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Smoke doesn't always mean fire Part I

Smoke doesn't always mean fire Part II

If you haven't read the first part of this story you can find it here. Even just reading the first of this story won't adequately prepare you for how I reached this situation. It's advised you read the blog from the beginning here.

On the 17th of November 2015 SrA Tyler Perkie was scheduled to meet with his commander, Lt Col Dominick Martin. On the calendar it was labeled as administrative actions.

If you've been following this blog for awhile you know that I've worked for Lt Col Martin for a few years. In those years I've had some pretty tense disagreements. I've only captured some of those disagreements in this blog. There are other conversations that either caught me off guard or I forgot key details to recount them accurately. However, the frequency of Lt Col Martin saying questionable things was nearly constant.

I specifically noticed he had a pattern of punishing junior personnel that elected to remain silent or seek legal counsel. Lt Col Martin eluded that people that didn't come clean and answer his questions were hiding something. He saw the injection of legal representation as an impediment to establishing good order and discipline in his unit.

But it was a double edged sword. If you remained silent and sought help from the ADC Lt Col Martin would become enraged at the insubordination and maximize punishment. On the other hand if a junior member admitted fault often Lt Col Martin would have the justification he needed to destroy their career; as obviously they were a bad seed and as such, bad for the Air Force.

I got the distinct impression that Lt Col Martin believed he commanded a unit comprised almost entirely of criminals and they just hadn't been caught yet. He was often referred to as Lord Farquaad behind his back. A nod to his authoritarianism and short stature.

So back to the 17th of November. Before the meeting I met with my AMU Chief to find out what we could expect from the meeting. He told me he believed SrA Perkie would be getting an LOR and possibly a UIF.

I was concerned because we had very little information about the incident. The Air Force still hadn't received a copy of the police report, how could we be moving on an LOR/UIF based off of a late night call from a sheriff dispatcher?

I pulled Tyler aside a about half an hour before the meeting to give him a heads up on what to expect. During that conversation he told me that his civilian attorney and ADC both gave him permission to disclose some specific evidence related to his case.

Tyler showed me screen captures of a text message from the girl that had accused him of assaulting her. I only had a few minutes to review them but it seemed pretty clear she had recanted her entire story.

Tyler went on to explain that she had made new statements to the police, the ADC and Tyler's civilian attorney absolving Tyler of any crime. This was definitely a good turn for Tyler and I was really hopeful for him. I mentioned in passing that we still hadn't received the police report from the sheriff. Tyler said he had a copy in his glove box and he could give it to me.

I told him I only wanted to skim it to get a better idea of what happened. While Tyler was changing into his blues I reviewed the police report quickly. I gave the report back to him and looked over his service dress uniform; doing the typical flight chief review picking off lint and straightening the occasional accouterments.

As the AMU leadership gathered outside the commander's office I decided to record the encounter. With all of the questionable decisions, actions and judgment Lt Col Martin had showed in the past, I was certain he would once again do or say something that was totally out of line.

The following is the audio, and as usual there will be analysis below:

So the very first take away from this conversation? None of us have any fucking idea what happened that night. It has to be painfully obvious that the story is fragmented, recanted and second hand at best.

To make sure I don't miss any nuances of this conversation I've included time stamps for the associated audio.

00:13 Lt Col Martin starts by immediately justifying the decision to give the LOR/UIF. He explains that he 'can't wait' until the outcome [read: proof, facts, conviction, evidence] of Tyler's 5 January court date. He continues that he is worried it will be forgotten about. Which is a really lame reason to issue a career altering LOR/UIF. Also millenial pro tip: 'hey Siri make a reminder for 5 January to either punish or not punish SrA Perkie'

00:42. Lt Col Martin goes on to explain that if Tyler's ALS appeal is upheld (meaning he wins his appeal) and he is found innocent/charges dropped off-base Lt Col Martin will get rid of the LOR and UIF. This is almost a good thing. However, the ALS disciplinary release was predicated on the assumption that Tyler committed a crime. If the charges are dropped, meaning Tyler did not commit a crime then the ALS release no longer has a logical justification. So if the appeal is wrongfully denied based on no offense, why would the appeal succeeding be a requirement to drop the LOR/UIF?

00:49 Lt Col Martin goes on to say he doesn't think the charges will be dropped and/or the appeal won. What basis does he have? Does he have evidence? No, he doesn't. What he has is bias and an assumption of guilt.

01:00 The tone for this entire encounter seems obvious: Lt Col Martin doesn't like that I have more information than he does. That my Airman has trusted me and not him.

01:15 Lt Col Martin now learns that the accuser has retracted her statement, which is pretty much the entire basis of the charges.

01:50 This is where I prove that I don't even have all the information. I only skimmed the police report briefly and I missed that there were two different names. I confused a first name of one person, and the last name of another to assume it was only one person. Now I am speaking like I think I know what I'm talking about, but I don't. This supports my first assertion of this analysis that no one has a fucking idea what happened.

02:09 This is the First Sergeant. He can't remember the first name because he, like the rest of us, doesn't have a copy of the police report to reference. No statements, evidence or reports.

02:18 I tell the commander we should wait until we know the facts. I am the only person in my chain of command that tells the commander he is making a mistake.

02:26 Lt Col Martin begins asking me if I've been arrested, or spent a night in jail. These two things are almost synonymous. If you're arrested you can also spend a night in jail. These are not independent situations, they are interdependent. If someone says they spent a night in jail, it's assumed they were arrested. Itemizing each doesn't have a logical basis, at best it's an appeal to emotion.

02:40 This is where Lt Col Martin exposes his hubris. He assumes because he has never been arrested, that only guilty people are arrested. Since obviously he is a good person, only bad people get arrested.

02:48 He says generally speaking, then references my situation where I was arrested as the one exemption. Implying I would be the only innocent person ever arrested.

02:55 Lt Col Martin says 'generally speaking where there is smoke there is fire' this analogy is a very thinly veiled allusion to 'if you're arrested you're guilty'

03:03 Again Lt Col Martin stipulates that Tyler must win his off-base legal case and his ALS appeal in order to remove his LOR and UIF. Even thought the ALS disciplinary release relies on Tyler actually committing the crime.

03:14 This is interesting. For the first time Lt Col Martin indicates that Tyler may not be the criminal we were told. He states that Tyler won't get 'completely off' implying that not all of the charges are valid and possibly only a minor offense will remain. He continues that Tyler won't be let back into ALS. Additionally, using the term 'completely off' or 'got off' implies the person is guilty yet they found a loop-hole or technicality to avoid being found guilty. So even in this terminology Lt Col Martin assumes Tyler is guilty.

03:19 At this time resident crony and social pariah Chief Fraley speaks up. He begins by noting I said I was collaborating with SrA Tyler Perkie on his ALS appeal.

03:25 Fraley then follows up with a reminder that I am not licensed to practice law in New Mexico. The implication is that I am operating outside of my lane by helping Tyler with his PME appeal. If you remember the Part I audio, MSgt Pilgrim was very explicit that ADC has almost nothing to do with PME appeals, to which I agreed. So if the ADC [a lawyer] isn't involved in PME appeals, then obviously a legal background isn't required. So what is Fraley trying to do here? He's trying to intimidate me and mock me. He's trying to make me stop helping Tyler because he sees it as insubordinate to the commander.

There is an interesting shift in dynamics during this exchange. You'll notice just after Fraley makes the jab there is the sound of Lt Col Martin laughing. It sounds more like the laughter of a forgotten sidekick to the school yard bully. Very strange to hear the commander doing it, acting almost subservient to Fraley.
From left to right: Lt Col Martin and Chief Fraley

03:55 The conversation focuses almost entirely on what will happen when Tyler is found guilty. The players explore the myriad of ways Tyler's career will end.

04:57 I explain that if Tyler is guilty of what he is accused I would be seeking the maximum punishment.

05:10 Unfortunately the actual audio of the LOR is not available. However during that conversation Lt Col Martin made the following statement 'I know it's a little bit contrary to a longstanding.. not a policy necessarily maybe a psychological contract in this country where you're innocent until proven guilty. But you were charged, you were arrested'

05:14 There is rumors of video, further exposing how little everyone in the room knows about what happened.

05:40 I relay what the text message said, as well as the likely contents of the accusers updated statement. Basically all the evidence is casting serious doubt on whether SrA Perkie broke any law. And yet, the LOR and UIF was still issued.

06:08 At this time I tell the commander that the officer that arrested Tyler made note the gun was not loaded.

06:16 The commander asked what I meant by the gun was unloaded. I can't think of a more straightforward way to explain an unloaded gun. Can you?

Tyler ended up receiving and LOR and UIF even though in his rebuttal he explained that he was unwilling to forego his consitutional right to remain silent so he was unable to fully rebut the LOR. Tyler went on to say that once his court case was resolved he would release all the information he had. Lt Col Martin was unswayed and the LOR/UIF stuck.

So Tyler continued his civilian legal case and we began wrapping up his ALS appeal. However that is is a story for Part 3.


  1. uggghhh Farquaad's smugness on the audio is disgusting and makes me sick. Can't wait for part III Chris!

  2. I know I'm late on this. But I heard rumors of Martin being discharged for basically being an asshole. I was in a unit commanded by him a bit back in the day, so I decided to Google and I came across this. Impressive. Always knew he was a fuckin twit


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