FORCE FIGHTER PILOT GETS JAIL TERM
The fighter-jock and Air Force Academy graduate wiped away tears as he pleaded for mercy from the judge in the sentencing portion of his general court martial at Kadena AFB in Okinawa.
But the judge, Lt. Col. William Lewis, was not impressed. He slammed the pilot from the 44th Fighter Squadron with a dismissal from the service and tacked on a 30-day jail term for good measure.
Maj. Derek J. Paulk, who admitted having an affair with a fellow officer's wife, saw his life and career destroyed by a dumb move that wouldn't even count as a crime in the civilian world.
But the Air Force, at least when it comes to non-minority males, claims it has low tolerance for such carring-ons. Paulk's nearly 15 years of active duty and possible pension in five years are now down the drain.
While defense counsel cited Paulk's otherwise spotless record, lead prosecutor, Maj. Matthew Grant, pontificated that field-grade officers "should be held to a higher standard." Well, maybe not at Moody AFB Georgia, but most places, we guess.
"It is an issue of integrity," Grant declared. "[Paulk's] acts go to the core of his integrity as a field-grade officer."
And if we had a dime for every fighter-pilot we knew who slept with women not their wives, we could take a long, expensive vacation.
TOP BRASS TOSS ACADEMY GRADUATE OUT OF AIR FORCE
Paulk was unlucky. He was caught and the brass decided to make an example of him. If he had been "connected," the matter might have "gone away." But he has no high-ranking relatives or "spouse" who works for the OSI. Now the nation has lost a well-trained fighter-pilot who would have been adequately punished with an Article 15, stiff monetary fine, and setback to his next promotion. Instead, he becomes a military prisoner and then an unemployed and disgraced former officer.
If only the Air Force decided these cases on a non-gender and equal basis. But they don't.
Paulk's troubles hit critical mass when the husband of his "galpal," the flight surgeon at the 44th, discovered a romantic e-mail between his wife and the fighter pilot on his home computer. The officer first went to Paulk and his unfaithful wife, demanding the affair end. When the two lovers continued to see each other, the furious and frustrated field-grade took the matter to the commanding officer.
According to court documents, the affair lasted from October 1, 2004 to October 18, 2005. Investigators discovered that Paulk recklessly stored erotic photos of his trysts with the cheating wife on a government computer at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.
also has learned that the steamy couple were not exactly discreet in their
actions. It was no secret at Kadena or elsewhere that the major was having
sex with the flight surgeon's wife.