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Scott Air Force Base colonel under investigation for sexual misconduct

Watch the 375th Air Mobility Wing change of command ceremony

The 375th Air Mobility Wing held a change of command ceremony in July 2017 introducing Col. John Howard as its new commander to replace Col. Laura Lenderman.
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The 375th Air Mobility Wing held a change of command ceremony in July 2017 introducing Col. John Howard as its new commander to replace Col. Laura Lenderman.

A Scott Air Force Base commander who was ousted from his job this week is under investigation for sexual misconduct, according to a news release from the base.

Col. John Howard was commander of the 375th Air Mobility Wing until Monday, when Lt. Gen. Giovanni Tuck, commander of the 18th Air Force, replaced him, saying he lost confidence in Howard’s ability to lead the wing. The vice commander for the wing, Col. W. Chris Buschur, replaced Howard as commander.

Details about the alleged misconduct will not be released while the investigation continues, according to the news release, “to ensure the integrity of the process.”

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations will lead the investigation, according to 18th Air Force spokesman Capt. Ryan DeCamp.

The investigations unit is a federal law enforcement agency for the Air Force that only investigates potential felony-level crimes, according to unit spokeswoman Linda Card. Once the unit completes its investigation, it provides the information to the appropriate commander, who makes a decision about whether to issue punishment or apply for charges.

ColJohnHoward
Col. John Howard, former commander of the 375th Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base, was replaced after the 18th Air Force commander lost confidence in him. Scott Air Force Base

If the commander finds there is sufficient evidence to suggest a crime was committed and charges are filed, legal representatives decide where the crime will be tried, whether it’s in military court or civilian court.

The lieutenant general said in a prepared statement he and other officials continue to “ensure we have a strong support structure around all airmen, to include Col. Howard, who are affected by this case.”

“Our focus continues to be on supporting the men and women of the 375th AMW as they execute the Air Mobility Command mission,” Tuck said.

The length of an investigation depends on its complexity, Card said. A simpler case could take as few as six months, while a complicated case with numerous witnesses can take five to six years.

On Tuesday, Howard was transferred to a position in the United States Transportation Command, according to the 18th Air Force spokesman. On Wednesday, that decision was rescinded and Howard’s status at the base was “to be determined,” DeCamp said.

Howard said he was asked not to comment when reached by phone Monday evening.

Howard was named commander of the 375th Air Mobility Wing in July. Col. Laura Lenderman preceded Howard.

The U.S. Transportation Command, commonly referred to as USTRANSCOM, provides transportation to the eight other U.S. combatant commands, among other agencies.

Air Mobility Command is a component of USTRANSCOM. The 375th Air Mobility Wing is part of the 18th Air Force, which is a part of Air Mobility Command.

Buschur, the new commander of the 375th, was not immediately available for comment on his new assignment.

Kelsey Landis: 618-239-2110, @kelseylandis

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