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Boeing's top communications exec resigns over article about women in combat he wrote 33 years ago

The article was written in 1987 for a naval magazine when he was a US Navy lieutenant.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Boeing's senior vice president of communications resigned this week following a complaint about an article that was written 33 years ago. Niel Golightly resigned from the aerospace giant on Thursday after a co-worker resurfaced an article regarding women in combat roles that he wrote in 1987. Golightly has since called the decades-old article "embarrassingly wrong and offensive."

Golightly stepped down because he wrote an article arguing that women shouldn't serve in the military. Golightly served in the U.S. Navy for 14 years, including as a fighter pilot and as a speechwriter to the secretary of the Navy and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was a U.S. Navy lieutenant when he wrote the article titled "No Right to Fight" in the December 1987 issue of Proceedings, a monthly magazine published by the United States Naval Institute that was founded in 1873.

"At issue is not whether women can fire M-60s, dogfight MiGs, or drive tanks," Golightly wrote in the naval magazine. "Introducing women into combat would destroy the exclusively male intangibles of war fighting and the feminine images of what men fight for — peace, home, family."

Before leaving Boeing, Golightly released a statement on the situation.

"My article was a 29-year-old Cold War navy pilot's misguided contribution to a debate that was live at the time," Golightly said in his apology. "My argument was embarrassingly wrong and offensive."

"The dialogue that followed its publication 33 years ago quickly opened my eyes, indelibly changed my mind, and shaped the principles of fairness, inclusion, respect, and diversity that have guided my professional life since," Golightly added. "The article is not a reflection of who I am, but nonetheless, I have decided that in the interest of the company I will step down."

Golightly stepped down as communications chief for the commercial jetliners manufacturer after talking with top executives, including Boeing President and CEO David Calhoun.

"I greatly respect Niel for stepping down in the interest of the company," Calhoun said in a statement. Calhoun added that Boeing has an "unrelenting commitment to diversity and inclusion in all its dimensions."

Golightly was only with the company six months after he was named to the position of senior vice president of communications in January of this year.

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