Friday, March 19, 2010

Woman relieved of command - but no-one will cry

The contribution of women to the US Military throughout history must never be ignored. The names of such pioneering members of the fairer sex, especially those who broke barriers should never be forgotten. Margaret Corbin fought with her husband at Fort Washington in the Revolutionary decade. Dr. Mary E. Walker, a surgeon during the Civil War was the first [and only] female recipient of the Medal Of Honor. Annie G. Fox earned the first Purple Heart bestowed on a woman for injuries sustained at Hickam Field, Pearl Harbor, Dec 7 1941. Lt. Kara Hultgreen, the Navy's first fully qualified female fighter pilot, was sadly also the first woman combat pilot to die in service. In 1995 Lt Kelly Flinn USAF became the first woman B-52 Bomber Pilot. In 1990 Cmdr. Darlene Iskra became the first woman to command a U.S. Navy ship - the U.S.S. Opportune. I covered the pending promotion of Gen. Ann Dunwoody in June 2008 myself here. All impressive achievements, but what about Holly Graf?

Captain Holly Graf, US Navy, was relieved of her command of the Ticonderoga class Aegis guided missile cruiser U.S.S. Cowpens [CG-63] by the admiralty in January. The just-released Inspector General's report concludes that Graf "repeatedly verbally abused her crew and committed assault" and accuses her of using her position as commander "for personal gain." According to 29 of the 36 crew members who were questioned for the Navy's report, Graf repeatedly dropped F bombs on them. "Take your goddam attitude and shove it up your fuckin' ass and leave it there," she allegedly told an officer during a stressful maneuver aboard the 567-ft., 10,000-ton vessel.

Junior officers seeking her guidance were rebuffed. "This is one of the reasons I hate you," she allegedly told one who was seeking her help. When another officer visited her quarters to discuss an earlier heated discussion, her response was terse: "Get the fuck out of my stateroom." She allegedly told a male officer, "The only words I want to hear out of your mouth are 'Yes ma'am' or 'You're correct, ma'am'." She also allegedly put a respected master chief petty officer in "time out" — standing in the ship's key control room doing nothing in front of other personnel of all ranks.

While most of the witness statements in the report didn't specify if the testimony is from a male or female, the IG asked at least two female officers whether they viewed Graf as a role model. A younger woman recalled going to Graf to seek her help. "'Don't come to me with your problems,' " she said, quoting Graf. "'You're a fucking department head.'" The officer also said that Graf once told her, "I can't express how mad you make me without getting violent." A second female officer told the IG that Graf was a "terrible role model for women in the Navy," alleging that Graf once told her and a fellow officer on the bridge, "You two are fucking unbelievable. I would fire you if I could, but I can't."

Many officers who served with Graf over the years were not surprised by the IG's findings. Paul Coco, a 2002 Naval Academy graduate, served as a gunnery officer under Graf aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Winston S. Churchill from 2002 to 2004. "She would throw coffee cups at officers — ceramic, not foam," he recalls, "spit in one officer's face, throw binders and paperwork at people, slam doors." The hostile work environment led to a gallows humor among the crew. "We all would joke that after Bush liberated Iraq, he would next liberate Churchill," he says. That day finally came in January 2004, when Commander Todd Leavitt arrived to replace Graf. "As soon as Commander Leavitt said 'I relieve you' to Commander Graf, the whole ship, at attention, roared in cheers," he says.

Prior to the IG probe's release, the Navy had tapped Graf for a top job at the Pentagon following her Cowpens command. Now she's being shuffled off to a Navy weapons lab outside the capital. "Her career," an admiral says, "is over."

Read the rest of this fascinating information on TIME.com but of Capt. Graf I can only say that while men of all ranks in every service should and must obey the orders of their female superiors - should that female superior take a leaf out of Captain Ramsey's book, the knives will come out. Because no man will ever, should ever tolerate that kind of attitude from a woman [unless he's married to her].

Source: Military.com / TIME

8 comments:

vaughan said...

jeez the crew cheered when she left the Churchill ...she was popular.....man or woman unfit for command is unfit for command....
By the Way Colonel I thought no woman has won the Medal Of Honor....now before everyone jumps down my throat this is not sexism but a rather unfair decision taken in the thirties when congress cancelled a Lot of Medal winners...they decided the Medal had been handed out like candy when it should be the Highest honour so the good doctor was amongst the hundreds whose Medals were decided to be null and void....ah Politicans don't you just love the way they can decide who deserves the awards for doing the actual fighting.

Civilian Overseer said...

Not only that Mr.V, We often get to decide who is guilty because We make the rules. :)

Colonel Creedon said...

You have the right idea Mr. V, but your facts are slightly dated somewhat.

It was not the 30's but actually during WWI when Congress asked a board of 5 retired generals led by Lt. General Nelson A. Miles, himself a Medal Of Honor recipient, to re-evaluate the awarding conditions of the Army Medal Of Honor. So Congress rightfully differed judgment on those who were worthy to officers who had both been in and commanded the worthy in the field rather than make the decisions themselves.

This is probably one of the better things Congress did in the 20th century because there was an almost criminal disparity between the actions of those who were awarded the medal up to that point. For example; in 1863 on the request of President Lincoln, the Secretary of War sent letters to the commanding officers of the 25th and 27th Maine regiments, asking for them to remain beyond their contracted service due to the invasion of Pennsylvania by General Lee and his army. Declined first by the 25th Maine, the 27th was then asked, and over 300 men volunteered to remain beyond their service time in the defences of Washington during what became the Gettysburg Campaign. When the 27th's Colonel Wentworth delivered the message to Secretary Stanton, he was informed that "Medals of Honor would be given to that portion of the regiment that volunteered to remain". Following the end of the war, when the promise to award medals to the volunteers was fulfilled, there was a lack of an agreeable list of those who stayed behind in Washington. This resulted in some 864 medals being made, and it was left up to Col. Wentworth to distribute them to those 311 members he remembered volunteering to stay behind with him and return the rest for re-distribution. Utter madness.

Congress purged from the honour-roll and revoked 911 Medals of Honor in total awarded or issued for any cause other than distinguished service in "actual combat with an enemy" in 1917. This rightly included the 27th Maine's 864 medals, six civilians (erroneously including as you correctly pointed out the aforementioned Dr. Mary Edwards Walker and actually the scout "Buffalo" Bill Cody), as well as 12 others. The final report to Congress was endorsed by the Judge Advocate General who advised that the War Department should not seek the return the medals from the recipients identified by the board. In the case of recipients who continued to wear the medal the War Department was advised to take no action to enforce the statute.

While some abided by the decision and voluntarily returned the award, Dr. Walker did not, she defiantly continued to wear it until her death in 1919. She was a formidable woman. Denied an officer's commission because of her sex, but nevertheless volunteered her services as an assistant surgeon in many Union Army hospitals and often on the front lines. While on duty, she insisted on wearing a modified officer's uniform, including trousers under her coat and two pistols at her sides. Walker served valiantly, even spending four months in a Confederate prison in 1864 before being exchanged with other prisoners of war. After the war, she was awarded the Medal of Honor for her "services and suffering" in the war effort.

Dr. Walker's medal was restored by President Carter in 1977 citing her "distinguished gallantry, self-sacrifice, patriotism, dedication and unflinching loyalty to her country, despite the apparent discrimination because of her sex." [see he was good for something].

As a footnote Buffalo Bill's and some other souts medals were restored in 1989.

vaughan said...

Wait a second if Carter restored that medal in 1977 why the hell did we all have to sit through that god awful Meg Ryan film Courage Under Fire...whyyyyyyyyyyy?

Colonel Creedon said...

Because Denzel is in it and he's one of the finest actors alive?
While the movie makes no mention of Dr. Walker who received her medal for non-combat meritorious service, they do cover themselves by saying that Capt. Walden [Ryan's character] would be the first woman to be nominated for the medal "for performance under fire".
Since this is the criteria now, I'm sure a similar hullabaloo will be made when the time comes for a woman to receive the award in reality.

Civilian Overseer said...

"Dr. Mary E. Walker, a surgeon during the Civil War was the first [and only] recipient of the Medal Of Honor."

Colonel, surely there have been other recipients. You do our heroes an injustice Sir, Rectify this glaring mistake.

Colonel Creedon said...

Done

Civilian Overseer said...

Colonel, did you just alter an official record?, For shame!