As of today, the world continues to be shut down as the entire international community scrambles to fight COVID-19, a fight that has become a world war between democracy and an unprecedented pandemic. Ironically through this war of disease, the US military has been easily overlooked by the public during times of extreme health crisis, compared to during times of conflict. It cannot be overlooked though that the many branches of the US military still continue to defend the United States through the crisis.
Unfortunately though, it seems as if Washington themselves have begun to overlook the military, which has been illustrated by the recent unfair and confusing dismissal of Navy Captain Crozier from the USS Theodore Roosevelt by Navy Secretary Thomas Modly. Why was he dismissed? Because he made awareness of a critical situation aboard the ship and described a solution that would help support and save many lives within his crew, as-well as potentially saving many more lives on other US Navy vessels. President Donald Trump also made a statement supporting Thomas Modly, saying “I mean, this isn’t a class on literature…and he shouldn’t be talking that way in a letter” . By dismissing Crozier, Washington was trying to save face, at the expense of the people aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, in which the situation aboard continues to become more critical each day.
Upon hearing this story, many people may be reminded of the 1995 movie Outbreak with Dustin Hoffman saving a town from a deadly pandemic and a corrupt military general who seeks to destroy the town to save himself from scrutiny towards his actions with the pandemic. The movie is obviously fictional, but the movie has seemed to predict the future as Thomas Modly chose eliminating Crozier’s position in the Navy first, over responding to the immediate problem reported by the Captain aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. By April 13th, one death and “nearly 600 cases” have been reported on the vessel , including the Captain who has since left the Roosevelt .
Most of the sailors aboard the vessel cheered for the captain as he was led off, a stark contrast to Modly’s speech on the USS Theodore Roosevelt days after relieving Captain Crozier, in which the Acting Secretary at the time referred to the Captain as “stupid and naive”. One sailor listening yelled out that “He was just trying to help us”, and many other sailors had the same feelings for the captain, not feeling as if they were jeopardized by the Captain’s letter, but rather he was worried for his crew. But Thomas Modly was worried more about the media and polarization that he claimed would embarrass himself, the chain of command, the administration and even the sailors . Yet, most of the embarrassment has fallen on the since-resigned Modly, and not the Captain or his crew. Since then, many sailors in the Navy have been evacuated into Guam, ironically recommended by Crozier in his letter; the Navy also has not thrown out the idea of reinstating the Captain of his position, but is it too late?
Whether it is or it is not, it unfortunately is not the only case of this problem occurring.
Throughout the Trump Presidency, numerous people have been fired for seemingly criticizing or opposing Trump’s agenda. One such example is the case with former Acting Secretary Richard Spencer who had been fired for his handling of a case regarding a war criminal, Eddie Gallagher’s case. Spencer had been advocating for “rule of law” and discipline against Gallagher, unlike Trump who advocated for a peaceful pardon towards Gallagher. Richard Spencer stood up to the President, which in turn got him fired. Ironically, Thomas Modly was his replacement .
Another case was around the time of Trump’s impeachment, in which former Inspector General Michael Atkinson was fired by Trump after alerting Congress about a whistle-blower . Another similar case was the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, who had been leading the investigation into Trump to see if his administration was colluding with Russia during the election .
These firings suggest a problem for democracy in the US, in which the current presidential administration seems as if it seeks to save face, firing those who have been brave to debate and oppose certain actions made by the administration to fill it with those who fit the status quo. Times like this though, with the threat of COVID-19 becoming worse and worse each day, the status quo ceases to exist. Captain Crozier is one example of a brave hero who ignored the status quo to help his crew. Yet, why is it so easy for him and so many others to be dismissed? Why does democracy continue to be dismissed?
 Pickrell, Ryan. 2020. “The acting Navy secretary says he swiftly fired an aircraft carrier captain to avoid having Trump step in.” 15, Apr, 2020. https://www.businessinsider.com/acting-navy-secretary-quickly-fired-captain-before-trump-intervened-2020-4 (15, Apr, 2020).
 Starr, Barbara, and Ryan Browne. 2020. “Sailor aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt dies of coronavirus .” 14, Apr, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/13/politics/theodore-roosevelt-sailor-coronavirus/index.html (14, Apr, 2020).
 CNN. 2020. “Transcript: Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly addresses USS Theodore Roosevelt crew about ‘stupid’ ousted captain .” 6, Apr, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/06/politics/thomas-modly-transcript/index.html (6, Apr, 2020).
 BBC. 2019. “US Navy Secretary Richard Spencer fired over Seal case.” 16, Apr, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-50541045 (16, Apr, 2020).
 BBC. 2020. “Michael Atkinson: Trump fires intelligence chief involved in impeachment .” 16, Apr, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52164706 (16, Apr, 2020).
 Shear, D. Michael, and Matt Apuzzo. 2017. “F.B.I. Director James Comey Is Fired by Trump.” 16, Apr, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/09/us/politics/james-comey-fired-fbi.html (16, Apr, 2020).
Photo taken by US Navy/MCS 3rd Class Nicholas Huynh and taken from Business Insider.
Troy, you covered a really important example of how the government needs to work on transparency and what true bravery looks like in times like this. Right now it is especially important to be getting accurate, honest information; so when someone is punished for speaking the truth that might protect people, it’s discouraging to see. This was a widely publicized event, unlike the other firings you’ve mentioned, and it gives us an insight in how disorganized the US federal government is in this crisis.
The military is the protector of the people, and no one has been talking about how the country is protecting our military from disease! I’m so glad someone discussed this because this affects so many lives and as well as many loved ones. Personally, one of my close friends is on base in Texas right now and although he is safe and healthy, the government has done very little to protect its servicemen and servicewomen. Additionally, this is very well written.