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Take These Wings

Andrea Prasse was an honor student -- until she met the honor board.

April brought no IG report, but Dallager came back with three more offers: The Prasses could pay the government the $129,000 cost of Andrea's education; Andrea could do six months' probation; or she could be disenrolled, serve six months' enlisted time and then reapply to the academy. If the academy readmitted her, she could graduate, get her commission and go on to pilot school; if the academy denied her second application, she'd be honorably discharged, granted her degree and made to pay back five-sixths of $129,000. The Prasses rejected these offers, too.

At the end of May, as their appeal made its way to the secretary of the Air Force, the Prasses finally received the IG report, which cleared Gilbert of all wrongdoing. To Carol, it appeared as if only selective pieces of evidence were referenced to make Andrea look bad. The course syllabus, which explained that students could use any and all outside work for the project, wasn't even cited.

Gilbert had told the IG that Andrea's "attempt to deceive her classmates by lying, to perhaps get a little additional credit for work that she didn't do, did not bode well for someone we were going to turn loose on the Air Force in eight days."

Andrea Prasse wanted to be an Air Force pilot; now 
she just wants to be let go.
Peter DiAntoni
Andrea Prasse wanted to be an Air Force pilot; now she just wants to be let go.
Carol Prasse (left) has been fighting Andrea's 
disenrollment from the Air Force Academy.
Peter DiAntoni
Carol Prasse (left) has been fighting Andrea's disenrollment from the Air Force Academy.

He also denied that what Andrea went through with Matt constituted harassment. "Gilbert said the conclusion of the investigation was that 'they don't get along, they fight like cats and dogs, but there's no harassment here,'" the report states. And her AOC, Major Meyer, practically faulted Andrea for getting herself into the whole honor mess. "Did I use the term that...it was her fault? I don't remember saying that specifically, but I might have alluded to it, saying that, you know, this whole thing is more or less your fault because, you know, if you would've ever just clarified yourself in a way, it would've never went to a board, it wouldn't ever have gotten this far."

More than a year after she should have graduated, Andrea, now 23 and still technically a cadet, waits to learn the outcome of her case, which rests with the Air Force secretary. For a long time after returning to her parents' house a year ago this week, she was so depressed that she rarely turned off the television or left the couch. Now she's finally starting to get on with her life, volunteering for the local fire department and trying not to be bitter.

"Whenever they did these cadet climate surveys, I always said, 'Get rid of the officers; this should be a cadet-run system,'" Andrea says. "But now I don't think it should have any cadets; they don't understand the legalities of it, and they don't realize the impact it has on people's lives. Maybe they should bring in civilians who have no vested interest in the outcome. Let the taxpayers decide if what the cadet did warrants throwing away a $129,000 education."

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