President Donald Trump openly attacked Captain Brett Crozier on Saturday for writing a letter seeking help for his coronavirus-stricken crew on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, but the great-grandson of the ship’s namesake, Tweed Roosevelt, condemned the decision to fire him in a damning op-ed.
“I didn’t make the decision,” Trump insisted when asked about Crozier being relieved of duty by Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, once again passing the buck instead of taking responsibility.
“The letter was a five-page letter from a captain, and the letter was all over the place,” Trump continued. “That’s not appropriate. I thought it was terrible, what he did, to write a letter. I mean, this isn’t a class on literature. This is a captain of a massive ship that’s nuclear powered. And he shouldn’t be talking that way in a letter.”
Crozier’s letter urged the Navy to take immediate action to save the lives of the 4,000 men and women under his command as the coronavirus began infecting sailors on the aircraft carrier.
The letter was leaked to the press and made national headlines, forcing the Navy to take Crozier’s plea seriously. And because of this effort to protect the lives of his crew, Crozier was relieved of duty this week.
But it turns out that writing such a letter follows in the footsteps of former President Theodore Roosevelt, as his great-grandson Tweed in an op-ed in support of Crozier for the New York Times.
“I often wonder, in situations like this, what Theodore Roosevelt would have done,” Tweed Roosevelt wrote. “In this case, though, I know exactly what he would have done. In 1898, he found himself in almost the exact same position.”
Indeed, then-Colonel Theodore Roosevelt commanded a unit known as the Rough Riders during the Spanish American War. The unit landed in Cuba, where they would lead a legendary charge to take San Juan Hill. Upon victory in Cuba, Roosevelt and his men along with the rest of the troops expected to be evacuated off the island so they could return home, only to be left stranded. Yellow fever and malaria threatened the lives of his men just as the coronavirus threatens the lives of Crozier’s crew today. Not content to just watch them die waiting for the federal government to get their act together, Roosevelt fired off a letter to the press to inform the public of how the troops in Cuba were being treated.
By this time, Americans across the country knew who Roosevelt was and knew him as the hero of San Juan Hill. Needless to say, the McKinley administration soon sent ships to transport Roosevelt, the Rough Riders and the rest of US forces off the island. The rest is history.
Tweed Roosevelt is the grandson of Theodore’s son Archie, and like many Roosevelts before him, has a history of public service. His great-grandfather not only served as president, but also as assistant Secretary of the Navy and is responsible for assembling the Great White Fleet that sailed around the globe in 1908-1909 to demonstrate American naval power.
As such, Tweed is more than qualified to speak on Crozier’s firing and he’s certainly more qualified to do so than Trump.
“In this era when so many seem to place expediency over honor, it is heartening that so many others are showing great courage, some even risking their lives,” Roosevelt concluded in his op-ed. “Theodore Roosevelt, in his time, chose the honorable course. Captain Crozier has done the same.”
Crozier is being rightfully hailed as a hero and he should be rewarded and celebrated by our government, not relieved of duty. Our military needs great commanders like Crozier because great commanders care about the men and women serving under them first and foremost. Trump and Modly would have left this crew of 4,000 to get sick and die in silence rather than admit they can’t even protect the troops from being struck by the pandemic. Crozier saved them by taking the exact same action Roosevelt took over 120 years ago.
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