolerate any sexual nature being on display in the workplace, in any form.
on June 3,2014 | 12:51PM
2NDC wrote:
I recall having a "PALM Ex" conducted by a "JAG" officer at one of my former military units. Can I complain about this somewhere?
on June 3,2014 | 04:34PM
HD36 wrote:
They call it a cockpit for a reason.
on June 3,2014 | 07:00PM
Jerry_D wrote:
So there were pictures of naked women in the cockpit. O...M...G! Isn't it an aviation tradition (if not a Naval one) to pin up pics of special ladies in the cockpit? You could die at any time up there, and the pilot is therefore symbolically keeping the special lady(s) close to him. That's how I see it...whatever it takes to keep the pilot on task. And before HONOPIC or anybody else starts up with "but he had PORNOGRAPHY in the cockpit"...understand that "naked pictures" could simply be pics of his wife or girlfriend. It's the JAG lawyers and/or journalists that pinned the "pornography" label to the charges. In any case, NO REAL HARM DONE TO ANYBODY. Yet, our impractical PC society -- shaped partly by people such as "honopic" -- wants to inject some kind of egocentrical moral ideals that have nothing to do with improving efficiency...perhaps because they have some kind of insecurity about themselves?
on June 3,2014 | 08:48PM
duna6430 wrote:
Best synopsis is with "inverse" below. CO's responsibility and his alone (with his team leadership to square him away when he occasionally slips or strays). Pinups in the cockpit might not seem so serious - but the Blues are held to the highest standards, and if they can't get THAT straight for the public's eye, what else is out of sight? Yes these are warriors - but that fact doesn't excuse his failure here.
on June 4,2014 | 05:49AM
lookup wrote:
It should be all about RESPECT for others and for yourselves. Keep things in proper respective, that kind of nonsense belongs in the bedroom not in the open to offend others. RESPECT AND CONSIDERATION!
on June 4,2014 | 11:45AM
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