FAIRBANKS—Two lieutenant colonels have been relieved of their commands based on the investigation of a hazing practice that involved binding airmen with duct tape, according to a Friday announcement from Eielson Air Force Base's 354th Fighter Wing.
The two lieutenant colonels are squadron commanders based at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson in Anchorage and Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. The hazing reportedly occurred at all the squadron locations including at Detachment 1, an Air Force detachment at Fort Wainwright, according to an email from the Eielson public affairs office.
The news release stated an investigation found a hazing practice known as "rolling up" was common in the the two squadrons. Rolling up involved "tackling or restraining an airman, binding their hands or feet using duct tape, and allowing the individual to struggle before being released."
"According to the investigation, many airmen in the squadrons viewed 'rolling up' as being based on camaraderie and bonding, but that participation was based more on peer pressure than on enjoyment of the activity," the news release stated.
The news release identifies the two squadron commanders who lost their command as Lt. Col. Joshua Cates of the Washington-based 5th Air Support Operations Squadron and Lt. Col. Robb Fiechtner of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron.
Detachment 1 at Fort Wainwright is part of the unit Fiechtner commanded before this week.
The investigation began in January and the commanders were stripped of command this week.
“We’re better than this,” said 354th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Benjamin Bishop in a written statement. “Every airman has an obligation to prevent and stop any harmful or demeaning conduct toward fellow airmen. This is especially true for commanders.”
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