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NEWS | May 19, 2006

Two Langley Airmen receive jail time for violating good order, discipline

1st Fighter Wing Judge Advocate

Two Langley Airmen were found guilty during special courts-martial in April – one of desertion and the other of absent without leave (AWOL), dereliction of duty and making a false official statement. 

Their courts-martial are a reminder that good order and discipline are essential to mission accomplishment, and that behavior to the contrary will be punished. 

A panel of members found Airman Basic Melissa Ross, 1st Maintenance Operations Squadron, guilty of desertion April 25. Following the finding of guilty, the members reduced her to the grade of E-1, sentenced her to 285 days confinement and imposed a forfeiture of $849 pay per month for nine months. 

The next day, a military judge found Senior Airman Tisha Amerson, 1st Component Maintenance Squadron, guilty of AWOL, dereliction of duty and making a false official statement. The judge reduced her to the grade of E-1, sentenced to 30 days confinement and restricted her to Langley for 30 days. 

Airman Basic Melissa Ross 

On Feb. 2, during a Phase I exercise, Airman Ross packed nearly all of her belongings from her Langley dorm room into her truck and left Langley with her boyfriend, Navy Seaman Travis Butterbraugh, who is active-duty Navy and assigned to the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman in Norfolk. Although she had not been authorized leave, Airman Ross drove with Seaman Butterbraugh to his parents’ house in Georgia. The two intended to eventually drive from Georgia to Texas and live with Airman Ross’ brother. 

When the 1st MOS commander and first sergeant went to Airman Ross’ dorm room, they found it nearly empty, except for a few items. Among the items left were a laptop computer belonging to the Air Force, and her dorm room and office keys, which were found on top of the dorm room desk. On Feb. 9, the Bulluch County Sheriff’s Office apprehended Airman Ross in Georgia and held her in their custody until 1st Security Forces Squadron personnel picked her up Feb. 10. Airman Ross was placed in pre-trial confinement and remained confined until her court-martial. Her sentence of 285 days includes the 75 days she already served in pre-trial confinement at the Navy Brig, Norfolk. 

Airman Basic Tisha Amerson 

In January, Airman Amerson was deployed, by U.S. Central Command to MacDill AFB, Fla. During that deployment, her supervisors repeatedly ordered her not to travel to Orlando during the work week. She disobeyed that order by driving to Orlando on a Thursday night. She spent the night in Orlando and woke up Friday morning too late to report for work on time at MacDill. She stayed in Orlando the rest of the weekend and then lied to her first sergeant, supervising officer at Langley and civilian supervisor at MacDill. She told all of them that she had been stranded in Orlando with a broken down car, no cell phone and no funds. When she returned to MacDill the following Monday, an Office of Special Investigations agent interviewed her, during which she confessed.
She was promptly removed from the deployment, returned to Langley, and tried for her conduct. As a result of her actions, the 1st Component Maintenance Squadron had to send a replacement to the CENTCOM deployment and cover the workload, down an Airman. 

Every Air Force member knows the core values: integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do, but they are not mere aspirations for behavior as Airmen.
Instead they are the foundation to mission accomplishment. Service before self means Airmen must sometimes put aside personal desires for the good of the Air Force. These recent cases at Langley AFB illustrate the extreme consequences of failing to do so.