Want to talk about “integrity” a bit this morning… I want my grandkids to know what I think of ‘integrity.’

It was reported this morning that 34 Air Force officers, missile launch officers at Malmstrom AFB, MT,  have been decertified because of cheating on their monthly proficiency tests.  Not all the officers were cheating – some knew of the cheating and chose not to report it.  This is really a ‘tough one.’

I have always thought of ‘integrity’ like crystal – once you break it, it can not be put back together.  I think a discussion on ‘integrity’ is warranted  when a kid turns 18 or so.  It’s something to sit down and talk to a kid about, then let him or her find their own way.  You will be tested…

In pilot training I witnessed 2 of the captains in our class cheating on an academic test.  I just happened to glance down at the 2 ‘bozos’ and saw them exchange answer sheets.  And they saw me!  Later, as to ‘cover their tracks,’ they told me that they had finished their tests and were just ‘checking’ their answers.  That’s called cheating.

The problem here is, I was put in a compromising position.  I had in fact, witnessed the cheating.  But I am also not a “rat,” I wasn’t going to tell on them.  (However, if I had been hauled in and asked about it, I wouldn’t have lied for them either…)  Of note, both of these pricks finished ahead of me in academics, and in the overall class standing.  I kicked their asses in flying – guess they couldn’t cheat in the air.

In the mid-’80’s we had a Stan/Eval (Higher headquarters) inspection when I was int he 560th Flying Training Squadron.  I was the Chief of Check Section at the time.  A written general knowledge test was part of the inspection.  A day or so before the exam I learned that a few of ‘my guys’ had the “intel” (the questions) to the test.  And I knew who was leading the push.

I called the guy aside and told him that if I learned that the test “was compromised” on the day of the exam, I would report it.  He argued with me, that it was “all part of the game.”  No it wasn’t, and it isn’t!  That was cheating, and I was not going to stand for it.  Needless to say, I wasn’t very popular, but then again, I wasn’t in a popularity contest.

Do I think ‘they’ cheated?’  Yes, but I couldn’t prove it.  The “ring leader” was so brazen he  took the test twice – once in the morning, and again in the afternoon – as if shining his ass.

I think you have to lend some thought to this before you get “caught up” in it.  By then it’s too late.  I think you have to let folks know, from initially meeting you, what you stand for – that you are a person of integrity.  And that you will not waiver.

I can tolerate a lot of “shortcomings,” but not a liar, or a cheater… I think the officers that were actually caught cheating should be thrown out of the Air Force, and the ones who knew about it, and didn’t report it, be given Article 15s (non-judicial punishment).

This is all.

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