An anonymous complaint over some mildly racy photos in a calendar put out by a Delta Junction-area nonprofit prompted an obscenity complaint that reached the highest level of the U.S. Army before being dismissed. Now Alaska Army National Guard officials are looking into another allegation in the complaint over an inappropriate relationship involving members of a Fort Greely-based Guard unit.
The Delta/Greely-area Relay for Life committee produced the calendar to raise money for the American Cancer Society. It features pictures of local women dressed up to resemble retro-style pin-up girls, and includes a photo of the Fort Greely missile-defense unit commander’s wife in her underwear.
The images drew a complaint from an organization called Concerned Alaskans, which alleged the photos were obscene. Army officials weren’t able to identify who sent the complaint, nor to contact Concerned Alaskans. KUAC also was unable to find or contact the organization.
But, because the complaint was e-mailed to Army Secretary John McHugh, an investigation was launched.
Women involved in the calendar project say they were stunned to learn about the complaint and the Army’s investigation.
“I’m still baffled,” says Patsy Ewing, a local businesswoman who’s supporting the calendar project. “I think it’s tasteful, and I’m glad they did it."
Ewing says she first heard about the complaint when a reporter with Army Times called her about it three weeks ago.
A spokesman for the Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Army Forces Strategic Command – the higher headquarters for Fort Greely’s 49th Missile Battalion – says the three-star general who reviewed the complaint concluded the photos were, quote, “racy,” but not obscene.
Spokesman John Cummings says Lt. Gen. Richard Formica added that the Army had no authority to investigate the complaint, because the calendar project was the idea of a non-Army organization and was intended to benefit that organization – Relay for Life.
And, Cummings says the wife of Greely’s 49th Missile Battalion commander is a civilian who’s not bound by Army regulations.
“While we did look into some aspects, we did not look at her actions, as a private citizen,” he said.
But, Cummings says the investigation continues, because of other allegations made in the complaint.
“We initiated a commander’s investigation as to whether or not other soldiers were involved and whether their conduct was inappropriate,” he said.
Cummings declined to talk about those other allegations, and wouldn’t confirm that the investigation now is focusing on an inappropriate relationship involving Army personnel – so-called fraternization, in violation of Army regulations.
Ewing, the Delta businesswoman, says she was at first uncomfortable about publicity that might not reflect positively on the project – which she says was intended to celebrate women.
Ewing says she started feeling better after the Army Times story came out and, soon after, the calendars began selling so quickly that she had to order more.
“Even though this was kind of a negative angle, it promoted the sales,” she said. “And I’m happy for that.”