New York, NY- A study from the Navy found that former Blue Angels Commander Capt. Gregory McWherter fostered a climate that encouraged sexual harassment among the ranks of the elite flying squadron. The Blue Angels serve as ambassadors for the Navy, but the inappropriate behavior many members engaged in were unbefitting of their status.
The Navy investigation found that Capt. McWherter not only allowed sexual harassment, but encouraged and participated in the harassment. In the 63-page report, Naval investigators found that under McWerter’s command he “led his Ready Room far astray of acceptable norms of behavior or and conduct,” and described the squadron’s actions as “juvenile and sophomoric.”
Pornography was often openly displayed in cockpits and shared on the intra-squadron communication system. The pornographic displays, often of nude women, were described as motivational and a tool to build trust among members of the team. The Navy alleges that McWherter and other members of the Blue Angels would make lewd comments about the images display on the intra-communication system.
After receiving a written complaint about the pornographic images, McWherter suspended the practice but not without complaining about someone sending the letter, the Navy says.
The report states that in addition to open displays of pornography, team members engaged in “sexually charged, raunchy and homophobic humor.”
A one point a large depiction of a penis was painted on the roof of a hangar. It was so large that CNN reported it could be seen in Google maps. It was eventually painted over and the image was removed from Google.
The investigation noted that during his first command of the Blue Angels from 2008 and 2011, McWherter clamped down in the inappropriate behavior. But during his second command he allowed the sexual harassment to persist and took no action to prevent the “toxic” environment.
The Navy launched their investigation after receiving a formal complaint and removed McWherter as commander of the Blue Angels. He was re-assigned as second in command to a naval base in California, but was fired in April of this year.
In a statement announcing the findings Vice Adm. David Buss said he has ordered reviews of the current Blue Angels team to “see what changes should be made and to prevent any possible future lapses in good order and discipline” within the squadron.
This the latest among the many sexual harassment scandals the military has faced over the past couple of years. Sexual assault and harassment is so rampant in the military that the Pentagon has begun to crackdown on service members who act inappropriately or create a sexually hostile environment.
Last month, the military announced they had received 1,400 complaints of sexual harassment and disciplined nearly 500 service members for their behavior.
While the military tends to be male dominated, it doesn’t excuse their behavior especially considering the effects it has on the object of the harassment. In the civilian workplace, the victims of this behavior would have sought out sexual harassment attorneys and ended this type of workplace hostility much sooner.