May 16, 2013

Regarding the May 10 editorial “Disorder in the ranks”:

Soon after arriving at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas for technical training school, I was called into a meeting with two officers investigating charges of physical and mental abuse by drill instructors at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. For nearly an hour, I answered their questions and provided my own descriptions of noncommissioned officers who seemed “disturbed,” who bullied and berated young airmen who had been left in their charge on “temporary duty” status while they awaited orders for their next assignment. I described the actions of two NCOs knocking over bunk beds, flinging our gear all over the room, slamming fists into shoulders to knock airmen around while leaving no bruises or other signs of abuse — all of this for no apparent reason.

These “tantrums” erupted at all times, day and night. The most memorable occurred at 3 a.m. and ended only after a fellow NCO convinced the rampaging sergeant that he had gone too far.

The officers I spoke with thanked me for my testimony and promised action in response to similar testimony they had heard from others.

Feeling relieved, I went on to complete my technical training in West Texas during the summer of 1966. Here we are, 47 years later, getting word of sexual abuse of Air Force recruits in basic training at Lackland. Pardon me if I am not shocked. I am simply disgusted. We never change, do we?

Frank Herzog, Wilmington, N.C.

The writer is a former play-by-play announcer for the Washington Redskins.

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