Staff Sgt. Jason Manko is accused of violating Air Force regulations by developing a relationship with a female trainee. He came to court this morning prepared to enter a guilty plea on the charges against him.
Manko admitted to developing the relationship with a woman over a period of several months during the spring and summer of 2011, until he finally invited her to his home.
The woman, who had already finished her basic training by the time they met, was at the technical training phase, but Air Force regulations state that any trainee is off limits for personal relationships.
The maximum punishment on the charge includes up to 12 months confinement, a bad conduct discharge, reduction in rank to E-1, and a two-thirds reduction in pay.
Manko is the fifth MTO to go to trial and the second to plead guilty in the growing sex scandal of military trainers at JBSA-Lackland. Four instructors have been convicted at courts-martial this year, and a fifth was convicted on a guilty plea that allowed him to avoid a trial; however, he did lose rank and pay.
The investigation and multiple trials have shaken the ranks of training instructors and caused an upheaval of command.
Earlier this month, Air Force Col. Eric Axelbank handed command of the 37th Training Wing over to Col. Mark Camerer in a ceremony that was not announced and was closed to the media.
Once at the helm, Camerer wasted little time in appointing a new, female commander for the 737th Training Wing. Last week, Col. Deborah Liddick took over the command formerly held by Col. Glenn Palmer, who was ousted in August.
So far, eighteen training instructors are being investigated. Of those, six have been charged, with four going to trial one pleading guilty.
The trial of another training instruction, Master Sgt. Jamey Crawford, was set to begin the first week of September, but his court-martial was postponed at the last minute and the only information coming from the Air Force indicated Crawford may be tried at a later date.