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Former commander of Navy's Blue Angels reprimanded for encouraging 'toxic' behavior

"Hostile" behavior by members of the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels included painting a penis on a roof so large it was visible on Google Maps, a report says.

By Frances Burns
The U.S. Navy Blue Angles aerial demonstration squadron performs at the 2010 Wings Over Homestead Air Show in Homestead,Florida on November 07, 2010. UPI/ Joe Marino-Bill Cantrell
The U.S. Navy Blue Angles aerial demonstration squadron performs at the 2010 Wings Over Homestead Air Show in Homestead,Florida on November 07, 2010. UPI/ Joe Marino-Bill Cantrell | License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 3 (UPI) -- Capt. Gregory McWherter, a fighter pilot who twice commanded the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels, has been reprimanded for encouraging "toxic" behavior, officials said.

A disciplinary hearing decided Monday that McWherter would receive a letter of reprimand that will almost certainly be the end of his Navy career, military officials announced. McWherter was relieved as commander of Navy Base Coronado near San Diego in April after complaints of sexual harassment led to the investigation.

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Adm. Harry B. Harris, commander of the Pacific Fleet, had harsh words for McWherter's tenure with the Blue Angels.

"This commanding officer witnessed, accepted, and encouraged behavior that, while juvenile and sophomoric in the beginning, ultimately and in the aggregate, became destructive, toxic and hostile," Harris wrote. "He failed himself, failed those that he led, failed the Blue Angels and failed the Navy."

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McWherter, after one tour with the Blue Angels, was brought back in 2011 to help rebuild the famed stunt-flying team. The Blue Angels had been criticized for performing a barrel roll close to the ground.

The investigation found evidence of hazing under McWherter's command, including forcing pilots new to the team to wear penis hats. The Angels also painted a large penis, now painted over, in their blue and gold colors on the roof of a trailer at their training facility in California that was big enough to be spotted on Google Maps.

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Pilots had pornography in their cockpits, and were given binoculars they could use to get close-up views of scantily dressed women. At one point, Blue Angels were also able to buy luxury watches at a fraction of the market price.

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