Caught My Eye…

Thanks for stopping by for “Caught My Eye!”

If you are a first-time visitor, “Caught My Eye” is posted right here every Friday morning! This is when I take a quick look at some of the stories I did not have time to write about during the week. I often throw in a touch of sarcasm to make you smile – or to irritate you just a little.

Everyone and everything is fair game!

Today I write about Col. Robert Stanley, the Air Force’s “Bloody Thursday,” Shrimp Peel, Powder River Training Complex, National Monuments, Zombie Apocalypse, plus I have declared TWO winners who are Making Montana Proud!

Colonel Robert Stanley:

On Thursday afternoon, KRTV (CBS) in Great Falls (MT) broke the story about Col. Robert Stanley, the commander of the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, resigning and announcing his retirement. Soon the news spread around the world.

Stanley penned a resignation letter that KRTV quoted from in which he talked about the wing and mission being “tarnished” and added, “Had just one solitary Airman spoken up for integrity, our leadership team would have been able to take action immediately.”

While that line might be good for a farewell letter, leaders like Stanley can also play a significant part in “one solitary Airman” feeling like their leaders will have their back if they do step forward to report cheating. Apparently those Airmen did not trust their chain of command of which Stanley was in charge.

After a thorough investigation the Air Force realized that lack of leadership and fired a bunch of people, including Stanley.

Back in August 2013 after Malmstrom had failed a Nuclear Surety Inspection and Col. Robert Stanley had relieved Col. David Lynch, Security Forces Commander, of duty, I wrote:

Col. Stanley is the commander of a nuclear missile wing that just failed a Nuclear Surety Inspection. That news spread around the world quickly and brought shame to the Wing, to the Air Force, and to the Department of Defense. Stanley’s name is forever attached to the failure. His career took a hit. Stanley’s superiors must have “full confidence” in his leadership ability as well.

That was before the alleged cheating scandal involving 92 missile officers, and before the blast door of their launch control center being left open was made public. In January word came down that Stanley was in line for promotion to Brigadier General. I stated very plainly that he should not be promoted – and he won’t.

Air Force’s “Bloody Thursday”

Back in January when the scandal with cheating in the Air Force was hitting the news, I wrote:

The Air Force needs to completely clean house in the 341st Operations Group at Malmstrom and its three missile squadrons (10th, 12th, and 490th) and bring in new leaders – I’m talking about the O-4 (Majors) up to and including the O-6 (Colonels) who have apparently failed to properly lead those they command and supervise.

In what Associated Press reporter Robert Burns called, “Bloody Thursday” the AP reported Thursday afternoon that the Air Force had basically done just that:

Nine key commanders below Stanley were fired, including the commanders of the 341st Wing’s three missile squadrons, each of which is responsible for 50 Minuteman three nuclear missiles.

Also sacked were the commander and deputy commander of the 341st Operations Group, which oversees all three missile squadrons as well as a helicopter unit and a support squadron responsible for administering monthly proficiency tests to Malmstrom’s launch crews and evaluating their performance.

It’s a new day in the Air Force. Besides doing their daily jobs of protecting our nation, members of the Air Force will need to work at rebuilding the trust of the American people.

Please, Not the Shrimp Peel:

The Montana Cowgirl Blog broke the story about the Republican fight in Teton County writing, “Choteau Republicans have indefinitely postponed their annual Shrimp Peel fundraiser due to party infighting over legislative primaries, but local TEA Party wing of the party has hijacked the event for its own.”

They’ve even paid for competing ads in the local papers.

I’ve filled my belly a few times at the Shrimp Peel over the years and even spoken a couple of times at the event. It’s too bad that it has come to this. Don’t they realize they are driving people away with these silly games of who is most conservative?

With news that the Shrimp Peel is postponed or cancelled, one has to wonder if anything is sacred in the Montana Republican Party these days.

Powder River Training Complex:

Montana’s two U.S. Senators (Jon Tester and John Walsh) are whining about the process being used by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to gather comments about the expansion of the Powder River Training Complex. The senators say the process is “making it difficult for Montanans to respond” with comments about the proposed expansion. So they asked for a three-month extension – which is nothing more than a delay tactic.

Give me a break. Montana’s delegation has shown over the past few years that Montana’s skies are basically closed to the military and other missions that might use Montana’s airspace. Shame on them.

They will probably get the extension, but it’s really nothing more than delaying the inevitable.

National Monuments:

The U.S. House passed H.R. 1459, the Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act, by a 222-201 margin. It probably won’t pass the Senate and for sure President Obama won’t sign it, so it is dead just like so many bills that pass the House.

The National Monuments issue has been around for a long time, and I think there’s a simple fix. We do need to protect some places because once they are gone, that’s it.

In a perfect world, the President should at least get approval from the congressional delegation and the Governor of the state to name some area in their state a National Monument. It would be great if the state legislature and county commissioners had a say, too.

After writing that last paragraph, I think I hear that John Lennon song “Imagine” with the lyrics, “You may say I’m a dreamer…”

Making Montana Proud:

This section is where I mention people or groups whose actions embarrass Montana in some way.

-From the Montana Standard (Butte): “Darwin James Bailey is accused of breaking into a home on Washington Street and ordering three porn movies on pay-per-view.”

But he did more than just watch porn! He is also charged with stealing “collectible coins, which included a set featuring Princess Diana and Prince Charles. He also is accused of taking about 20 DVDs from the home, including seven seasons of ‘Smallville.’”

I thought it was pretty brave for someone to come forward and say they actually owned seven seasons of “Smallville.”

-From the Great Falls Tribune: “Since 2006, area residents have racked up $739,911 in unpaid parking tickets. But statutes limit the city to the last three years for collections, and that tab was $109,657.50 two weeks ago.”

I applaud the Tribune for publishing the names of the offenders and their plans to do more of it in the future, but it’s too bad that the city of Great Falls was not more aggressive in getting the fines paid. If the fines listed above are correct, the city missed out on collecting about $630,000 in fines because of the statute of limitations. The city could have taken out an advertisement in the paper and probably recouped the cost of it with what they collected.

This whole parking ticket mess would have made great television on the former “Parking Wars” show…

Zombie Apocalypse:

When the Governor of Montana tweets about the Zombie Apocalypse, it has to get a mention here at The Western Word. Maybe Governor Bullock is letting us see that he does actually have a sense of humor.

Let’s get serious. Montana came in as 6th most likely to survive a Zombie Apocalypse with Alaska and Wyoming coming in first and second, followed by Colorado, Idaho, and New Mexico.

Here’s what the writers of the Zombie Apocalypse article said about Montana:

The state’s residents previously prepared to face the zombie apocalypse, but that was because pranksters hacked into a TV station’s EAS and broadcasted a message that the zombie apocalypse had begun. Had that not been a test, those zombies would have experienced the full wrath of Montana’s arsenal because that state is heavily armed.

Montana’s Congressional Delegation could help the state’s standing if they brought more military personnel into the state. The first thing the writers of the article looked at was how many active duty military personnel were in the state:

Active Military Personnel: States with more soldiers per capita means states with more people who are physically fit, trained to fight, and have access to weapons.

Montana also ranked high in survival skills and veterans categories, but pretty low in laser tag and last in the martial arts category.

Ironically, there wasn’t a category for generations – like if you were a third, fourth, or fifth – generation Montanan, or if you were a native.

One More Thing:

Don’t forget to stretch…


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