Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Man Without a Ship

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Navy Captain Owen P. Honors was relieved of command of the USS Enterprise today and given a desk job by his Navy superiors.  Losing command of one on our nation’s only eleven aircraft carriers is a big step down for the controversial, yet popular, officer.

The sudden professional pummeling of Capt. Honors came as a result of his involvement in filming and airing a series of juvenile and sexist videos aboard the USS Enterprise several years ago when he was the Executive Officer (2nd in command) of that ship.  Among other things, Honors’ films reportedly depicted a couple of female sailors sharing a shower, as well as an unhealthy dose of gratuitous profanity and gay-bashing.

The Enterprise is essentially a floating city manned by 3,000 sailors, chiefs, and officers.  Capt. Honors' indiscretion occurred in 2006-2007 while the carrier was deployed supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.   Many of his former troops have risen to his defense today, describing the captain basically as just some good old boy who was trying to keep morale up.

Three thousand individuals, give or take, were exposed to Capt. Honors' mean-spirited and lewd films, yet none stepped forward to complain, even senior officers aboard the aircraft carrier, until a Virginia newspaper came into possession of clips from the films and went public.  That looks and smells like the military culture closing ranks to protect its own.  But when the spotlight of public scrutiny gets fired up – the cockroaches begin to run for cover!

Isn’t that basically what happened with the Tailhook scandal back in 1991?  Remember Tailhook?  That was when 100 Navy and Marine Corps aviators sexually assaulted 83 women and 7 men during the fun and games portion of the Tailhook Association Annual Conference held at the Las Vegas Hilton.  Reportedly, several flag officers (admirals and generals) were in attendance and knew of the outrageous behavior, yet they failed to report it.  But some prudish types didn’t appreciate being groped and raped, so word of the incidents eventually got out to the press, forcing the military to step in and make adjustments to its culture.    Good old boys were supposedly no longer going to be permitted to run amok.

But twenty years later Captain Owen P. Honors thrusts himself forward to demonstrate that the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.  Here's hoping that he develops some insight and compassion for others as he steers his desk across the Sea of Bureaucracy.

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