Two U.S. Navy aviators who caused a stir by skywriting a giant phallus over Washington State have been disciplined, the Navy has confirmed.
Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander of Naval Air Forces, convened a Field Naval Aviator Evaluation Board to address the matter and hand down discipline, said Cmdr. Ronald Flanders, a command spokesman.
While the specific punishment was not made public as it was meted out in an administrative proceeding, an official told Military.com that the individuals were permitted to retain their status as aviators.
The skywriting drama unfolded near Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington. The aviators, who belonged to Electronic Attack Squadron 130, based at the air station, used an EA-18G Growler aircraft to draw a crude depiction of male genitalia.
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The image drew the attention of locals, sent photos to local television station KREM. Almost instantly, the incident became national news.
The Navy immediately confirmed that the sky-drawing what what it appeared to be, apologizing to anyone offended by the crude image and calling the actions of the Growler aircrew "wholly unacceptable and antithetical to Navy core values."
Later, Shoemaker himself weighed in.
"The American people rightfully expect that those who wear the Wings of Gold exhibit a level of maturity commensurate with the missions and aircraft with which they've been entrusted," he said in a statement. "Naval aviation continually strives to foster an environment of dignity and respect. Sophomoric and immature antics of a sexual nature have no place in Naval aviation today."
Despite the decided lack of amusement from the Navy, the incident has spawned memes and jokes and even became the inspiration for a Christmas ornament.
While administrative proceedings for the two aviators have wrapped up, a command investigation into the incident is still ongoing at Carrier Air Wing 3, the squadron's operational command, an official said.