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Toxic command for security squadron sailors

May. 4, 2013 - 11:03AM   |  
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Two of the three top leaders of Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron 12, Coastal Riverine Group 2, created a caustic command climate in which sailors were berated, rules were openly disregarded and complaints were ignored, a Navy investigation has determined.

Capt. David Hunter, the commanding officer, verbally abused sailors, failed to complete sailor evals, skirted physical training standards and, in one instance, angrily chucked command coins at his own executive officer, according to witness statements.

Master Chief Operations Specialist Gregory Krumholz, the command master chief, reportedly made racially insensitive remarks, and on one occasion asked whether a sailor’s wife was a terrorist.

The investigated incidents occurred in 2011 and 2012, and both men were fired Feb. 15. Navy Times received the command investigation April 17 through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Hunter was found guilty March 4 of misconduct and given a punitive letter of reprimand. Krumholz received nonjudicial punishment on Feb. 28 for violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice and also received a letter of reprimand. Capt. James Hamblet, the commander of Coastal Riverine Group 2, recommended that both be dismissed from the Navy.

Hunter and Krumholz are assigned to administrative duties at Coastal Riverine Group 2.

Capt. Robert Perry and Command Master Chief (EXW/AW) Alexandre Hebert are the new CO and CMC of the reserve unit, which is based in Williamsburg, Va.

Command failures

Hunter often pitted his sailors against each other, repeatedly and publicly belittling and embarrassing them, the report found.

“You do not succeed in Capt. Hunter’s world — you survive,” wrote one sailor in a statement.

During a closed-door meeting, Hunter angrily threw three command coins at his executive officer, Capt. Scott Seeberger. Hunter had become “irate” after learning Seeberger would be flying to meet the CO of the carrier John C. Stennis. “Tell them they are from Capt. David P. Hunter,” he reportedly said as he threw the coins.

“I do not think he was throwing the coins at me to hurt me, but the way he did throw them was not appropriate,” Seeberger said in testimony.

Hunter exhibited “a pattern of hiding and obscuring equal opportunity concerns and complaints,” the command report said. For example: A sailor came to Hunter to lodge a formal complaint against Krumholz for alleged racist remarks. The CO tried to dissuade the sailor. Later he assured him an investigation had taken place when there hadn’t been one, according to the findings.

Hunter also quashed an investigation of two married petty officers accused of bringing prostitutes to their hotel room while deployed to the United Arab Emirates. The sailors’ roommate reported them, MSRON 12’s legal officer said in a statement. When the legal officer asked to call in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Hunter said no, the statement said. The legal officer speculated Hunter thought the investigation would distract from operations.

When it came to paperwork, the command investigation found multiple instances of mismanagement. The CO had a number of sailors, for example, who should have been administratively separated due to repeated physical fitness assessment failures.

When it came time to test his own body composition, Hunter failed to have the required two witnesses. He also requested a do-over.

“I weighed him officially, he was two pounds over for his height [and] would have to be taped,” one MSRON 12 sailor wrote in a statement. “He said, ‘That doesn’t count, I’m not going to make it.’ About a week later, we did an official weigh-in, and he made weight.”

In addition, Hunter slacked off in getting petty officer first class evaluations in on time. Initial data suggested that almost half of all petty officers first class at MSRON 12 were missing evaluation reports.

Hunter told Navy Times he would like to speak about his case, but did not respond to questions as of press time.

Offensive humor

Though Hunter may have tried to quash a racial complaint against Krumholz, he and the CMC were not friends.

“By far, this is the worst command I have ever served with in my career,” the CMC wrote.

In part what sunk the top enlisted’s career were racially insensitive remarks and repeated use of profanity. Krumholz’s comments lead to “a hostile environment for female enlisted sailors at MSRON 12,” the investigation found.

On one occasion he remarked, “I like my coffee black, like my women.” He also “routinely” told sailors to “get the f--- out” of any meeting or discussion in his office, according to the investigation.

During a career development board with a sailor of Indian descent, Krumholz asked if he had an arranged marriage, and the sailor said no. When the sailor mentioned that his wife was visiting family in London, the CMC commented, “She isn’t a terrorist, right?”

“I always try to keep everybody laughing,” Krumholz said in his statement.

The sailor, however, did not think the joke was funny. “Maybe because I looked offended, he then said, ‘My bad, my bad, let’s move on,’” the boat engineer wrote in his statement.

Navy Times attempted to contact Krumholz through public affairs, but did not receive a response by press time.

The investigation also cited a commander in the unit who used his sailors to help him move. The investigator recommended nonjudicial punishment.

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