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Flinn to appeal discharge ruling, lawyer says


May 25, 1997
Web posted at: 1:57 p.m. EDT (1757 GMT)

In this story:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- 1st Lt. Kelly Flinn, the first female B- 52 bomber pilot in the U.S. Air Force, will appeal the order under which she was allowed to resign, her lawyer said Sunday.

Flinn plans to file the appeal and seek an honorable discharge after Air Force Secretary Sheila Widnall retires, perhaps later this year, Frank Spinner told NBC's "Meet the Press."

Widnall allowed Flinn to resign with a general discharge to avoid a court-martial on charges of adultery, lying and disobeying an order.

Spinner predicted Flinn might receive an honorable discharge from a new secretary, partly thanks to support she has received from some lawmakers.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, a Maine Republican who is the only woman on the Armed Services Committee, told "Meet the Press" she had hoped Flinn would get an honorable discharge from the Air Force.

A general discharge is given when normally faithful service is marred by negative aspects of a person's performance or personal conduct.

Pilot: 'I've lost my innocence'

In her first interview since accepting the general discharge, Flinn told Time magazine she is emotionally hurt but ready to go on with her life.

Flinn said she has learned her lesson the hard way: "I've lost my innocence, and I've lost my ability to trust people in general and anyone and anything," Flinn told the magazine. "In time, I guess, those wounds will heal, but right now that's where I am."

Flinn was accused of having an affair with a married civilian, Marc Zigo, lying about it to investigators and disobeying an order to end it. She was also accused of the more serious crime of "fraternization" for a brief affair with an enlisted man.

"I've lost my innocence, and I've lost my ability to trust people in general and anyone and anything...In time, I guess, those wounds will heal, but right now that's where I am."

-- Kelly Flinn in her interview with Time

In her interview, Flinn reasserted that Zigo was to blame for her downfall and said Zigo's ex-wife, Airman Gayla Zigo, was a victim of her ex-husband, not of Flinn.

Flinn told Time that Gayla Zigo "had already been separated from [Marc Zigo] because of another woman."

Flinn said the reason she accepted the general discharge "was that it would save myself, my family and the Air Force and everyone that is involved in this case, including Airman Zigo, the embarrassment."

Flinn said she had hoped for an honorable discharge so she could "salute smartly, get Marc Zigo the hell out of my life and move on. I wouldn't have to live under his threats anymore."

Ready to move on

In the face of much talk about possible book deals and movie offers, Flinn said she would first try to rest and relax and then review her options -- which may include seeking a waiver that would allow her to fly in the Air National Guard of the Air Force Reserve.

And although observers say it is unlikely that Flinn will be allowed to fly for the Air Force Reserve or National Guard, Flinn says she is ready to move on.

"I just want to get in my Jeep and go. ... I'll probably throw some outdoor gear in the Jeep, get myself a dog and go," she said.

In her resignation letter to the Air Force, Flinn admitted that leaving the Air Force was the worst punishment she could imagine.

When Time asked Flinn about the message sent by the incident, she said, "It's not necessarily a message for any other woman. It's just a message to anybody in the Air Force that you need to think of people as human beings and realize that they are subject to human mistakes and human errors."

And what about her personal life? Flinn, laughing, told Time, "I think the next person I date is going to have to be fingerprinted and have a full background check."


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