Air Force general accused of rape after being fired from his post

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Phillip Stewart, 19th Air Force commander, greets Airmen at the 54th Operations Support Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, Sep. 28, 2022. Aircrew flight equipment Airmen supported Stewart by preparing and fitting his flight gear for an F-16 Viper familiarization flight (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corinna Diaz)

Sig Christenson
San Antonio Express-News

Oct. 12—A two-star Air Force general, who was fired from his post at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph last spring, has been charged with sexually assaulting a woman at an Oklahoma base in April.

The Air Force also has charged Maj. Gen. Phillip A. Stewart, who commanded the 19th Air Force at Randolph on San Antonio’s Northeast Side, with conduct unbecoming an officer, dereliction of duty and extramarital sexual conduct, the Air Education and Training Command said on Wednesday.

Stewart is accused of assaulting the woman at or near Altus AFB in southwestern Oklahoma on April 13 and the following day, according to a charge sheet provided by AETC. Both incidents occurred “without her consent,” the Air Force said.

It’s unclear if the alleged victim was an airman or a civilian.

The Air Force said Stewart had asked the woman to spend the night with him a month earlier when he was staying at a Denver-area hotel.

Stewart also is accused of assuming “control of an aircraft after consuming alcohol within 12 hours prior to takeoff” on April 14.

The general is expected to face an Article 32 evidentiary hearing Oct. 24 at Randolph. The presiding officer will review the evidence, which could include testimony from witnesses, to determine if there’s probable cause for the charges. If so, Stewart will be tried for violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The Air Force stripped Stewart of his command at Randolph on May 9, saying only that he had been fired “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to lead.” He had led the service’s pilot training arm.

“The Air Force takes any misconduct allegation seriously and is committed to conducting a thorough investigation,” Lt. Gen. Brian Robinson, head of AETC, which oversees the 19th Air Force, said in a statement at the time.

As head of the 19th Air Force, Stewart oversaw 32,000 employees and 1,530 aircraft assigned to 17 wings across the United States. The command is responsible for all flight training operations within the AETC, most of which are located in the southern United States.

The 19th leads cadet flight orientation at the Air Force Academy and trains both entry-level and advanced fighter pilots, as well as drone pilots, combat systems officers, and air mobility and special operations combat crews.

The 19th also trains maintenance specialists and provides survival, evasion, resistance and escape instruction.

Stewart was a command pilot with more than 2,600 hours in the air, including more than 600 hours in combat. He flew nearly a dozen types of aircraft, including the F-15C, a twin-engine tactical fighter; the U-2, a high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance plane; the T-37, a twin-engine jet trainer; and the T-38C, a supersonic trainer.

Among other assignments, he served a stint as commander of the 362nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron at Balad Air Base in Iraq and was commanding general of the NATO Train Advise Assist Command-Air in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Brig. Gen. Christopher Amrhein, vice commander of the 19th Air Force, was tapped to replace Stewart. (Amrhein is currently commanding the Air Force Recruiting Service at Randolph.)

It marked the second time in eight years that a 19th Air Force commander abruptly lost his job. In April 2015, Maj. Gen. Michael Keltz resigned as head of the command “following an inappropriate comment made in a public Air Force forum.”


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