Tuesday, December 19, 2006


The following is from the comments to my “Some People’s Kids” post, which you'll find somewhere below. I wanted to bring this comment up "front and center" because Cadet Z makes some good points…plus the fact I’m told this whole episode has drawn way more attention in the Air Force than it deserves.

Here’s Cadet Z:

I'm a prior-enlisted Academy cadet. I'm sitting in my room right now taking a break from studying for finals and missing my three stripes hard core (they definitely got me more respect than the shoulder boards I wear now). Being very close to the primary sources of the topic, I thought I would fill in some detail—along with my humble opinions of course. First of all, (ed: deleted) is a pretty solid kid. His only fault seems to be his enthusiasm in pursuing a ride in jet through the wrong channels. Apparently, no one told him how he was supposed to go about it, so he took it up directly with the unit. This is the email the major was replying to:

From: (Deleted)
Sent: Tuesday, December 12, 2006 7:01 PM
To: (Deleted)
Subject: RE: Cadet request for F-15 ride
Here's the guy who keeps calling up and bugging the scheduling shop about getting a flight.

-----Original Message-----
From: (Deleted)
Sent: Tuesday, December 12, 2006 4:59 PM
To: (Deleted)
Subject: Cadet request for F-15 ride

Lt. XXX,

I am a cadet at the Air Force Academy trying to arrange a flight with the 333rd Fighter Wing between 21 December and 5 January. I have my Secret Clearance and Physiological Training Card and can coordinate any AOC approval or necessary medical clearance (Form 1042). My presence does not impose any limitations on the mission; I'm just along for the ride. Any further guidance or authorization you can provide on this matter is much appreciated. Email is the best way to contact me (XXXX@usafa.af.mil), but my cell phone number is XXX.XXX.XXXX.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Very Respectfully,
C3C (Deleted),

United States Air Force Academy

Misguided? Sure, but clearly respectful and not deserving the response he received. Of course, it is worth considering that nothing warrants such unprofessional conduct on the major’s part. He should be the one with the maturity to handle the situation properly regardless of the (nonexistent) provocation. Another cadet, far more “misguided” than XXX, elicited this infinitely more appropriate, thoughtful, educated and educational, response from a man with the power to end his career:

From: Roche James Dr SAF/OS
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2003 10:11 AM
To: Walsh Robert C4C CS21
Subject: Re: Removal of Academy Leaders

Bob, good to hear from you. Colonel Eskeridge is a highly regarded officer and I have no animus toward him. He will be reassigned without any adverse consequence. In fact, we are working to minimize the impact on his family. However, Gen Jumper and I want a new leadership team in place, and we will do so. Your comments about Colonel Gray are not only wrong, they don't reflect particularly well on you. Assignment of leaders in military organizations is not a popularity contest. Rather, it reflects the vision of the senior leadership of the Service. I know Colonel Gray, Gen Jumper knows Colonel Gray, and you don't. Now, say again all after who is and who is not qualified to make assignment decisions? While I admire your loyalty to Colonel Eskeridge, and I enjoy a challenge-up, or "briefing room rules" environment, one of us is responsible to the President, the Congress, and the American people for the Academy -- and, it's not you (at least not for a few years). Gen Jumper and I have made our decisions. We expect all concerned now to implement them cheerfully, as is the long-standing expectation for military professionals.

And, Bob, that includes you.


Dr. James G. Roche
Secretary of The Air Force

By comparison, the major sounds like a five year-old throwing a temper tantrum. Okay I take that back. He sounds like a five year-old throwing a temper tantrum without the comparison. Do you think this contrast says anything about the character of people who are successful leaders? Granted, my mind may be full of useless idealistic classroom discussion, the writings of great generals, and limited personal experience, but I think it does.

That last one was of course the response to the cadet you mentioned earlier, here’s the original email along with the Chief’s response. General Jumper is a little harsher than the Secretary, but even he doesn’t stoop nearly as low as the major.

From: Walsh Robert C4C CS21
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2003 10:30 AM
To: Jumper John Gen AF/CC
Subject: Removal of Academy Leader

Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force,
General John P. Jumper,
Sir, I am a fourth Class Cadet at the United States Air Force Academy. I do not agree with your idea for removal of all top officials at the
United States Air Force Academy. I do not believe it is necessary for all four of them to be removed, and replaced. I especially have a problem with the replacement of Col. Bob Eskeridge. The person who is supposed to replace Col. Eskeridge, is not qualified for the position. Her only qualifications are that she is a female, and an Academy Graduate. She has never been a group commander, while Col. Eskeridge has been a group commander twice. Furthermore, this woman has been working at the Academy during the same period as all these cases. She has been in the position of the 34th Training Group, serving as the Deputy Group Commander. By allowing her to take over Col. Eskeridge's position, it seems as though you are promoting her. Also, the person who will be filling the job she is moving from, will be her superior, having also served as a group commander, but because of the hierarchy at the Academy, she will instead be his superior. I would like to see Col. Eskeridge retain his current position. I do not believe he is a problem, in any way. He is a role model for all Cadets, as a military officer. I have not heard a single complaint or bad word spoken about Col. Eskeridge. Please reconsider your decision to remove Col. Eskeridge from his position.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
Very Respectfully,
Cadet Fourth Class Robert M. Walsh
Cadet Squadron 21 "Blackjacks"
United States Air Force Academy

From: Jumper John Gen AF/CC
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2003 12:33 PM
To: Walsh Robert C4C CS21
Subject: RE: Removal of Academy Leader

Cadet Walsh, I sincerely hope that this is a hoax of some type because I would hate to think a Cadet Fourth Class would presume to instruct me on Air Force leaders I have known and served with for longer than you have been alive. I strongly suggest you devote your energy toward being the best possible 3-degree that you can be, to be a part of the solution that the new leadership is being sent there to oversee, and to keep yourself and your attitude off my radar scope.


First of all, thanks for the well-written clarification, Cadet Z, and thanks for dredging up those old notes to/from Cadet W, SecAF, and the CoS. Secondly, I cannot and will not argue with the points you’ve made because they are irrefutable from both logical and moral points of view. Nor will I defend the manner and tone in which Major XXXX took your classmate XXX to task. Major XXXX violated a number of leadership tenets by sending that e-mail, not the least of which is “praise in public, criticize in private.” I’m sure the good major fervently wishes he had a “do over” button. Him and a lot of other mostly good folks I’ve known who fell victim to their tempers and let reason slide by hitting “send” before cooling off.

All of the above is written from a cold “just the facts, Ma’am” point of view. The “real” world, however, is not a leadership lab. People have bad days, missions get scrubbed, your wife rags on you about getting the dryer fixed, the Ol’ Man is on your ass about overdue check rides, your best eval guy PCSed last week, and then your new LT calls and tells you some kid from the Academy keeps calling up, asking for a ride. And keeps calling, despite the LT’s numerous fuggit-about-its (I quote: “Here's the guy who keeps calling up and bugging the scheduling shop about getting a flight.”). It’s the end of the day, and so…

No defense: Just sayin’

Finally…the major was wrong, no doubt. But I (and a helluva of other folks) laughed when we read the e-mail. No small part of the humor in the major’s message, at least for me, was a direct repudiation of the politically correct mindset that has permeated our society, extending even into the Air Force, fer gawd’s sake. It wasn’t always so, ya know. I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to imagine LeMay or Patton writing the same e-mail (if they had had it) when they were majors. And for the record: I received similar, and perhaps worse, dressing-downs on the rare occasions I screwed up during my AF career. But that was back in the day before we became so sensitive.

(Just a note: I wish you would have “sanitized” the quoted e-mails from the 333FS as you did with XXXX’s note, Cadet Z. Those guys’ names are now “in the clear,” and I wish it wasn’t so. I would have deleted your comment upon receipt last evening if I could have and republished it in sanitized form later. But…we had an ice storm last evening and my ‘net connection went south until this morning. Cat’s out of the bag…)

Update, 12/19/2006 1135 hrs: A long time reader e-mails me thusly:

"Just because Cadet Z. was too shortsighted or impulsive to scrub the names of the parties, doesn't mean you couldn't scrub them, even after a bit of time had elapsed.

Just my 2 cents :)"

Noted. And fixed. Thanks.


  1. Hey Mr B,
    I like the "Further" post, but I wish that the names had been scrubbed, just to keep this all on the q.t.

    The General Jumper letter was outstanding. The final advice was priceless, and having read the Cadet's letter that preceded, made me shudder a bit.

    Having said all that, the great thing is that a whole company of cadets have relearned the first law of thermodynamics: Flame on YOU, is flame off me. Those two characters probably became the
    %hit magnets for miles around!

    I still feel creepy, by proxy. Reminds me of what kind of identical idiot I was, when I was 20.

  2. Buck, I guess it just isn't the same Ol'AF we grew to love and hate on occasion. Has it really become so sensitive. Granted, I agree that the Major's comments were probably a bit out of line and should have been kept between the two parties involved, but the Major had some very valid comments of his own. Like I wrote you in an e-mail those rides are hard earned and are a privilege and if that Cadet listened he learned a valuable lesson in that short e-mail he received. Those rides are an excellent way to reward those maintainers who take care of those pilots day in and day out.

    I sent this to a friend of mine who happens to have a son currently at the AFA. He said basically the same thing about the cadet in question, but he added that it had gotten a lot of attention school wide. Maybe, we all learned a little something here! "Can't we all just get along?" Nough said!

  3. By the way, the major carbon copied 55 other officers in his reply to Cadet X. So I assumed he wasn't concerned with his privacy, and neither should I be. But that said, and this being your blog, I apologize for not respecting your own effort to protect his privacy.

    Thanks also for the "real world" perspective. The contrast between the way things should be and the what actually works is very interesting.

    I certainly share your frustration with political correctness. The Academy, especially in the aftermath of all of our scandals, seems to be one of the most politically correct and sensitive places in the Air Force. I get fed up with it myself. Especially the religious and gender related sensitivity.

  4. "By the way, the major carbon copied 55 other officers in his reply to Cadet X. So I assumed he wasn't concerned with his privacy, and neither should I be."

    With all due respect, copying 55 other officers is not equal to posting on the open internet, subject to Google searches from anyone anywhere in the world who might be interested in obtaining the names and e-mail addresses of members of ranking US military personnel. And from site searches hitting my own blog, I do know that there are people searching for that kind of information. I am more concerned about his personal information in general than I am about his privacy in this matter.

  5. Laurie said: With all due respect...

    Well said and point well-taken, Laurie. Thanks. I'll be quicker to edit next time. If there IS a next time, which I kinda doubt...



Just be polite... that's all I ask.