Fourteen Air Force Service Members Charged with Guarding America’s Nukes Were Busted for Dropping AcidPhoto by Patrick Smith/Getty Politics News U.S. Military
Far be it from Paste to scaremonger around drug use, but this is mildly concerning—the AP reports that 14 service members on the security detail at Wyoming’s F.E. Warren Air Force Base were disciplined (and six outright convicted) for buying, selling, and using LSD (and other hallucinogens). Notably, F.E. Warren is home to Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles, and this drug ring was based in the 90th Missile Wing, which is responsible for a third of the ICBMs on site and observes permanent “on alert” status.
The lede to the AP story is a gem:
WASHINGTON (AP) — One airman said he felt paranoia. Another marveled at the vibrant colors. A third admitted, “I absolutely just loved altering my mind.”
This quote is also a gem:
“Although this sounds like something from a movie, it isn’t,” said Capt. Charles Grimsley, the lead prosecutor of one of several courts martial.
The ring was blown when one of the airmen posted a video of himself smoking marijuana on Snapchat, and although none were accused of using drugs on duty, it’s pretty telling that the case was cracked in March 2016, and journalists are just now running the story after two years of collecting documents via FOIA request. It does not seem like the Air Force was eager to see this information go public, and for good reason:
…it’s another blow to the reputation of the Air Force’s nuclear missile corps, which is capable of unleashing hell in the form of Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs. The corps has struggled at times with misbehavior, mismanagement and low morale.
Our nuclear arsenal is under the spotlight due in large part to Trump’s on-again off-again fling with Kim Jong-Un, and this story is not especially reassuring. At the court martial, the airmen described the effects of dropping acid, and these effects included “paranoia” and “panic,” as well as a feeling of imminent death. The supply seems to have come from civilians, and the effects were not all bad, as this passage shows:
Other airmen testified that it was easy to obtain LSD in a liquid form spread on small tabs of perforated white paper. Airmen ingested at least one tab by placing it on their tongue. In one episode summarized by a military judge at Harris’ court martial, he and other airmen watched YouTube videos and “then went longboarding on the streets of Denver while high on LSD.”
Kyle Morrison, the alleged ringleader, and in the military equivalent of a plea deal, he got a reduced sentence (12 months in jail) and avoided a punitive discharge in exchange for providing evidence against ten of his fellow airmen. One of them, sensing the walls closing in, decided to take a very different kind of trip:
As the investigators closed in, one of the accused, Airman 1st Class Devin R. Hagarty, grabbed a backpack and cash, text-messaged his mother that he loved her, turned off his cellphone and fled to Mexico. “I started panicking,” he told a military judge after giving himself up and being charged with desertion.
Hagarty got 13 months in military jail.