The former head of the Vermont Air National Guard, Col. Thomas Jackman, was quickly removed from command in early 2015 after taking an F-16 to visit his girlfriend in Washington, D.C., according to a report on the local website VTDigger.org.
Jackman allegedly exchanged flirtatious emails for weeks with an unidentified female Army colonel who worked at the Pentagon, the report said, and he set up a rendezvous with her under the guise of a work trip in January 2015. He used his authority as commander of the 158th Fighter Wing to take an F-16 to a base near the Pentagon, possibly Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, as a fierce snowstorm bore down on Burlington, Vermont, and indeed the entire East Coast, that almost scuttled his trip.
But Guard leadership soon got wind of Jackman’s adventure, and ordered him home on a commercial flight. He was quietly removed and allowed to retire with full benefits and allowed to keep his security clearance, VTDigger.org reported. Jackman reportedly told VTDigger that he had not been involved with the female Army colonel, but declined to comment on whether he had been forced to retire over the trip.
Army 1st Lt. Mike Arcovitch, a spokesman for the Vermont National Guard, said the Guard is prohibited from commenting on personnel matters.
“Guard commander’s wings clipped after secret rendezvous” is the second in VTDigger.org’s investigative series “A Flying Fraternity,” about allegations that male Vermont Air Guard officials have mistreated women, abused alcohol and been given preferential treatment by superiors. The first story, “A ‘Top Gun’ culture pervades the Vermont National Guard,” was posted Nov. 25.
The Vermont Air National Guard at Burlington International Airport is slated to start receiving 20 F-35 fighters beginning in September 2019, replacing F-16s. Local leaders have opposed the move, and asked the Air Force to bring a quieter jet to Vermont.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.