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Posted at 3:16 PM ET, 01/ 4/2011

Capt. Owen Honors runs aground

By Jonathan Capehart

Capt. Owen Honors has been dry docked. The Navy permanently relieved him of his command of the USS Enterprise. That's the ship on which he made his wildly unfunny videos, which he filmed in 2006 and 2007 when he was second in command but which surfaced Sunday in the Virginian-Pilot newspaper.

Honors has been reassigned to administrative duties at Naval Air Forces Atlantic and will be replaced by Capt. Dee Mewbourne. Honors's reassignment was announced by Adm. John C. Harvey, commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command this afternoon.

The foundation of our success in the Navy lies in our ability to gain and hold the trust of our sailors, including through personal example. This responsibility is so important that it is written into Navy regulations. When confidence and trust are lost in those who lead, we fail. After personally reviewing the videos created while serving as executive officer, I have lost confidence in Capt. Honors' ability to lead effectively.... As naval officers we are held to a higher standard. Those in command must exemplify the Navy's core values of honor, courage and commitment which we expect our sailors to follow. Our leaders must be above reproach, and our sailors deserve nothing less.

The investigation into the videos continues. So, more disciplinary actions could be in the offing. But by permanently relieving Honors of his command of the Enterprise, the Navy moved quickly and decisively to get in front of a bad situation. Even Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) agrees. "I believe the Navy made the right decision in the case of Capt. Honors," he said via Twitter moments ago. Why Honors had to go was neatly summed up yesterday by Aubrey Sarvis of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. "What we see here is, unfortunately, a 49-year-old Navy captain acting like a 19-year-old fraternity boy," he said. "There is no place for that type of frat-house behavior."

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 4, 2011; 3:16 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

Bigotry will always exist, but it is up to the leader of a team to foster a harmonious and working relationship between its members. The Captain did just the opposite, his video might have caused a gay sailor to be thrown overboard.

Posted by: morristhewise | January 4, 2011 3:52 PM | Report abuse

So, glad that I never served under such a commanding officer. He still thinks that it is the Tail-hook Era.

Posted by: rcvinson64 | January 4, 2011 4:02 PM | Report abuse

What kills me is that these closet cases spouting their hate are always caught doing gay stuff involving other naked men. This P.O.S. filmed himself jerking off for his sailors to watch? That's not gay? Total psycho, like all allegedly hetero, pseudo-macho warrior-types.

Posted by: stephenlouis | January 4, 2011 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Capt.Owen Honors certainly acted in poor taste. But he didn't harm anyone, nor was that his intention. The videos are not everyone's idea of entertainment but then, what is. I believe the harsh punishment was an over reaction and not well thought out.
I'm a female, civilian, 73 years old. I can't believe that such severe punishment is really warranted. The Navy is Capt. Honors' life. This is not a reason to take it all away from him. Sorry, but this is a bad call.

Posted by: ANNA2 | January 4, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad that Capt. Honors has been relieved. His videos showed both lack of judgment and bigotry.

However, I am sure he is far from the only member of our armed forces to think this way.

I hope that leaders like Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen will come up with an effective plan to work with those who can be retrained to live in the 21st century, while jettisoning only those truly incorrigible individuals who can never be reconstructed.

Posted by: Itzajob | January 4, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Has Fox News offered him a job yet?

Posted by: valandsend | January 4, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand why this is being portrayed as an issue of intolerance. It's professionalism. Here's a guy who had under his direct command (as ship XO he had direct operational responsibility for) tens of billions of military hardware, millions of gallons of jet fuel, thousands of tons of high explosives, and a nuclear reactor. Even more important, he had the lives of 5,000 men and women who volunteered to be there and serve under his command. Fully half of those men and women were under 21.

When I was in high school our shop teacher had a rule - absolutely no fooling around in the shop under any circumstances.

Then Cmdr Honors decided that while underway he should role model clownishness to these men and women just older than I was in high school shop rather than an aura of constant professionalism.

I think that the bandsaw in shop was a little less dangerous than a nuclear reactor, no?

Again, this isn't about gay or straight or DADT. I have no problem with then Cmdr Honors putting on fancy dress and prancing around his stateroom if that's what it took for him to blow off steam during a job that was undoubtedly difficult and demanding. I do have a problem with him broadcasting that clownishness to the 5,000 men and women under his command and the hugely poor judgement it showed - judgement completely unbecoming of someone who is trusted with the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the most powerful country on earth.

Posted by: tpschryver | January 4, 2011 4:27 PM | Report abuse

An officer is supposed to lead by example. I think we can probably all agree that the captain failed miserably in this regard.

Posted by: randysbailin | January 4, 2011 4:35 PM | Report abuse

ANNA2: "I can't believe that such severe punishment is really warranted. The Navy is Capt. Honors' life. This is not a reason to take it all away from him.
__________________

Relieving him is not "punishment." He hasn't been charged with any crime (yet) or convicted of anything. This isn't some kind of sentence.

Relieving him is a personnel decision. His behavior undermined his ability to do the job, and a reassignment was fully justified here.

He doesn't have some right to have the people of the United States give him a trillion-dollar ship to cruise around the world in. This isn't about his life or some kind of entitlement to command an aircraft carrier.

Posted by: uh_huhh | January 4, 2011 4:58 PM | Report abuse

My Father was a vetran of WWII and my husband served during Viet Nam. I can tell you from having lived my first 20+ years in a military household that Owen Honors actions have disgraced most if not all of the men and women who choose the milatary life as their career. His actions go beyond poor judement. His actions showed a total disregard for the responsibility of representing the Navy and the United States. And consider this, his actions were funded by tax payers money on tax payers time. I can not speak for the rest of the American public, but I
for one want my money back.

Posted by: auntiem51 | January 4, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

This guy deserves to be bumped from any position of command. Why did the Navy just learn of and do something about this which happened in 06/07? Why the delay? Was there a cover up? No one knows until it was made public it must have been ok. The Navy needs a make-over to it's culture.

Posted by: texas234 | January 4, 2011 5:06 PM | Report abuse

"Capt. Owen Honors runs aground" and the PC police of Amerika run amuck.

Posted by: magellan1 | January 4, 2011 5:13 PM | Report abuse

"What we see here is, unfortunately, a 49-year-old Navy captain acting like a 19-year-old fraternity boy"

Why do fraternities always take the hit when someone behaves badly?

Posted by: publius1 | January 4, 2011 5:15 PM | Report abuse

The gay community said DADT repeal would not affect readiness, but it appears the emboldened special interest group just crushed a commander that did not have a performance problem. The gay community has no loyalty except to its agenda.

Posted by: kimdkendall | January 4, 2011 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I somehow feel gay authors should dismiss themselves from commenting. Would we consider muslims unbiased when discussing binladen?

Posted by: kimdkendall | January 4, 2011 5:24 PM | Report abuse

I some how feel gay authors should dismiss themselves from commenting. Would we consider muslims unbiased when discussing binladen?

Posted by: kimdkendall | January 4, 2011 5:25 PM | Report abuse

As Admiral Mullen said so well at the first DADT Senate session last March when accused by Senator Sessions of caving in to political expediency, "Senator, it is all about leadership and I take that VERY seriously."

Posted by: dcostello | January 4, 2011 5:25 PM | Report abuse

The thing that galls me is that you can make videos on board an aircraft carrier that *are* funny and fun. "Women of the USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76)" is one of the best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsnlO-hpc_8 - Sure they poke fun at the guys, but hey, dude! You *don't* impress me much when I have my name and call sign on the side of a jet fighter. :)

Posted by: roblimo | January 4, 2011 5:27 PM | Report abuse

He is going to hollywood!

Posted by: nextonuthin | January 4, 2011 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Caught by the PC Police. There goes the lie that allowing gays to serve openly won't harm the service or effect readiness. Hopefully the gays won't suddenly start having "accidents".

Posted by: oldno7 | January 4, 2011 5:33 PM | Report abuse

I some how feel gay authors should dismiss themselves from commenting. Would we consider muslims unbiased when discussing binladen?

Posted by: kimdkendall | January 4, 2011 5:34 PM | Report abuse

An unfortunate casualty of the repeal of Dont Suck, Dont Swallow.

Posted by: hasher100 | January 4, 2011 5:35 PM | Report abuse

We still have not been told who released the videos, nor why they did so now....four years after the videos were made.
We still don't know if the person who released the videos violated the security guidelines of the USS Enterprise, by sending the videos off the Enterprise to a Virginia newspaper.

It appears as of right now, that Captain Honors may have acted inappropriately, but so did the person who released these videos four years after the fact.


Someone is purposely trying to destroy Captain Honors military career.....and they need to tell the Navy why they're doing what they're doing.

Other than that, the wrong that was done to Shirley Sherrod, does not need to be repeated.
Get ALL the facts, before any rush to judgement.

Posted by: momof20yo | January 4, 2011 5:55 PM | Report abuse

ESPN has a slot that would be perfect for Honors!

Posted by: bigolpoofter | January 4, 2011 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Captain Honors did a very foolish thing, and deserved to be relieved of command.

However, it doesn't change the fact that pathetic weenies like Jonathan Capehart still can't hold a candle to Capt. Honor or his accomplishments.

Posted by: r_loveland | January 4, 2011 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I can see both sides of this. On the one hand, I've been reading the Enterprise facebook page and Honors' crew seems to have liked him a lot and thought he was a good CO. People who served with him have only good things to say. On the other hand, it's pretty embarrassing to think a Naval officer made these videos. It's like American Pie at sea or something. My problem is that this was dealt with three years ago by the Navy and he hasn't made any videos since. Now that it's in the hands of the press, they can him. This seems like a reaction to the press attention and good decisions can be elusive during one of these press roastings.

Posted by: calgrl75 | January 4, 2011 6:03 PM | Report abuse

A gay sailors worst fear is not only the fear of dying in battle, but the fear of being set upon by a gang of gay bashers and thrown overboard. The Captain`s showing of a homophobic video to the crew could have given gay bashers the inspiration to turn a gay sailor life into food for the sharks. There should be an investigation to find if any of the crew was lost at sea under the Captain`s command.

Posted by: morristhewise | January 4, 2011 6:12 PM | Report abuse

O.K. so the #2 in command takes the hit. Who was the COMMANDER of the carrier while all this was going on? Why is he not part of the picture? The buck stops at the top and Capt. Honors was #2.

Posted by: ralph8 | January 4, 2011 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Capt Honors for risking your life hundreds of times for your country. I am sorry you have been stabbed in the back by a group of armchair general's (aka liberals w/ no sense of humor). Dont we have 10% unemployment? Who gives a crap about this stuff. Maybe we should fire our current commander and chief. You know, the one who admits in his books to using/selling cocaine and weed.

Posted by: j751 | January 4, 2011 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Capt. Honors was #2 in command of the ship -- what happened to the commander? The buck stops at the top, usually. I agree he should take a hit, but the Big Guy needs to be including, especially since this went on for some time...

Posted by: ralph8 | January 4, 2011 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Capt. Honors was #2 in command of the ship -- what happened to the commander? The buck stops at the top, usually. I agree he should take a hit, but the Big Guy needs to be including, especially since this went on for some time...

Posted by: ralph8 | January 4, 2011 6:16 PM | Report abuse

I think the idea that Honors lost his command of the ship because he was gay-bashing is inaccurate. He showed poor judgment all the way around. Mostly, he didn't think about his superior officers and how his behavior would reflect on them; nor did he consider that as XO, his behavior (at least in public or in front of sailors) ought to be above reproach.

Posted by: readerny | January 4, 2011 6:32 PM | Report abuse

A gay sailors worst fear is not only the fear of dying in battle, but the fear of being set upon by a gang of gay bashers and thrown overboard. The Captain`s showing of a homophobic video to the crew could have given gay bashers the inspiration to turn a gay sailor life into food for the sharks. There should be an investigation to find if any of the crew was lost at sea under the Captain`s command.

Posted by: morristhewise | January 4, 2011 6:12 PM
-----------

NO ONE MENTIONED ANYTHING ABOUT MURDERING A SAILOR, GAY OR STRAIGHT. Good Lord, the comments keep getting stupider.
I thought gays wanted to be considered 'normal', not drama queens.

Posted by: momof20yo | January 4, 2011 6:45 PM | Report abuse

I grew up in a Navy family. I live in a military town. I remember the Tail hook scandal and wondered why anyone was shocked. Capt Honors does not deserve to lose his command over videos from 3 or 4 years ago. Many under his command enjoyed the xo's video nights. There is a lot about Navy culture that I don't like or understand but see Capt. Honors dismissal as more politically expedient than him being guilty of not being a good leader.

Posted by: fabricmaven1 | January 4, 2011 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Again unfortunetly we praise those who think that social experiments are more important than those brave people who defend this morally corrupt society. I personnaly know Capt Honors and his family who are not bigots but sincere patriots from Clay NY who are able to speak their mind rather than hide behind PC. The USS Enterprise is not an instrument of political correctness but an instrument of OUR political will!!!!! stop the bullshit Mr President don't let the idiots burn ROME Oh sorry Washinton. One day we will need to win a war and all the warriors will be relieved you better read THE RISE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE to much instant gratification and not enough truth and/or justice COL D. Wilkinson USA (ret) thank God

Posted by: dwilk27 | January 4, 2011 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Captain Honors' achievements? Based on the judgment (or lack of it) he displayed on the Enterprise, any achievements he might claim are likely to be the result of luck, not professionalism.

Posted by: amstphd | January 4, 2011 6:57 PM | Report abuse

If Capt. Honors had time to be this inappropriate aboard the USS Enterprise during wartime, he should be relieved of the command of the ship. No one so immature should be in charge of 4,400 sailors. How could the US Naval Academy turn out such a clown? He is a disgrace to the uniform.

Posted by: carashea64 | January 4, 2011 7:05 PM | Report abuse

If Capt. Honors had time to be this inappropriate aboard the USS Enterprise during wartime, he should be relieved of the command of the ship. No one so immature should be in charge of 4,400 sailors. How could the US Naval Academy turn out such a clown? He is a disgrace to the uniform.

Posted by: carashea64 | January 4, 2011 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Honors should keep command of the ship. Putting such a stupid clown in charge of a nuclear aircraft carrier is a pretty good admission that the carrier has no real mission and only serves as national entertainment. Carriers and Honors, a perfect match. Next, put Moe, Larry and Curly in charge of nuclear submarines, bombers and missile silos.

Posted by: fudador | January 4, 2011 7:12 PM | Report abuse

I've changed my mind on this one. Honors was punished four years ago....to take away his command now is double jeopardy.

If it was possible to appeal to the Supreme Court on personnel decisions rather than criminal convictions this one would be a no-brainer.

If Honors has upheld the Navy traditions and behaved appropriately since being sanctioned in 2006 or so, enough is enough.

Admiral Harvey is a wu$$.

Posted by: joy5 | January 4, 2011 7:19 PM | Report abuse

How many of you have ever served under or met Captain Honors? If you have not then you have no right to call him a 'clown' or 'unprofessional.' What you saw in that video was an attempt to improve morale at the end of back to back 6 month deployments. I doubt more than one or two of you know what that is like. Also, The Enterprise was majorly effective during that deployment in supporting war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan so to say you want your money back is disgraceful. I hope you never claim to support any troops when clearly you do not. If you hate our country so much you should get out. I am so tired of self loathing liberals. You have successfully taken my Captain away from HIS command and HIS sailors. Lets see you try to fill those shoes.

Posted by: LenobleTLS3 | January 4, 2011 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Lots of good comments but one sticks out and is so right on, remember; Rome crumbled from within, history repeats itself. I want to thank all the men and women of the armed forces for making my country the best place on earth to live and I apologize for the perverted, deviate, self serving loud minority that pushes us ever closer to the fate of Rome. Captain Honor is a patriot a hero and a true American it is plain absurd to releive him of his command for perceived "gay bashing" when you let the loud perverted minority guide your decisions, which is what's happining, shame on you, all!

Posted by: MREVDAY | January 4, 2011 8:58 PM | Report abuse

I can understand the action being taken but why now three or more years after the videos were made when the military lived under different rules (don't ask, don't tell)? Other officers were aware of the videos' existence so surely the Admiral was too. It is terrible to openly destroy the career of a good Captain trying to entertain his crew after such a lengthy and successful, wartime deployment -- and all over new politics. Again, it is only shameful and cowardly to pick on one individual (a highly competent and caring individual at that) to prove change.

Posted by: mikelliott | January 4, 2011 9:11 PM | Report abuse

I think another question we should be asking is "Is the behavior itself really bad?" You can read a different opinion of the situation here:

http://www.exposetheright.com/?p=148

Posted by: mp2pi | January 4, 2011 9:52 PM | Report abuse

One thing that Captain Honors said in the video is apparently true. A gutless coward, too afraid to talk to Captain Honors face to face, has now tried to destroy his military career.

I hope the anonymous gutless coward who breached Navy security to release those videos anonymously to a newspaper gets found as quickly as Captain Honors lost his command. And that the gutless coward gets court-martialed, jailed and dishonorably discharged.

Posted by: momof20yo | January 4, 2011 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Would anybody be defending Capt. Honors if he had performed a minstrel show in blackface?

If he had been born 50 years earlier, that undoubtedly is what he would have done.

Posted by: Itzajob | January 4, 2011 11:27 PM | Report abuse

It is by no means enough that an officer of the Navy should be a capable mariner. He must be that, of course, but also a great deal more. He should be as well a gentleman of liberal education, refined manners, punctilious courtesy, and the nicest sense of personal honor.

He should be the soul of tact, patience, justice, firmness, kindness, and charity. No meritorious act of a subordinate should escape his attention or be left to pass without its reward, even if the reward is only a word of approval. Conversely, he should not be blind to a single fault in any subordinate, though at the same time, he should be quick and unfailing to distinguish error from malice, thoughtlessness from incompetency, and well meant shortcomings from heedless or stupid blunder.

Posted by: robjdisc | January 5, 2011 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I sure wish that I had a skipper like him when I served. His CO, now an amiral, was the guy that should have taken the fall. He was the CO at the time, and responsible for everything that went on. I, as a retired Navy man, think that this all came about due to the President signing into law, that queers can now run rampant in our military. A man overboard drill would have occurred if a queer was found on ANY of my previous ships (about 30 minutes after the fag was deep sixed).

Posted by: tombstone446 | January 5, 2011 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Captain, take your retirement and run. The Navy is no longer made up of wooden decks and iron men, just iron decks and wooden heads.

Posted by: tombstone446 | January 5, 2011 11:38 AM | Report abuse

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