Tag Archives: US Navy

What would Dad think?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

You have seen this picture already, but I want to share it again to make a point about what is happening in our deeply divided nation.

The fellow on the left is a British Marine. The sailor is my father. They were standing guard aboard ship in the Mediterranean during World War II.

They joined their nations’ respective militaries to fight tyranny, to defeat the Nazis. I cannot speak for the Marine, but I damn sure can speak for Dad … who I am as certain as I am sitting here today that he would be appalled at the state of affairs in the country he loved dearly.

What would Dad think of the sight of rioters, some of whom were wearing Nazi paraphernalia while storming the Capitol Building in Washington? What would he say to someone who sought to justify such a thing? How might he respond to the sound of a president lie incessantly about an election outcome and, thus, fuel the rage that erupted on Capitol Hill this past week?

Dad wasn’t a particularly political man. He and I didn’t talk much about public policy or the effects of policy on our family. He didn’t identify with either major political party.

However, he was a patriot through and through. He got into fight of his life on the very day that Japan attacked our fleet in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. He loved our country and all for which it stood.

I must believe that he would be horrified to see a president desecrate our government in the manner that we have witnessed during the past four years … which he did in spades just the other day when he exhorted the mob to “take back” our government from mysterious, nefarious forces.

What would Dad think? He would be full of rage.

Capt. Crozier gets slapped again … dang!

Man, I was hoping for a different outcome to this story.

U.S. Navy Capt. Brett Crozier got relieved of his command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier because he sent out warnings to the Navy brass that his crew was being threatened by the COVID-19 virus.

The Navy Department said he acted beyond the normal chain of command so it sent Capt. Crozier packing … much to the chagrin of the men and women he commanded.

Now the Navy says he won’t get reinstated, which had been considered. I was among those who thought the Navy shafted the stellar sailor whose only “sin” was to care for the health of his crew.

I had hoped the Navy would return him to his command.

Alas, it won’t.

It’s not all bad news. Crozier will keep his rank. He will be reassigned to another duty post, provided he chooses to stay in the Navy.

Given that the Navy stiffed him, then teased him with the prospect of being reinstated as commanding officer of the Theodore Roosevelt, and then said “no, you won’t,” I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that Capt. Crozier will call it a career.

Thank you for your service to the nation and to the men and women you commanded, skipper.

Capt. Crozier back to the USS TR? By all means … yes!

What do you know about this item?

The U.S. Navy is considering whether to return Capt. Brett Crozier to the bridge of the USS Theodore Roosevelt after he was summarily — and wrongly, in my view — removed from his command of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

Former Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly canned Crozier after the captain fired off a letter to the brass complaining that the Navy was not doing enough to protect sailors who had been exposed to COVID-19. Several dozen sailors serving on the Roosevelt had tested positive for the virus. Capt. Crozier issued a plea for help!

For that he was relieved of his command. His sailors cheered him as he left the ship for what was thought would be the final time.

Modly himself was removed from his post.

Now we hear that the Navy is considering whether to return Crozier to the ship he commanded and to command the sailors who revere him.

Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday’s spokesman said the admiral hasn’t made a firm decision … which to me sounds as if he’s leaning toward that returning Crozier to his former — and possibly future — command.

The New York Times, though, reports that Crozier’s possible return to the TR might face an obstacle: the commander in chief might meddle in this military personnel matter. Donald Trump already has demonstrated a willingness to intervene in a command decision. Trump has criticized Crozier already for the way he communicated his concern over his sailors’ well-being. Thus, he well might feel inclined to block a rightful decision to return Crozier to commanding a crew that clearly respects and reveres him.

I hope Capt. Crozier is returned to the Theodore Roosevelt.

The men and women would welcome him. What’s more, if the commander in chief is as devoted to the men and women who serve our country as he claims to be, he will stand aside and let Brett Crozier resume his command.

Ship captain sacked … oh, the irony of it all

I am struck by the rich irony of the stated reason for U.S. Navy Capt. Brett Cozier being removed as commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Mobly demoted Crozier for failing to follow proper military protocol when he wrote that scathing letter demanding more attention to his crew, some of whom are stricken by the COVID-19 virus that has essentially shut down the world.

Mobly said Crozier didn’t follow the rules set by the chain of command, that he should have gone to his superiors privately. Crozier’s dismissal, of course, didn’t set well with the men and women under his command on the Theodore Roosevelt. They cheered him loudly when he left the ship for the final time.

The irony? Well, there’s this: The commander in chief, Donald Trump, has no understanding of chain of command, which explains why he interceded a few months ago on behalf of a Navy SEAL who had been stripped of his Trident emblem over his conduct in the war against terror. Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher had been punished by his commanding officers after he was convicted in a court martial for desecrating the corpse of an enemy combatant.

What did Donald Trump do? He ordered Gallagher’s rank restored and allowed him to keep his Trident, which is the SEAL badge that the special forces wear with pride.

Trump blustered right through the chain of command himself with that reckless and, frankly, brainless act.

So now an officer who commanded one of the Navy’s premier warships is stripped of his command because he sought to bring pressure on the brass to do a better job of protecting his sailors.

Yep, the irony is astounding.

And sickening.

Navy sinks a stellar career … because of an officer’s love for his sailors

U.S. Navy Capt. Brett Crozier loved the 5,000 men and women under his command aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. He loved them so much that when several of them tested positive for the coronavirus, he sent out an alarm to the top brass, which he declared needed to do more to care for the sailors with whom he served.

What did Capt. Crozier get for his demonstration of love and loyalty to his sailors? He got booted off the ship, stripped of his command. Who did the deed? The Navy’s acting secretary, quite possibly on orders from the commander in chief, Donald John Trump.

There’s no nice way to say this: Brett Crozier got hosed by the Navy, which he has served for 30 years.

Acting Secretary Thomas Modly relieved Crozier of his command because he reportedly went outside the chain of command. But why did he do that? Because the chain of command wasn’t responding to his pleas for help in protecting the sailors who serve aboard the nuclear-powered attack aircraft carrier.

So the highly decorated, highly regarded officer took command of the situation.

To be candid, this story gave me a touch of heartburn when it first broke. Then I saw the reaction sailors gave Crozier as he was leaving the ship for the final time. They cheered. They shouted his name. The din was deafening. They expressed their gratitude for the care that Capt. Crozier had displayed in seeking to protect them against the killer virus.

That is what leaders do. They care for the individuals who serve under them. They do not knuckle under to stiff-necked protocol when it puts personnel in dire jeopardy.

Acting Secretary Modly, dare I say it, is behaving like a political appointee/hack.

To be modestly fair, I should note that Crozier will keep his rank. That said, the man once slated to become an admiral likely won’t get the promotion he now deserves more than ever.

His career is probably over. That is a terrible shame.

USS Doris Miller: What a marvelous honor for a Pearl Harbor hero

Doris Miller was in the right place at the wrong time, I suppose one could say.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Miller was working in the laundry room on the USS West Virginia, a battleship that was moored at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Then all hell broke loose.

Japanese warplanes swooped in over the harbor and hit the West Virginia, along with many other ships and planes. Miller jumped into action. He tended to his mortally wounded ship captain, helped other wounded sailors. Then he strapped himself into a deck gun — a weapon on which he was not qualified — and began firing at enemy aircraft.

He survived that terrifying event. He received a medal from Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz. Miller would die in action in 1943.

But here we are today. The U.S. Navy has announced that it will name a future Gerald R. Ford class nuclear aircraft carrier in honor of Doris Miller.

Yes, the USS Doris Miller will carry the name of the first African-American so honored. It will carry honor a young man who was thrust into a hero’s role in a time of immense national peril and tragedy.

Doris Miller was a native of Waco. I am pleased to see the picture above of Miller receiving a medal from another native Texan: Nimitz hailed from Fredericksburg. Miller was awarded the Navy Cross, the Purple Heart and received a commendation from the Navy secretary at the time for the actions he took on that “date which will live in infamy.” 

The Navy Department chose to make the announcement today to coincide with the nation’s celebration of Martin Luther King Day, a holiday set aside to honor the memory and the work of our great nation’s greatest civil rights champion.

“Doris Miller stood for everything that is good about our nation, and his story deserves to be remembered and repeated wherever our people continue the watch today,” acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said in a statement.

May they “continue the watch” with the pride and courage exhibited by the young man under whose name they will set sail.

Do not nominate this carpetbagger for a congressional seat

I am about to stick my nose into a political race that, for all intents, is no longer my business, given that I do not live in that congressional district, but here goes anyway.

Thirteenth Congressional District Republicans need to avoid nominating a carpetbagger for the seat being vacated by longtime U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon.

The carpetbagger to whom I refer is Dr. Ronny Jackson, the former physician to Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

He claims a West Texas heritage. He was born in Levelland, just west of Lubbock. Levelland also happens to sit within the 11th Congressional District. Jackson, a retired Navy admiral, has never lived within the 13th Congressional District, which stretches from the Texas Panhandle to the outskirts of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. He doesn’t know the district, he doesn’t grasp the district’s unique issues.

He rose to notoriety when Trump nominated him to become veterans affairs secretary. The problem, though, was that Dr. Jackson faced accusations of falsifying prescriptions, of abusing his staff and of drinking too much on the job. He was unqualified for the VA post. He withdrew his name from consideration. The president went with someone else and the Department of Veterans Affairs is running just fine.

So what in the world of soft landings is Admiral/Dr. Jackson seeking to do now? He wants to serve in Congress. Why, though, pick this particular seat? I guess it’s because the 13th District is as reliably Republican as any of the 435 House seats.

But Jackson isn’t the guy to succeed Thornberry. Indeed, the GOP field is full of candidates who actually live in the Texas Panhandle and who actually understand the issues of constituents’ concern.

Ronny Jackson? Don’t let him get away with the charade he is playing.

First responders prove their heroism … again

A shooter opened fire today at a U.S. Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla.

He killed three people, injured about a dozen others. Then an Escambia County sheriff’s deputy shot the gunman to death.

I want to spend a brief moment saluting the first responders who saved a lot of lives today when the shooting erupted. This was the second such incident at a Navy base; the other one occurred at Pearl Harbor/Hickam Joint Base in Honolulu, where two individuals died before the shooter killed himself.

The latest lunatic was a Saudi Air Force student on station at NAS Pensacola. I do hope the FBI, the Navy and local authorities can obtain all the information they need from the Saudi Arabia government about this moron. Let’s remember that we’re dealing with a government that sanctioned the murder of a Washington Post columnist in Istanbul. This incident requires a full Saudi effort to get to the bottom of it.

As for the first responders, they hurried to the source of commotion. That the sheriff’s deputy was able to — in that euphemistic term — “neutralize” the shooter so quickly speaks to the professionalism that marks so many of our first responders.

The authorities have identified the shooter. You won’t see his name on this blog. I choose to remain silent on the identities of the fools who commit these heinous acts.

I want to speak instead of the heroes who answered the call when peril erupted once again. I also want to express once again how my heart is broken at the news of this violent spasm.

Trump messes up his commander in chief role

Leave it Donald J. Trump to muddy up his role as commander of chief of the U.S. armed forces. He did it big time in a mess involving a Navy SEAL and those who serve in the high military command.

Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher was convicted of a crime involving his posing in Iraq with the corpse of a fighter killed in battle. He had been acquitted of far more serious accusations that were considered “war crimes.”

The Navy Department, led by Secretary Richard Spencer, wanted to stop Gallagher of his Trident badge emblematic of his SEAL service.

Gallagher, who is on active duty at this moment, has taken his case to the public.

Then in walked Trump, the commander in chief, to order that Gallagher retain his SEAL status. Richard Spencer couldn’t comply. He enraged the president, who then ordered Defense Secretary Mark Esper to override the Navy boss. Esper also ordered Spencer to submit his resignation, which Spencer did.

Spencer’s letter of resignation — which he addressed to the president — is a thing of beauty. He thanked the president for allowing him to serve. He then said he couldn’t comply with the president’s policies because they aren’t in keeping with military order and discipline. Read the letter here.

I get that the president’s status as commander in chief allows him to do whatever he wishes regarding the military. I mean, he’s the boss of all the men and women in uniform. However, it is highly irregular, odd and unusual for the commander in chief to insert himself into the middle of command decisions that belong to those who serve under him.

Commanders in chief usually set broad military policy or, in some cases they order daring raids such as the Army Delta Force raid that killed the Islamic State leader or the SEAL raid that eliminated Osama bin Laden in May 2011. But for them to involve themselves in disputes such as what involved a particular SEAL operator is, well, way out of the ordinary.

Just because the president can act in the manner that Trump has acted regarding Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher doesn’t mean it’s right. In this instance, I believe the commander in chief meddled where even the commander in chief doesn’t belong.

Do not politicize the military … ever!

I feel the need to weigh in one more — and likely final — time on this dust-up over the USS John McCain.

It is simply this: The U.S. military never should get caught in the middle of a political dispute.

At issue is the order that reportedly was issued directing Navy personnel to hide the name of the USS John McCain from the view of the president of the United States. Donald Trump reportedly was “spared” having to see the name of his political rival, the late Arizona Republican U.S. senator.

The president denies issuing the order. Indeed, the world does not yet know who issued it and whether, as Trump described it, the order was “well-meaning.”

For the record, the destroyer was named after Sen. McCain’s father and grandfather. Sen. McCain’s name was added after the ship went on active duty.

The idea that the U.S. Navy — or any branch of the military — would be drawn into some form of political dispute is reprehensible on its face.

The officers and enlisted personnel who serve on the USS John McCain are proud of their ship, proud of their service to the country and proud to wear their nation’s uniform. They are not politicians and should never be dragged into a dispute of this sort … not ever!