Former Blue Angels commanding officer reprimanded

U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs has issued an press release on the outcome of the Navy’s investigation of a former commanding officer of the Blue Angels.

At an Admiral’s Mast proceeding on June 2, Capt. Gregory McWherter was found guilty of violating Uniform Code Military Justice articles 92 (failure to obey an order or regulation) and 133 (conduct unbecoming of an officer) by fostering a hostile command climate, failing to stop obvious and repeated instances of sexual harassment, condoning widespread lewd practices within the squadron, and engaging in inappropriate and unprofessional discussions with his junior officers.

As a result, Capt. McWherter was given non-judicial punishment in the form of a punitive letter of reprimand.

Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Adm. Harry Harris Jr., convened the Admiral’s Mast after an investigation he ordered found McWherter allowed his officers and senior enlisted personnel to engage in inappropriate and sexually harassing behavior that significantly contributed to an unprofessional command climate during his second command tour as the Blue Angels commanding officer from May 2011 to November 2012.

The investigation concluded that McWherter witnessed, condoned, and encouraged behavior that, while juvenile and sophomoric in the beginning, ultimately and in the aggregate, became destructive, toxic, and hostile. According to the investigation, at no time did the behavior lead to sexual assault.

The 63-page report outlines the behavior that McWherter allowed during his second tour as the Blues commanding officer. He was brought back to relieve Commander Koss in May 2011. The team that McWherter inherited was very different from his one and how he chose to deal with them appears to be at the heart of his problems.

“Due to concerns related primarily to flight safety, this time Captain McWherter inherited a Ready Room with trust issues and a lack of cohesiveness. The poor demonstration performances resulted in increased tension, as well as a rise in personality conflicts with in the Ready Room.

In his efforts to reestablish trust amongst the team, Captain McWherter allowed his Ready Room to follow the will of the majority — often determined by Ready Room voting by the 8 Blue Angel pilots (including the #8 Events Coordinator who was a Naval Flight Officer) –even when the path chosen was the wrong one. Minority views were often ignored or disregarded–even when these views comported with Navy standards and policies.

In doing so, Captain McWherter abdicated the scope of his duties and the full range of responsibilities inherent to command. Captain McWherter’s leadership style limited his ability to effectively handle all issues that arose.”

Such issues weren’t a part of his first tour as the commanding officer, according to the report.

Read the press release and the report.