Four readers penned letters to the editor for the Feb. 9 issue of Navy Times. Have thoughts you'd like to share on Navy Times stories or letters? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, address, phone number and rank. Submissions may be published in print and online.
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WOMEN ON SUBS, GREAT IDEA
I'm writing in response to the letter by former STS-2 (SS) Phillip Johnston ["Women on subs: bad idea," Dec. 29].
As a current submariner — 3.5 years on the attack submarine Olympia, three years on the gold crew of the guided-missile sub Michigan — my opinions differ from those of some who wrote in concerning women serving on board submarines.
It is alarming that readers don't display much confidence in today's sailors to be able to conduct themselves as the professionals we constantly strive to be.
When the crew found out that three female officers would soon be a part of the crew, there was almost no reaction. Our job description didn't change, nor did the expectations placed on us. The integration of females onboard Michigan was effectively seamless. They are officers, regardless of gender. All hands treat them with the same professionalism and respect that is expected in the workplace.
I must state: I am a proponent of submarine tradition. There have been a lot of recent changes throughout the submarine force, many of them positive. They promote efficiency and professional interaction, essential if we are to have continued success as an organization, especially given the limited number of personnel available to fill billets in the various submarine rates.
The days of opposing "women on submarines" are over. This is already happening, and with great success. Allowing our ships access to a talent pool we didn't have before is outstanding.
Now is the time to look to the future and focus on how we can become better as a new and improved community.
EM1 (SS) Tom Berry
Naval Base Guam
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COAST GUARD JUSTICE
As I was reading the results of Coast Guard courts-martial, I noticed something interesting about how the service provides the information to the media ["Coast Guard renders court-martial verdicts in late 2014," Jan. 27].
The other branches of the military release all of their court-martial results, including those where the verdict was not guilty, while the Coast Guard, as a matter of policy, provides only the convictions. To the uninformed it would appear the USCG has a 100 percent conviction rate, which of course is not true.
Why does the Coast Guard not provide all the court-martial verdicts? The other services do this, but they do not release the names of those found not guilty, only the guilty.
If you go back over the past two years, about a third of the results reported by the other services are not guilty — particularly in cases involving things like rape and indecent assault.
The public should be told the whole story in that regard and not just be given this limited view by Coast Guard leaders. I imagine the senior officials at the USCG are only giving the conviction results to send a slanted, untrue message that everyone charged is being found guilty.
It is also interesting that the Coast Guard does not provide the names of those convicted even though, unlike Article 15 or administrative discharges, the names of those convicted at a court-martial (at least general and special courts-martial) are public records. In fact, I do not recall seeing any of the other services posting summary court-martial results, only general and special.
One would think the services would be more uniform as to what results they do and do not release. It is my belief the Coast Guard should adopt what its sister services in the Department of Defense are releasing.
Cmdr. Wayne L. Johnson, JAGC (ret.)
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HAIRCUTS SHOULD STAY
Recruits no longer to get shaved haircuts ["Changes in boot camp hair regs," Jan. 19]? When is it going to end?
As a former company commander, I will tell you this was the best way to find out early on who lacked good hygiene, leading to head sores, lice and other problems. You'd best believe that in those days we got many sailors who came from some shady backgrounds.
I am in no way trying to ridicule anyone; that's the way it was. After the discharge of Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SW/AW) Jessica Sims for refusing to cut her braided hair, I believe the powers that be are running scared. To say haircuts are part of the quality of life when going through — I hate to say boot camp, so I'll say the co-educational vacation at Great Lakes, Illinois, is ridiculous. I would hope they are there to learn to fight the ship.
I do not want to slight the recruit division commanders, as I am sure they do their best with the guidance they are given. As Master Chief Anderson stated in the same issue ["Low morale no surprise," Letters], all the real Navy traditions have been CASREP'd. Everyone is so terrified over losing their career for a minor slip.
I lived for the Navy, but I would rather send a young person to Wal-Mart to push carts than to a recruiter. I am 70 years old and retired, and real damn glad I am.
BMCM (SW) T.C. Oneyear (ret.)
Elizabeth City, N.C.
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It's wonderful to be a retired Navy man with all my Navy memories intact. I worry that today's sailors are missing a wonderful slice of Navy life by being denied some of its great traditions.
The crow tacking when I first made PO3 was something I looked forward to, for from that day forward I was a petty officer.
Crossing the line was more fun the second time across, but the fondest memories are of the first crossing of the equator, including everything from the beauty contest to the royal baby. From that day forward we were no longer polywogs, but trusted and worthy shellbacks. We were the equal to our brothers who'd crossed before us, from the beginning of the Navy.
My CPO initiation remains vivid in my memory, even the carrying of a "wheel book" in which bogus charges were launched against me, for which I stood trial during my initiation. It was one of the good, fun things that made me feel like a true brother to all my fellow CPOs (both male and female). Without the initiation ceremony, one truly couldn't be thought of as a "chief."
Without the Navy backing for CPOs to conduct these rituals today for their own brethren, becoming a chief petty officer is a lot more hollow than in the past.
Additionally, it weakens the deck plate leadership that is critical to the success of each Navy ship's captain. Any former CO can attest to the respect he or she had toward the CPOs.
Too bad political correctness has invaded the Navy to this extreme, causing tradition to die a death that will be mourned by many, myself included.
PNCS John Partin (ret.)