President of San Diego Tailhook group resigns

AP News
Posted: Apr 28, 2014 7:47 PM

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A former Blue Angels commander has resigned as president of the Tailhook Association amid a military investigation into allegations of sexual harassment during his time as leader of the Navy's famed precision flying team.

Capt. Gregory McWherter submitted his resignation via email Friday, said Retired Navy Capt. J.R. Davis, director of the San Diego-based nonprofit aviator fraternity that was linked to one of the Navy's worst sexual abuse scandals stemming from its 1991 convention in Las Vegas.

McWherter stated in his resignation email that the ongoing investigation would be a distraction to him and the Tailhook Association, Davis said. McWherter could not be reached for comment.

The Navy last week relieved McWherter from his duty as executive officer of Naval Base Coronado amid allegations that he tolerated inappropriate comments and pornographic images in the workplace of the Blue Angels during his two stints as its leader between 2008 and 2012.

The Tailhook Association — which was formed in 1956 by active-duty Naval aviators to support sea-based aviation, especially aircraft carriers, through public education, scholarships and other initiatives — made national headlines in 1991 when Navy pilots at its convention were accused of sexually abusing female officers.

The scandal prompted the military to put in place numerous policies and programs to reduce such behavior.

Tailhook is the name for the cable that catches planes as they land hard and fast on an aircraft carrier.

Davis said he did not know anything about the allegations against McWherter, who had served as the association's president since September. The group's board of directors named a new president Friday.

The Navy is continuing to investigate the allegations against McWherter.

The service last week released some details of a complaint filed with the Navy's inspector general against McWherter. The complaint alleges "lewd speech, inappropriate comments, and sexually explicit humor were allowed in the workplace" and in some cases "encouraged" by the commanding officer, and that "pornographic images were displayed in the workplace and shared in electronic communications," according to a Navy statement.

The Blue Angels are continuing their training and there have been no changes to their performance schedule.

McWherter has been temporarily reassigned to Naval Air Forces in San Diego.