Col. Kerry Proulx, former commander of the 51st Mission Support Group, also improperly allowed subordinates and one subordinate’s wife to pay for her meals, and did not always repay them, according to a commander-directed investigation report obtained by Air Force Times through the Freedom of Information Act.
Proulx was relieved April 13 by Col. William Betts, commander of the 51st Fighter Wing. At the time, the base said she was removed due to a “loss of confidence in her ability to effectively lead,” but did not elaborate further. Proulx is now chief of the personnel division at Air Education and Training Command at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph in Texas. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment submitted to AETC.
The report, dated Feb. 5, detailed a sustained and improper effort by Proulx to get a dog park built directly adjacent to her senior officer quarters, which began immediately after she took command in July 2016. It concluded she “wrongfully direct[ed] the use of government property to construct a dog park for her own personal use.”
Multiple witnesses, whose names were redacted from the report, told investigators that they felt pressure from Proulx to get the dog park built. She regularly asked for updates on the $5,581 project, witnesses said, and regularly dropped former 51st Fighter Wing commander Col. Andrew Hansen’s name when asking how it was going.
“We hoped it would go away, but it came back,” one witness said. “From what I see, I think my leadership was really pressured. I think we get pounded every day.”
Some feared repercussions if they didn’t make the project happen.
“I never felt like it would be ok to not execute the dog park,” another witness said. “I absolutely felt it would impact my OPR,” or officer performance report.
When Proulx was told in a November 2016 email that the fence for the dog park was ready to be built, the report said she replied “Giddy up!! And thank you:) THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!”
One witness said Proulx referred to it as “her dog park,” though she denied calling it that when asked by investigators.
The report said the location of the dog park, which was built immediately next to her unit’s deck, is important. Proulx said she suggested the dog park be located there for safety reasons and to make it easier for all residents' dogs — not just hers — to reach it, but denied she directed it be located there.
At least one witness strongly disagreed.
“Col. Proulx absolutely directed the location of the dog park and the gate,” the unnamed witness told the investigator. “We did this project at her direction. She said she wanted to be able to open her sliding door and have the dogs go to the dog park without her leaving the house.”
Its construction also removed a public access way, requiring building residents and the commander and vice commander of the 7th Air Force at Osan — Lt. Gen. Thomas Bergeson and Brig. Gen. Lansing Pilch — to open a gate and walk through the dog park to get to the building’s stairs.
The investigator called Proulx’s explanation for why the dog park needed to be located there “illogical.”
“If the dog park was truly for all residents in the area, it would at least have the gate placed separate from the public stair top, it could have been made smaller and not block the public walkway, or it could have been built between” two buildings.
The report said there was no written evidence Proulx directed the dog park to be built, but said that there was a “preponderance of evidence” that she ordered it, especially given her status as a colonel and a group commander.
“I do not think a dog park would have been built if someone in the towers had requested one to be built closer than the one at [Seoraksan Towers at Osan, where a dog park already existed] or even if an O-6 on Hill 170 had requested one,” the report concluded. “A dog park would most definitely not have been built adjacent to one of these quarters so that a resident could just open their sliding glass door and have the dog run straight to a dog park.”
The report also found that Proulx improperly allowed five subordinates and one subordinate’s spouse to buy her meals on separate occasions between December 2016 and October 2017. This usually happened when Proulx forgot her wallet when going out to eat with subordinates, the report said, and she usually repaid them for the meals or bought their meal the next time they went out to eat. But on at least two occasions, witnesses said they were not repaid. Proulx said she always repaid people for their meals, and if she did not, it was an oversight and not intentional.