February 16, 2011 at 6:04 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Fehrenbach assured retirement from Air Force with pension

Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach (Blade photo by Michael Key)

An Air Force pilot who was facing potential discharge under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been assured that he will be allowed to retire from the service with his full rank and pension.

According to the South Bend Tribune, Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, who’s served as a military pilot for 20 years, was told by the U.S. military recently that he’d be permitted to retire on Oct. 1.

Fehrenbach, who’s flown missions in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, reportedly said the news was unexpected and “a great sense of relief.”

In 2008, Fehrenbach placed on desk duty while he was investigated for allegedly sexually assaulting a male civilian and violating “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The assault allegation was dropped, but the investigation into his sexual orientation continued.

Had Fehrenbach been dismissed, he would have faced the loss of his military retirement entitlement of half pay and medical care for the remainder of his life.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • Thanks Lt. Col. Fehrenbach for all of your hard work and dedication in the line of duty!!! It takes a lot for what you have done and I can’t thank you enough. From prior service Army, who was discharged under DADT, to AirForce Thank You again.

  • We’re thrilled for Lt. Col. Fehrenbach. This is what should have happened long ago. But is it the right thing for the wrong reason? Is this evidence of a Nixon-like “Enemies List” by Obama, Inc., when highly visible critics of the President such as Lt. Dan Choi are told, “Get out & pay up!” while, though DADT is still in effect and the DoD repeatedly telling others not to come out or face consequences, Lt. Fehrenbach is told he can stay in the Air Force and then retire with a golden parachute? Let’s recap:

    LT. DAN CHOI outed himself to the world on the Rachel Maddow show in March 2009, saying he wished to continue to serve.

    LT. COL. VICTOR FEHRENBACH outed himself to the world on the Rachel Maddow show in May 2009, saying he wished to continue to serve.

    LT. DAN CHOI was arrested three times in front of the White House protesting Obama’s inaction on repeal.


    LT. DAN CHOI WAS KICKED OUT of the Army National Guard and received a letter in December DEMANDING HE REPAY THE $2502.09 “UNEARNED PORTION” OF HIS ENLISTMENT BONUS, with a 1% monthly interest fee & $15 per month administrative charge for each month he does not pay. In January, “AN ARMY SPOKESMAN TOLD THE HUFFINGTON POST THAT EACH CASE IS LOOKED AT INDIVIDUALLY—WHETHER TO RECOUP OR FORGIVE DEBTS.”

    LT. COL. VICTOR FEHRENBACH received a “repeal” bill signing pen in December, and, ALTHOUGH DADT IS STILL IN EFFECT, was notified in January that he WILL BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE TO SERVE until September 30, 2011, and officially retired effective the next day WITH FULL “20-YEAR” BENEFITS INCLUDING A $46,000 A YEAR PENSION, “EASILY WORTH MORE THAN $1 MILLION OVER HIS LIFETIME” according to the Air Force Times.

    Again, Lt. Fehrenbach deserves every dime, but, Mr. President, how is the different treatment fair or “change we can believe in?”

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