[TO OUR READERS] - Memorial Day 2012 was marked by our editor in his sickbed in Maine. He had planned on putting on the "dress blues" one more time and for a parade, but just couldn't make it. The pain was too much. Sometimes the cane doesn't help. So we are running this story from 2003 we did about the type of officer NOT to be, remembering so many good and great officers and enlisted members we knew and lost during our multiple and consecutive combat tours in Vietnam.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
“IF ANY OF THIS GETS OUT,
Those ugly words are part of an official Inspector General’s report on misconduct by one of the Navy’s most feared three-star admirals.
He was bellowing his threats after receiving a report that 100 computers had been confiscated from midshipmen who had illegally downloaded copyrighted music off the Internet.
The imperious Naughton is no longer superintendent of the academy, much to the relief of most of the faculty and officers he abused during a stormy and disastrous tenure.
THE FINAL STRAW
The arrogant admiral finally “self-destructed” when he reportedly grabbed the arm of a Marine sentry after the enlisted man did his duty in requesting an ID card from Naughton, who was clad in “civvies.”
A tussle ensued where witnesses said Naughton grabbed the sentry when the Marine tried to take the card from the officer. He did not recognize the superintendent right away. As soon as the sentry got a chance to look at the ID, he saw the holder was who he said he was, and allowed the outraged officer to proceed.
According to the report, Naughton – well-known throughout the Navy for a nasty disposition and a “confrontational and demeaning” manner – shoved the card in the sentry’s face when asked to produce an ID.
“Look Marine! Look, Marine!” Naughton screamed, according to one report.
Then the physical contact with the guard took place.
Sources said the startled Marine assumed a defensive posture and “placed his left hand on his pepper spray pouch and his right hand on his handcuffs.”
“Sir, you need to step back,” the guard told the
When asked his version of events, the imperious admiral seemed to get amnesia. Several times he claimed he couldn’t “remember” if he had “touched” the guard. He did allow as to how he “might” have touched him.
But in Naughton’s “spin,” it was to “calm” the Marine.
Eyewitnesses to the incident stated in the official investigative report that Naughton did indeed – not only “touch” but “grab” the sentry – a serious offence for most military members.
DIFFERENT SPANKS FOR DIFFERENT RANKS
Let’s put aside for a moment, the other 11 separate incidents of misconduct Naughton was accused of, which – in the words of the report – “created an intimidating and hostile work environment.”
If a chief petty officer or even an ensign had behaved as Naughton did, there would be very serious consequences. A court martial would be likely and, depending on the seriousness of the altercation, possible incarveration.
But three-star Adm. Richard Naughton, by virtue of his rank and connections, escaped any serious punitive action, save his resignation and soon-to-be departure from the Navy, after 35 years of service. He is 56 years old.
Naughton’s pension and benefits are intact. What do you think would happen to a Navy chief or ensign facing similar charges?
The IG report was damning. Naughton was found to have used “unlawful force” against the guard and he was scored for his arrogant leadership style, which according to the Baltimore Sun’s outstanding reporter Ariel Sabar, “humiliated and demoralized the faculty and staff.”
When the sentry’s superior officer met with Naughton later that evening in the admiral’s home, the superintendent angrily ordered the guard reassigned.
“You are going to relieve that Marine,” Naughton shouted, according to the report. “He is never to step foot on the Naval Academy again.”
Within a short time the sentry was shipped off to a Marine barracks in Washington. D.C.
AN EIGHT-PAGE LETTER TO THE INSPECTOR GENERAL
The beginning of the end for the abrasive admiral came in February when an unidentified person wrote an eight page letter to investigators alleging the superintendent had “assaulted” a Marine sentry on New Years Eve and listed many instances of abuse by the tyrannical academy boss.
As the investigation progressed, a large number of cases of such behavior came to light and the Navy brass was faced with the inevitable. Naughton had to go!
Chief of Naval Operations Vern Clark deserves no plaudits for ignoring for such a long time, Naughton’s well known penchant for micromanaging and tirades.
Why such an officer was even chosen to replace the beloved Vice Adm. John R. Ryan is a mystery to many senior officers at Annapolis.
“It was no secret the CNO knew what Naughton was and how he abused his subordinates, yet he looked the other way,” said a Navy captain at the Pentagon. “Clark was willing to indulge Naughton’s boorish behavior and temper tantrums, but it blew up in his face. Deservedly so.”
The Navy announced Naughton will be replaced by Vice Admiral Charles Moore Jr. until such time as a successor can be nominated and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.