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Former Blue Angels CO reprimanded for 'toxic' climate

Jun. 3, 2014 - 06:27PM   |  
Capt. Gregory McWherter, left, received a reprimand Tuesday after being found guilty of condoning a 'toxic' command climate during the second of his two stints leading the Blue Angels. )
Capt. Gregory McWherter, left, received a reprimand Tuesday after being found guilty of condoning a 'toxic' command climate during the second of his two stints leading the Blue Angels. ) (MC2 Ron Trevino / U.S. Navy)
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The former leader of the Blue Angels was found guilty at an admiral’s mast Monday of condoning crude practices on the flight team that led to a sexually hostile command climate, Pacific Fleet said in a Tuesday news release.

Capt. Gregory McWherter, a two-time commanding officer of the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron, received a letter of reprimand from Adm. Harry Harris, head of Pacific Fleet, for “failing to stop obvious and repeated instances of sexual harassment, condoning widespread lewd practices within the squadron and engaging in inappropriate and unprofessional discussions with his junior officers,” the release said.

“The investigation concluded that McWherter witnessed, condoned and encouraged behavior that, while juvenile and sophomoric in the beginning, ultimately and in the aggregate became destructive, toxic and hostile,” Pacific Fleet said.

The nonjudicial punishment came after an investigation into McWherter’s second tour as CO, from May 2011 to May 2012, launched by a March 24 complaint from a service member.

McWherter was relieved of duty as executive officer of Naval Base Coronado, California, on April 18, after the allegations arose. He had served there since November 2013.

Several of McWherter’s subordinates received formal written counseling for contributing to the hostile command climate, the Pacific Fleet release said.

Following his relief, a former Air Force wife set up a “Support Boss Greg McWherter” Facebook page to back the aviator. Several women who worked with McWherter also spoke with Navy Times in his defense.

But officials said McWherter’s conduct during his second stint commanding the Blue Angels fell far short of what was expected of COs.

“The totally inappropriate command environment fostered by Capt. McWherter was so unacceptable that it should have been clear to each member of the team that standards of personal decency and respect were violated,” said Vice Adm. David Buss, head of Naval Air Force Pacific, in the news release.

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