Post Tailhook Punishment

tailhook '91
In total, 119 Navy and 21 Marine Corps officers were referred by Pentagon investigators for possible disciplinary actions. They were cited for incidents of indecent assault, indecent exposure, conduct unbecoming an officer or failure to act in a proper leadership capacity while at Tailhook '91. Further, 51 individuals were found to have made false statements during the investigation. None of these 140 cases ever went to trial. Approximately half were dropped for lack of evidence. Most of the rest of the men "went to the mast" - an internal, non-judicial disciplinary procedure that meted out fines and severe career penalties. Almost all of these cases involved unseemly behavior rather than sexual assault.
With regard to the most celebrated case in the Tailhook scandal, the Marine Corps dropped all charges against the Marine captain charged by Lieutenant Paula Coughlin with sexual molestation. The Corps decided there was not enough evidence to proceed with a court-martial against the captain and that Coughlin misidentified her assailant.
As time went on, however, the fallout from Tailhook '91 continued. Ultimately the careers of fourteen admirals and almost 300 naval aviators were scuttled or damaged by Tailhook. For example Secretary of the Navy H. Lawrence Garrett III and CNO Admiral Frank Kelso were both at Tailhook '91. Garrett ultimately resigned and Kelso retired early two years after the convention.
A Navy-wide policy was implemented in which any officer who came up for promotion had to sign a paper asking if he or anyone in his command had been at Tailhook '91. If the answer was 'yes' the candidate's promotion was set aside for special evaluation.

Back to Index

pilots, jets, & the enterprise | tailhook '91 | old navy/new navy | what ails the navy? | readings | reactions | tapes & transcripts | admiral boorda's in basket | chronology of women in the navy | explore frontline | pbs online | wgbh

pbs online