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Racy pin-up sparks complaint, investigation

Sep. 12, 2012 - 12:42PM   |   Last Updated: Sep. 12, 2012 - 12:42PM  |  
An image purported to be from a fund-raising calendar that shows a battalion commander's wife topless.
An image purported to be from a fund-raising calendar that shows a battalion commander's wife topless. (Email from "Concerned Alaskans")
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Controversy over a lieutenant colonel's wife posing for a racy pin-up calendar has sparked an investigation at Fort Greely, Alaska, and drawn attention at the Army's highest levels for the remote and tiny post.

The military is investigating to determine whether soldiers with the Alaska National Guard unit at Fort Greely were involved in the calendar or conducted themselves improperly after an anonymous complaint was sent to Army Secretary John McHugh on Tuesday morning.

The anonymous email, sent to McHugh and other top Army officials, was purported to be from "Concerned Alaskans" and complained that the wife of Lt. Col. Joseph Miley, commander of the 49th Missile Defense Battalion, acted indecently.

The email, sent to the highest levels of the Army, contained photos said to be of Miley's wife Tracy in a state of semi-undress.

Lt. Gen. Richard Formica, commander of the battalion's parent unit, Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, responded in an email to McHugh and other senior leaders that he deemed the photos simply to be "risqué."

"As to the allegation on Mrs. Miley, the brigade commander has looked into this and has seen the photos," Formica's email reads. "It was determined that, while risqué, the photos are not obscene or pornographic. Having looked at the ones attached to the email you received, I agree with that characterization."

"In any event, Mrs. Miley is a spouse (not a service member) who participated in this fund-raising event as part of a private organization not associated with the military."

Tracy Miley did not return a call from Army Times seeking comment.

The calendar was created to raise money for the American Cancer Society's "Relay For Life," according to John Cummings, a spokesman for SMDC/ARSTRAT. "This is obviously a fund-raising event as part of a private organization not associated with the military," he said.

The 49th Missile Defense Battalion is a Guard unit is based near the town of Delta Junction, whose population is roughly 1,000 people. It is the launch site for anti-ballistic missile system, and is directly overseen by the Colorado-based 100th Missile Defense Brigade.

Formica acknowledged an allegation in the anonymous complaint of fraternization between the calendar's photographer, who is allegedly a soldier, and another soldier. He said the charge would be investigated but that no fraternization allegations had come to light in the 20 months he has been in command.

The potential impact on the command and its family readiness group would be monitored, Formica said.

"At this time, we don't assess any wrongdoing," his email reads. "The brigade commander will take appropriate action should he determine otherwise."

Patsy Ewing, co-owner of the Clearwater Lodge, a local bar, said that since July she has sold a dozen of the 16-month calendars at $25 each, with no complaints. Though to be fair, she said, the bar does not attract a conservative clientele.

Ewing said the calendar features a mix of local and Fort Greely women — one posing in her bar — and she was "stunned" that it was the focus of a complaint, adding that it was "borderline ridiculous."

"Somebody needs to get a life," Ewing said. "I have seen the whole thing, and I thought it was nice, tasteful retro pin-up girls."

The complaint comes amid the trend of service members' wives imitating World War II-era pin-up models to support troop and veterans causes, or simply boost morale. Army wives at Fort Benning, Ga., created a nostalgia-themed 2010 calendar for the Wounded Warrior Project, and wives at Fort Bliss, Texas, sent a sexy calendar to their husbands downrange in 2011.

Model Gina Elise, of the Pin-ups For Vets nonprofit, said it has sponsored makeovers and photo shoots for military wives to give photos to their husbands.

"I have a lot of female supporters and they get inspired and want to do their own pin-up shoot for their husband or boyfriend," Elise said. "Generally, those [pictures] are for personal use."

Battling Bare, based at Fort Campbell, Ky., raises awareness about PTSD using photos of Army wives with messages to their husbands written on their bodies.

Ashley Wise, its founder, called it "ridiculous" to complain about skin-baring photos and called critics "judgmental."

"Ultimately, it's their bodies and it's up to them," said Wise, who is married to a PTSD-stricken veteran and has posed herself.

What punishment there would be for a soldier who might have participated with the calendar is unclear. Formica did not elaborate.

Air Force officials said in June there would be no punishment for two airmen at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., who breastfed in their uniforms for photos in support of Breastfeeding Awareness Month.

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