A Stain on the Honor of the Navy
When President Donald Trump visited Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan last month, sailors were reportedly ordered by the White House to hang a tarp on the USS John S. McCain, covering the ship’s name. All sailors on board were also given the day off. (President Trump had previously taken swipes at the late senator, though he tweeted a denial that he had known about the orders to cover his name.) Some of the service members who were present during the president’s visit wore “Make Aircrew Great Again” patches, with something that resembled Trump’s profile on them.
The incident, Eliot A. Cohen wrote, brought dishonor not only to McCain but also to the Navy itself:
“What this episode shows is that the black fungus of fear, and ambition, and servility is more pervasive than might have been imagined. It stains uniforms even as it has stained business suits. The president has merely brought it to the surface.”
I was a sailor aboard the USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51)—the same class as the USS John S. McCain ship—during the Clinton presidency and the early part of George W. Bush’s presidency. We entertained foreign dignitaries, state and federal leaders, and various groups regularly, often painting and polishing all visible areas to show pride in our ship and our service to country. I cannot imagine a time where we would have felt ashamed or embarrassed by the namesake of our ship. I am appalled to hear that the Navy would even entertain the request of hiding the late Senator John S. McCain’s name. The fact that our president did not serve at all and that McCain was a naval aviator, prisoner of war, and civil servant should have given the Navy even more incentive to “politely disregard” this request. By covering the name of the ship, a portion of our military is conceding defeat to an overbearing president.