An Air Force wide directive to find and remove inappropriate pictures, objects or other materials from work spaces and gathering sports won’t impact exhibits at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, the base commander at Wright-Patterson said.
“I think the tradition and history at the Air Force museum is just that,” Col. Cassie Barlow, commander of the 88th Air Base Wing, said Friday. “That’s our history. We’re not going to go back and change those things because that’s part of our history and that’s an important part of our organization. I think the museum will keep the displays that they have just as they are.”
The museum’s collection has several aircraft with nose art of pin-up models. For example, a World War II-era B-24D Liberator bomber on display shows a pin-up model reclining in a blue dress and a profanity used in the name of the plane.
Perhaps the museum’s most famous plane, the B-17 Flying Fortress the Memphis Belle, also features a pin-up model. The bomber is under restoration in a hangar. Leather jackets, paintings and drawings in the public galleries have pin-ups, too, according to the museum.
In a statement to the Dayton Daily News, the museum acknowledged it occasionally received complaints about the artwork.
“At such time when an inspection is complete, the museum staff will make a reasonable assessment before any actions are taken,” the statement said. “Some aircraft and artifacts contain historical art, which the museum is professionally obligated to accurately represent as part of Air Force history.”
Aircraft nose art is a long tradition when crews would personalize aircraft with nicknames, symbols or artwork, the museum said.
The museum is part of a wide search of gathering spots on Wright-Patterson, one of the Air Force’s largest bases with 29,000 military and civilian personnel.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh called together about 200 commanders to Washington, D.C., on Nov. 28 to order a search of all Air Force installations to remove inappropriate materials, Barlow said.
The inspections are meant to “re-inculcate” the Air Force’s core values of integrity, service before self and excellence, she said.
“That’s what we owe the American people,” the base commander said. “We owe that culture in our United States Air Force of professionalism. We owe every airmen that culture of professionalism.”
The commanders’ meeting last month followed allegations of sexual misconduct or unprofessional behavior involving military training instructors and recruits at the Air Force’s enlisted boot camp at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas. The Air Force’s top leaders also sent a letter to airmen last month the service anticipated 700 sexual assaults this year, or 100 more than the previous year, Air Force Times has reported.
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