The U.S. Navy holds a special place in the hearts and minds of most Coronadans, not only because we share half our island home with them, but because so many residents, men and women, have served on land, sea and air with this maritime force. And so we wince when our Navy Blue and Gold is besmirched by scandal.
The recent firing of Captain Brett Crozier, skipper of the USS Theodore Roosevelt is a case in point. Apparently Capt. Crozier felt the COVID-19 virus had infected his sailors to such a degree that it overwhelmed his meager medical staff, and his sailors needed hospitalization. Crozier went to his chain of command for support to go off-station and get his sickest personnel to Guam, securing the care they desperately needed.
But things don’t go well when there is a weak link in the chain of command. Some men are mere functionaries of the command, eager for promotion and not so eager to be bearers of bad news to those higher up the chain of command. This roadblock forced Capt. Crozier to appeal to others outside the chain for help.
Long story short, Crozier was fired from command of his ship by acting secretary of the Navy (SecNav), Thomas Modly. Both men graduated from the Naval Academy. There, Crozier must have passed Leadership 101, Modly I suspect did not. Whether you lead a squad of Marines, a small Minesweeper or a large nuclear Aircraft Carrier, it is ingrained in those in charge to constantly care for your troops. Parents who lend their sons and daughters to the Navy have the expectation their child will be cared for to the best of the Navy’s ability – in war and peace. This, Crozier was trying to do. Once again, we learn the man in the field knows more about the situation at hand than the men sitting behind desks in the Pentagon.
The acting SecNav, Modly thought Capt. Crozier “too naïve or stupid” to go outside the chain of command for support. To prove his point, Modly flew 8,000 miles to the Teddy Roosevelt in Guam to explain to the sailors why Crozier had to be fired. When his profanity laced diatribe was reported by the media, Modly realized he had no choice but to apologize to Capt. Crozier, the Navy and resign from his position as SecNav for his insensitive and ‘stupid’ remarks.
Any psychologist will tell you that Modly fell victim to ‘projection’ - when one accuses another of the faults he himself possesses. It was Modly who was found naïve and stupid railing against Capt. Crozier, who undoubtably saved lives by his actions to stem the COVID-19 virus on his ship. President Trump supported the firing of Crosier, suggesting the captain had a “bad day” – something our president knows a lot about!
Sadly, in the end, the Navy suffered another black eye in this affair, on top of several other recent scandals. In the movie, “A Few Good Men,” Lieutenant Dan Kaffee, played by Tom Cruise, summed up our, and the Navy’s, frustration when he prophetically stated, “…and the hits just keep coming!”