MARY MARGARET OLOHAN
SOCIAL ISSUES REPORTER

  • Sailors aboard the USS Roosevelt cheered in support of their fired commander as he exited the coronavirus-infected aircraft carrier.
  • Capt. Brett Crozier was relieved of his duties Thursday after writing a letter begging officials to send help to the aircraft carrier, the Theodore Roosevelt, where more than 100 sailors were infected with coronavirus.
  • Video footage shows sailors repeatedly chanting “Captain Crozier” as well as cheering and applauding as the captain exited the ship.

Sailors on the USS Roosevelt cheered in support of their fired commander as he exited the coronavirus-infected aircraft carrier.

Video footage of Capt. Brett Crozier leaving the USS Roosevelt shows sailors aboard the aircraft carrier chanting “Captain Crozier,” as well as cheering and applauding as the captain exited the ship. Crozier stands momentarily to survey the crowd before saluting them and getting into an awaiting car.

 
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“And that’s how you send off one of the greatest captains you ever had,” an unknown person filming the crowd says in another video. “The GOAT.”

More than 66,000 people have signed a Change.org petition to “Reinstate Captain Crozier as Commanding Officer” as of 9:38 a.m. Friday. The petition was started Thursday night.

“Captain Crozier was unjustly relieved of duty of the air craft carrier CVN-71 USS Theodoore Roosevelt on April 2nd 2020,” the petition says. “His crime was asking for help regarding the safety of his crew when a covid-19 outbreak [sic].”

“His actions possibly saved many lives,” it continued. “Although he was fired, his plan to safely remove crew members was still implemented. He is a hero who should be rewarded.”

Crozier’s letter asking for help was obtained exclusively by the San Francisco Chronicle and confirmed by a senior officer on board the aircraft carrier. (RELATED: Navy Fires Aircraft Carrier Commander Who Begged For Help Over Coronavirus Cases)

“Today at my direction the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Captain Brett Crozier, was relieved of command by carrier strike group commander Rear Admiral Stewart Baker,” acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly said Thursday during a Pentagon press briefing.

Modly said the captain was not removed from his position based on any evidence that Crozier shared the memo with the press. Crozier was removed from his duties for allowing “the complexity of his challenge with the COVID breakout on the ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally when acting professionally was what was needed the most at the time,” the acting secretary of the Navy said.

Crozier wrote in his letter: “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.” (RELATED: ‘Sailors Do Not Need To Die’: Captain Of Aircraft Carrier With Coronavirus Cases Begs Navy For Help)

The captain also noted that the ship’s “inherent limitations of space” prevent the crew of over 4,000 sailors from being able to practice social distancing.

“The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating,” Crozier wrote.

“Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure,” he continued. “This is a necessary risk. Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care.”

PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement that Crozier’s dismissal should “send a chill down the spine of every American who values the First Amendment.” PEN America is nonprofit working to defend free expression in the United States.

“Speaking out earnestly on a grave matter of health and safety for the sailors under his command in the midst of a life-threatening pandemic was an act of conscience and compassion,” Nossel said. “To be penalized for that is shameful.”

“The navy’s action today demonstrates that this administration’s ‘shoot the messenger’ approach to handling its own failings has now taken hold in the U.S. military as well,” the PEN America CEO added. “Our leaders have lost sight of the fact that there are values higher in this country than the preservation of their reputations.”

MARY MARGARET OLOHAN

Follow Mary Margaret on Twitter.

 

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