The entire command triad of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4, currently deployed to Okinawa, Japan, was fired Feb. 11 after the unit’s executive officer was found intoxicated and walking naked in the woods on Camp Shields.
Lt. Cmdr. Jason M. Gabbard, the unit’s XO, was relieved after being discovered in the woods wearing only his boots following a command gathering for chiefs and officers, Navy officials said.
The commanding officer, Cmdr. James J. Cho, and Command Master Chief (SCW/EXW) Jason K. Holden, were also relieved for their handling of the incident, which they attempted to cover up, a source told Navy Times.
The firing of a complete command leadership is rare. It happened with the leaders of the destroyer Fitzgerald following the deadly collision in June.
Still, it happened twice in three years, prior to that. All three leaders of the destroyer Bainbridge a ship were canned was in 2016 amid reports of a firework and gambling scandal. Also, in 2014, the leadership of the destroyer James E. Williams was fired as a result of a poor command climate report and subsequent investigation.
NMCB-4 has been in Okinawa since Oct. 14, when it assumed duties as the Western Pacific Naval Construction Force.
Cho, Gabbard and Holden have been temporarily assigned to Naval Construction Group One in Port Hueneme, California, according to Cmdr. Cate Cook, spokeswoman for Navy Expeditionary Combat Command.
A crew morale survey from the Fitzgerald shows sailors were in good spirits in the weeks before the June 17 collision.
Capt. Nick Yamodis will assume temporary duties as the NMCB-4 commanding officer until a permanent replacement is put in place, Cook said.
“Trust is the foundation for everything we do as military professionals, and we expect our service members to conduct themselves with the integrity and character to justify that trust,” she said. “When there are any indications that those values are not being followed, we conduct appropriate investigations and take action as necessary.”
Gabbard joined the Navy in March 1998 and initially attended nuclear field machinist’s mate “A school” before being appointed to the US Naval Academy in 1999. He has been the XO of NMCB-4 since June 2017.
Cho, a Bronze Star recipient, was commissioned as a seabee officer through officer candidate school after graduating in 1996 from the University of Michigan.
Master Chief Holden, also a Bronze Star recipient, joined the Navy in September 1998 and served as an enlisted builder after “A school.” He became the CMC of NMCB-4 in September 2016.