Tailhook started in 05 SEP 91. Let's back up a bit and set the stage.
SEPT 91. Look at your calendar. What had just happened? Of course, we had just come back from DESERT STORM.
We came back from DESERT STORM with senior Enlisted and Officer leadership who were junior personnel in Vietnam. Those leaders lived through the smears and lean years of the '70s and early '80s when they were looked upon as damaged goods and their military broken. Though the Reagan buildup helped, the US military was still taking the blame for the '75 Democrat Congressional loss of South Vietnam - and all the cultural smearing that came out of Hollywierd and the press about their generation. They had just regained their honor.
We JOs grew up on that reputation. At DESERT STORM, the US military earned back a level of respect not seen in a quarter century. Remember the parades? Remember the stories? I do.
We were on top of the world, we had gained respect from our countrymen. ENS, LTJG, and LTs walked a little taller and were not shy about telling strangers their profession. We took pride in helping to bring back a little more honor for the senior personnel who carried the load in the starving years.
There were some in the culture who couldn't stand that. They were looking, begging, hoping for any chance to humble those they despised. At the end of DESERT STORM, they also wanted the military's budget funds - and they had agendas to push with a reckless impatience.
Entire books have been written about Tailhook; the tale of cowardice and abandonment is still amazing to behold. By order, squadron patches were changed for even non-tailhook squadrons, Trader Johns became off limits - the CO of the Blue Angles fed to the wolves - Admiral Arthur thrown in the volcano, and even worse; scores of innocent junior officers were threatened, smeared, and had their careers destroyed.
Never in my life did I ever see a case where "May a hundred innocent be killed to prevent one guilty from going free" became more an official policy by small men with great power and unchecked cowardice than I did in the immediate post Tailhook 91 Navy.
Open and official hypocrisy became commonplace with the answer to, "If LT Man is in trouble for X, then why is LT Woman not getting in trouble for doing Y?"
You had to be a JO to see the zoo like we did. I still look back in amazement how it all came down. All to serve a socio-political purpose - one that I supported at the time. To this day, it makes me ill knowing that so much damage was done just so something could happen a few years earlier than it would anyway - and it formed habits on evaluation and waivers that is still killing/endangering Sailors. Let's look at the IG report from the year after.
The Tailhook Association is a private organization composed of active duty, retired, and reserve Navy and Marine Corps aviators. It also includes defense contractors and others associated with naval aviation. At the 1991 [*pg 1082] convention, more than five thousand members attended, including several senior leaders of the Navy. The Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations were present, as well as twenty-nine other active duty admirals, two active duty Marine Corps generals, three Navy Reserve admirals, and many other retired flag officers.
Navy Lt. Paula Coughlin attended the convention, and she complained that she had been physically and sexually assaulted by a group of drunken aviators in a "gauntlet" formed in the hotel corridor. What followed included investigations -- and investigations of the investigations -- that concluded that the Armed Forces had overlooked the need to establish a clear criminal consequence for engaging in sexual harassment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In the end, no one was criminally charged for misconduct in the Tailhook events.
4. While many of the officers interviewed may be telling the truth, it is reasonable and logical to conclude that some have not told the truth, especially since the investigation specifically identified 25 victims. Your options with regard to this group of officers are limited by the lack of focus of the investigations in this area, as well as by the fundamental right against self-incrimination. The investigators were completely unable to identify any members of this group who lied regarding their involvement or recollection of events. It is my opinion that any further interviews or investigation of these individuals would be unproductive and lead to the same result.Interesting view and attitude towards your officers, no? Interesting assumption and spin, no?
8. In summary, it is important to note that the Naval Investigative Service expended over 22,000 manhours of effort and while the Inspector General spent a lesser amount, he also utilized a large portion of his assets to conduct what amounts to a very thorough, well-disciplined investigation. There was probably an element of reluctance on the part of some individuals to come forward with information relevant to the investigations for various reasons, including an effort to avoid self-incrimination. Because of this, further investigation by NIS an the IG is unlikely to be productive. There is enough information in the reports on a significant number of cases that have been sent to the chain of command for appropriate disciplinary or administrative action. Inquiries by the chain of command into these cases may well result in further leads for investigation at that level.Here is something that still sticks in my craw. This is the SECNAV at the time playing CYA.
5. At no time while I was at Tailhook 91 did I visit or spend any time in any of the various suites on the third floor of the hotel. The closest I came to any of the suites, to the best of my recollection, was on one occasion, shortly after I had arrived in the patio area, when I walked over to the poolside entrance to one of the suites which bordered on the patio area to get something to drink. At the poolside entrance to this suite was a large container of beverages. I took a can of beer from the container and immediately returned to the area on the patio where I had been. I do not recall speaking to anyone while I was in the area of the entrance to the suite, although I may have.I know Junior Officers who careers were destroyed for doing less. Funny - I wonder if Garrett was given the same assumption as we saw in para 4 quoted above?
6. Neither during those few moments when I approached that one suite to obtain a drink, nor at any other time that evening, did I observe any inappropriate or offensive conduct.
H. Lawrence Garrett, III
If you want to know what formed the attitude of some of your Gen X officers, you can start there. Sad thing is, it could have only happened that way pre-internet, pre-email, pre-cell phone cameras. Now days - the truth would have come out. The Left and the Media would not have had free range to misrepresent and smear without time-critical counter-fire.
UPDATE: Here is a good, though not perfect, Wall of Shame and Honor.
UPDATE II - Electric Boogaloo: From the early-90s JOPA team ... more Tailhook '91 patches! A little something for those who took nothing away from Tailhook but a ruined career.