KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — An Air Force major was dismissed from the service and sentenced to 30 days’ incarceration Wednesday after pleading guilty to adultery, lying to his commander and using a government computer to view pornographic material.
Maj. Derek J. Paulk, assigned to the 44th Fighter Squadron, tearfully admitted to the charges while reading a written statement during the sentencing portion of the half-day general court-martial before a military judge, Col. Stephen Hatfield.
Paulk admitted to a yearlong sexual relationship with the wife of the former flight surgeon for the 67th Fighter Squadron and to lying about the affair to his commanding officer, Lt. Col. William Lewis.
“I’m so sorry,” Paulk said, his voice cracking. Nearby, his wife, sitting with friends, wiped away her own tears. “I have been living a lie.”
The affair lasted from Oct. 1, 2004, to Oct. 18, 2005. During part of that time, Paulk was deployed to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, where he used his government computer to store and view pictures of himself engaged in sex with the flight surgeon’s wife.
“We were both married and the affair negatively affected our marriages,” Paulk said. “Rumors surrounding the affair were destructive.”
In the statement submitted during the sentencing phase, Paulk, a fighter pilot with an outstanding record, begged not to be dismissed from the Air Force.
“My family truly cherishes the Air Force way of life,” he said.
Defense counsel Capt. Michael Bibbo said kicking Paulk out of the Air Force would “erase all the good that he has done in his career.” Paulk, 37, an Air Force Academy graduate, has been on active duty for almost 15 years.
“All these charges stem from a consensual relationship,” Bibbo said, adding that they were not “serious crimes” and “sometimes good people do bad things.”
“Our society does not recognize his behavior as something to warrant a felony conviction,” he said. “This is the first offense of what was a spotless record.”
But Maj. Matthew Grant, the lead prosecutor, argued that field-grade officers are held to a higher standard.
“It’s an issue of integrity,” he said. “These three distinct acts go to the core of his integrity as a field-grade officer.”
Paulk’s actions cost the Air Force a good fighter pilot when he was grounded during the investigation into his actions, Grant said. It also resulted in the flight surgeon, whose wife Paulk was seeing, having to return to Okinawa early from a deployment to Iceland to assist in the investigation.
Grant asked for a dismissal and an unspecified jail sentence.
The doctor, now stationed in Maryland, testified that he discovered the affair when he saw a picture and e-mail “of a very romantic nature” between his wife and Paulk on his home computer in June 2005. “Prior to that date I had suspicions something was going on.”
He said he at first confronted his wife and Paulk about the affair but informed Air Force officials of the problem when it became obvious that they continued to see each other after he was deployed to Iceland.