'Newlywed'-style game, other improper activities part of US Army - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

'Newlywed'-style game, other improper activities part of US Army investigation of fmr. Ranger commander

From 2013, Col. Christopher Vanek addresses the crowd as he assumed command of the 75th Ranger Regiment in 2013. (Source: WTVM) From 2013, Col. Christopher Vanek addresses the crowd as he assumed command of the 75th Ranger Regiment in 2013. (Source: WTVM)

(WTVM) - The details of an U.S. Army-based investigation of the former commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment have been released.

As reported by the Army Times on Jan. 15, a handful of parties that included improper activities, questionable hotel stays, and a tandem skydiving jump that included a civilian were all included in an U.S. Army 15-6 regulation investigation of Col. Christopher Vanek.

A Freedom of Information Act has been made to obtain the full report of the investigation done by the U.S. Army.

Vanek was the commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment, stationed at Fort Benning, for nearly two years before he was given a general officer letter of reprimand in 2015, according to the Army Times.

The investigation details a variety of improprieties where Vanek did not take action when it was sought out, among other things. The investigation looked into incidents that occurred from August 2013 to September 2014, and include:

  • An activity at a hail and farewell event on Aug. 29, 2013 likened to The Newlywed Game. The married attendees of the party were asked to answer questions such as: "'If making whoopee were equated to frequent flyer miles, how far would you have traveled?' The answer options were Phenix City...California, or Afghanistan," according to the Army Times.
  • A second hail and farewell event held in September 2014 on post at Fort Benning had a "Hollywood" theme, where two attendees dressed as Tom Cruise's character from the 1983 movie Risky Business - in just a dress shirt and their underwear.
  • A third hail and farewell event that included a game of beer pong, a non-sanctioned activity. 
  • A July 2014 tandem skydiving jump in DeLand, FL, that included a female civilian who was accompanying a soldier who was there. The soldier paid the costs for the woman who jumped - a price of $71 - and all of the other costs were charged to the regiment. The mixed civilian-soldier jump is a violation of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command directive.
  • Vanek allegedly attended NASCAR events on free passes, prompting whether receipt of those passes was a violation of the Department of Defense "rules on unsolicited gifts." Some of the passes, the report says, were provided by a former U.S. Army public affairs officer who then worked in public relations for NASCAR. The report also alleges that some soldiers also attended NASCAR events with him. 
  • Two separate incidences where Vanek stayed in hotels that exceeded lodging expenses as outlined by the U.S. Army.

Most of the report, which includes redacted names, assumes Vanek involved, but is so unclear, it cannot be determined if Vanek is implicated or not. The Army Times has filed requests to have the redacted information revealed.

Vanek became a commissioned infantry officer in 1989 following his graduation from Arizona State University, according to a biographical sketch from the U.S. Army published in 2013.

After nearly 20 years in the U.S. Army, Vanek assumed command of the 75th Ranger Regiment in 2013.

"As our Army begins to conclude its direct combat involvement in our country's longest conflict, and as the nation starts to re-establish its economic superiority, the Army will now, more than ever, look to the Regiment. It is an ultimate honor to once again join your ranks," Vanek said when he took command of the 75th Ranger Regiment in 2013.

Vanek served as the Deputy Commanding Officer of the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, and was Commander of the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team with the 25th Infantry Division.

Col. Marcus Evans took over command of the 75th Ranger Regiment from Vanek in May 2015.

Vanek is now the assistant chief of staff for U.S. Africa Command.

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