What SECNAV Should Have Said to USS Theodore Roosevelt Sailors

As a former Pentagon speechwriter, I thought I’d take a stab at the speech — and the outcome — Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly should have delivered to Sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Good morning. It is a distinct honor to be here on this ship with so many courageous Sailors. I should have done this a long time ago.

I am here to share a few words with you because, together, we are going through some difficult times.

We are in the midst of a global pandemic. Back home, people are practicing social distancing but pulling together to overcome the crisis presented by COVID-19. It is a challenge that exercises our national resolve, but we remain just that — resolved.

The American people know they will overcome this pandemic because they have some pretty extraordinary role models to look up to: the Sailors of the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Your actions amidst uncertainty have been heroic, and I want you to know that your Navy and your nation sees you and we honor you.

Recently, I was called to make a difficult decision. The tide of Washington politics ebbs and flows a little differently than it does here on Guam. Despite the recommendations of the military chain, I chose to relieve Captain Crozier of command because I felt it was the right thing to do. I reasoned that it was critical to protect the image of the Navy and this administration to the press.

But after I saw the great love, respect, and admiration you have for your former CO, I came to realize: I was wrong. And leaders, no matter at what level, should never be so big to admit when they are wrong.

I thought this was about my confidence in CAPT Crozier. But I have come to realize: it is about yours. And it is clear that I have lost that.

I am not here to make excuses for anyone in this chain of command either below or above me. And while I cannot undo the relieving of Captain Crozier, I can take responsibility for what comes next and share this lesson with those who will follow.

That is why I am here. To let you know how important you are. To be accountable to you. And to announce that, while I will never stop fighting for all of you, today I am resigning as Acting Secretary of the Navy, effective immediately.

Be strong. Be courageous. Be bold in doing the right thing.

Thank you all. Fight on.

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Roger Misso

Roger Misso

Small-town kid from the county line road. Dad. Vet. Advocate. Speechwriter, runner, underdog. Fmr House candidate (NY-24). Let’s be a gosh-darn goldfish.