Bonhomme Richard arson suspect promotes himself for his Art 32

| January 24, 2022

Seaman Apprentice (E-2) Ryan Mays, seen wearing E-3 stripes

ninja sends in this interesting story from Military Times. Seaman Apprentice Ryan Mays was photographed coming into his Article 32 hearing wearing stripes one grade above that which he holds. Mays you’ll recall is accused of starting the fire aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) which caused so much damage the ship has been written off (the ship cost an inflation adjusted $1.4 billion when new). He had enlisted on a SEAL contract but didn’t pass the course and was re-classed. He is alleged to have had a chip on his shoulder due to that.

From the article;

When Ryan Sawyer Mays walked into a Navy courtroom late last year for a hearing that would help determine whether he goes to trial for allegedly starting the fire that ultimately destroyed the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard, he did so as a seaman apprentice, or E-2 rank.

But photos from outside the December hearing show Mays wearing the three-stripes uniform insignia of a seaman E-3 on his left arm.

Despite being an institution well-known for its rigorous adherence to standards in all things uniform, the Navy can’t explain why the sailor was wearing the wrong insignia.

Navy Times asked the San Diego-based U.S. 3rd Fleet why Mays had three white stripes on his arm during the Article 32 hearing, in which an officer weighed evidence as to whether Mays should stand trial on charges of arson and improperly hazarding a vessel.

Third Fleet declined comment and referred questions to Mays’ civilian defense attorney, Gary Barthel.

Navy officials told Barthel and his client that Mays would have “a proper uniform inspection” before the hearing, the attorney told Navy Times.

“I don’t know what happened, but his command did a uniform inspection of him before the Article 32,” he said this week. “I don’t know where the disconnect is on that, but they inspected his uniform twice.”

Mays denies starting the July 2020 fire aboard Bonhomme Richard and Barthel argued at the Article 32 that there was no physical evidence tying his client to the blaze.

Prosecutors argued at the hearing that witnesses placed Mays near the site of the fire’s origin and that the former SEAL candidate was a “disgruntled” sailor, the Associated Press reported last month.

Third Fleet has yet to release a decision on whether the charges against Mays will be referred to court-martial.

Navy records show Mays was advanced to E-2 on June 3, 2021, 11 months after the inferno and eight weeks before the Navy preferred charges against him for starting the fire aboard the billion-dollar warship, which burned for five days and led the Navy to scrap the once-mighty amphib.

While Mays was already suspected of starting the fire at the time of his advancement, the bump up from E-1 to E-2 is generally automatic following a certain amount of time in service.

If Mays’ command wanted to delay his advancement, they would have had to do a “Page 13? administrative action or give him an adverse evaluation, according to Lauren Hanzel, a former Navy attorney now in private practice.

But such a move could have left the Navy open to allegations that they were making a judgement on Mays’ guilt before he was charged, Hanzel said.

“I think that was prudent and smart, particularly pre-referral (of criminal charges), in order to avoid any appearance of illegal pre-trial punishment or pre-decision,” she said. “There’s no advantage to the government in preventing this (advancement).”

Category: Crime, Navy

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Veritas Omnia Vincit

This will be an interesting case to watch play out, largely due to the claims by the defense there is no physical evidence beyond people seeing him near the area…which in and of itself is not typically enough to convict anyone of anything…if one has decent counsel.

Forest Bondurant

Light reading, if anyone is interested:

https://www.secnav.navy.mil/foia/readingroom/HotTopics/BHR and MFR Investigations/For Release BHR Command Investigation (20 Oct 21).pdf

ninja

This is the part I don’t understand.

Can anyone explain what may have happened?

“Despite being an institution well-known for its rigorous adherence to standards in all things uniform, the Navy can’t explain why the sailor was wearing the wrong insignia.”

“Navy Times asked the San Diego-based U.S. 3rd Fleet why Mays had three white stripes on his arm during the Article 32 hearing, in which an officer weighed evidence as to whether Mays should stand trial on charges of arson and improperly hazarding a vessel.”

“Third Fleet declined comment and referred questions to Mays’ civilian defense attorney, Gary Barthel.”

“Navy officials told Barthel and his client that Mays would have “a proper uniform inspection” before the hearing, the attorney told Navy Times.”

“I don’t know what happened, but his command did a uniform inspection of him before the Article 32,” he said this week. “I
don’t know where the disconnect is on that, but they inspected his uniform twice.”

gitarcarver

Could it be that the uniform was inspected for the correct length of pants, blouse, kerchief, placement of awards, etc., but not whether he had actually won those awards?

What I am saying is that assume that some high ranking officer is inspecting the troops and someone wears a badge or ribbon that they have not earned. The ranking officer won’t know that, but he will know that a medal, badge, award, etc is out of place where it should be.

ninja

No one paid attention to his Rank?

🤔

ninja

Mason:

😅🤣😂😆😅🤣😂😆

Well, at least there was no Stolen Valor involved in Mays wearing those stripes..

I still think there is something strange about the whole thing…

SOMEONE had to have to have taken off his E2 stripes and sewn on those E3 stripes.

His Mother?

🤔

gitarcarver

No more than they paid attention to whatever awards he was wearing. They may have only cared whether the uniform was worn correctly, and not that what was on the uniform was correct.

ninja

I noticed Mays is wearing the NDSM and the Navy Marksmanship Ribbon(?) with an “S”.

gitcarver: You commented “They may have only cared whether the uniform was worned correctly”…

Isn’t rank part of the uniform?

🤔

gitarcarver

Isn’t rank part of the uniform?

No. The badge of rank is not the same thing as the uniform.

One would think that they don’t want someone coming into the courtroom with a t-shirt that says “I am innocent” or “these charges are bogus” or a blue blouse with white pants or dungarees.

Bulletbrother

Uh, yes one’s rank is part of the uniform and should have been part of the inspection. The placement on the shoulder is part of the inspection. Any officer, NCO, or SNCO should know that.

gitarcarver

The person inspecting the uniform is not going to know the rank or the awards.

So no, for the purpose of this “inspection,” the rank is not part of the inspection.

SFC D

Respectfully disagree. If the person inspecting the uniform does not know, he’s not really inspecting. Inspection covers every aspect of the uniform. Fit, serviceability, proper rank, proper awards. ESPECIALLY if the inspection is prior to a court martial. Somewhere, an NCO failed spectacularly.

NECCSeaBee

Not correct. We had the MA do Inspections on anyone going to any court offense being Captain’s mass or court martial. The MAC would always check personnel records and with the company to make sure everything was in place.
So it all really depends on active participation in the command and if they care i.e. Command climate.

Name withheld by request

Time in rate, right? If you’re innocent until proven guilty, then he should be advanced to E3. I don’t know if he started the fire, or he intended to burn the ship to the waterline or just cause some trouble. I think the big problem is why the ship burned for 3 days. the material readiness of the ship MUST be called into question. Whether or not it was in maintenance period, the ship/crew was NOT READY for a fire. Just a humble former HT’s(DC Shop leader) opinion.

FC2(SW) Ron

“I think the big problem is why the ship burned for 3 days. the material readiness of the ship MUST be called into question.”
100% agree on this statement. I’m sure our enemies were watching this event unfold. If we can’t stop a ship from burning pierside, what’s going to happen when steaming underway in the middle of nowhere at 02:00? Personal knowledge, main space shipboard fires suck!

KoB

Imma wid you, Ron and name withheld. Scratched my watch over why it would take so long, at the pier, with all of the other support, to get that fire under control. But then again, I wasn’t there. Buddy of mine was on Forrestal when She had Her fire back yonder. Despite all of the consumables about, the troops got that fire under control fairly quickly.

If this sailor IS convicted and DID start this fire, I don’t think the difference in uniform and or pay grade is gonna make much difference one way or the other.

ninja

KoB commented:

“…I don’t think the difference in uniform and or pay grade is gonna make much difference one way or the other.”

Do you think it may reflect on Navy standards when it comes to a Sailor wearing the proper uniform during an Article 32 hearing?

Isn’t that call “paying attention to detail?”

Am getting the impression that the Navy does not care.

Just trying to understand why this happened.

KoB

Don’t think that are are any standards anymore ninja. Well, ‘cept for whether or not the woke and SHARP training blocks have been checked. Way back yonder, in addition to my “other duties”, I was responsible for the proper attire of troops going before an Article 15. As in all other things, I did my duty.

Is this sailor guilty or being used as a scapegoat? Don’t know yet. Either way, if he wanted a career as a sailor, it don’t mean nothing…He’s burnt toast. It is sad about the lack of standards and attention to detail…in all of the services.

ninja

KoB:

Just as you, we had Soldiers go before Article 15…and I have had my shares of sitting on Court Martials…

Am trying to understand the attitude. If a Navy E2 was in formation and wore E3 rank, wouldn’t his/her Chain of Command care and “correct” it?

Something is not right. We were trained to “pay attention to detail” because one slip could get someone or everyone killed in combat or even in peacetime.

I just don’t get it. Especially with what is currently going on with Ukraine/Russia/China.

Little things matter.

ninja

I see the “…” are back instead of “Read More”.

*Sigh*

cobrakai99

Paying attention to detail is a symptom of the evil patriachy. /s

ninja

From the article:

“Navy records show Mays was advanced to E-2 on June 3, 2021, 11 months after the
inferno and eight weeks before the Navy preferred charges against him for starting the fire aboard the billion-dollar warship…”

Am not familiar with Navy Enlisted Advancement.

When does a Sailor advance rank from E2 to E3? A couple of months?

Ex-PH2

Ninja, when I went to PH “A” school (June 1967), it was as a PHAA (E-2), and when I left after 10 weeks, we were all promoted to PHAN. After enough time in rate (rank), we automatically got PH3 (E-4) and frankly, when I took the PH2 test, I got the promotion in 2 years, but had to wait until I had enough time in rate to sew on my PH2 (E-5) crow. Even then, I had to agree to extend my enlistment to get my crow. But that was 1969, and things may have changed considerably since then.
Read more »

I think the Navy tests people ahead of entry now to find out what schools they qualify for, and while there are still Bosun’s Mates, it’s likely changed a lot since the last “century”. 🙂

At least the clothing is more practical these days.

Last edited 3 months ago by Ex-PH2
ninja

Thank You for sharing this, Ex-PH2.

I am completely clueless on Rank Advancement for the Navy.

And again, I am just dumbfounded about the entire situation on Mays wearing the E3 Stripes to his hearing.

I hope that there is a “rest of the story” because in the back of my mind, I feel that Third Fleet did not really brush the incident off and passed the buck to his Lawyer. I just find it hard to believe that the Navy does not care on what he wore to his hearing.

R K M

HT. You are of my naval era, Chief. Yeah, that was some mishandled damage control. Training is paramount. Don’t know about this ship but on my three ships a Fire, Flooding, or R&A drill was a daily occurrence in port.

Name edited to protect PII.
AW1

ninja

This is the other part I don’t understand.

When Third Fleet was asked as to why he was wearing E3 stripes, Third Fleet referred the question to his Lawyer.

His Lawyer said he did not know why his Client was wearing E3 stripes, because supposedly his Client’s Command did a uniform inspection before the Article 32 hearing.

What am I missing?

Who is responsible for the Sailor wearing the correct rank? The Sailor? His Command? The Lawyer?

gitarcarver

The referral to the lawyer is correct because the prosecution can’t talk to Mays.

Once again, it seems that the inspection would have been for whether the uniform was worn properly, and not whether the rank and badges were correct.

ninja

gitcarver:

Isn’t rank considered to be part of the uniform?

Forest Bondurant

Funny how 3d Fleet took a snap shot and deferred that question to the attorney, who said “I dunno…”

(Why an inquiry to his personnel section wasn’t made to verify his rank sounds like the Navy just doesn’t care, or someone was lazy – or combination of both.)

Pathetic.

gitarcarver

One would think that at some point in time, Mays is going to have to testify. This will be especially true if the case against him is strong and the defense feels they are losing.

His false rank on his uniform would give the prosecution the perfect time to show his lack of character and willingness to lie.

His false rank may result in additional charges as well.

What he did is not part of a winning strategy, that is certain.

Hack Stone

They can only hang you once. Might as well go out in style.

ninja

According to the article at the link, May’s Article 32 Hearing was around 13 December 2021.

He advanced in rank from E1 to E2 on 3 June 2021.

Does this mean he advanced from E2 to E3 in 6 months?

Is that the norm?

https://timesofsandiego.com/military/2021/12/13/sailor-accused-of-setting-uss-
bonhomme-richard-fire-appears-in-navy-courtroom/

Anonymous

New definition added to “full retard” in dictionary…

ninja

Isn’t he wearing E3 stripes in the picture at the linked article?

Again, I don’t understand how this happened and why the Navy/Third Fleet referred the Rank inquiry to his lawyer and why his lawyer was dumbfounded.

Why didn’t anyone ask the Sailor why he wore E3 rank?

What am I missing?

https://www.kpbs.org/news/local/2021/12/17/navy-faces-tough-task-proving-arson-in-uss-bonhomme-richard-fire

ninja

Is this correct for a Sailor to advance from E2 to E3?

“E2 to E-3: Serve nine months as E-2 and pass required Naval Education and Training Professional Development Center (NETPDC) exams. Nonresident Career
Course and Rate Training Manual (RTM) required”

bullnuke

I’m still sceptical about this. He fits the currently desired profile way too well (correct ethnicity, correct biological gender, correct professed gender, among other indicators). NCIS (formerly NIS, an outfit known for supplying admirals with the desired investigatory results – ain’t no Leroy Jethro Gibbs workin’ for ’em) came up with this desired profile pretty quickly just the same as they cracked that homosexual love triangle case with Clayton Hartwig on the Iowa. I wouldn’t put it past someone telling this kid, “Here. This is what you are wearing. Put in on.”. Hanging this guy high will divert some of the interest from the poor training, readiness, and response by pretty much everyone Navy connected to this fire. Sorry but not sorry; saw too much during my 21 years to take any of this at face value.

ninja

bullnuke commented:

“I wouldn’t put it past someone telling this kid, “Here. This is what you are wearing. Put in on.”.

So who would that “someone” be?

Third Fleet referred the inquiry of Mays wearing E3 stripes to his Lawyer.

His Lawyer doesn’t seem to know what is going on.

One would think that someone would asked Mays about those E3 Stripes.

Perhaps some of us do things different in the US Army? Or think different?

Again, just trying to understand.

bullnuke

Exactly, who would that someone have been? Someone in his direct chain of command that desires more dirt thrown on him? Someone at the brig getting him “ready” for his Art 32 ? Those stripes are easy to spot as being too many and with all the uniform “inspections” prior to his arrival at the Art 32 I’m calling bulls**t on all of these folks. I still hear the whistle of that train coming…

ninja

So…Others would take that chance to screw up their Navy career to let him wear E3 stripes?

And I guess Mays has no say so in the uniform he is wearing?

His Lawyer did not stop the hearing to ensure Mays was wearing the proper rank?

Something is just not right.

And it is scary if Third Fleet does not seem to care.

Mick

NCIS (formerly NIS)

— GROAN —

I lived through the aftermath of Tailhook ’91, and everything that NIS was involved in back then was a complete shitshow.

Unprofessional assclowns.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

From Seaman Deuce to Seaman no questions asked. A defence expert on the ships fire says that the batteries on a forklift were burned in a way that the fire could have started from the forklift batteries.When I joined, the “old” Navy fire fighting equipment were Navy fog nozzles, low velocity fog applicators, OBA masks, Co2 extinguishers and a sprinklered hanger bay. New Navy has generic Task Force tip variable fog nozzles, SCBA, PPE/bunker gear, sprinklered areas and other suppression equipment that I really don’t have any knowledge of. During my time, we just had our dungarees to wear and there were entry suits in the DC reapir lockers which I believe were made from asbestos. Ship board fire fighting is a little different than the house fire where on ships, their are numerous voids, ducting where fire and products of combustion can travel through the paths of least resistance.Those WW2 ship fires were fought with Sailors wearing dungarees and the equipment we used on the LPH 3.

ninja

So, Jeff… What do YOU think about Mays wearing the E3 Stripes to his hearing?

jeff LPH 3 63-66

ninja;
Nothing is mentioned on the above post if his E3 Seaman rank stripes is in his folder which would make it legit so I don’t know if the higher rating got squared away. I mentioned once on this site that before I left the ship, I didn’t receive my E4 MM3 crow and it wasn’t on my DD 214 but was on the test result in my folder so when I had to attend the inactive reserves, I had the crows sewed on my uniforms and then was questioned on my 1st meeting until records were checked and it was legit. Was a slow learner taking me almost 3 years to get it. 1975-77 Got me 11B20 hard 5 Sgt E5 in the ARNG.

ninja

Thank You, Jeff for the feedback!

Again, I am clueless on Navy Advancement with Jr Enlisted. The research I uncovered from moving from E1 to E2 to E3 was also confusing.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

To avoid all this rank stuff, maybe the Mil should give everyone the same rank as to make it fair to everyone like trophy’s given out to kids that lose athletic events. HEY, the way things are going with the new WOKE Military, this makes sense. Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

Bones

In the Army when I served as an Adjutant, anyone who was under investigation was “flagged,” that is not due any personnel action. No promotion, no transfer, no awards, no nothin’.

If you were cleared, you got your stuff. If not, not.

So, he should not have been eligible for promotion to anything.

SFC D

That’s my line of thinking. Should’ve been a flag stopping favorable actions. If he’s cleared, he gets it all, retroactive.

ninja

Am still in disbelief that the Navy or Third Fleet does not seem to care (IMHO) that Mays showed up at his hearing wearing E3 Stripes.

After all, it only takes a spark to get a fire going.

And I am not talking about the USS Bonhomme Richard going up in flames.

I’m talking about what some may deem to be minor or small in nature, i.e. Mays wearing E3 rank when he is an E2.

Sometimes, it’s the “small” things that may be overlooked or brushed off that can get folks killed.

Hopefully, there is more to this story and hopefully, the Navy/Third Fleet does indeed pay attention to detail, no matter how “minute”.

Hack Stone

Maybe he just self identifies as an E3? or perhaps the National Association of Naval Photography gave him an honorary promotion?

ninja

This is what makes it more confusing.

Check out the heading with the picture in the linked article:

“CORRECTS RANK TO SEAMAN INSTEAD OF SEAMAN APPRENTICE”

https://fox5sandiego.com/news/local-news/witness-sailor-was-in-area-where-
fire-started-on-us-warship/

🤔

Charles

Hey, dress for the job you want.

It worked for George Washington.

David

Well, if the august E-3 pay grade is not justified, gotta be the first SV claiming it. Usually we see E3s claiming to be E8s or above.

BennSue

I remember when I made E-6, as the newbie I had the privilege to go with everyone that was “having issues” to see the Commander/1st Sergeant as part of my indoctrination/hazing. I held that position for almost 2 years before someone else finally sewed on and I got to pass that buck to him. Good times.

C2Show

There is no disconnect. Clowns in Millington and BUPERS allowed him to promote erroneously. Happen often in last few years. Saw a kid w two DUIs and removed clearance get promoted to E5 despite leadership knowing he isnt supposed to test.

NHSparky

CO recommendation and TIR is all that’s required. Can’t imagine CO would bless off promotion in either case.

Sgt K

Who actually trusts implicitly what the Navy is selling? The navy tradition of trying to hang it all on one sailor -bad-mouthing him “off the record” of course, is well known. Just google the USS Iowa. What the navy tried to claim happened and what actually happened is still horrifying.

As to this case, I have no idea but what I’ve read in the press. I just know there is no bar to how far the navy will stoop to cover it’s ass.

bullnuke

Agreed. Saw it too often and too many times over my 21 years.