The Guantlet
(From the Department of Defense Inspector General report, February 1993)


the guantlet

The Gauntlet
Pool/Patio Area
VAW-110
VMFP-3
vf-124
CNATRA
victims

the guantlet This region of the third floor saw the most documented assaults. The gauntlet was a loosely-formed group of up to two hundred men who lined the corridor outside the hospitality suites around 10:30 each night of the convention, and "touched" women who passed down the corridor. The touching ranged from consensual pats on the breasts and buttocks to violent grabbing, groping, clothes stripping and other assaultive behavior as the women were funneled down theline of men.
The men would start by pounding the walls and chanting "gauntlet, gauntlet," and the noise level would increase as women walked down the hallway. Military code words such as "clear deck," "foul deck," "wave off," and "bolter," were used among the men to orchestrate group behavior. For example "wave off" was thought to indicate the approach of an unattractive female, and the men would respond by leaving her alone. Often one individual acted as "master of ceremonies" whose duty it was to coax women to walk down the corridor, sometimes even picking them up on his shoulder and carrying them into the crowd.
The DOD investigation revealed that many women freely and knowingly participated in the gauntlet:
"A significant number of witnesses reported that women went through the gauntlet and seemed to enjoy the attention and interaction with the aviators."
The gauntlet had become a tradition at Tailhook symposia, as indicated by a T-Shirt worn in 1991 Seen on the right.
In his interview, one Navy commander gave the following detailed description of the gauntlet:
"My definition of The Gauntlet...it is a term that I've heard used at Tailhook or around Tailhook for several years. And I believe it comes from an old Clint Eastwood movie of the same name, about a street or an avenue that starts wide and narrows into a funnel area that's hard to get through. I think that's where the term "The Gauntlet" originated, in regards to Tailhook.
And The Gauntlet would be pretty much in progress on late Friday or late Saturday nights, and it would consist of again, my estimate, two to three hundred young people - young men. And that's just my estimate. I can tell you the hallway - probably as long as maybe 30 yards or so - is absolutely packed with bodies.
And I would say the majority of them are between 21-to-26 year-old young men, mostly on the lower, probably the 21-to-24-year olds and mostly, in my judgment, just by the attendance at Tailhook, mostly young Naval officers, but also Marine officers and some Air Force guys; and I did see some people there in '91 that, by their dress and their hair, were not in the military at all. They were civilians that came from the local areas to attend the party.
The group mainly stands out there and drinks and chants and sings songs. And, on the occasion when a female would pass through the area, they would chant or, as it occurred on the late Saturday night, they would grab a girl's butt or breasts, apparently as she went through."
Examples of Assaults on Women in the Gauntlet
Victim #7US Navy lieutenant
Victim #37civilian California resident
Victim #38Federal Government employee
Victim #19Navy Reserve lieutenant


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