A command investigation detailed that a former site commander for Marine Wing Support Squadron 471, a reserve unit headquartered in Minnesota, sent inappropriate and sexually explicit text messages using his government-issued phone to at least three enlisted Marines.
The results of command investigation into misconduct by Maj. William E. Hernandez were handed over to Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing where it resulted in a December 2018 general court-martial conviction.
Hernandez was found guilty of violating general regulations, obstruction of justice and conduct unbecoming of an officer and gentleman, and was sentenced to 18 months of confinement and a $5,000 fine.
Hernandez was the site commander for a ground aviation support unit known as MWSS-471 headquartered out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he oversaw active and active reserve Marines. He was appointed to the position on Sept. 22, 2016, according to 1st Lt. Kristine Racicot, a spokeswoman for Marine Forces Reserve.
The squadron commander was fired due to a loss of confidence in his ability to lead.
He was removed from that position around Aug. 21, 2017, after an enlisted Marine came forward with allegations of the inappropriate text messages and an equal opportunity complaint was filed against the commander.
An investigation was launched, and text messages sent by Hernandez from his government phone were retrieved by Marine Corps Cyber Operations Group, according to the investigation.
The command investigation, obtained by Marine Corps Times via Freedom of Information Act request detailed that Hernandez “communicated intent” to “pursue, if consenting, a physical/sexual type of relationship” with the enlisted Marines.
The inappropriate messages sent from Hernandez’s government issued phone spanned Nov. 2016–July 2017, and included explicit sexual overtures and potential currying of favoritism and awards stemming from it.
A series of exchanges resulted in at least one occasion of oral sex in Hernandez’s office, according to the investigation.
A message sent by Hernandez on May 20, 2017, reads “Don’t want you to get all wet. Lol.” The reply message stated, “You sure?” Hernandez responded, “Not right now. ; ).”
That same day an unidentified person, whose name was redacted in the investigation, “asks for assistance with going on a deployment in order to earn a ribbon before EAS [end of active service],” the investigation detailed.
On June 15, 2017, an unidentified person, whose name was also redacted in the investigation, texted Hernandez: “???? I get recognized enough for an award or promotion would be nice lol.”
Hernandez replied, “awards are not out of the question” while also mentioning a Certificate of Commendation or Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and assured the person that they would get an award.
Other inappropriate messages received by an unidentified person from Hernandez include: “I should have locked myself in there (the armory) with you. Lol.” “Those hips don’t Lie.” “But I am sure you can shake them.”
Fraternization with the enlisted Marines was not the only impropriety uncovered from the investigation and recovered text messages.
Hernandez also sought out services from Craigslist personal advertisements.
In January 2017 Hernandez messaged approximately 20 escorts in the Dallas/Fort Worth area “inquiring about prices, availability, and services, they provided,” the investigation detailed.
“Major Hernandez took advantage of his authoritative position to initiate inappropriate text communications with at least three enlisted Marines in his unit,” the investigation reads.