By: Jasper Craven for VTDigger, November 29, 2018
In the summer of 2013, members of the Vermont Air National Guard attended a week-long camp at the Combat Readiness Training Center in Alpena, Michigan, a few miles from Lake Huron.
ir Guard Command Chief Brian Marchessault saw the deployment as a way to boost morale and strengthen the skills of enlisted members. The camp included airsoft gun battles, firefighting drills and pep talks from military leaders, who credit the Guard for prepping “today’s airmen to be tomorrow’s leaders.”
After a long day of drills in the stifling summer heat, some Air Guard members shifted into partying mode at the River Club, an on-base bar decorated with squadron patches, autographs and a massive moose head.
Beer at the River Club was cheap — for a few dollars Guard members could buy a 36-ounce stein. According to four Guard members who attended the camp, leadership had to impose nightly patrols to control problem behavior. Some of those put in charge of policing social events felt overwhelmed and unable to handle the chaos, according to a member who served in that role.
Two attendees of the summer 2013 camp said they saw Guard members passed out under work vehicles or on the side of a road, after they had become intoxicated. One attendee witnessed a man pull a woman’s hair inside the bar. Another saw a colonel escorted back to his room after he was observed aggressively flirting with younger women.