Navy Punishes Sailors Over ‘Make Aircrew Great Again’ Patches Worn at Trump Speech

| February 14, 2020

A service member wears a patch that says “Make Aircrew Great Again” as they listen to President Donald Trump speak to troops at a Memorial Day event aboard the USS Wasp, Tuesday, May 28, 2019, in Yokosuka, Japan. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

AW1 Rod sends us the link where service members were investigated for violating an order for participating in a political event while in uniform. The political event? A Memorial Day speech by President Trump on board USS Wasp.

Exactly how a service member is in violation by attending a speech in uniform when the event is occurring on-board his/her US warship was left unsaid.

The real issue, of course, was the patches worn by some Pilots and Aircrew. Read on..

By Gina Harkins

Sailors who showed up to a speech by President Donald Trump wearing patches playing off the commander in chief’s famous campaign slogan have been punished — along with some of their superiors — for violating a Pentagon order that bars troops in uniform from participating in political events.

Eighteen sailors and officers assigned to the Guam-based Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 were informed days after Trump’s Memorial Day address on the amphibious assault ship Wasp that they were suspected of violating Pentagon policy. Nine of them had attended the speech sporting flight suits with red patches that said, “Make Aircrew Great Again.”

Journalists attending the speech posted photos of the patches on Twitter, prompting questions about whether the uniform devices violated Defense Department policy requiring troops to remain apolitical while in uniform. The patches featured the president’s likeness, along with the riff on Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. obtained a copy of the 103-page investigation into the incident, which was launched just days after Trump’s speech, through a Freedom of Information Act request. It found that, while the sailors didn’t intend for the patches to make a political statement, they still broke the rules.

The sailors’ officer-in-charge, a lieutenant commander, confiscated the patches immediately after Trump’s speech.

The Navy also took “appropriate administrative measures” against an undisclosed number of sailors and leaders involved in the incident, Lt. j.g. Rachel McMarr, a Navy spokeswoman in Hawaii, said.

A Navy official with knowledge of the cases said some sailors and officers faced nonjudicial punishments, but the charges were later dropped. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to not being authorized to discuss private personnel matters. The personnel ultimately received administrative reprimands, which were carried out at the unit level. The severity of those punishments were not disclosed.

From the 1MC- “Away, away the Morale Suppression Team! Morale detected on the Flight Deck near the Podium! Now, Away!”

You all should know where my sympathies lie with this one. Naval Aircrew bending the rules and have some fun? The horror! Yeah, prolly not the smartest move, but the over-the-top reaction seems unfortunately the norm these days. At least calmer heads prevailed, the NJP was dropped, and a verbal ass-chewing was the final result.
Read the entire article here:
Thanks, AW1 Rod!

Category: "Teh Stoopid", Guest Link, Media, Navy, Politics, Trump!

Comments (44)

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  1. USAF RET says:

    A F-111 coin with “30 years of structural integrity – never a crack in the cockpit” would make heads explode these days

    • 5th/77th FA says:

      USAR-RET; years ago when I FIRST got a www machine my Brother, a retired wing wiping Chief, sent me a picture of a C5 crew made up of girls…Not a dog in the pack. Seems as if they were transporting a group of Army Troops and the Sergeant Major of the troops had expressed surprise to the pilot that it was the FIRST time he had ever seen a cockpit full of girls. The AC told him, “SGM we don’t call it a cockpit anymore, we refer to it as a box office.” The SGM went back and found him a seat. Wish I could find that again. Not only was it funny as hell, like I said, wasn’t a dog in the pack. I used that as my screen saver(?) for my work computer for several years til they sent some IT guy in to update the machines. That one and a shot of Sarah Palin in a mini skirt and high heels disappeared.

      Real pity that no one has a sense of humor anymore.

      • USAF RET says:

        My “Wolf” at Kunsan had a coin that had 8FW wolf cranium on front and on the back said, “Kunsan Air Base ROK, if you haven’t been there shut the F up” He was and is an outstanding guy

        • Bill R. says:

          There’s still numerous items around saying “You haven’t been packed until you’ve been Wolf Packed.”

          Juvats 90-91.5, 94-99.

        • AW1Ed says:

          Had a coffee mug with essentially the same message, but from Pohang. And the STFU part was on the bottom, out of obvious sight.

    • Comm Center Rat says:

      Oh the venerable Aardvark! I remember hearing the roar of F-111s while living on a northern SAC base in the 1960s and 70s. Good childhood memories.

      • 6 years of duty with the “vark” good times/bad times but very memorable times, especially at the “Heath” with the F models when they 1st transferred from Mt. Home, we all worked our asses off for 3 years there to be fully operational from day 1 and played just as hard in down time from ops both daily and the ORI’s.
        Life at Cannon AFB on the other hand was pretty mundane after hours to say the least, except when on duty, you never knew what kind of excitement you could be in for with the D model, example; the day I received my 1st ever line badge, I was walking back to the shop and getting the nickel tour of the flight line with a more experienced buddy from the shop and a F-111 on the EOR burst into flames after chucking a TF-30 fan blade into a fuel cell,we watched the aircrew pop the canopies and drop down running and the crash crew fire trucks spraying the fire out that was day 1.
        Thought to myself, the next few years are going to be an interesting adventure if this the kind of stuff to be occasionally expected, and it sure was, to say the least ! to many to tell here , but over a few beers I could ramble on.

  2. ChipNASA says:

    With apologizes God, although he has a sense of humor…(And yeah, I made this up, I’m sure there are other versions out there, I could quickly find one. Please feel free to modify and contribute as always. We may add something like this to the HoI or whatever)

    The DD-214 is my shepherd; I shall not want.

    2 It allows me to no longer have to lie down in green pastures: it leadeth me to calm, still and clean waters.

    3 It restoreth my soul: it leadeth me away from the the paths of indignation for the military’s sake.

    4 Yea, though I walked through the valley of the shadow of death and extremely close to the senior enlisted expertly manicured grasses, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy Reenlistment code and thy Honorable Discharge, they comfort me.

    5 Thou allow me to no longer have to sit at a table before me in the presence of mine NCOs: thou anointest my head with Rip Its; my canteen cup, replaced with a solo cup, runneth over.

    6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of the rest of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the DD-214 for ever.

    • Roh-Dog says:


      • AW1Ed says:

        He’s been on a roll of late. Did you catch his video on the Marine sentry and the Iraqi taxi driver? Freakin’ hilarious. View it on yesterdays fake SEAL post.

        • Roh-Dog says:

          Finally found it, hilarious indeed. TCPs are the Grunts’ worst nightmare.
          Static ambush point where you have to interact with sub-70 IQ locals. What the f*** is not to like?!?

  3. SSG Kane says:

    I wore a moral patch in Iraq. It had President Reagan on it Che Guevara style, with “Republican Old Guard” emblazoned on the top and bottom.

    25th ID CSM saw me wearing it one day and proceeded to smoke the shit out of me and report me as “unprofessional” to my commander.

    My commander shrugged it off and told the CSM that i was likely one of the few soldiers old enough to remember Reagan.

    • Roh-Dog says:

      Do you remember his name?
      I was 2nd BDE and deployed separate but had run-ins with the Division CSM once or twice back in garrison.
      Taylor was the shit!

  4. Comm Center Rat says:

    “the 103-page investigation into the incident, which was launched just days after Trump’s speech…”

    The report must’ve been authored by some Annapolis grads in the JAG Office in a quest for the Navy Achievement Medal.

    • Mason says:

      Yeah, somebody really needs to justify their position if they find 103 pages worth to write on this.

      • The Other Whitey says:

        Must’ve had lots of pictures, and a few cases of THIS PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK.

        • 11B-Mailclerk says:

          A good clerk can occasionally edit one of those long documents to include “The author’s mind is intentionally left blank” at the bottom of one such page.

          It is truly amazing how many proofreaders will miss it.

          • AW1Ed says:

            Tried to slip “risk of funny looking kids” in the Threat Hazard Analysis section of a test plan, as applied to Hazards of Electronic Radiation to Personnel (HERP).

            Sadly, didn’t make it through.

            • SFC D says:

              I worked for a CW2 that taught me about photocopying a centerfold, then randomly placing the copy back into the paper feed tray. Just prior to printing out multiple copies of a brigade level exercise OPORD. No one ever admitted to receiving the “porn bomb”.

  5. chooee lee says:

    I mean it’s not like they snuck a hooker on board or got caught drinking torpedo juice, lighten up Frances.

  6. 26Limabeans says:

    Viet of the Nam had lots of unauthorized bling.
    Didn’t hear no bitchin then.
    Hell, it was part of the local economy.

  7. The Other Whitey says:

    It’s an obviously-apolitical morale patch that references a political slogan for obviously-apolitical humorous purposes. What’s the problem? If it made a political statement, I could see the problem, but there’s clearly none here.

    Y’know, there was a time when they let crews paint pinup girls on their aircraft/vehicles. Wars tended to end decisively with America victorious back then.

  8. Mustang Major says:

    The Sectretary of the Navy at the time, Richard V. Spencer, has since resigned and now endorses Bloomberg for President.

    I suspect air crews can become great again and resume wearing the patches.

  9. Mick says:

    Oh FFS. Unbelievable. And yet another indication of how hopelessly weak and politically correct some of the senior leaders in Naval Aviation* have become.

    Good thing that the modern-day senior snowflakes in uniform that were somehow offended by that completely benign morale patch never saw any of the pre-Tailhook ’91 morale patches that were commonplace throughout Navy and Marine Corps Aviation back in the day. I’m sure that AW1Ed and Atkron can back me up on that statement.

    Hell, before Tailhook ’91 erupted, VMAQ-2 was known as the “Playboys”, and they had the image of the Playboy Bunny logo painted on the vertical stabilizers of their EA-6B Prowlers. It was also on their squadron patch that they wore on their flight suits, and it was one of the most famous squadron logos in all of Naval Aviation. But not any longer; after Tailhook ’91, they were forced to change their squadron name to the more politically correct “Death Jesters”, and no more Playboy Bunnies were allowed to be painted on aircraft.

    I hate to say it, but there are days when I’m very glad that I’m retired. Today is one of those days. I miss the flying, but I certainly don’t miss this kind of insane bullshit.

    * Naval Aviation = Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Aviation.

  10. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    Some Ooficers with the philosophy of “Floggings will continue until Morale Improves.”

  11. OWB says:

    Let’s see. You got a bunch of folks in a captive audience basically ordered to attend the event having some fun with it? Shocking. Just shocking. Not.

    Another reason to NEVER allow media around the military.

  12. rgr769 says:

    Well, if this is improper, then why is LTC Chow Thief in a paid slick political TV ad attacking President Trump, wearing his uniform? The obvious sole purpose of said ad is to persuade people to despise Trump and refrain from voting for him. I guess if you do anything implicitly favorable to the CIC in uniform, that is illegal. But attack the Bad Orange Man in uniform, that is perfectly OK. That looks like Lars-logic.

    • AW1Ed says:

      I’ve learned a few more Army Ranger terms, doubtless hanging with the Nautically Challenged types here at TAH. A Chow or Baby Thief takes more food than than is rationed for the trainees, leaving less for the others, a Spotlighter does lots of cool things when Higher / instructors are watching, but lapses back into mediocre mode when their attention is elsewhere (very familiar with this one), and one I’ve heard before, Peered Out, which is self explanatory and can get one shit-canned from the training. Pretty close?
      All three have been attached to LTC Vindman.

      • rgr769 says:

        True “chow thieves” at Ranger School are guys that will steal the C-rats or MRE’s out of your ruck when you are not looking. Remember only one MRE or C-rat was issued for each day you are in the field on patrol, so everyone is starving because of the they are burning twice as many calories as they are consuming each day. When I left Ranger School, I was down to 160 lbs, when my normal weight was about 180. The Peer reports are a report from fellow rangers about how you perform as a patrol team member. Although they are somewhat of a popularity contest, they do reveal shirkers who never volunteer to hump the machine gun or do other unpleasant or difficult tasks, like swimming the rope across the river to erect a one or two rope bridge. Those reports are also telling about how you are viewed by your peers as an effective combat military leader. As an officer, one doesn’t want his peers reporting, “I wouldn’t follow that bastard across the street.”

        • timactual says:

          Spent some time at the various Ranger sites as an “aggressor” and other support functions. We were warned to carefully secure any food we did not want to lose, as the ravenous Rangers would instantly scarf it up. Even cadre were not immune to the temptation. Losing a bit of food now and then to a hungry Ranger was a minor irritant, but all part of the game. However, stealing from a fellow soldier just as hungry as you is beyond the pale. I think it reflects badly on the Ranger school that Vindman was not returned to his unit immediately with a very strongly worded note in his file. Definitely a candidate for fragging.

          • rgr769 says:

            One of the high points of my last patrol in Florida, hunting the hated “G’s” (aggressors), was when I searched a “G” base camp and found a can of C-rat peanut butter. It was like I had found a Big Mac. Ranger School completely changes your attitude toward food. For years afterward I couldn’t stand to leave food on my plate, even though I was full.

  13. Hondo says:

    Glad to see that cooler heads prevailed here.

    Yeah, this was stupid. Those involved should have realized they would very likely be observed by someone the press, and that the press has an agenda – and it’s generally not “support the troops” or any conservative leadership of same. That’s particularly true after seeing what happened to the Marines who whizzed on Taliban corpses and lost careers as a result.

    However, it’s not IMO career-terminal stupid. Rather, it’s something that can be handled with an ass-chewing or local written reprimand. So long as something similarly stupid doesn’t subsequently occur during that assignment, that can – and IMO should – be the end of it.

  14. Club Manager, USA ret. says:

    WAR STORY ALERT: Grabbed a hop on a Navy C-130 from Andrews AFB to North Island in San Diego. Had a female co-pilot who kept leaving he seat down in the single head on board. Was smart enough to use the opportunity to keep my pie hole closed.

    • timactual says:

      She must have been in a very gentlemanly unit. In a grunt unit I think that after a couple of messy incidents she would have left the eat up just out of self defense.

  15. NHSparky says:

    I can neither confirm nor deny that I still own a, “100 Missions Over Shit River” patch or a t-shirt that says, “24 empty missile tubes, a mushroom cloud, and it’s Miller Time!”

    Then again, Mr. DD-214 protects me from needless fuckery.