A morale patch on the backpack of U.S. Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Thomas James, senior enlisted advisor to the California Military Department adjutant general, reads that the fun meter is set to max during his visit to Camp San Luis Obispo, California, as part of a Federal Legislative Field Day, Sept. 18, 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard/Senior Airman Crystal Housman)
Allegations of retaliation against whistleblowers in the California National Guard are more widespread than the complaints made at a Fresno air base that led to a dramatic leadership shakeup of the organization earlier this month, The Times has found.
Interviews with current and former Guard members and an examination of internal documents show that complaints go well beyond Fresno and extend to the army side as well. The allegations have come from fighter pilots, a top military prosecutor, Special Forces officers and a colonel who hoped to head the organization.
They allege a pattern of both retaliation against whistleblowers and others who accuse their superiors of misconduct and a failure of the Guard's justice system to protect them.
Maj. Gen. Clay L. Garrison. Photo: Tech. Sgt. Charles Vaughn/U.S. Air National Guard
The head of the California Air National Guard and one of its five wing commanders have been removed from their positions amid complaints of reprisals against whistleblowers and allegations of a cover-up of misconduct that reached into the highest ranks of the organization, officials announced Friday.
A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle assigned to the 144th Fighter Wing, 194th Fighter Squadron, Fresno Air National Guard Base, California, takes off from Starokostiantyniv Air Base, Ukraine, Oct. 9 as part of the Clear Sky 2018 exercise. (U.S. Air National Guard/Tech. Sgt. Charles Vaughn)
For Staff Sgt. Jennifer Pineda, a 15-year veteran of the California Air National Guard, the military was a family calling. She followed her older sister and brother-in-law into the guard, where she now holds an administrative position at the elite 144th Fighter Wing in Fresno.
On a March morning four years ago, Pineda was about to dress into a uniform she had stored overnight in a stall in the women's bathroom when she made a foul discovery.