The Pacific Fleet's senior enlisted leader has been sacked amid allegations of travel irregularities.
Fleet Master Chief, FLTCM "Marco Ramirez, intentionally violated travel/leave regulations and consistently misused his staff," Harris, wrote in an official notification sent email correspondence to top Navy leadership, which was obtained by Navy Times and verified as authentic by multiple Navy officials.
Ramirez, as a fleet master chief, is one of the Navy's top enlisted and had could have possibly been a contender to be a future master chief petty officer of the Navy, which makes the relief all the more unusual.
A spokesman said Ramirez Navy Times reached out to Ramirez via email and phone and he "respectfully declined" to comment and Ramirez did not respond to emails seeking comment by April 17.through an official Navy spokesman.
Harris said in the email that the relief came after the preliminary report of a Judge Advocate Generals Manual investigation, conducted by a senior Navy captain on his staff.
"The investigating officer substantiated all allegations and the [Inspector General] determined that FLTCM Ramirez acted with intent to deceive/defraud the government through manipulation of the Defense Travel System process," Harris wrote in the notification email.
It's unclear what will come next for Ramirez, who's served for 31 years and has been reassigned elsewhere in Pacific Fleet headquarters in Hawaii. Once the investigation wraps up, might not be over for Ramirez, either, who Harris said would be temporarily assigned elsewhere in Pacific Fleet Headquarters. Harris also left the door open for disciplinary action if necessary, after the investigation is complete and the rest of the facts are in.
"At a minimum, our IG will reopen its review of FLTCM Ramirez' travel, capture a complete accounting of the cost of this travel, and seek to recoup those funds that are appropriately due to the U.S. government ," Harris wrote. He further estimated the cost of the alleged fraud could go as high as $10,000.
In the memo, Harris didn't give anyfurther detail sn the correspondence about which specific travel violations or what those nature of the violations that allegedly occurred nor did he explain further in what ways the fleet master chief had allegedly "misused" his staff.
Having to relieve Ramirez, who Harris said he'd served with before, "pains me professionally and personally," Harris wrote, told leadership in the email, noting that he personally is the son of a chief petty officer and that he is a strong believer in the chief's mess in the Navy.
"All that said, I view FLTCM Ramirez' relief as a necessary action," he said, ending the email.
Multiple Navy officials said Ramirez's Sources tell Navy Times that the relief happened after an JAGMAN investigation concluded he substantiated allegations that Ramirez intentionally tried to defraud the government by manipulating the Defense Travel System.
The Pacific Fleet issued a brief news release April 16 saying Ramirez "had not performed up to the high standards of his office."
Force Master Chief Russell S. Mason, who has been serving as the Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet force master chief is being temporarily assigned until pending a permanent relief arrives, according to official sources. the sources said.
Ramirez, those same sources said, will be temporarily assigned elsewhere in Pacific Fleet Headquarters. Ramirez could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday.
As PACFLT's master chief, Ramirez served as the senior enlisted leader, mentor and role model for 140,000 sailors.
Ramirez enlisted in the Navy in 1984 as an aviation boatswain's mate (equipment) and later shifted to legalman, according to his official bio. He has served as a command master chief for 5th Fleet, 6th Fleet and Strike Fighter Squadron 94.
He is a graduate of the Navy's senior enlisted academy and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland, according to his bio.
Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.