In the Navy, we are all told religiously that we are expected "to do the right thing, even when no one is looking." Even as children and into our teens, we are told that phrase. We are expected as humans to follow that mantra — even more so in the Navy. Only a few days ago did we witness the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt follow through on that phrase and face consequences for his actions.
Captain Brett Crozier, the entire U.S. Navy has your back — even if Washington doesn't.
Being previously enlisted, I have surely dealt with my fair share of leadership, some wonderful and some questionable. You learn quickly who has your best interests in mind and those who are only worried about the next set of collar devices they will be wearing in the coming years. I can publicly say I loved all of my commanding officers, some who went to great extents to make my own time in the Navy mostly nothing less than memorable. Commander Duffy, one of my all-time favorites, even went as far as calling for a troubleshooter during the flight schedule to tell me I made 3rd class, through the communication system. He went to both of my shops and told them to keep quiet and to act like I didn't make rank! However, when he did tell me, you could tell how proud he was that he could make my day by telling me while I was doing what I loved. He was the first C.O. that I felt truly cared about his sailors. Our whole command felt the same way about him, and when he said he had an open-door policy, he truly meant it.
Captain Crozier is no different.
After the events that occurred this week, I could feel the love he had for his sailors. He didn't view them the way other C.O.s would, he saw them as human beings first. We are told that we are property of the Navy first and humans second. Hell, even if we get too harsh of a sunburn we can be punished for destruction of government property. We understand we made a choice to go in — but we also appreciate those who understand we are still humans. We are going to get sick and we are going to get hurt.
Captain Crozier went above and beyond to protect his own and to prevent the coronavirus from spreading further than it already had.
Those who have served on a carrier understand how small it truly is, no matter how large the ship looks. There are really only a few areas that the majority of sailors enter, and if 93 were infected, then that WOULD have been spread to others. A large number of sailors would have gotten sick. Some may have died. If Captain Crozier had not done everything to publicize his letter and some of his sailors died, he would have been punished for not maintaining a clean ship.
He attempted to slow down the spread and he was wrongly punished.
The SECNAV has spoken about this on a few occasions and every time he has said that the captain was fired due to a lack of trust in his ability to command. In my opinion, that's asinine. Even if he truly didn't follow the proper chain of command, I don't believe it was worthy of removing a leader who cares in the way he did. Sailors around the world know that there is a reason when a commanding officer has an open-door policy — the chain of command sometimes isn't reliable. Some are, but some sadly aren't, and that might have been the reason this captain did what he did.
When sailors go to boot camp, they know they are government property. But we can still hope we encounter the grace of a leader like Captain Crozier.
We want someone to stand up for us and have our back. The USS Roosevelt had that until he was wrongly taken away. How can sailors be expected to do the right thing knowing what will happen to them — and not just what happened to Captain Crozier, but in the public manner it happened.
Captain Crozier is a hero and a role model for generations of sailors to come.
Leadership across the world should reflect his actions and understand that being a leader isn't someone who just commands. They create followers overflowing with trust, knowing that the person who is in charge of their safety won't only care when the sailor has done something wrong but will care when their sailors need them the most.
He did the right thing when nobody was looking.
When everyone was looking, Navy leadership and Washington did not follow suit.
On the OPSEC arguments, yes, he openly admitted a sign of weakness. However, there is a point when you have to decide between the two evils: announcing a problem with a deployed carrier or be silent and let the fear rise in the sailors every day. The fear was not brought on by the letter that was sent but from the sailors themselves. They have email access and there is no way that the sailors were not sharing their fears with their loved ones. Captain Crozier made a choice for the betterment of his sailors instead of the betterment of the mission. However, if sailors are deteriorating on the ship, the mission deteriorates as well. The ship is not run by generators, reactors, or guns. A ship is run by the human beings that took the oath of enlistment years prior.
Captain Crozier, know that the Navy is behind you. We thank you for your actions, and we pray that leaders that follow will encompass your love and humbleness.