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Tailhooked: 'Bring Me Men' No More

Gerald L. Rowles, Ph.D.
March 30, 2003

"The Coming American"
Bring me men to match my mountains
Bring me men to match my plains
Men with empires in their purpose
And new eras in their brains
- 1894, Sam Walter Foss
Around 60 years ago, my father was slogging around France in a WWII 'half-track' when it encountered a land mine. Of the twelve men in this armored personnel carrier, only he and one other survived the ensuing blast. Most of the casualties were men with whom he had passed through basic training. After he returned home from his subsequent hospitalization, with his Purple Heart and war souvenirs, he never spoke of the war, even when asked. His silence was the measure of the experience.

Some fourteen years later I stood in the midst of a Colorado pine forest, on a hillside overlooking the nascent Air Force Academy. Nearby was the contemporary cabin home of my godfather, an Air Force logistics officer who helped to coordinate the construction of the then newest of military training facilities. The first of the seventeen, 150-foot tall, triangulated spires of the controversial cadet chapel were taking form in the nestled valley below. It was an awesome sight, and a formidable experience. Five or six years later, the sign 'Bring Me Men' in two foot high shiny metal letters was added to the facade of admissions center, where it remained for 39 years.

These memories came rushing to mind when I read that on Friday, March 28th, twenty-seven years after women were admitted to the academy, that sign was ignobly chiseled from its mooring. Its ten letters were placed in the back of a four-wheel-drive vehicle, and moved to an unknown storage location and an unknown fate.

The precipitating event for this removal is an emerging 'scandal' in which a few dozen former and current female cadets have alleged 'sexual assault'. According to one report, "female cadets at the academy were ostracized and reprimanded after they reported they were raped." Later in the same report, the allegations are framed somewhat differently: "The Air Force has identified 56 cases of rape or sexual assault reported at the Air Force Academy since 1993. Allard says 50 cases have been reported to his office, many by women upset with the way the academy handled their complaints and a significant portion occurring within the last two years."

So what is being reported is that allegations have been made that range from sexual groping to rape. Some reporters have chosen to overlook the distinctions between groping and rape, as well as the difference between allegations and convictions: "Many of the victims said they were criticized or forced out of the academy, while the rapists were never disciplined."

Unfortunately, the contemporary feminist-pummeled zeitgeist has lost its 'sensitivity' for such distinctions, and the popular media is granted immunity from such grotesque generalizations.

But there is a strange synchronism here. Just as this story is emerging, we are engaged in a second gulf war with Iraq. Is it mere irony that just as we wrapped-up the first gulf war, Desert-Storm, another 'sexual scandal' erupted?

In March, 1991, the first U.S. combat troops began to return from the gulf. In September of that year, the Tailhook convention took place in Las Vegas. A few months later, Navy Lieutenant Paula Coughlin charged that she had been sexually assaulted. According to her account, "a Marine Corps captain grabbed her from behind, almost lifting her off the ground by her posterior. She spun around to confront him, but another man grabbed her from behind and the first man then forced his hands down her tube-top."

Elaine Donnelly helped to put the Tailhook event in perspective a few years later when she wrote:
In Las Vegas in September 1991, many naval aviators were returning from life-or-death missions in Desert Storm. That, and the usual free-flowing alcohol, gave the nightlife its special kick. Hundreds of single women were drawn to the three-day event--some for the second or third consecutive year--and freely participated in wild party activities, ranging from sexual suggestiveness to gross indecency.

Take, in particular, Ensign Elizabeth Warnick, who accused Lieutenant Cole Cowden of attempting, with two other men, to gang rape her. Under oath, Ensign Warnick admitted she had concocted the entire story to keep her fiancé from learning she had willingly engaged in sex with Cowden, and had allowed men to drink "belly shots" from her navel. Despite the Navy's stated policy forbidding false accusations, Ensign Warnick received nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

Disciplinary authorities failed to pursue other Navy women known to have participated in some of Tailhook's more outlandish party traditions. Lieutenant Rolando Diaz, who shaved women's legs in public, was prosecuted for conduct unbecoming an officer, but three female officers whose legs he shaved were not disciplined on an equal basis. Indeed, one of those three customers, according to Diaz, was none other than Paula Coughlin, who showed her appreciation by signing a banner with "You made me see God. The Paulster." (This is the same media-savvy assault victim who had been invited to the White House to be consoled by George Bush.)

When her own case--one of just two assault cases brought to court martial--was finally brought to court, it crumbled. After first identifying the photograph of a man who had not even attended Tailhook as her assailant, Lieutenant Coughlin picked a Marine captain out of a line-up. But she said she remembered the captain wore an orange shirt, whereas a picture from Saturday night showed him in a green "Raging Rhino" T-shirt (the rhino is his squadron's mascot). That, plus alibi witnesses, doomed Tailhook's most celebrated case.
As a result of the Tailhook miasma, dozens of officers of all ranks found their careers destroyed or attenuated. According to Donnelly, "In the end, after all the uproar, not a single court-martial produced a conviction." However, in just one of the more egregious injustices, "On October 15, 1993, Rear Admiral Riley Mixson, Chief of the Navy's Air Warfare Division, received a letter of censure from new Secretary of the Navy John Dalton. Dalton hit Mixson for being responsible for the arrangements of the 1991 Tailhook convention ..." Yet, "during most of the time plans were being made for the infamous convention in Las Vegas, (Admiral Mixson) was half a world away directing combat operations during Desert Storm." And he had not attended Tailhook in 13 years.

Another unconscionable display of media distortion involved a New York Times obituary of retired Rear Adm. Wilson "Bud" Flagg. Admiral Flagg and his wife were passengers on the American Airlines flight that was seized by terrorists and slammed into the Pentagon. The opening paragraph of the obituary read, "Wilson Flagg, a retired rear admiral who was one of three admirals censured by the Navy over the 1991 Tailhook sexual-assault scandal ..." At no subsequent point did the Times make an effort to elaborate that Flagg was not even involved in the planning of the event in question. Nor did the Times acknowledge, "Bud Flagg was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for serving his country extremely well. He flew the F-8U aircraft for more flight hours (over 3,700) than any pilot in history, including two combat tours in Vietnam."

Twelve years later, just as our brave male combatants are once again risking life and limb in the Iraqi desert in our defense, we are experiencing 'deja vu all over again'. The allegations launched against the Air Force Academy remain just that, allegations. Not one case has been tried, not one 'rapist' identified. But just as in the Tailhook disaster of twelve years ago, "The brass (has) allowed themselves to be bullied into a capitulation to feminists on procedural and policy issues, at the expense of legal safeguards and sound military policy."

According to news accounts:
Four top officers at the Air Force Academy will be replaced - at least two of them by women - after a series of rape reports and allegations by female cadets of an academy culture that blames victims for assaults.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., said Roche told senators that four leaders at the academy would be replaced and at least two women would be moved into top spots. She said the changes show progress, but more needs to be done.

"We don't send (cadets to the academy) to become part of a fraternity where they defend one another and protect one another against criminal activities that keep going on, so it's not just a change in leadership. It has to be a change in values from top to bottom," she said.
A fraternity of criminal activities? Where's the evidence? And this coming from the wife of Bill Clinton, 'alleged' sexual predator. The sorority of opportunism that Senator Clinton's comments represent mirror those of her predecessor sorority sister commenting on the Tailhook aftermath:
Patricia Schroeder, a powerful member of the House Armed Services Committee, is a mistress of sexual politics. She rushed to define Tailhook as a "watershed event"-a revelation of the Navy's sexual harassment so shocking that it could be remedied only by lifting the prohibition against women in combat. It was a stunning non-sequitur--Military women must be exposed to thugs behind enemy lines in order to protect them from drunken comrades at home--but cowed Navy officials felt compelled to embrace it as their own. - E. Donnelly
And, according to a contemporary media reporter, Ms Eileen Kelly, pontificating on the Air Force Academy, "The reports also reveal how widespread rape is in the Air Force. Between 1990 and 2002, 399 members of the Air Force were court-martialed for rape offenses."

The fact is we don't know what the charges in the 'rape offenses' courts-martial entailed. But according to the Pentagon website and a report presentation prepared by Maj Nate Galbreath, Capt Celene Fyffe, and Maj Jay Stone: "Common Themes in Military Sex Assaults (Involve): Alcohol use/Abuse, Acquaintance or Co-worker, Consent is muddy issue, Clothing removal typically not forcible, “I didn’t want to..but didn’t say anything,” “She didn’t say ‘no’,” “She said ‘no’ but I thought she was kidding…,” “Victims” may have other agendas Boyfriend breakup - sympathy ploy, Attention-seeking behavior, Revenge. Both victim and alleged perpetrator are commonly junior in rank and in their 20’s."

Consider this added bit of factual information. According to the Pentagon, the Air Force currently has about 370,000 active duty personnel. If over a period of 12 years, the average number (399 / 12) of such rape-allegation cases was 33, give or take, that means that .009% of active duty personnel were involved. That's 1 per 11,000. Now if we are to believe feminist propaganda, that 1 out of 90 (civilian) women have been the victims of forcible rape each year, it seems that the Air Force is one of the safest places for them.

According to a Department of Defense 1997 report, "Sexual misconduct cases only involve a fraction of 1 percent of the people in the military." But wait, between 35 and 50 female Air Force Academy cadets have come forward to allege sexual assault incidents that have occurred over the past two years. That's nearly 25 per year on a campus that has an average enrollment of 4000, or 1 in 160. But wait again, only 18% of the 4000 are women. That suggests the number of sexual assaults on female cadets is actually 1 in 29, or 16%. Oh, pulllease.

Anyone who believes that military personnel aren't mutually involved in consensual sexual experimentation, just as they are on any college campus or spring break, at unprecedented rates in this sexually saturated, post-women's-lib era, has just landed on planet Earth from either Venus or Mars or both.

Without pressing the point to abstraction, the numbers of alleged sexual assaults in this latest 'scandal' just don't add up. In fact they are unbelievable, if not outright lies. But beyond that, they are reprehensible as a conjured attempt at victim opportunism - particularly at this time - no less so than they were in the Tailhook episode. If there is anything odiously scandalous here, it is the knee-jerk acceptance of this long discredited feminist ploy, particularly in the wake of that prior episode's findings.

Bring Me Men? Maybe it is time that sign came down. The Air Force brass apparently no longer want men, they want eunuchs to stand guard over the feminist harem beneath the chapel spires.

But I remember that on June 6, 1944, our military combat men gave their lives at a rate of more than 500 per hour on D-DAY. I salute the more than 33,000 graduates of the Air Force Academy who have gone on to proudly serve their country, not to besmirch their alma mater. And today, I thank nearly a quarter million combat men who will engage the Iraqi enemy at great personal risk on behalf of us all. So it is to them, then and now, that I acknowledge my gratitude, and apologize for this latest insult to their courage and honor. HUA - Heard, Understood, Acknowledged.



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