Barack Obama | Military | News | Rachel Maddow | Victor Fehrenbach

18-Year Decorated Air Force Veteran to be Discharged for Being Gay


Rachel Maddow reports on Decorated Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach, an F-15 fighter pilot and 18-year veteran of the Air Force. He is ready to deply again, but the military is firing him under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", two years short of being able to retire with full pension benefits.

FehrenbachServicemember's Legal Deffense Network executive director Aubrey Sarvis writes: "Lieutenant Colonel Victor J. Fehrenbach, a fighter weapons systems officer, has been flying the F-15E Strike Eagle since 1998. He has flown numerous missions against Taliban and al-Qaida targets, including the longest combat mission in his squadron's history. On that infamous September 11, 2001, Lt. Col. Fehrenbach was handpicked to fly sorties above the nation's capital. Later he flew combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has received at least 30 awards and decorations including nine air medals, one of them for heroism, as well as campaign medals for Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He is now a flight instructor in Idaho, where he has passed on his skills to more than 300 future Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force weapons systems officers. Since 1987, when Fehrenbach entered Notre Dame on a full Air Force ROTC scholarship, the government has invested twenty-five million dollars in training and equipping him to serve his country, which he has done with what anyone would agree was great distinction. He comes from a military family. His father was a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, his mother an Air Force nurse and captain. Lt. Col. Fehrenbach has honored that tradition."

 A $25 million dollar investment. The military is throwing it away over his sexuality.

Said Fehrenbach to Maddow: "About 4,000 people are assigned to Mountain Home Air Force Base, and only about 10 people on the entire base even knew of my case up until this very moment. Those were my immediate chain of command, a couple of attorneys in the legal office, and a couple of officers in the Office of Special Investigations. Not one single person that I'm assigned with in my squadron, or that I fly with in my fighter squadron, knew about this case until this moment."

Absolutely disgraceful.

Watch Maddow's report, and recent Obama administration updates on DADT, AFTER THE JUMP...


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  1. I'm ready to riot. Civil disobedience is all we have left.

    Posted by: Ryan | May 20, 2009 8:23:11 AM

  2. How does Obama Sleep at night knowing of these forms of discrimination? When will we and our political allies stand up to this bigotry and discrimination??

    Posted by: alex in boston | May 20, 2009 8:23:53 AM

  3. I'm getting sick of calling the White House to request the President honor his commitment to ending the disgusting and divisive Don't Ask Don't Tell policy.

    It's past time he kept his own word.

    Posted by: FASTLAD | May 20, 2009 8:25:26 AM

  4. Yeah, I agree, I'm fed up to the back teeth waiting for Obama to do something about this!

    Posted by: Michael W. | May 20, 2009 8:33:42 AM

  5. Obama and congress should be ashamed of themselves for allow this to continue one day longer.

    Posted by: kujhawker | May 20, 2009 8:37:12 AM

  6. I wish it we knew how the DADT "police" found this guy. He obviously didn't out himself.

    This crap makes me want to start burning and making lion food out of the Christians again. The Romans had it right, these jerks are dangerous.

    Posted by: JP | May 20, 2009 8:40:21 AM

  7. He's hunky.

    They are trying to screw him out of his retirement.

    You ask how Obama sleeps - he sleeps soundly because he doesn't give a shit.

    Posted by: shane | May 20, 2009 8:51:28 AM

  8. Hey JP, last time I checked the Christians weren't the only haters out there. At least my fellow Christians don't hang us or stone us to death for being gay (yet).

    Posted by: shane | May 20, 2009 8:53:21 AM

  9. ...and he bakes the most wonderful quiche!

    Very macho, how could he be gay????? According to the military, gays are unfit for service.

    Posted by: anon | May 20, 2009 8:58:35 AM

  10. This is beginning to sound more and more like Obama's "katrina"--sit back, do nothing, and watch people's lives be destroyed. And now I'm reading Obama is going to allow concealed weapons in national parks. He started out spectacularly and now, in my eyes, he's slipping just as spectacularly. I'm getting more disenchanted with him.

    Posted by: woodroad34 | May 20, 2009 9:01:30 AM

  11. I watched that last night. I was saddened and furious at the same time. DADT needs to be ended now. Not tomorrow, not next week or next month. Now. People's lives are being destroyed. President Obama needs to do the morally right thing and put a stop to this blatant discrimination.

    Posted by: David in Houston | May 20, 2009 9:04:26 AM

  12. So far, it's hard to believe Obama is anything more than a garden-variety Democratic coward who won't back up his "convictions."

    Posted by: MikeMick | May 20, 2009 9:10:51 AM

  13. How can this man be a risk to moral? He seems more like a source of inspiration to other servicemen both straight and gay.

    These stupid rules can be overturned, it was managed in the british forces which had just as strong a culture of "manliness" as the american forces. There has been no discernable reduction in the bravery and effectiveness of our troops because a few of them are now known to be gay.

    Keep fighting this battle, it can be won and then everyone will wonder what the fuss was about.

    Posted by: arch | May 20, 2009 9:21:09 AM

  14. This just has to be that case that shows the world how nonsensical DADT is. Justice better prevail - my goodness.

    Posted by: Schniffy | May 20, 2009 9:26:59 AM

  15. Next week Obama is doing a $30,000 a couple of fundraiser for celebrities at the Beverly Hilton in LA - but he claims to be too busy with "important" things to repeal DADT - that's CHANGE ?? Are you kidding me ....

    Posted by: Disgusted | May 20, 2009 9:48:29 AM

  16. The Christian Taliban has infiltrated the U.S. armed forces, particularly the Air Force. With this stronghold, DADT will never be repealed.

    Posted by: JohnInManhattan | May 20, 2009 9:53:59 AM

  17. ALL GAY service members should come out of the closet and all should get fired at the same time. Only then will the military realize how integral gay and lesbian service members are to the armed forces. This forced secrecy is damaging to all of us.

    Posted by: Phil | May 20, 2009 9:54:59 AM

  18. Two years short of his pension?
    I just do not understand how this can be permitted,
    how can it be anything other than stupid and shameful?
    Has the Air Force no honour?

    Posted by: Nonplussed | May 20, 2009 10:02:32 AM

  19. Wow, this absolutely infuriates me. This man was doing his job and was damn good at it, based on the decorations he has. It is absolutely appalling that such an asset to the defense of our nation is being fired. If nothing else it is a poor business decision to fire someone who is so successful in their duties.

    I've never understood why conservatives are so against gays and lesbians dying in defense of our nation. You would think that they would be in favor of it, since it would be one less "sinner".

    Posted by: Chris | May 20, 2009 10:11:13 AM

  20. If yo want to stay up on all the maddness there is a Facebook site supporting Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach and heres the link.. will keep you updated on all the latest and media appearances!

    Posted by: weCAN | May 20, 2009 10:15:28 AM

  21. The facts are far WORSE than Maddow reports, tho she is not the first commentator to only "hear" half of the story. The OTHER, mindboggling half is this:

    Obama has gone from simply standing by while people like Lts. Choi, Tsao, & Fehrenbach are discharged [when he has Congressional authority under 10 United States Code 12305 to stop them in the interest of national security] to replacing his old promise of fighting to get DADT repealed with a NEW promise to actively DEFEND DADT in court!

    From yesterday's "Wall Street Journal":

    “A Justice Department spokeswoman said THE GOVERNMENT WOULD DEFEND THE [DADT] at the trial over Maj. [Margaret] Witt’s dismissal. . . . White House spokesman Ben LaBolt added: ‘Until Congress passes legislation repealing the law, THE ADMINISTRATION WILL CONTINUE TO DEFEND THE STATUTE WHEN IT IS CHALLENGED IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM." – Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2009.

    Before anyone responds, "But they have no choice," they DO!

    They have the choice as "the other side" in any lawsuit not to act in which case the court typically automatically rules in favor of, in this case, the plaintiff.

    That would be Major Witt whom representatives of the Obama administration are promising to go into court and say,

    "We want her fired."

    Posted by: Michael @ | May 20, 2009 10:18:44 AM

  22. The Christian Taliban has indeed infiltrated the American military but particularly the Air Force. The media and the U.S. will not look into this at all because it is too much of hot button issue.
    It is dangerous and their prostheltyzing in
    the middle east is well documented.
    As for Obama- his unresponsiveness is not a shock. He is not now or never has been a champion of equal and civil rights for gay people. He has on occasion given an obligatory nod to the hard work of others in that area but never been on the forefront nor will he ever be.

    Posted by: Nick | May 20, 2009 10:19:29 AM

  23. The US Pentagon is over run with religious zealots. The entire building holds regular daily prayer meetings. its not a military HQ its a Holy Roller revival meeting.

    BTW Fehrenbach is totally adorable.

    Posted by: ggreen | May 20, 2009 10:21:34 AM

  24. Correction:

    Before anyone responds, "But they have no choice," they DO have a choice!

    Posted by: Michael @ | May 20, 2009 10:22:00 AM

  25. For anyone who cares, here is Obama's DADT strategy, as divined by The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder, based on what he hears from his White House sources:

    No, it will not stop these outrageous discharges anytime soon. But you'd have to be crazy (Michael/Leland) to think any Democratic president would (again) try and deal with gays in the military in his/her first year in office.

    Obama's alleged plan is not going to make any of us feel good. But it does have the advantage of being likely to succeed.

    Posted by: 24play | May 20, 2009 10:30:39 AM

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