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Air Force Major Mike Almy, SLDN respond to McCain interview with reporters

You’ll recall that yesterday, Sen. John McCain was cornered by The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld and MetroWeekly’s Chris Geidner about his outrageous claim that there aren’t any witch hunts going on under DADT after the Senate failed to break a filibuster on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

MCCAIN: I dont’ care what you say! And I don’t care what others say. I’ve seen it in action. I’ve seen it in action. I have sons in the military, I know the military very well. So they’re not telling you the truth.

ELEVELD: Senator, just to make sure…

MCCAIN: Just to make sure. We do not go out and seek out and find out….

ELEVELD: Private emails are not being searched? Private emails are not being searched?

MCCAIN: …See if someone is gay or not. We do not go out and see whether someone is gay or not.

ELEVELD: There are documented cases…

MCCAIN: They do not, they do not, they do not. You can say that they are, you can say [inaudible] it’s not true!… Yea, I’d like to see…

GEIDNER: It is the case of Mike Almy, Senators.

McCain and Almy were on Rachel’s show:

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Today, Mike Almy has come forward to comment on the Arizona Senator’s befuddled assertions in a letter.

September 22, 2010

U.S. Sen. John McCain

241 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Sen. McCain,

I testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in March of this year and told the story of my discharge from the military because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). You were in attendance that day and heard me tell my story of how the Air Force conducted an open-ended search of my private emails, solely to determine if I had violated the DADT law.

On Tuesday, September 21, you emphatically denied that the military conducts searches of private emails because of DADT. When challenged by reporters who mentioned my name, you said “bring him to my office.” Senator, I respectfully ask for an opportunity to do so to discuss this law that took my career.

In this letter I will again share with you my story, as I did during the committee hearing last March.

Almy continues below the fold.

Once DADT is history, I plan to return to active duty as an officer and a leader in the Air Force.

For thirteen years, I served in the United States Air Force where I attained the rank of major before I was discharged under DADT.

As the Senate Armed Services Committee considers including repeal in the Defense Authorization bill, we’re very close — just two or three votes — to passing repeal in committee. I ask for you to voice your support to put us over the top.

I come from a family with a rich legacy of military service. My father is a West Point graduate who taught chemistry at the Air Force Academy, flew helicopters in Vietnam, conducting search and rescue operations for downed aircrews, and ultimately retired as a senior officer from the Air Force. One of my uncles retired as a Master Gunnery Sergeant from the Marine Corps, with service in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Another uncle served in the Army in Korea.

Growing up, I didn’t really know what civilians did, I just knew I would follow in my father’s footsteps and become a military officer.

I joined Air Force ROTC in 1988 and was awarded a scholarship. I earned my jump wings in 1991. In 1992, I graduated from ROTC in the top 10% of all graduates nationwide. In 1993, I went on active duty, just as DADT was becoming a law.

Stationed in Oklahoma, I was named officer of the year for my unit of nearly 1,000 people. Later, I was one of six officers selected from the entire Air force to attend Professional Military Education at Quantico, Virginia.

During my career, I deployed to the Middle East four times. In my last deployment, I led a team of nearly 200 men and women to operate and maintain the systems used to control the air space over Iraq. We came under daily mortar attacks, one of which struck one of my Airmen and also caused significant damage to our equipment. Towards the end of this deployment to Iraq, I was named one of the top officers in my career field for the entire Air Force.

In the stress of a war zone, the Air Force authorized us to use our work email accounts for “personal or morale purposes” because private email accounts were blocked for security.

Shortly after I left Iraq — during a routine search of my computer files — someone found that my “morale” was supported by the person I loved — a man.

The email — our modern day letter home — was forwarded to my commander.

I was relieved of my duties, my security clearance was suspended and part of my pay was terminated.

In my discharge proceeding, several of my former troops wrote character reference letters for me, including one of my squadron commanders. Their letters expressed their respect for me as an officer, their hope to have me back on the job and their shock at how the Air Force was treating me.

Approximately a year after I was relieved of my duties, my Wing Commander recommended I be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, even though the Air Force was actively pursuing my discharge.

But instead, after 16 months, I was given a police escort off the base as if I were a common criminal or a threat to national security. The severance pay I received was half of what it would have been had I been separated for any other reason.

Despite this treatment, my greatest desire is still to return to active duty as an officer and leader in the United States Air Force, protecting the freedoms of a nation that I love; freedoms that I myself was not allowed to enjoy while serving in the military.

Senator McCain, I’ve had no greater honor than leading men and women in the United States Air Force, in harm’s way, to defend the freedom’s we enjoy in this country, as you yourself have honorably done. I genuinely hope you will support me in my endeavor to return to the Air Force as an officer and a leader.

Thank you,

Mike Almy

Former Major, USAF

Statement by Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis:

“Sen. John McCain is either ignoring U.S. Senate testimony that showed the military was proactively seeking out gay and lesbian service members for discharge under ‘Don’t Ask’, or he is openly deceiving Americans after his shameless filibuster.  Either way, McCain is grossly out of touch and factually off the mark. Air Force Major Almy testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee, where McCain was present, that the Air Force proactively went into his emails – authorized for “personal or morale purposes” while at war – and found that he was gay.  Major Almy never made a statement, even after being asked by his command, to his sexual orientation. And if McCain didn’t filibuster the bill that included repeal, Major Almy also testified that he’d return back the day repeal is certified.”

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