Join date: Nov 2004
Location: Virginia, USA
Here was the video that was obtained by The Virginian-Pilot from a source aboard the Enterprise. I was onboard the Big E from '06-'09...these videos were made and aired during our two deployments in '06 and '07. CAPT Honors was told to stop making them, which he did as told, back in '07...over 3 years ago. There was an agenda here...especially to take these videos outside of the military and release them to public media.
To many aboard the aircraft carrier Enterprise, the now- notorious videos known as "XO Movie Night" were hilarious. Crew members vied to star in them. Master chiefs got a chuckle.
With that popularity came more profanity, more sexual innuendoes, more slurs. A handful on the ship said they raised concerns to the videos' mastermind, Capt. Owen P. Honors Jr., but he brushed them off. They never went over his head to object.
The result, an investigation into the videos has concluded, was a broad failure to uphold the Navy's core values.
One flag officer, Rear Adm. Ron Horton, was relieved of command Thursday as a result, and the admiral in charge of the investigation is recommending that the Navy take punitive steps that would significantly affect the careers of several others.
Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., head of Fleet Forces Command, announced the investigation's findings, as well as details about actions he has taken in response, on Thursday. Most notably, he said, he has recommended that the secretary of the Navy issue punitive letters of censure to four people involved, including Honors, who was removed in January from his post as the carrier's commander.
Harvey also has recommended that Honors, a decorated fighter pilot, should have to show cause for why he should remain in the Navy. He said the investigation's findings only confirmed what he'd concluded after watching the videos the day after they became public two months ago - that they were "a significant departure from expected standards of personal behavior and professional leadership in the Navy."
Speaking about Honors, Harvey said, "He went low early when he needed to stay high all the time."
If approved, the other letters of censure would go to Capt. John Dixon, who succeeded Honors as executive officer; and to the two officers who served as the carrier's skipper during Honors' tenure: Rear Adm. Larry Rice, now at the Norfolk-based Joint Forces Command, and Horton, who was fired Thursday from his position as commander of a Navy logistics group in Singapore.
Harvey said the investigation found that Rice and Horton knew about the videos and failed to stop them, while Dixon continued them when he became executive officer.
Recommending the letters is the most serious step Harvey could have taken aside from convening court-martial proceedings. If issued, they would almost certainly mean the officers will never again be promoted. They could also set in motion far more severe consequences, including reductions in ranks and pay grades and - as happened in Horton's case - removal from commands.
Harvey also said he has issued nonpunitive letters of caution to the two admirals who served as strike group commanders when the videos were being shown: Rear Adm. Ray Spicer, who has since retired, and Vice Adm. Daniel Holloway, who now heads 2nd Fleet in Norfolk. Harvey has also requested that a copy of the investigation be put into their records, which could prevent Holloway from advancing.
All of the officers either declined to comment to the newspaper or could not be reached. Honors' civilian lawyer, Charles Gittins, didn't return phone calls.
Thirty-two other officers and enlisted sailors who knew about or participated in the videos also received nonpunitive letters of caution, Harvey said. They included chaplains, lawyers, staff officers and public-affairs officers.
Two others, Rear Adm. Gregory Nosal and Rear Adm. Clifford Sharpe, the then-air wing commander and destroyer squadron commodore, received lesser, written counseling.
Harvey praised Rear Adm. Richard O'Hanlon, who recently retired as head of Naval Air Force Atlantic, as one person who did the right thing during the months the videos were being shown. O'Hanlon became aware of the videos on one occasion and immediately brought them to the attention of Honors' superiors as inappropriate, Harvey said.
Honors produced the videos and broadcast them aboard the Norfolk-based Enterprise from late 2005 through 2007, when he was the ship's executive officer, or second-in-command. He became commanding officer last year but was fired after the videos came to light in early January. Honors starred in them, wrote the scripts and recruited subordinates to work on them, primarily while the ship was deployed. The videos were shown weekly across the ship on closed-circuit TV.
They were first made public by The Virginian-Pilot after someone gave three episodes to the newspaper.
In its initial response, the Navy called the videos "humorous skits" and said that Honors had been told in early 2007 to stop making them.
Honors and his lawyer later disputed that. In a written statement to investigators, Honors said several of his superiors knew about the videos but no one ordered him to stop.
While the investigation confirmed that, it did find that Honors was counseled about the videos' content. "Yet even this specific intervention did not cause him to alter course," Harvey wrote in his endorsement of the inquiry's findings. "The video skits continued to spiral downward, as if the only purpose was to see how low the bar could be set."
In the course of the investigation, the Navy collected about 55 "XO Movie Night" videos, 25 of which contained "objectionable" content.
Of all of it, Harvey said what he found most upsetting was not the sexually suggestive shower scenes, sailors dressed in drag or officers pretending to masturbate. Instead, he said, it was Honors' on-tape comments belittling crew members who raised concerns about the videos and called them offensive. At the beginning of one movie, Honors says, "Over the years I've gotten several complaints about inappropriate materials in these videos, never to me personally but, gutlessly, through other channels."
Harvey also responded to Honors' argument that the videos were a harmless means to entertain the crew, teach them important lessons about shipboard life and build morale during long, difficult deployments. "The implication that our sailors only respond to crude humor is demeaning to them and degrading to the Navy's standing as a professional military force," he wrote in his endorsement of the investigation's findings.
And in response to criticism from Honors' supporters that he should not have been removed from the Enterprise for making videos no more offensive than what's on TV every night, Harvey wrote, "The Navy does not measure its standards of behavior based on what is produced by the commercial entertainment industry."
Days after Honors was removed from the Enterprise, it left Norfolk for a six-month deployment under the command of Capt. Dee Mewbourne, once the top officer aboard the carrier Eisenhower.
Experts say the Navy's investigation into the controversial videos shown aboard the aircraft carrier Enterprise demonstrates one thing: that the service took the matter seriously.
"It didn't matter how much time had passed, and it didn't matter how many Facebook fans the captain has," said Ward Carroll, the editor of Military.com and a retired Navy aviator. "To the Navy's credit, they were unflinching."
Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., the head of Fleet Forces Command, announced the investigation's findings Thursday, along with details about the actions he's taken in response.
The investigation examined a series of videos that Harvey has described as "crude, sexually explicit, profane and disrespectful." They were produced and broadcast by Capt. Owen P. Honors aboard the Norfolk-based Enterprise from 2005 through 2007, when Honors was the ship's executive officer, or second-in-command. He became commanding officer last year but was fired after the videos came to light in early January when The Virginian-Pilot obtained three of them.
Fleet Forces then launched an investigation to determine the involvement of others onboard the Enterprise at the time, particularly Honors' then-superiors.
After reviewing findings from the two-month inquiry, Harvey faulted 40 sailors and officers, recommending serious penalties for six of them, including punitive letters of censure - which Carroll called "a career killer" - for four.
In addition to Honors, one other officer facing censure has now been removed from command.
Military law expert Eugene Fidell said he was struck by "the energy the Navy seemed to dedicate to the investigation," as well as the apparent effort to differentiate the various levels of fault.
Besides interviewing dozens of sailors and officers, investigators went to great lengths to collect roughly 55 separate videos, transfer them to one format, and catalogue their air dates as well as detailed descriptions of any objectionable content.
"This was a very substantial investigation, with many, many people placed under the microscope," said Fidell, a professor at Yale Law School and president of the National Institute of Military Justice. "And it wasn't one-size-fits-all punishment. It was a careful analysis, done individual by individual.
"That's what accountability truly means."
The four officers recommended for punitive letters of censure are Honors; Capt. John Dixon, who succeeded Honors as executive officer and recently returned from a solo overseas assignment; and the two officers who served as the carrier's skipper during Honors' tenure: Rear Adm. Larry Rice, now at the Norfolk-based Joint Forces Command, and Rear Adm. Ron Horton, who was fired Thursday from his position as commander of a Navy logistics group in Singapore.
In his endorsement of the investigation's findings, Harvey said he recommended them for censure because their actions were the most egregious.
Honors masterminded and starred in the videos and failed to tone down their content despite complaints from crew members and counseling from his superiors. Dixon continued to make videos with objectionable content, though they were notably tamer than Honors' movies. Rice and Horton were aware of the videos, and while they counseled Honors about them, they failed in their duties as his direct superior to see that the movies stopped, the investigation concluded.
"It is not enough to voice expectations," Harvey wrote in his endorsement. "There must be focused attention to ensuring compliance."
As for the future of the four officers, it's up to the secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, whether the censure letters will be issued.
On Facebook pages for Honors' supporters, members are now urging a campaign aimed at persuading the secretary not to issue the letters.
Fidell said he expects decisions to come soon.
Rice already was planning to retire; he was set to leave Feb. 1 but was ordered to stay through the end of the investigation. Given the censure recommendations and their removals from command, it's likely that Horton and Honors also will retire, Fidell said.
What's more, Harvey has recommended that Honors be made to show cause for why he should be allowed to stay in the Navy. Whether he'll have to do so is up to the chief of naval personnel, whose office is now reviewing the matter, said Capt. Chris Sims, a Fleet Forces spokesman.
Harvey has recommended lesser punishment for two flag officers who served as strike group commanders when the videos were being shown, Rear Adm. Ray Spicer and Vice Adm. Daniel Holloway. Besides issuing nonpunitive letters of caution to each, he also has requested that a copy of the investigation be put into their records, which could prevent Holloway from advancing.
Harvey explained in his endorsement that they bear less fault because they were less aware of the videos and because they raised concerns about them to the Enterprise commanding officers beneath them.
The videos were "but one of a thousand details to cross the radar of these strike group commanders," Harvey wrote. "When alerted to single instances of inappropriate content... both required the commanding officer to immediately correct the issue."
But the issue wasn't corrected, and Harvey chose to hold the admirals accountable for "the disconnect between their published standards of personal behavior and the activity that was actually tolerated by those beneath them."
Spicer is now retired. Holloway heads the 2nd Fleet in Norfolk, which is slated to close later this year.
Of note is the fact that Harvey recommended punishments that in many cases go further than what the primary investigator suggested. The investigator recommended no punishment for Dixon or Spicer.
Speaking to reporters, Harvey said he personally informed each of the six officers of his decisions to recommend penalties and he took no joy in it. "I was dealt this hand, and it was my duty to play it," he said.
He added that the first ship he served on after his commissioning was the Enterprise. Honors had also invited Harvey to preside over the ceremony when Honors took command of the ship, an invitation Harvey said he was proud to accept.
In a message Thursday explaining his actions to the crew of the carrier, which is now deployed in the Red Sea, Harvey said the Enterprise's sailors "represent the finest young men and women our country has to offer.
"I know the vast capabilities of an Enterprise sailor, particularly under good leadership," he wrote. "Navy leadership is at its best when we appeal to the best in our sailors."
Included in the investigation's recommendations is the suggestion that "a command climate survey" be carried out to ensure that the culture that existed on the Enterprise under Honors isn't present on other carriers.
Harvey said the Navy already has incorporated lessons from the investigation into its leadership training.
One thing investigators did not look into was who leaked the videos to the newspaper, and they don't intend to, said Sims, the Fleet Forces spokesman.
"We don't see that as relevant," Sims said. "Regardless of where the videos came from, they were clearly inappropriate, and they speak for themselves."
Join date: Nov 2004
Location: Virginia, USA
Rear Adm. Ron Horton fired over the videos...he checked onboard as our CO just prior to our 2007 deployment, and CAPT Honors departed shortly into deployment as he had been selected for command of the USS Mount Whitney. It has not even been decided if Rear Adm. Horton is going to receive a Letter of Censure, it has only been recommended at this time and still under review by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. Despite that, Adm. Walsh, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, fire Rear Adm. Horton from the position as Commander, Logistics Group, Western Pacific. None of us liked this guy, not even the department heads...he was a complete tool only concerned with putting a star on. Still, I think it's pretty jacked up that he's getting canned over all of this. I think the only thing is wrong.
A former commanding officer of the USS Enterprise who faces possible punishment because of lewd videos shown to the crew has lost his job as head of a Singapore-based logistics group.
Rear Adm. Ron Horton, commander, Logistics Group, Western Pacific, was promptly relieved of command on Thursday by Adm. Patrick M. Walsh, commander of the U.S. Pacific fleet.
Walsh said he based his decision the findings of the investigation into the Enterprise videos. Those findings were announced earlier Thursday by Adm. John C. Harvey, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
Harvey has called for Horton to be censured by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. The secretary has not yet ruled on the recommendation, but Harvey's recommendation was enough to cost Horton his current job.
Commenting on Harvey's findings, Adm. Walsh said: "There is no higher responsibility in the U.S. Navy than that of command. Individuals in command are expected to uphold the Navy's core values of honor, courage and commitment, which includes maintaining a command climate based on professionalism and respect."
Horton commanded the Enterprise from May 2007 to May 2010.
Harvey also recommended secretarial letters of censure for another former Enterprise CO, Rear Adm. Lawrence Rice, who commanded the carrier from January 2005 to May 2007.
In all, some 40 members of the crew were recommended for disciplined or warned about their conduct because of their role in the controversy.
Capt. Owen P. Honors produced and starred in the videos while he served as the ship's executive officer. He was in command of the Enterprise when the controversy broke, and Harvey relieved him of command of the ship in January.
Join date: Jul 2004
Location: Virginia, USA
There was definitely an agenda here. Honors took command May of last year, and the videos were given to the Virginian-Pilot within a few months. A lot of people don't realize, there are only 11 aircraft carriers in the Navy, which makes it very competitive to achieve this spot. It is my opinion that someone else who wanted command of a carrier was miffed that Honors had the billet they wanted, and got ahold of the videos to use as retribution.
Honors is a throwback to when officers actually believed that their job was to take care of the men under their charge, not the other way around. In today's Navy, it has become the norm for officers to only worry about punching their next ticket and moving up. Honors knew his men and women were on an arduous deployment, which was wearing on morale, and he took the initiative to do something about it. Out of a crew of thousands, they only found a handful of people who took issue with these videos. You know what I do when I find something objectionable? I change the effing channel.
As a side note, how do you think admirals back in WWII would have reacted if they saw these videos? (Accounting for the difference in technology, of course) First they would have laughed their collective asses off, then they would have carried on with their day. Maybe gave him suggestions for new videos. Definitely no punishment of any kind.