|Not the United States Air Force Inspector General...|
|The "Mighty" Wurm|
|Burg Trips, on the banks of the Wurm.|
|Main gate of NATO AB Geilenkirchen|
(I see they spent some money since I left, this is "new" as in, it wasn't there in 1999.)
We were all wondering what exactly this IG testimony was about. We had not heard anything through the grapevine, nor did we know who the complaint was against and who the complainant was.
Gradually bits and pieces of information leaked out and we discovered that a sexual harassment complaint had been lodged against our beloved Colonel. That's all we knew. We had no idea who had lodged this complaint.
Now our Colonel was a well-respected family man, wife, two kids and was an all around decent chap. Treated his NCOs with respect and actually kept his ear to the ground and his nose to the wind. The man had things well in hand from a mission and duty perspective.
Now I know what you're thinking, this is exactly the type of person who does this kind of thing. Pinching bottoms, not-so-subtle innuendos in the workplace. The guy you least expect to do this kind of thing, then does. And gets caught. But this was not the case. No, not this time.
While I am by no means an expert on the sexual peccadilloes of field grade officers, it does seem that I was exposed (pardon the expression) to more than one Lieutenant Colonel who had been caught with their figurative "pants down." (Bailiff at two courts martial for Lieutenant Colonels who, shall we say, committed indiscretions of a sexual nature. One I've written about, the other I have not. As the latter case was very sordid, it may be some time before I regale you with that tale. If ever!)
But this particular episode seemed so far out of character that many of us had serious doubts as to the veracity of the complaint. But being good Master Sergeants (and above) we held judgement until in possession of all the facts.
One fact that came out early was that the officer investigating the complaint was a full colonel. A female colonel. One or two of my colleagues immediately cried "Witch hunt!" Again I held back. One of the best officers I ever worked for had been a female major. She was tough, but fair. She once threw two captains out of our office for swearing, in Italian.
They chuckled, thinking she was kidding. I was frantically trying to get their attention to let them know, oh-my-God-she-is-not-kidding! "Fly you fools!" It was only when she stood up and asked them "What part of get out of my office don't you two clowns understand?"
They learned quickly that Major Fraker was not one to be trifled with. On the other hand, she treated those of us who worked for her very well.
Bottom line, I don't judge an officer by their gender, never have, never will. (And it has nothing to do with having two daughters who are officers in the Navy.)
At any rate, the day came when I was informed that I should wear my best togs to work the next day as I would be chatting with the IG.
Testifying, as it were.
|Again, not the USAF IG|
The hour of my appointment with the IG Colonel arrived. I, in my best uniform, was briefed by another officer (again, a female officer, even I was beginning to get slightly suspicious) as to what I would be "chatting" about with the IG.
They must have dealt with a lot of nitwits, ne'er-do-wells and simpletons back in those days. It was a good five minutes before the lady captain gathered that I did indeed understand English (even the big words) and was not likely to pick my noise, pass gas or otherwise "let down the side" while talking to the Colonel. While I won't bet on which fork to use at a big dinner party (I've heard you start outboard with the utensils and work your way inwards) you can actually dress me up and take me to the nicer establishments.
(Which doesn't mean I wouldn't feel right at home with a bunch of sailors on their first port visit in three months. On the way back to the ship. Been there, done that. I recall Lex having a "colorful" story, or two, about being in charge of the liberty boat!)
Ahem, where was I? Oh yes, about to be ushered into the august presence of Her Majesty, the Air Force IG Colonel.
While it was somewhat daunting at first, it quickly became apparent that the Colonel had already drawn her conclusions. (Patience Gentle Reader, it ain't what you think.)
Unfortunately, she did not know how. Not her fault really, most of the American captains in our outfit were about six pay grades above the work they had to do. As NATO was (and probably still is) a prestige assignment, most nations won't send just anybody there. (Well, the Italians do, but they are good for morale. What with the cuisine and such they bring with them, and share. Give me an Italian who can cook over two competent computer guys any day!)
So we had what you might call bloat. Too many people who would be telling people what to do at any other place on the planet, are now the ones doing the actual work. All in the name of politics.
Hell, I didn't mind. Did I mention that this was in Germany? That our multinational outfit had Italians (who could cook) and Danes and Greeks and Turks (though not in the same room) and Norwegians and Brits and Germans and, and...
Well, lots of various and divers nationalities.
It was all too much for our lady captain. She had come from a rather good staff job to being just another body at a keyboard. Rather a let down.
Also the environment in Europe in those days was the near exact opposite of that in the States, political-correctness wise. The Germans were all male and had no compunction against making rude remarks to the unwary Yanks who could not sprechen Deutsch.
Risqué calendars were also all the rage with our Teutonic allies. (Most of the American ladies learned to grit their teeth and look the other way. Different times, different culture.) Seems our lady captain had taken one insult too many, seen one too many a "Fräulein November" and decided that the Colonel should "do something about it!"
Apparently our dear Colonel had hinted that she needed to put on her "big girl panties" and deal with the Germans (and other Euro-types) herself. She took offense and lodged an IG complaint.
The IG determined that there wasn't much the United States Air Force could do about the situation. Short of pulling out of NATO I guess. Mind you, this was before we had Presidents who get their jollies bowing and scraping to foreign potentates. Even Clinton didn't stoop that low!
So our lady captain discovered that she wasn't in Kansas anymore.
Apparently the IG assured her that that was indeed the case and that if she couldn't deal with it, then perhaps a new assignment was in order.
And so it came to pass...
The lady captain was reassigned back to the States. Our colonel stayed to the end of his tour and eventually left Germany to go to the
I'm pretty sure the lady captain thrived back in the good old (politically correct) US of A, then faded into career obscurity and was never heard from again.
Nowadays I'm sure she'd be a full blown celebrity making the rounds of the talk shows.
Wondering about those movie stills? Our colonel's name and the name of Frank Sinatra's character in that movie were identical. Well, the last name anyway. Without the "von".