View Full Version : Report recommends making Hash events off-limits to troops

03-06-04, 06:42 AM
Report recommends making Hash events off-limits to troops

By David Allen, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Saturday, March 6, 2004

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The president of Okinawa’s Armed Forces Disciplinary Board has issued a report charging a local running club with behavior violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice and detrimental to relations between the U.S. military and Japan.

In his letter to U.S. military commands on Okinawa, Marine Col. Richard C. Dunn recommended they consider prohibiting participation in Okinawa Hash, or OH3, which advertises itself as a “drinking club with a running problem.”

The disciplinary board can place areas or establishments off limits; since the club is neither, Dunn can only make recommendations to local commanders. However, he added, for that same reason, individual commands may bar the running club without awaiting further disciplinary board action.

The report, which was obtained by Stars and Stripes and verified by Marine officials, comes in the wake of a lieutenant’s dismissal from the Marine Corps for conduct unbecoming an officer. He was found guilty of adultery, nude running and swimming in public, and inappropriate fraternization with enlisted in Hash-related runs and events.

A Marine public affairs officer said Dunn’s letter was to “assist commanders in effectively ensuring that all members of our military community on Okinawa abide by their respective service’s core values and that we proudly represent our nation as true ambassadors while stationed in a foreign country.”

Dunn’s letter was a follow-up to the disciplinary board’s Feb. 11 report on the Okinawa Hash. The report indicated the running club’s events, and participation and membership in the club, “adversely affect the welfare and good order and discipline of members of the Armed Forces.”

Dunn noted that “adverse conduct during and after OH3 events includes violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, violations of Japanese laws, violations of each service’s traditions, customs, and courtesies, and conduct that is detrimental to our relationship with the host nation.

“Many of the members of OH3 participate in underground Hash runs (UGH runs) in which the participants run naked,” he wrote. “After OH3 events, many participants, including officers and enlisted members of various ranks, overindulge in the consumption of alcoholic beverages at parties and campouts.”

Dunn said conduct after the runs included indecent exposure and indecent acts, “most notably the touching of genitalia in public and the performance of mock sex acts.”

He also said the club’s members assign each other nicknames that are “normally overtly sexually suggestive.”

“The atmosphere created in OH3 is fraught with fraternization whereby the members do not respect the differences between ranks,” his report stated. Dunn wrote that the club inappropriately listed members on its Web site by their Hash nicknames and e-mail addresses, many of which were from official military e-mail accounts.

“The official e-mail addresses listed along with the sexually suggestive nicknames … tend to portray the military organizations in an unacceptable manner,” Dunn reported.

The information, with what the Marine colonel described as “sexually suggestive” photos, later were removed from the Web site.

Overall, though, the Okinawa Hash has resisted opportunities to change, Dunn said.

“Recent statements of the OH3 members at various administrative and judicial hearings indicate they fail to accept that the conduct in question is unacceptable,” Dunn wrote.

Two enlisted Marines, one a former club president, or “Hash Master,” were reprimanded at “competency review boards” in the past month for their participation in the Okinawa Hash.

Marine officials declined to discuss the hearings.

“These are administrative procedures that are not releasable to the public in order to protect the privacy of the servicemember,” said 1st Lt. A.G. Eskalis, a Marine public affairs officer.

Members of the Okinawa Hash claim they’re being singled out for the bad conduct of just a few members.

“It’s gotten crazy,” said a Navy chief and former Hash Master. “One of our members was chastised by his command because of a Halloween photo we had up on the Web site. He was dressed as a woman, so they were asking him if he was a transsexual or gay. It was Halloween.”

“Other people are being ordered by their commands not to take part in the runs, as if we do anything other social clubs don’t,” the chief told Stripes on the condition of anonymity. “Is anybody looking at the Masons? Or the base rugby teams? What we do at the hash is all tongue-in-cheek and a lot of fun. They’re trying to make us out to be some kind of drunken swingers club.”

Dunn stated the type of conduct he found in the Okinawa Hash was unacceptable for servicemembers involved with any private organizations, “especially when doing so presents a potential embarrassment to the United States in a foreign country.”

“For these reasons, the AFDCB recommends that each component commander on Okinawa take appropriate measures to ensure membership and participation in private organizations such as OH3 is consistent with the conduct expected of our service members,” he wrote.

“Such measures might include an appropriate order prohibiting membership,” he stated.