(From the Department of Defense Inspector General report, February 1993)
This region of the
third floor saw the
most documented assaults.
The gauntlet was a
group of up to two
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
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."
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