The concerned mother broke down in tears as she talked about her son, a petty officer second class sailor aboard the carrier Theodore Roosevelt.
“We talked yesterday,” the Pinellas County, Florida, resident said in a phone interview with Navy Times. “He was still fine and really excited that he was going to be quarantined and get in a hotel room and away from each other.”
Out of fear of retribution, the mother asked that neither she nor her son be named.
A few days earlier her son mentioned that there were 250 sailors in a berthing area about the size of her 1,600-square-foot home, she told Navy Times.
In a later conversation, she said her son told her that one of the sailors tested positive for COVID-19.
“I have been devastated,” she said. “I think that he is going to be fine, to be honest. We are going to make our entire country go into this complete lockdown and not even quarantine and protect our most valuable assets. I am dumbfounded, to be honest. I am definitely upset."
The high school science teacher added that she was “very upset” to learn today that the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, had been fired.
Navy officials announced the decision to remove the commanding officer of the sidelined aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in the wake of a leaked letter he penned pleading for U.S. intervention to stifle a COVID-19 outbreak on the 4,800-person ship.
Cozier’s letter, which was first published by the San Francisco Chronicle, was reportedly sent up the captain’s immediate chain of command in a “non-secure, unclassified” email that included “20 or 30” additional recipients, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told reporters Thursday.
The sailor’s mother, meanwhile, said that she was thankful Crozier was her son’s captain.
“Right after I after heard from [him], I said I was so thankful for this being my son’s captain, that he had such a wonderful person," she said. "I don’t blame him for letting them off in Vietnam. He had no clue. None of us thought it was that bad.”
The mother of the Roosevelt sailor said she was “really proud” that Crozier “risked his own livelihood. That is so hard to do. Not a lot of men, not a lot of women, not a lot of people out there who would do that for others.”
She had not yet seen today’s press conference where Navy officials announced Crozier was being relieved of command.
“My mom updated me,” she said. “As soon as she heard that he got fired, she called. I am devastated. This is so terrible. Because he was finally looking out for the little guys, you know? There’s not a lot of people like that in the world."
Sailors aboard the Roosevelt should have been in quarantine sooner, said the sailor’s mother, who comes from a military family. Her dad was in the Air Force. Her grandfather was in the Marines and her ex-husband was in the Navy.
“We met on Guam,” she said of her ex. “That’s where my son is now. We have a long history of being there for our nation.”
Still, she said she remains hopeful about her son’s future.
“My fingers are crossed,” she said.
“I am just waiting to hear in the next day or two that he is off the ship and in his own hotel room, and if sick he can rest comfortably for a week or two before getting back on the ship.”
If you or a loved one is aboard the Theodore Roosevelt, please email email@example.com.
Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and reporter who was previously the military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and SOF writ large among many other topics.