IG Report Under Review

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According to a summary of an Air Force Inspector General's report, 16 of 46 serious violations were substantiated against top officials of the 186th Air Refueling Wing in Meridian. That means 30 allegations were not substantiated.

However, the 16 that remain are being reviewed by Mississippi's adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard.

Officials accused in the report cannot comment because it deals with personnel matter and privacy concerns.

The Inspector General's office told NewsCenter 11 that due process must be followed. In other words, accused officials will get a chance to tell their side of the story.

Among those waiting on the final report is former 186th pilot Col. Jody Bryant, who said he had the backing of others in filing a list of allegations. He sent 80 letters to that effect to Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and the adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard, Maj. Gen. James Lipscomb.

According to Gen. Lipscomb, he turned the matter over to the Air Force Inspector General for investigation. It has been two years. The final report was back in Lipscomb's hands by Dec. 19, 2002.

One month later, General John W. Handy , who is in charge of the U.S.
Transportation Command, paid a visit. He was there for an inspection.

He told NewsCenter 11 at that time the unit passed with flying colors. But all was not well. All were aware of the inspector general's report.

One of the major allegations was racial slurs used and heard by the commander of the 186th, directed at former 186th pilot, Clyde Romero. Now a commercial pilot, Romero said he went along with the remarks, trying not to "rock the boat" till he was, in his words, forced out.

Romero also noted that when he first came to Meridian in the 1970s the atmosphere at the 186th was better and more professional.

Another allegation that investigators say was true involved the operation of the base's retail liquor store. Investigators say unit officials had operated the store for the last three years in violation of the National Guard charter of incorporation.

The evidence indicated that there had been no audits of the liquor store's operation of finances.

A member of the 186th who feared retribution, told NewsCenter 11 on condition of anonymity, that the lack of recordkeeping at the liquor store was of longstanding.

Maj. Gen. Lipscomb said he will not rush to action in evaluating the IG report.