Woman says Hickam
banning her for affair

A Mililani resident says she was
kept from the base for her liaison
with an officer

A Mililani woman believes she is being punished by the Air Force for her role in a nearly six-month affair with a married Pacific Forces officer.

Sandy Ann Thalheimer-McKinnerney said she only provided details about her affair with Col. John M. Davidson, Pacific Air Forces chief of international affairs, after she was promised on two separate occasions by Lt. Col. Steven Lepper, a lawyer at Pacific Air Forces, that there would be no retaliation by the Air Force.

Now, however, the Air Force says Thalheimer-McKinnerney won't be allowed on Hickam Air Force Base for three years.

In an e-mail from Lepper to Thalheimer-McKinnerney last weekend, Lepper said he never gave her any assurance that she would have continued access to Hickam, "because I have no authority to do so," he wrote.

Thalheimer-McKinnerney, 37, said that she wants "to be allowed access to Hickam so that I may continue with the life I've been forging for myself and my children." She said "this isn't about a personal vendetta. It's about discriminatory treatment and lack of justice."

Thalheimer-McKinnerney, a 1985 Mililani High School graduate, said her son is a member of a Boy Scout troop at Hickam; she is a member of Protestant Women for Christ, which meets at the base chapel; she has friends in the complex where her sister lives, and she is authorized to shop for her mother at the Hickam commissary.

Thalheimer-McKinnerney also said she has had a bank account at the Hickam credit union since 1991, when her father was stationed there.

First Lt. Craig Savage, Hickam spokesman, said privacy regulations prevent him from discussing why Thalheimer-McKinnerney no longer is welcome at Hickam. Savage, in a written statement, said that Thalheimer-McKinnerney's "behavior while on Hickam" is what generated the base commander's action.

He added that she "is not an employee of the USAF, and she is not an official DOD (Department of Defense) ID card holder. She has no official reason to have access to the base."

Savage said this type of letter barring access is "issued when the base commander determines that an individual has failed to present a need to be on base and their presence on base disrupts good order and discipline."

Hickam, like all military bases in Hawaii, is restricted. Civilians are not allowed onto the base unless they are employed by the Department of Defense or have specific business. In either case, civilians must have a pass to get on base.

Officially, the Air Force, through Lt. Col. Stephen Clutter, said that because of privacy laws he can only acknowledge that there was an investigation surrounding Davidson, but he cannot "go into details on the specifics of the case" because the matter did not go to a public court martial and was handled as a non-judicial procedure.

Clutter did acknowledge that adultery is strictly forbidden under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. There have been several cases in recent years in which high-profile officers have had setbacks in their military careers as a result of affairs.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin tried several times to reach Davidson by phone at his home and through Pacific Air Forces officials, but he declined to comment.

Although the Air Force won't comment on the investigation into an affair and its decision to bar her from Hickam, Thalheimer-McKinnerney released to the Star-Bulletin a series of e-mails from Air Force lawyer Lepper, in which he acknowledged that there was "an illicit affair" -- a violation of military law.

Lepper said the Air Force internal investigation was conducted by Col. Ricky B. Kelly.

In a Feb. 26 e-mail, Lepper said: "Although Air Force policy precludes me from revealing the exact punishment imposed on Col. Davidson, I can assure you it was serious."

Lt. Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., PACAF's vice commander, "selected an option that reflects his view that Col. Davidson's conduct was unbecoming a senior Air Force officer," Lepper wrote. He added that disciplinary action "will have deep and far-reaching effects on whatever career this officer may continue to have in the United States Air Force."

Thalheimer-McKinnerney said she broke off the affair, which began in July, with Davidson, 46, on Jan. 10 when she realized he wasn't going to divorce his wife and marry her.

E-mail to City Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com