Here's why it was ‘shocking and disgraceful’ for former Navy secretary to ‘defame’ relieved warship captain: US Navy veteran
The coronavirus pandemic has slammed everyone from major journalists (Chris Cuomo and Brooke Baldwin of CNN) to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to famous actors like Tom Hanks — and it has imperiled the U.S. military as well, inspiring Capt. Brett Crozier (former leader of the USS Theodore Roosevelt warship) to plead for help when members of his crew were falling ill to COVID-19. Although Crozier was relieved of duty for speaking out, members of his crew gave him a warm, enthusiastic sendoff. And U.S. Navy veteran Brett Odom, in an April 7 op-ed for USA Today, explains why Crozier is held in such high regard by many veterans and why Former U.S. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly was wrong to defame him.
Modly resigned from his position on April 7 after a recording of him attacking Crozier was made public. In the recording, Modly can be heard saying that Crozier was “too naïve or too stupid” to be in command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt — an assertion that most crew members obviously disagreed with, given the loving and raucous sendoff Crozier received.
In his op-ed, Odom has a lot to say about Crozier’s character.
“It is not for me to address the actions that Capt. Crozier took, or the decisions he made in attempting to halt the rapid and unprecedented spread of COVID-19 among the crew on the densely packed warship,” Odom writes. “The Navy will have an investigation, the facts will be established — and eventually, the public will know the details behind this incident. However, I will say that in the course of knowing Brett over 32 years, I have never known a more calm, centered, positive leader.”
Odom goes on to describe Crozier’s history.
“I have zero doubt that Brett did exactly what was necessary to communicate the facts of a difficult situation to the chain of command, and that he did it by the book,” Odom emphasizes. “Having observed his character closely under intense pressure, over the course of decades, I do not believe for a moment that he ‘panicked’ or let himself be ruled by emotions.”
Odom, however, is vehemently critical of Modly.
“The actions and behavior of the acting secretary during this situation only served to undermine his own credibility,” Odom writes. “He, in fact, displayed the very emotional response that he cited as a cause to relieve Capt. Crozier.”
Modly, Odom adds, “was well aware that Capt. Crozier” was “unable to speak out on his own behalf.”
“Given that constraint, the acting secretary’s public comments were all the more shocking and disgraceful,” Odom asserts. “It is one thing to speak to the public about the facts and decisions leading to a dismissal. It is another entirely to make statements to the crew and the public that defame the character of a good man who has no opportunity to defend himself.”