According to several sources, several US sailors have been penalized for wearing a uniform patch that read “Make Aircrew Great Again,” while President Trump was in Japan last year to visit them.
The red patches, which also bore a likeness of Trump, were photographed and documented by reporters present for the president’s speech in May of 2019 as being worn by a small number of sailors aboard the USS Wasp. Naturally, after being photographed, news of the patches went viral, drawing the ire of quite a few liberals.
At the time, the military made a statement that the situation was under review and would be handled. An investigation began, and it was found that several sailors, all from the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 based in Guam, could face non-judicial punishments for seemingly violating a Pentagon policy that prohibits active military personnel from taking part in any political events while in uniform.
Department of Defense Directive (DoDD) 1344.10, which was revised in 2008 demands than any and all active-duty personnel remain as apolitical as possible, not taking part in anything that could signify favoritism to one party or another.
It is believed that only nine sailors actually wore the patches, and yet, according to Miltary.com, 18 officers and sailors were thought to be in violation of the policy.
The non-judicial punishment to be meted out is a kind of military discipline given for minor offenses but can stay on a person’s permanent file. According to the Navy, “Permissible punishments for officers can include forfeiture of pay (up to ½ of one month’s pay per month for two months), restriction to base or to the ship (up to 60 days), arrest in quarters (up to 30 days,) and a reprimand.”
However, upon the conclusion of the investigation, all charges for the sailors were dropped, according to Military.com. Instead, the persons believed to be involved received unknown administrative discipline.
Pacific Fleet Spokeswoman Rachel McMarr told CNN, “Though the investigation found the Sailors did not intend to wear the patches as a political statement for or against the President, U.S. Pacific Fleet determined that, because the American public could reasonably view the wearing of the patches on official uniforms as DoD association with President Trump’s 2020 campaign, it was in violation of DoDD 1344.10.”
It was assessed that the sailors had worn the patches as a way to boost crew morale and nothing more. However, as it could be seen as a direct violation of military policy, punishment of some sort was thought to be deserved, even if it was light.
As news of their not-so-severe punishment traveled, it was met with mixed emotions and justifiably so.
Some were angered that these sailors could be punished for merely showing support to their commander in chief. One social media user commented, “Navy punished sailors for wearing these patches while Trump visited their ship. He’s their boss and they (love) him! These patches will be family heirlooms now and priceless.”
Others were more understanding, noting that there is a thin line here, and our military personnel should be held to the highest of standards to maintain their professional integrity.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper agreed, making a statement on February 5.
“As public servants to have taken an oath to defend these principles, we uphold DOD’s longstanding tradition of remaining apolitical as we carry out our official responsibilities. Maintaining the hard-earned trust and confidence of the American people requires us to avoid any action that could imply endorsement of a political party, political candidate, or campaign by any element of the department.”
And he makes an excellent point. As servants to our nation’s freedom and Constitutional rights, our military personnel should be able to represent America as a whole, not a particular party or way of thinking. They stand for all of us, whether we lean to the left, right, or center. That makes keeping politics out of it essential.
However, it also means that these sailors and officers should have a right to be proud of our President and what he has done to make America great again. There was a time when Americans weren’t afraid to show pride for their nation; Trump is bringing that back. When he finished speaking to these sailors and Marines aboard the USS Wasp, it wasn’t his name they began to shout. Instead, it was something much more honorable, much more hallowed, and much more deserving of our respect.
“U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.”