Investigation: Blue Angels descend into porn, homophobia and harassment scandal

Blue Angels planes

One of the nation’s most prestigious teams of flying aerobats dive-bombed into the depths of sexual harassment and stayed there for at least a year, a new Navy study said.

Members of the Blue Angels openly passed around pornography and flew with it in the cockpits during air shows and they cursed gays and spread dirty talk about women, under the command of Captain Gregory McWherter.

A Navy investigation into the accusations showed the members’ self-serving actions turned the squadron into a hostile workplace and McWherter not only tolerated them, he set examples of bad behavior to those under his command.

At one point McWherter painted an oversized penis in the blue and gold colors of the Blue Angels and put it on the roof of an airplane hangar.

This graffiti was so large that it could be seen by satellites and appeared on Google Maps images.

However the images have been removed and a member of the squadron has painted over the phallic art.

McWherter was reprimanded after a disciplinary proceeding this week and was previously relieved of his duties as an executive officer.

The 63-page document reads like a cross between the burlesque B movies “Hot Shot” and “Animal House,” as it describes how the squad’s Ready Room took on the atmosphere of a college fraternity.

The Blue Angels are the friendly face of the U.S. Navy and Marines and put on aerial stunt shows before live audiences across the country almost every week.

The scandal has sullied their reputation and that of the military branches they represent, Navy investigators said.

Captain Gregory McWherter has not always had a reputation for the dirty.

He led the Blue Angles twice, and the first time around he snuffed out any such inappropriate material and demanded professionalism to be maintained.

He completed a “successful and unmarred tour as the Commanding Officer of the Blue Angels from 2008 to 2010,” the Navy said.

Although McWherter was not the first to introduce lewd acts to the squadron, he no longer clamped down as much and sometimes participated, according to the Navy investigation.

Pornography had made its way into the squadron around the time the Captain’s first command ended, the investigation said.

“Both male and female crew chiefs cut out and placed the pornography in the cockpits,” it said.

While these lewd actions were taking place some crew members who objected could complain but opted out, because they felt under pressure not to do so, the review said.

Finally, tensions over the pictures rose and McWherter asked two female team members for their opinion and they told him they would feel more comfortable if the photos used were of women in bikinis and not nudes.

McWherter complied with this request.

However, later on he received an anonymous letter complaining about that practice, too, and he canned it but reportedly not without complaining to team members about someone having sent the letter.

When investigators later showed  officers who had served during the caption’s first stint as commanding officer examples of the homophobic humor on maps, raunchy jokes and pornography that became common during his second sting, they were surprised and displeased.

In 2012 Caption Gregory McWherters’ command ended and the Navy set up an awareness training from various equal opportunity programs to rid the Blue Angles of the mess.

At the end of the Navy investigation, it was concluded that the former commander had allowed what may have been juvenile behavior which descended into a toxic like atmosphere.