Wednesday, February 21, 2007

So Long, Senior Airman Manhart

Back in January, we told you about Air Force Staff Sergeant Michelle Manhart, the former military training instructor (drill instructor for those of you in the other services) who ran into a bit of trouble after posing nude for Playboy. When her superiors learned of Sergeant Manhart's pending pictorial, they (correctly) relieved her of her duties, pending an investigation. At the time, Manhart opined that she had done nothing wrong. In fact, Sergeant Manhart suggested that by doffing her duds, she was somehow striking a blow for our civil liberties.

"Of what I did, nothing is wrong, so I didn't anticipate anything...I didn't do anything wrong, I didn't think it would be a major issue. I've been serving for 13 years, fighting for everyone rights. Why wouldn't I be able to stand up for my own rights and participate in the freedoms that make this country what it is?

That's right. Posing nude in a skin mag is one of our essential freedoms; in fact, I'm willing to bet that Sergeant Manhart thinks it should have been included in our Bill of Rights, if our founding fathers hadn't been such a bunch of prudes.

But I digress. The Air Force has completed its investigtion, and given Manhart the boot, well, sort of. A former member of the Iowa Air National Guard, Manhart has been removed from extended active duty status, and reduced in rank from Staff Sergeant (E-5), to Senior Airman (E-4). With that action, Manhart is again a member of the Iowa Guard, and has submitted her "resignation" from the guard, which is pending. A spokesman for the Iowa ANG told the Associated Press it had not yet received separation papers from the Air Force, and at this point, it did not have her duty status with the guard. A spokesman at Lackland AFB (where Manhart was stationed) said that it would be up to the guard to discharge her, given her original enlistment in the Iowa Guard.

I'm guessing that the ANG will make short work of this matter, and approve her resignation request. The only remaining question is whether Manhart's service will be classified as "honorable." An active duty member who pulled this sort of stunt would like receive a general or bad conduct discharge, but the guard has its own way of doing things, and at this point, they would probably prefer that their "problem" simply fade away.

Call me old-fashioned, but I'd prefer that guard leadership take a stand in this matter, and reject Manhart's request for an honorable discharge. As we observed back in January, Manhart knew exactly what she was doing when she posed for Playboy. As a military training instructor (MTI), she was expected to set the example for airmen entering the service, and she failed miserably in that regard. Someone who willingly defied rules of conduct doesn't deserve an honorable discharge in our opinion--particularly when you consider Manhart's bid for Playboy stardom began about the time she reenlisted in the Air Force. In other words, Manhart gladly re-upped for another tour of duty (with full pay and benefits), while angling for a nude modeling gig that would almost certainly end her military career. Based on her contradictory choices, we couldn't decide if Manhart was cynical, stupid, or a little of both. We're still wondering.

As for the Air Force's most famous former MTI, Manhart says she's "disappointed" with the system. "They went to far with it," she told the AP. But she also informed the wire service that she has plans to "pursue anything that comes my way, whether it be in LA or New York or Hollywood."

Coming soon to a nudie bar or an X-rated film near you.


yet another rice alum said...

re your last comment: the cynic in me says she'd better hurry. she can't have too many years left.

blert said...

... or North Hollywood...