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Posts for February, 2011

Fehrenbach To Retire With Full Pension and Benefits

Jim Burroway

February 16th, 2011
Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach

Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach

Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, who was under investigation for violating “Don’t Ask, Dno’t Tell,” will be allowed to retire from the U.S. Air Forceon Oct. 1 with his full rank and his pension intact. Fehrenbach expressed relief that the entier ordeal was over.

In 2008, just as 18-year veteran was about to be deployed to Afghanistan, Fehrenbach was placed on desk duty when he learned he was under investigation on charges that he allegedly sexually assaulted a male civilian and that he was in violation of the military’s ban on homosexuality. The assault allegation was dismissed for lack of evidence. But the investigation into his sexuality under DADT continued, because in order to clear himself of the sexual assault charges, he was forced to reveal that the sexual encounter had actually been consensual.

If Fehrenbach had been dismissed under DADT, he would have lost his military retirement benefit of half pay and full medical care for the rest of his life. So he went to federal court last year seeking a temporary order blocking his discharge. That led to negotiations with the Justice Department which resulted in an agreement that the Air Force couldn’t discharge him without notifying the court first. That apparently gave the Air Force incentive to come to an alternate solution.

President Barack Obama signed a measure repealing DADT in the closing days of the previous Congress. The ban is expected to be fully dismantled sometime this summer.

Air Force Pilot Outed By False Criminal Accusation

Jim Burroway

August 24th, 2009

Air Force Lt. Col Victor Fehrenbach has made the rounds on radio and television ever since he came forward with the news that the Air Force was trying to discharge him under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He even scored a meeting at the White House during the much-derided LGBT Cocktail Party to mark the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion in June. What hasn’t been told was how Lt. Col Fehrenbach got caught in the DADT crosshairs to begin with:

Fehrenbach confronted a crisis in a very different setting. A Boise police detective sat across a conference table questioning him about an alleged crime.

Fehrenbach, stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base, was in a Catch-22. To clear himself of the claim he’d raped a man, Fehrenbach could tell police his side of the story. But admitting he’d had consensual sex could get him kicked out of the Air Force he loved after 18 years.

Fehrenbach asked Detective Mark Vucinich whether his employer had a right to see his statement. Yes, replied Vucinich.

Fehrenbach then told the detective he had sex with Cameron Shaner on May 12, 2008. He’d met Shaner, 30, on a gay Web site and invited him to his southeast Boise home.

Police and Air Foce investigations found no evidence that Lt. Col. Fehrenbach committed any crime. But Shaner, a discharged Army Veteran with a 100 percent service-connected disability for post-traumatic stress disorder and skeletal injuries, pressed the Air Force to begin discharge proceedings against Fehrenbach — all because of a false allegation:

Because of the criminal allegation, Victor confirmed the fact he was gay,” said Emily Hecht, a lawyer for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund. “That’s all the Air Force needed. Had his accuser been a woman, he’d have gone back to work with no further issue.”

The unique circumstances behind Fehrenbach’s case has caught the attention of Defense Secretary Bill Robert Gates and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, who has the final call on whether Fehrenbach will be dismissed. He is currently still on active duty at Mountain Home Air Force Base near Boise, Idaho.

Another DADT Discharge

Jim Burroway

May 20th, 2009

This time, it’s a highly decorated 18-year veteran fighter pilot, Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach. Meanwhile, the Pentagon says they are not drawing up any plans for dismantling “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

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