The commanding officers of a naval construction battalion have been relieved of duty after the unit’s executive officer was found wandering through the woods, naked and intoxicated, over the weekend.
The command triad — the two highest ranking officers and the senior enlisted sailor — of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4, currently deployed to Okinawa, Japan, were fired Feb. 11, reports the Navy Times.
Lt. Cmdr. Jason M. Gabbard, the unit’s XO, was relieved after personnel at Camp Shields discovered him wearing only his boots as he walked through a wooded area of the base, Navy officials said. Gabbard had been at a “gathering” of officers and chiefs prior to his naked stroll.
The unit’s commanding officer, Cmdr. James J. Cho, and senior enlisted man, Command Master Chief Jason K. Holden, were also terminated for allegedly attempting to cover up the incident, reports the Navy Times, citing a naval source. All three sailors have been temporarily reassigned to Naval Construction Group One in Port Hueneme, California, naval officials said.
The termination of an entire command triad is a relatively rare occurrence, typically in response to allegations of serious misconduct or negligence. The leaders of the destroyer U.S.S. Fitzgerald were relieved after a deadly collision last year, and before that, the top three commanders of the destroyer James E. Williams were fired in 2014 following a negative command report and investigation.
Gabbard joined the Navy in 1998 and was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy the following year. He has been XO of NMCB-4 since June 2017, according to the Navy Times.
Cho, a Bronze Star recipient, earned his commission as a Seabee officer through officer candidate school after graduation from the University of Michigan in 1996.
Holden, also a Bronze Star recipient, joined the Navy in September 1998. He became the command master chief of NMCB-4 in September 2016.
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