The high-profile global training center at Eglin Air Force Base for the next-generation Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning jet fighter has lost a top-tier officer pending the outcome of an investigation into sexual misconduct.
Navy Capt. Lance Massey II, who ran the 33rd Fighter Wing’s maintenance group, was relieved due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command, according to a news release.
Massey, a 24-year Navy veteran who holds a master’s degree in aerospace management from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, was sacked Monday by the 33rd’s commander, Col. Todd Canterbury.
Massey had already been administratively removed from his position on Oct. 28. He has been temporarily assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing staff until his case is resolved.
The dismissal came after the initial results from a Navy investigation revealed that Massey engaged in inappropriate conduct toward subordinate female junior officers on his staff, the news release said.
The release said Massey had sent unsolicited non-work-related, off-duty personal text messages to the officers’ personal cellphones and initiated non-work-related personal conversations with them.
Col. Ronald Huzzard, former deputy commander of the 33rd Maintenance Group, has assumed command of the unit. Huzzard was already scheduled to assume command in July, when Massey was set to transfer.
The 33rd Fighter Wing is dedicated to training world-class F-35 Lightning II pilots and maintainers.
In running the 33rd’s maintenance operation, Massey supervised one of the 33rd Fighter Wing’s four main segments. One of the maintenance group’s jobs is the training of mechanics and technicians to keep the $70 million-apiece F-35s flying for the Navy, Air Force Marine Corps and several United States allies — including Great Britain — which have agreed to buy hundreds of the planes.
Eglin currently has about half of the 59 F-35s that the base expects to have on hand eventually for training pilots and maintainers.
The F-35 program is an essential element in Eglin’s role as a major player in the military’s future. The buildup for training on the new aircraft is scheduled to culminate with about 1,600 military and civilian personnel assigned to the base.
The maintenance training facility that Massey ran includes a gymnasium-style building with floor space roughly equivalent to the size of two football fields and equipped with life-size mockups of the jets.
Massey arrived at Eglin in 2011 at the ground floor of the base’s F-35 buildup.
His job running the F-35’s maintenance operation is made more important by the F-35’s high-profile glitches that have grounded the plane as recently as February.http://alert5.com/2013/11/06/f-35-maintenance-commander-relieved-of-duty-at-eglin-afb/