Saturday, September 17, 2016

USAF "Tops In Blue" gets canned

The Group's 2012 "Tour From Hell" resulted in two command-directed investigations.
     Problems included:
  • July: Electrocution of a technical sergeant in Kuwait by a temporary power board. He was released in after 24 hours of hospital observation.
  • October 28th: $71,000 in damage to 7.5-ton tractor jacknifed by the same technical sergeant.
  • October 29th: Extensive damage to a trailer rented to replace the one wrecked the day before when another driver backed the replacement into a lamp post.
  • Rampant sexual harrassment, mostly of women, but including a male master sergeant who kept hitting on a male senior airman, "explicitly saying what he'd like to do to him," according to written testimony by a female senior airman.
  • The same senior airman said an unnamed tech sergeant often bragged to her about beating a first lieutenant with a crowbar, which she said further intimidated and scared her.
The performing group, six decades old, was shut down September 1, according to Air Force Times:
     Tops in Blue has become a source of controversy in recent years, with some airmen saying it was a waste of time and money that didn't do much to entertain the rank-and-file. Some airmen claimed their commanders ordered them to attend Tops in Blue performances, a claim backed up by some disgruntled former Tops in Blue members, who also told Air Force Times they felt the show was out of date and wasted money on costumes -- enough for multiple changes -- and musical instruments that sat unplayed and uncared for in storage.
     Until late 2015 -- when Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James first launched a survey to find out how airmen really felt about it and then suspended the 2016 tour Air Force officials maintained the band was a morale-booster and great recruiting tool, beloved by current and former airmen and their families, as well as commanders, and "represents an outstanding value to the Air Force."

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