Leroy N. Soetoro
2017-11-18 20:58:23 UTC
Residents of Washington state turned their eyes to a clear blue sky
Thursday and found themselves staring at a cartoonish rendering of male
genitalia, sketched in smoke by at least one Navy EA-18G Growler jet.
The image stretched hundreds of feet high over the Okanogan Highlands,
based on photographs shared on social media. It has spawned a full Navy
investigation, with a senior officer, Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, promising
to examine the issue fully and respond.
The American people rightfully expect that those who wear the Wings of
Gold exhibit a level of maturity commensurate with the missions and
aircraft with which theyve been entrusted, said Shoemaker, who oversees
naval air operations, in a statement released by the service. Naval
aviation continually strives to foster an environment of dignity and
respect. Sophomoric and immature antics of a sexual nature have no place
in Naval aviation today.
The unit involved, Electronic Attack Squadron 130 of Naval Air Station
Whidbey Island, flies a two-person variant of the F/A-18 Super Hornet and
specializes in electronic warfare. The aircrew responsible has not been
The Defense Department has placed heightened emphasis on sexual harassment
and sexual assault in the ranks. And while its not immediately clear what
this investigation will yield, its evident that the Navy is taking it
This is not the first time a military pilot has drawn similar images. As
the Drive pointed out, a Royal Air Force jet drew what appeared to be a
penis in the sky over Scotland in 2014. The RAF later concluded the
suggestive smoke trails were caused by a pilot circling in a holding
pattern while waiting to land.
In the United States, the Navys elite flight demonstration squadron, the
Blue Angels, also was cited in an investigation released in 2014 for
painting a giant penis on the roof of a trailer at its winter training
home in El Centro, Calif, where pilots could see it from above. The blue-
and-gold painting was so large that it could be seen on satellite imagery
available on Google Maps, the Navy found.
The Blue Angels commanding officer at the time, Navy Capt. Gregory
McWherter, was reprimanded for failing to stop sexual harassment and
condoning pornography and homophobia in the workplace. Investigators also
cited his call sign, Stiffy.
This Commanding Officer witnessed, accepted, and encouraged behavior
that, while juvenile and sophomoric in the beginning, ultimately and in
the aggregate, became destructive, toxic and hostile, the Navys report
said. Under his command, the Blue Angels environment ran counter to
established Navy standards and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and
dramatically weakened good order and discipline.
Its unclear what fate awaits the pilot in this latest incident. According
to a Navy Department manual released earlier this year, incidents of
sexual harassment cover a wide range of behaviors, from verbal comments
to physical acts, and can be subtle or overt.
If the skywriting over Washington is determined to be sexual harassment
aimed at someone in the same squadron, service members involved could be
subject to formal counseling, negative fitness reports that hurt careers,
administrative punishment, or court-martial and separation from the
As the photographs of the skywriting circulated online Friday morning,
more than 100 people sent stories about the incident to Maximilian
Uriarte, a Marine Corps veteran who draws the popular military-themed web
comic Terminal Lance. Drawing male genitalia is a running joke in his
comic. Doing so, he said, is a way that service members joke around with
one another in what is still a hyper-masculine culture.
I dont know how much the culture of these pilots is embroiled in
inappropriate things, but I think that drawing a penis is just meant to be
funny, he said. For some reason, when you get into a situation where you
need to draw something, its always a penis.
He paused for a second.
Id love to offer real insight on this, he said. But I dont know that
there is much to be had.
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