Seven days after urging the crew of the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman to “clap like we’re at a strip club” to welcome aboard Vice President Mike Pence, Command Master Chief Jonas Doyle Carter stepped down from his post.
His bawdy reference ended up eclipsing the veep’s visit as CNN and other news outlets seized on his gaffe. Pence had come aboard to announce the administration was abandoning cost-cutting efforts to decommission Truman and instead would mark the Nimitz-class carrier for a midlife Refueling Complex Overhaul in Norfolk.
In the wake of his strip club quip, Truman’s spokeswoman, Lt. Cmdr. Laura Stegherr, called Carter’s words “inappropriate” and said the issue was "being addressed by Truman’s leadership.”
Following a brief Tuesday announcement by Pentagon officials that Carter had resigned and was pursuing retirement, Truman’s official Facebook page published prepared statements from both Carter, the flattop’s senior enlisted sailor and his skipper, Capt. Nick Dienna.
Navy officials said Tuesday that Master Chief Claude Henderson, who is currently stationed at Fleet Logistics Center Norfolk, will be assigned as Truman’s Command Master Chief, beginning in early June. In the interim, Truman’s Air Department leading chief petty officer, Master Chief Bob Stumm, will be the carrier’s command master chief, as he has done on previous occasions in the absence of Carter.
A Michigan native who enlisted nearly 28 years ago, Carter, 46, used his Facebook statement to address the carrier’s crew, telling them that he made a mistake, owned it and would accept responsibility and learn from it.
“Today, I want each of you to know that I have taken full responsibility of my mistake last week and together with my family, I have decided to retire,” Carter said. "I thank you for being my ‘family’ where my family could not be... I thank you for looking each challenge in the eye and conquering it... I thank you for making my tour as your Command Master Chief the very best tour in my 28 year career!”
Speaking with sailors in the Truman’s hangar bay, the vice president announced the White House’s decision to scrap its cost-saving decommissioning plans for Truman, which will instead enter its midlife Refueling Complex Overhaul.
Carter reported to Truman on Nov. 25, 2017, more than four years after pinning on master chief, according to military records provided to Navy Times.
His long career included stints on board the minesweeper Constant, the carriers Ronald Reagan and John C. Stennis, the amphibious warship Kearsarge and the guided-missile cruiser Chancellorsville, where he served as the command master chief.
In his message, Capt. Dienna noted that Carter had worn his anchors for 17 years and “molded countless future leaders in our Navy."
He said that Carter embraced every tasking “with a fervent heart, a broad smile and a true sense of purpose,” leaving “no doubt as to what kind leader he is, or the kind of leader he wanted us all to be.”
Dienna applauded Carter for " having the forthrightness and the courage to uphold this ethos by taking responsibility and holding himself accountable for his comments."
Carter’s personal awards included at least two Meritorious Service Medals and three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, according to his service records.