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Posted at 3:07 PM ET, 01/ 3/2011

In the Navy with Honors

By Jonathan Capehart

U.S. Navy Captain Owen Honors wins the ironic name of the day contest. When you see the video exposed in a story broken by the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, you'll see why. The commander of the USS Enterprise is in serious trouble over one in a series of videos he did in 2006 and 2007 when he was that vessel's executive officer. While I am resisting the urge to demand that Honors get the boot, I wouldn't be the least bit dismayed if he were to announce his sudden retirement.

As the executive officer of the Enterprise at the time, Honors had a responsibility to lead by example. And he would have been in top form were the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier the set for "The Hangover 3: Lost at Sea." Honors kicks off this highly produced crude humor video by criticizing those who had the good sense to complain.

Over the years I've gotten several complaints about inappropriate materials in these videos, never to me personally but, gutlessly, through other channels. This evening, all of you bleeding hearts and you, fag SWO boy, why don't you just go ahead and hug yourself for the next 20 minutes or so, because there's a really good chance you're gonna be offended tonight.

SWO stands for surface warfare officer.

Believe it or not, it goes downhill from there. Honors and others are featured in a montage dropping F-bombs (not that one, the four-letter one that rhymes with truck), engaging in simulated masturbation and marveling at "chicks in the shower." That last bit features men doubled up in shower stalls, too. I understand the desire for humor while at sea, especially in a war zone. But not by the second in command. Watching the video, I wondered if a female member of the Enterprise or a gay one would feel comfortable reporting ill treatment knowing that their leader viewed them as punchlines on closed circuit television on a weekly basis.

Having said that, let me be clear about something. This ain't the Tailhook scandal that rocked the Navy in the 1990s. During a 1991 aviators' convention in Las Vegas, 83 female members of the Navy, some of them officers, were sexually assaulted. There were also assaults on seven men.

But Honors could be seen as perpetuating the frat house environment that proved to be the kindling for Tailhook. And in an organization that demands good order and discipline, that shouldn't be tolerated. Perhaps the Navy, which is now conducting an investigation, will come to the same conclusion.

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 3, 2011; 3:07 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

What is it with naval aviators from Annapolis?

Posted by: Itzajob | January 3, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Let's give this homophobic jerk early retirement without pay.

Posted by: tedlpearson | January 3, 2011 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I, however, will call for him getting the boot. Dishonorable discharge. What is the purpose of having honorable behavior standards if they're not to be fulfilled, or one might say, honored?

If this was one ancient lapse of judgment, that might be one thing. Might be. But this was serial behavior. These films are a couple of years old—how do we know that there aren't more that are recent?

At any rate, letting him stay sends the wrong message. Letting him retire on the taxpayer's retirement plan sends another—that there are no real consequences in this world. Dishonorable discharge.

Too bad he trashed his own career. Tragic, indeed.

Posted by: lindsaycurren | January 3, 2011 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Get the whole story before you destroy his military career.

Why are these videos being shown now? They're four years old.

Who accessed a military computer on the biggest Navy ship, and sent the videos 'off the ship'?


What else is the person behind the video-release doing? What is their personal agenda for releasing these videos NOW, four years later?


I saw voluntary participation from numerous people in these videos. It didn't appear that anyone had been forced to participate, nor does it appear that anyone was recorded without their knowledge.


Get the whole story. Remember what was done to Shirley Sherrod a few months ago? She was fired as a result of someone's intentional editing, to make that video seem worse than it was.
Someone is trying to destroy Capt. Honors career, and we need to know why.

Posted by: momof20yo | January 3, 2011 6:40 PM | Report abuse

The biggest problem with Honors is that he acts like a 13 year old boy in this video. He's been to USNA and the Naval War College. He knows something about leadership. I doubt anyone in his chain of command thinks this is the ONLY way to motivate sailors. There are plenty of people who can take his place, who are just as dedicated, just as smart (or smarter) and can get the job done. If he can't do the job the way the Navy wants him to do it, then he should call it a day.

Posted by: readerny | January 3, 2011 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Not this will dissuade much of anyone but seriously you want Captain Honors thrown out of the Navy with no retirement?
I do not believe that his stunning lack awareness nor his chutzpah in bragging that sailors had complained but "so what" means he deserves to retain command of the Enterprise.?
But he has also spent over 20 years in military and has fought in combat for this country. Making silly videos that are immature and not befitting his rank is no reason to send him off to oblivion with no retirement. Unlike most of you posting this man sacrificed for his country and losing command and what would have been eventual admirals stars is punishment enough

Posted by: Jaddison | January 3, 2011 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Let there be equality in the navy,,women should be down in submarines,,young sailors have a sea daddy to care for them

Posted by: schmidt1 | January 3, 2011 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Owen Honors is nothing but a sexist and a bigot.

He is also SO DUMB and so out of touch that he saw nothing wrong with making videos of his offensive and tasteless sense of "humor".

The NAVY needs to rid itself of this idiot ASAP.

Posted by: ethereal_reality | January 3, 2011 8:25 PM | Report abuse

This guy is a scapegoat.

The Obamanistas (like Capehart) are using him to warn the military before they create their re-educations camps for gay culture. Conform or loose your command, rank and pension. Corporal Klinger is about to be promoted to General.

Stories like this just don't happen. They are planned and timed to have maximum political impact.
If they persecute him, mass resignations and retirements should follow. Re-enlistments should be declined. Let the advocates for a gay military fight in Afghanistan and Iraq. All 10,000 of them. The Lady Gagas,the David Geffins, the Adam Lamberts, the Katy Perrys, the Jonathan Capeharts, et al. You can bet the Obama children will never enlist. They and their fellow Sidwell Friends types produce soldiers, sailors and pilots like they produce capitalists.

Posted by: maxtel1910 | January 3, 2011 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Wow! He drops the F-bomb. Sounds like Hilary Clinton or Joe Biden in "Game Change". Cover your virgin ears Posties!

Posted by: maxtel1910 | January 3, 2011 8:35 PM | Report abuse

The guy is neither scapegoat or victim. As to why the videos are being shown now - he has been made the commanding officer, and the ship is soon to deploy. He will hold a great deal of power over crew members. I am a retired Navy judge advocate - former advisor to a carrier CO, a carrier group commander, the 2nd Fleet commander and the commander of NATO Striking Fleet Atlantic. This guy is an idiot and not fit to serve as CO. These videos were not hacked from some private computer. These videos were produced by the man, when XO, and were obviously shown on the ship's closed circuit TV. If the judge advocate on the ship at the time did not advise him about the impropriety, he or she too should be relived and reprimanded. I do hope the Navy does the right thing and relives this self-centered, egotistical idiot. I knew several of them. Fortunately all of my COs were warriors, gentlemen and honorable. Those calling for a dishonorable discharge - can't happen. Officers don't get DDs. And he does not warrant it. He warrants relief of command, Admiral's Mast (non-judicial punishment) with award of a letter of reprimand. Bottom line if done this way, disgrace, and end of career. A well deserved ending too for this nitwit. Do the right thing Navy - this is a disgrace!

Posted by: j-quail | January 3, 2011 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Definately unacceptable behavior from the XO, now CO, of our nation's most recognizable warship. He will most likely be relieved of command by Rear Admiral Terry Kraft, who is the commander of Carrier Strike Group 12 (Enterprise Strike Group), and charged with Article 133; conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman. Rear Admiral Lawrence Rice and Rear Admiral Ron Horton, the two prior COs of Enterprise before Honors, may also receive reprimands for not taking action against Honors while he was under their command.

Posted by: saevurr | January 3, 2011 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Definately unacceptable behavior from the XO, now CO, of our nation's most recognizable warship. He will most likely be relieved of command by Rear Admiral Terry Kraft, who is the commander of Carrier Strike Group 12 (Enterprise Strike Group), and charged with Article 133; conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman. Rear Admiral Lawrence Rice and Rear Admiral Ron Horton, the two prior COs of Enterprise before Honors, may also receive reprimands for not taking action against Honors while he was under their command.

Posted by: saevurr | January 3, 2011 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Honors is clearly a scapegoat. Let the witch hunt begin. Anyone who uttered a slur during DADT must now pay for their crimes. Re-education camps for everyone. We'll call it training. Let's nominate David Geffin for Secretary of the Navy. Lady Gaga for under secretary. Any one who thinks this is just about Honors is naive.

Posted by: maxtel1910 | January 3, 2011 9:04 PM | Report abuse

j-quail, while I completely respect your opinion for non-judicial punishment for Honors, I do not feel that the tax payers should have to pay for his pension. He should receive a dismissal.

Posted by: saevurr | January 3, 2011 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Having served twenty years in the US Navy with my last several years as an Aircraft Maintenance Chief in Navy Aircraft squadrons I have a right to respond to this article.

I can tell you that a Commanding Officer spends more than 50% of his time working with about 5 to 10 percent of his lower ranking officers that are having trouble fitting in. He must watch them closely and determine if they are fit to continue as US Naval Officers.

I do not know what the percentages are for those that remain as career officers, but I can tell you the it stands to reason that every one of them will not be promoted and that a lot will be released from the service with their countries thanks.

Of course most of them will leave on their own, and some of those that choose civilian life would make excellent Naval Officers.

However, when a naval office makes it to Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) and is passed over three times for the next higher rank of Commander, he is in most cases allowed to remain in the Navy until he has twenty years in service. Usually he is then retired to the fleet Reserve. On rare occasions an evaluation of their career might show cause to promote them to commander and they can continue their careers.

When a pilot LCDR is passed over three times they are quite often assigned to utility squadrons to complete their twenty years. I had the good fortune to be Aircraft Maintenance Chief in one of the utility squadrons. I knew when I was assigned there that they had all been passed over three times. I decided to find out why by doing an enlisted mans quarterly Review on them.

I did three evaluation and they opened up like a book, i.e., I could read them as if they were a seaman duce - most of them were just plain lazy. They could not care for themselves, their uniforms, or their administrative responsibilities. They just wanted to fly. It wasn't that the most of them couldn't, it was that it was a matter of choice and they wouldn't.

Once a man has made CDR he is constantly being evaluated for Flag positions and rank.

When a man is XO of a USN Carrier You can bet that he has a lot on the ball and is there to get the experience and to get the required "Command at Sea time" that qualifies him to drive one of those big things. And, you can bet he is a very good at Naval politics, warfare, and leadership.
I'm not talking about personality - I have met a lot that were out right ash wholes by choice.

Once in a while one will maneuver himself up through the ranks even to Admiral and most times they get caught before they can do much damage.

As for the Captain that is the subject of the article, do not fret over him - he has done the equivalent of running his ship aground and his career is over. Such is life, such is life.

There is no such thing as perfection here on earth, but there are some very good men in the US Navy.

Posted by: ramseytuell | January 3, 2011 9:56 PM | Report abuse

The best thing about DADT repeal is people like maxtel1910 are now going to have to accept that gay servicemembers fight and die for their country just like straight servicemembers. Obviously some of us have a little trouble with this notion. But this is America and gay servicemembers deserve our respect and our heartfelt thanks, just like straight servicemembers. Don't like it? Move!

Oh, but if you hate America so much that you must hate gay servicemembers, you can't move to Canada, they've had gay marriage for years now. Iran might be a better fit; they hate gays there. There's nothing more un-American and unpatriotic than failing to thank every single servicemember in our nation's military.

Posted by: jdsher00 | January 3, 2011 9:57 PM | Report abuse

This is gross conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. It is highly unlikely that this is neither the first time nor the last time that he has committed such stupidity. Someone does not just become stupid.

And while I would agree that this is not Tailhook..... how do you think that debacle came to be in the first place? Stupidity like this that went unchecked over long periods of time until it escalated to what we saw in 1991. Honor`s behavior has no doubt been going on since he was an ensign and it has been tolerated up until now. The Navy already did an investigation and dismissed this behavior as "boys will be boys." Clearly at least one person was not quite as amused by it in the first place and most assuredly was less amused that it was outright dismissed, that he got promoted AND that he became the commander of a carrier.

If the Navy wants to show that they are mature and responsible they need to toss his happy rear overboard.

Posted by: KarenLS | January 3, 2011 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Thank God WaPo readers and writers aren't running the Navy or we'd be painting ships pink and appointing Admiral Polly Shore just to prove a point about DADT. It was obviously inappropriate for an officer of Honors' stature to make lewd videos, but the over-reaction on here is comically out-of-touch. This shouldn't be a surprise at all. The military culture is generally crude, and its ranks are filled with professional tough guys and girls with thick-skin who do some really dangerous things in the defense of our nation. Sometimes the way servicemembers create a distraction from the monotony and terror of war can seem insensitive to the general American populace that sits comfortably at home every night, but until you've walked the proverbial mile in their shoes, you won't get it.

Posted by: Realist22 | January 3, 2011 10:37 PM | Report abuse

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