Longform

BASE BEHAVIOR

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"I had thought [the trip] was for training, but that's when reality hit," she says. "The wives would party with us whenever we were not training, and they'd go to the World's Fair. I didn't think it was justifiable." Whether or not the trip would have been justifiable even without the tagalong spouses is something Haluska and Pohanic still wonder about--previous water-survival training had been carried out in Colorado Springs. Haluska also questioned the "entertainment" provided by Canadian military officers at a welcoming party. "Some Canadian got drunk and took off his flight suit," she says. "He was taking his private part and putting sunglasses and cigarettes on it, imitating people." (Among other personages, she says, the Canadian's penis was supposed to resemble Henry Kissinger.)

Haluska found the behavior of her own officers merely annoying. As she and other crew members floated on a raft in the Bay of Comox as part of their survival training, she says, they were accosted by Germano and two other officers who were surveying the scene from a small boat. "They were throwing beer on us," Haluska says of the threesome. "They were out having a good time."

A year later, Germano allegedly engineered another good-time trip, this time accompanied by his son, Scott.

The 200th was scheduled to take members of the Civil Air Patrol from Buckley to a meeting at Alabama's Maxwell Air Force Base. (Although it's a volunteer unit made up of civilians, the CAP is considered an auxiliary unit of the Air Force.) As a new CAP cadet, fifteen-year-old Scott Germano was permitted to fly with the group. The Guard crew, faced with the prospect of bunking in military housing at Maxwell while waiting for the meeting to end, had decided in advance that they'd prefer spending the four days in Florida, say Quinonez and Pohanic, who were along for the ride.

So, the two say, the crew dropped off the CAP members at Maxwell--all except Scott--and continued on to Florida, where they loaded up a military vehicle with beer and pop and headed for Orlando and Disney World. The crew members' expenses, Pohanic and Quinonez say, were offset by the per diem temporary-duty pay they received for each day of the trip.

After the crew returned to Denver with the CAP members, Scott Germano resigned from the organization. The boy's brief interest in the CAP, Pohanic suggests, was little more than an attempt to get a free Florida vacation.

Scott, now 22 and living in Aurora, does little to disabuse that notion. He says he "may have" joined the Civil Air Patrol solely to take advantage of the Florida trip, although he no longer remembers if he quit as soon as he returned home. "I know I never even went to meetings," he says. "Or maybe I went to a couple. I just wasn't interested."

Scott did not follow in his father's footsteps and make a career in the military. "Not a chance," he says. And the elder Germano is no longer with the Guard. He "was asked to retire" in early 1988, the plaintiffs say, following a year of complaints that accused him of sexual harassment and abuse of his office. The plaintiffs also claim in their suit that Colonel Ronald Germano was promoted and then permitted to retire even though Guard members had accused him of fraud, sexual harassment and theft. Tom Schultz declined to comment on that allegation. Germano, who was promoted to full colonel before his departure, could not be reached for comment.

end of part 1

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Karen Bowers