An image from the Hot shots calendar website
A risque video featuring bikini-clad beauties firing high-powered guns and riding in tanks has landed four Utah National Guard soldiers — and veterans of war in Afghanistan and Iraq — in hot water.
The guard members face discipline for unauthorized involvement and use of military vehicles in a video promoting a “behind the scenes” look at the making of this year’s “Hot Shots Calendar.” The company behind the calendar claims that a portion of the proceeds go to help wounded soldiers, but the video shoot, conducted at Camp Williams and at a private gun range near Salt Lake City, violated regulations, said Guard Lt. Col. Steven Fairbourn.
“We just have to learn from our mistakes and go forward, and that’s how we’re trying to approach this,” Fairbourn said. “Corrective measures are in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
He said a 19th Special Forces non-commissioned officer who inappropriately allowed filming at Camp Williams in May has been relieved of his leadership position and faces a reprimand and mandatory early retirement. The three other soldiers will receive lesser measures ranging from counseling to a reprimand, he said. The $200 cost for military fuel used during the shoot also will be recouped from the soldiers involved.
Fairbourn earlier said the three members took part in the video after getting permission from a senior official who shouldn’t have given them the green light.
An internal investigation, completed Friday, found unauthorized Guard support was limited to five vehicles and one boat used as props for the shoot. The investigation confirmed the Guard did not provide the weapons or ammunition used for it.
The names of the four soldiers were not released.
“This was certainly a mistake, but one action among multiple years of service for these individuals,” Fairbourn said. “We are dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have served their country in time of war.”
The Utah Guard, in a statement issued Saturday, said it regretted its involvement in the shoot and would not tolerate the unauthorized use of federal and state funds.
“However, this error in judgment of these few soldiers does not diminish the commitment and resolve of the Utah Guard and its more than 7,000 members to serve the citizens of Utah and our nation,” the statement read.
Two members of a Utah state SWAT team who appeared in the video in uniform also face discipline, Department of Public Safety officials have said.
Much of the video was shot at a private gun club about 35 miles west of Salt Lake City, called Big Shot Ranch. Employee Nikko Kelaidis said it was filmed this summer on the club’s 68 acres of land located near the southern tip of the Great Salt Lake.