“SOUND OFF” # 4
THIS IS THE FOURTH EDITION OF “SOUND OFF,” A NEW FEATURE IN MILITARYCORRUPTION.COM THAT WILL GIVE READERS A “FIRST-PERSON” ACCOUNT OF MILITARY WRONGDOING AND INJUSTICE AS SEEN AND EXPERIENCED BY OUR MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM.
HOW A SENIOR NCO AT TRAVIS AFB
FOUGHT THE “PC POLICE”AND WON
By MSgt. Richard D. Giddens, USAF (Ret).
I really enjoyed my Air Force career. That is, until I had to deal with an obnoxious and unreasonable commander, Col. Mark Dillon, at Travis AFB in California. He “crossed swords” with me, and I ended up getting him and the entire leadership of Travis AFB fired for obstructing justice and mismanaging the base and our flying squadron. You see, my story was publicized in AIR FORCE TIMES and was picked up by Associated Press, who ran it in newspapers all across the country! Bad publicity is deadly for abusive officers.
Col. Dillon fired the first shot across my bow by calling me into his office when I returned from leave. He asked me about an e-mail I’d received and forwarded on, showing an aircraft accident at our base. A Dover AFB aircraft mechanic caused the mishap when he over-pressurized a landing gear strut. The accident occurred while I was away on leave.
“Let me tell you who sent me that e-mail, colonel” I said. Despite my openness, Col. Dillon was urged by his chief flight engineer, Peter Duchene, to write me up with a letter of reprimand, which I immediately and strongly rebutted. Of course, the colonel wouldn’t answer my questions as to how he got my own personal private e-mail from my AOL account. I found out later, it was a loadmaster in our squadron who gave it to him.
Several weeks later, this same loadmaster gave Col. Dillon a copy of an e-mail I sent to all 535 members of Congress deploring the September 11 attacks on our country and asking for strong military action. What a dummy “Marshall” Dillon is! After I told him punishing someone for writing Congress is illegal and violated DOD instructions, the “gunfighter” stupidly wrote another letter of reprimand and opened an “unfavorable information file” on me, citing my letter to our elected representatives and senators as the reason! Duh! Like, why didn’t you consult with your JAG first, colonel? It would have saved you a lot of trouble.
A month later, returning from a mission, one of the pilots in our unit demanded that I brief the commander and squadron on problems with Dover Air Force Base’s maintenance. [Remember the accident they caused and the e-mail?] Col. Dillon couldn’t care less and quickly moved the meeting on to other topics.
Two weeks went by and I had another problem with Dover’s maintenance when they refused to work on an electrical problem in a fuel tank. Words were exchanged between both parties, and I happened to yell in frustration: “God Damn it! Allah Damn it! Whatever! Fix it!”
It didn’t take very long, in fact it was the day after Christmas 2002, when I returned a Dover AFB aircraft to that base. Was I shocked to see Col. Dillon come onto the aircraft just as we were getting ready to fly back to California!
“What are you doing here, sir? I ask. “Where is your crew? Did they make it home for Christmas?”
Col. Dillon turned white as a ghost when he saw me and refused to answer my questions to what he was doing there by himself, without a crew and apart from his family at Christmastime! On the way home, he refused every attempt to make conversation. Did the colonel have something to hide?
In February I learned an NCO at Dover AFB had accused me of “discrimination” because he heard my words: “Allah Damn it.” No, he’s not Muslim, but he does have an interesting background that includes getting an Article 15 for falsifying aircraft maintenance documentation after being thrown out of the flight engineer career field.
When I went to Col. Dillon about this, he claimed he wasn’t interested and refused to hear my explanation of why I said what I did. So I consulted with the base EEO office and they told me the complaint was “minor and silly.”
I thought that was as far as it would go. But in April of that year, Col. Dillon ambushed me with an Article 15 charge. Since no military attorney was available on the base at the time, I went downtown and consulted a civilian lawyer. Reviewing the paperwork, he recommended I demand court martial, offering his opinion the base would then decline to purse such a “trivial” matter.
When I went back to Col. Dillon and told him he’d have to put me on trial, he exploded in a rage! I was immediately booted from my squadron and sent over to the headquarters building to work for the Operations Group commander. Wow, that was a big mistake on Col. Dillon’s part, because I found out tons of “inside stuff” there.
The first thing I discovered was “Marshall” Dillon had been the subject of numerous discrimination complaints by an African-American staff sergeant named Curtis Shull. The sarge told me Col. Teresa Walters, the base inspector general, was “after Dillon.” I found that very interesting.
Curtis described hearing shouting matches between the two colonels. Walters, it seemed, had already had a “run-in” with Dillon over an aircraft accident caused by our chief flight engineer, Peter Duchene. Remember him? He was the guy who pushed Col. Dillon to reprimand me for writing letters to Congress.
Duchene had been our first sergeant and then was allowed to retrain to the flight engineer career field. Keeping him in our squadron was illegal because it represented an egregious “conflict of interest” in his training and evaluations.
Many instructor flight engineers had to be reassigned to accommodate “fair-haired boy” Duchene’s desire to lord over us without any moral or earned authority. Right out of training, Duchene put the flight controls of a C-5 aircraft into a maintenance stand with men on it.
Col. Walters at the time, was maintenance commander. She wasn’t pleased when Col. Dillon showed favoritism by not removing Duchene from flying status pending evaluation, as would normally be the case. Dillon just glossed over Duchene’s accident by clearing him to fly without any punishment or consequences, even after he caused a major accident.
Working in the headquarters building sure had its “intel” advantages. One day a letter Dillon sent to flight records ordering me removed from flying status, accidentally ended up in my hands. No big deal, just evidence of a violation of UCMJ Article 13 – illegal pretrial punishment!
I found out I was mentiuoned in one of Staff Sgt. Shull’s many complaints to the IG. “Sergeant Giddens is the only NCO who has treated me decently in this squadron.” I could hardly believe my good fortune! I knew now what the “BS” case against me was all about. Col. Dillon needed somebody to punish for “discrimination” to make himself look good and cover his butt with the inspector general.
Col. Walters, the IG, came unglued as I told her of what
Dillon and his staff were up to. At the end of our meeting, she got up from
her chair and paced the room with a grim look on her face. It wasn’t long
before the colonel confronted Dillon and the wing commander, Col. (Brig. Gen.
select) David Lefforge.
Lefforge was the convening authority in my trial, and he took Dillon’s side. Sometime during July 2002, headquarters got involved in the case. I went down to the squadron and found Dillon had placed his gun range target in the entrance to the squadron! On it he wrote: “Nobody messes with Marshall Dillon!”
On one of the bullet holes that missed the bull’s eye he wrote: “loadmaster windage,” a disparaging remark about enlisted personnel. I took a picture of this insult with my camera and when the colonel heard I’d done that, he went straight to those jack-booted thugs at OSI (Office of Special Investigations.).
Those stupid goons went down to Ops Group and seized all the computers I’d been using. They said they took the “hard drives” to search for “evidence” because Col. Dillon told them to.
Now the colonel was getting in deeper. Unauthorized use of the OSI by a commander is illegal too. Dillon was practically foaming at the mouth! The next thing he did was take his “sicko” gun target and place it right in his office, directly across from his desk. Anybody reporting to him had his or her head “superimposed” on Col. Dillon’s gun target! Our glorious commander made no secret of his contempt for enlisted service members, so this was his way of showing us exactly what he thought of us.
Well, the following week the “axe” from headquarters fell and our wing commander, Col. (P) Lefforge was fired and lost his promotion to general. He also lost his command and was sent to Texas to become an ROTC instructor. Yes, there is a God!
But the IG who listened to us, Col. Teresa Walters, was fired, her office closed and she was shipped off overnight to Japan. Travis AFB had no inspector general for three months after that!
The axe continued to fall. Duchene was fired next and sent to AWACS. And an investigation of “Marshall Dillon” was begun after a slew of complaints were made. People called me up to say the colonel was in his office “crying in his coffee cup.” He was refusing to speak to any of the enlisted airmen and NCO’s.
I went on trial the following week for saying” Allah Damn it! Fix it!” At the same time, it turns out, the brass at Travis AFB was busy promoting alleged spy Senior Airman Ahmad I. al-Halabi and naming him – get this – “Airman of the Year.”
During my trial I was called a “racist” right in front of my Asian wife and bi-racial children” This is what low depths the “politically correct” Air Force has sunk to in order to be “politically correct” while covering up real corruption and protecting abusive senior officers.
I was found guilty of Article 117, using “provoking words” and given a reprimand. After the farce of a trial was over, I was allowed to retire with an honorable discharge and back flight pay. Col. Dillon was ordered to sign documents reinstating me to flying status (back flight pay awarded) and allowing me the ability to re-enlist if I wanted. I didn’t. Not after all that crap!
Col. Dillon told everybody he was “exonerated” because he was “given bad advice” by his senior NCO’s. That’s the stuff, “Marshall Dillon.” Just blame everything on those under you, when the real problem is staring you in the face every morning you look in the mirror!
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Previously in Sound Off!
YOUR MILITARY RETIREMENT?
NOT IF YOUR EX-WIFE
CAN GRAB MOST OF IT
By Capt. Roy Alba, USAF (Ret)
AIR GUARD OFFICER