A small group of pilots from Laughlin Air Force Base were stripped of their wings after an investigation showed that they exchanged personal texts with each other featuring quotes from Miley Cyrus and other pop songs. The text messages were seen by commanders as evidence of illegal drug activity by the pilots, namely the use and distribution of molly.
The decision to ground the pilots came even after the three involved (a fourth was exonerated) tested clean for drugs, and investigators found no other evidence that any of the group had ever used or had any ties to drugs in any way. The pilots justified the messages as being just some playful inside banter about a crazy weekend in Las Vegas from a year prior, where they met some women that they thought were on drugs. (Other artists quoted in the exchanges were rappers T.I., JellyRoll and Warren G.)
Hell of a reason to lose your wings, huh?
This ridiculous affair started when one pilot’s phone was seized as part of an investigation into a potentially inappropriate relationship with a student pilot they were instructing and had nothing to do with drug suspicions at all.
When investigators and commanders saw texts that included statements like “we like to party, dancing with Molly, doing whatever we want” (from Miley Cyrus’s huge hit We Can’t Stop) and other lyrical exchanges the investigation turned to one of suspicion of drug usage for those involved.
This case has since been taken up by Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Walsh, who wants an investigation into the decisions that led to the harsh punishments. Representative Duncan Hunter, a Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, also has pushed to have the pilots’ punishments reassessed.
Both are right to be flabbergasted by how this case went down. These pilots’ lives would literally be ruined if this punishment sticks. Outside they Air Force, they would find it hard to get jobs as pilots in the commercial world with something like this on their record. Plus, such a horrible punishment, even a groundless one, is pretty much unexplainable to someone looking to hire you without sounding like a complete lunatic.
If it is true that there is no additional evidence that these pilots were involved in drugs beyond quoting Miley Cyrus and some rap lyrics in text messages, the persons who should be investigated and stripped of their command are those involved with coming up with this asinine and extreme sentence. Besides the flawed judgement in place here, this clearly shows they’re horrible stewards of taxpayer money—remember, we all footed millions of dollars to train these pilots. In other words, not only are they needlessly destroying three service people’s careers, but they are also throwing away expensive national assets for no good reason.
If anything else, this crazy story is one giant recruitment ad for the U.S. Navy. If quoting pop lyrics were a crime, how on earth would an aircraft carrier full of young sailors ever be able to function?
Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.
Photo Credits: USAF for T-6 formation photo, AP for Miley Cyrus picture