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‘Prevalent phallic drawings’ by B-52 airmen at deployed location led to commander’s ouster

A weapons load crew from the 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, prep an inert bomb to load onto a B-52 Stratofortress at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. (Tech. Sgt. Joshua J. Garcia/U.S. Air Force)

Drawings of penises were found on vehicles, inside cockpits, in public restrooms, even outlined in dust, at the base where the 69th Bomb Squadron was deployed for about seven months, an investigation has found.

The squadron’s commander at the time, Lt. Col. Paul Goossen, was fired from his job at Minot Air Base in North Dakota earlier this week.

The investigation determined that Goossen and other senior leaders did not create or share inappropriate images. But Goossen did not do enough to stop the drawings among his deployed B-52 aircrews, the report concluded.

“The prevalent phallic drawings … indicated a poor culture and climate, indicative of a deployed location with a melting pot of unit climates and cultures that accepted those type of indecent drawings,” the investigation said, finding Goossen “failed to be above reproach.”

The Air Force released a redacted copy of the commander-directed investigation Friday, three days after Goossen was removed for failure to maintain a professional workplace environment.

The squadron’s deployed location was redacted from the report. But the Air Force in an online article highlighted a holiday conference call fifteen airmen from the squadron, including Goossen, had with President Donald Trump last year on Christmas Eve while deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

The squadron was selected for the call out of several different deployed units because of their many accomplishments, the Air Force said then.

The squadron deployed at the end of August 2017, about three months after Goossen assumed command, according to the report.

The investigation began after a CD with the squadron’s final roll call presentation was discovered during a standard vehicle inspection of an “other country national,” according to the report. The slides contained phallic artwork, which Goossen and the rest of the squadron had seen.

Phallic images were widespread on the base, showing up on dusty aircraft exteriors, in dorm rooms and inside the B-52 cockpit, the report said.

Goossen tried to put an end to the rampant penis drawings with a simple message written on a whiteboard: “Stop drawing [penises].”

But because Goossen didn’t say to stop drawing inside the aircraft, aircrews continued to do so, the investigating officer concluded.

Between 10 and 25 squadron members were found to have drawn the images inside the deployed B-52s starting in October 2017.

“Aircrews believed the drawings on the aircraft would be contained only to aircrews viewing while flying on the aircraft and was meant to be a morale boost and joke to break from the monotonous routines encountered during that rotation,” the report said.

A system inside the B-52 had drawing and editing software tools that allowed aircrews to create the images.

Crew members confirmed “it was common practice for aircrews to create what was commonly referred to as ‘[penis] pics’ using the Microsoft Paint application in the B-52” display, noting the stick-figure drawings involved male genitalia incorporated into various themes. Some basic pencil sketches were also found under keyboards in the plane.

Aircrew members said the drawings would have stopped if anyone was offended.

Goossen, who tried to fly with all aircrew members at some point, saw a heart-themed phallic image on one mission but ignored the picture and quickly changed the screen to the map and communications display, he said, according to the report. Goossen stated “he was focused on the mission and recent [redadacted] threats.” He later expressed his disappointment at the phallic drawing in the cockpit but did not address it further.

Goossen told the investigating officer that he knew his airmen were drawing cartoons to each other but he was unaware of the depth and detailed content.

Airmen did not report a negative climate or culture while deployed and Goossen emphasized taking care of each other and focusing on the mission, the report said

But at a commander’s call in October, Goossen acknowledged his failure to stop the drawings while deployed despite the extreme mission stress, the report said.

The report did not say whether other airmen would be disciplined.


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