Thursday, March 25, 2010

Captain Michael Hawley shows appreciation for his abused USS WASP crew - then he is fired in disgrace

USS Wasp (LHD 1) held a change of command ceremony, April 11 2009, at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va.

Capt. Daniel H. Fillion relieved Capt. Michael D. Hawley as commanding officer.

To show his appreciation to the Wasp crew, Hawley ordered the ceremony to be conducted in working uniforms, vice the traditional Service Dress Blues, and even provided chairs so his Sailors could sit, rather than have them stand in formation.

From an official Navy press release.

His arrogance is exceeded only by his complete lack of integrity. A small man made large by a command at sea pin. His sense of entitlement is incomprehensible.

14 comments:

GATOR SAILOR said...

This man was fired. He disgraced the navy and the uniform. Good riddance. Maybe he and Graf can share a table.

Anonymous said...

Could you clarify yourself here? Do you think Hawley was unjustly relieved following the IG investigation?

General Quarters said...

Insufficient gravitas to command.

Anonymous said...

That was my Captain from Lebanon (2006) to the yard period into 2009...justice.

Anonymous said...

I was unaware of the circumstances behind this relief until I did some "Goggling" and came across the "Virginian Pilot" article describing it. I think the reasons for CAPT Hawley's downfall are best summarized by his quote, "I was too smart for that". Perhaps not.

"Insufficient gravitas to command" is correct and yet the Navy assigned this officer to command on at least separate occasions. All I can conclude is that his reporting seniors were unaware of or unwilling to document his fairly obvious leadership and moral short-comings.

What is most disturbing to me about the latest rash of command level DFCs is how many of these folks are O-6s. Back in the day a lot of them were discovered and culled from the process during their O-4 and O-5 commands. Am really curious why this doesn't appear to be happening today.

C-dore 14

Anonymous said...

Let's make that "...at least three separate occasions".

General Quarters said...

It is troubling that so many who seem obviously unfit to command are appointed time and again to do just that... and then fail miserably. My theory is that we have been a peacetime navy for many years, and senior officers with political acumen are promoted over those with operational and leadership skills. War at sea will bring about the long overdue titivation, but unfortunately many young hands may be lost before all the asshats are purged.

Anonymous said...

A well-known quote says: "When you're climbing the totem pole and look down, all you see is smiling faces. When you're looking up, all you see is a$$-holes..." Several posters mention that someone _had_ to have known about CAPT Hawley's shortcomings in earlier commands, but didn't do anything to stop him and instead, he proceeded up the chain of command and the results are a matter of record...same with CAPT Graf. One of the questions that I have going through my mind is: did their reporting seniors know how these less-than-stellar officers were actually performing in positions of leadership? Or did they simply look down and see "smiling faces" and assume that because they got the job done and didn't hurt anyone/run the ship aground, they were ready for further responsibility? Did the reporting seniors know that in order for these subordinates to look successful, they left behind a trail of bodies and burning wreckage? Having never been in senior positions, I can't tell you if it's possible to know...but based on interviews I have conducted with flag officers over the years, it is possible for attentive commanders to know just how their subordinates are getting their job done.

If it is that apparent to the guy on the "top of the totem pole", why didn't anyone do anything about it? Are we (as the SWO community) so pressed for making retention numbers that we generally overlook subordinate's shortcomings in order to make our numbers "for the good of the community"? Ironically, if this is the case (and I suspect it is) how fitting is it that by keeping these sub-par officers in the community actually increases the number of officers that the community needs as they are the ones that make their officers desire to leave...a rather vicious circle...retain one or two and lose a dozen.

Or is it not that apparent? Could it be that people like Graf and Hawley actually did do a good job in the eyes of the reporting senior? Could it be that, despite the charred remains of their crew, and the bodies of their officers that they used as stepping stones, their reporting seniors either paid no attention to this fact...or simply weren't sufficiently engaged enough to notice what was happening? How does that even happen? Unless their reporting seniors were very much like them and had gotten to that position by performing just as Graf and Hawley had....At this point, one must look at the system and see if the system itself is broken. If it is, how can it be improved? What can be done to make it so that people like Graf and Hawley aren't "awarded" subsequent commands when their initial commands showed their true colors?

And what about the people who they destroyed on the way? What has the Navy done to rehabilitate them...or have they simply been counted as a loss, despite working for the Grafs and Hawleys of the world? I believe that many good people are lost because of Commanding Officers like these...how can those people be retained and mentored...and eventually become Commanding Officers that learned the lessons early on of how NOT to perform in order to give guidance and mentorship to those behind them?

Anonymous said...

obviously, the posted comments were made by people who have formed opinions without knowing all the facts.... In fact, the whistleblower was an LDO ship photographer who was reprimanded for leaving the ship on his duty days....discovered soon after Hawley took command of WASP...... The guy never forgot it!

Two junior officers who were given negative fitness reports were also the same ones who banded with LDO described above....when the anonymous letter was written...who were also same ones who gave standing ovation to Fillion at change of command.

So much more to this story ,and as a blog writer...you should have checked your facts before adding to the "i have an axe to grind and how did this Capt get to command" ...Oh , and I guess you forgot the part about how an LHD who was at the bottom of the fleet became #1 ship in the fleet. Guess that happens with poor leadership that Hawley's superiors missed too.


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Anonymous said...

This was my CO and I stood POOW the day of the change of command. I remember he walked towards the ship, knowing that we would see him in advance, just to hear the last words. "Wasp, arriving!" But he didn't actually come on the ship. I just smiled because his presence always brought a sense of joy to the hard-working environment. This is why we worked so hard. He was one of the best CO's ever to command the USS Wasp. We worked hard and he made the best environment for us. Due to the "findings", whatever. Thank you Capt. Hawley for one of the best tours ever! It was an honor sir, serving with you.

Anonymous said...

This was my CO and I stood POOW the day of the change of command. I remember he walked towards the ship, knowing that we would see him in advance, just to hear the last words. "Wasp, arriving!" But he didn't actually come on the ship. I just smiled because his presence always brought a sense of joy to the hard-working environment. This is why we worked so hard. He was one of the best CO's ever to command the USS Wasp. We worked hard and he made the best environment for us. Due to the "findings", whatever. Thank you Capt. Hawley for one of the best tours ever! It was an honor sir, serving with you.

Anonymous said...

I was a Chief on board from 2004 - 2007. Capt. Hawley was a very interesting Commanding Officer. He commanded respect and projected the image of a CO that looked out for the Crew. He participated in MWR activities with the crew, seemingly trying to warm up or establish a relationship. I remember it seemed like he would volunteer the Wasp for every event and tasking that would come up in 2nd. Fleet. We were surged to the coast of Syria for a month or so and after the incident died down he started looking for something else for us to do, instead of go home. I know this upset many, but personally I thought it was natural to volunteer our services, since we were on station anyway. He said he was trying to get us a liberty port, but the Navy didnt want to spend the money. So, we were heading home, still in the Med when he announced we were going to Iceland. There were many moans, but many of us got excited. We were going to be ambassadors representing the US commitment to Iceland by being the first ship to visit since the Navy Air Station in Rakivek closed down. Well, it turned out to be the sought after liberty port, but with a purpose. That port was followed by several days in Copenhagen, DK. Both were memorable experiences. On the way home we rescued a Peruvian Sub-mariner who had injured his hand at sea and a heart patient from a Cruise Liner. In the case of the patient from the Cruise Liner we turned around and went back to the Azores and flew him to the closest Medical Facility. The Submariner, we treated on board and he stayed with us until we got back to Norfolk. All in all, it was a hell of a trip and the Captain was at home at sea and displayed confidence and leadership to the crew. I left the ship shortly after that surge, and what I heard happened later and the things he did or said, I believe was only known by the Chiefs and Officers.

Anonymous said...

I was onboard Wasp from 2005-2009 and I can say that the previous statement above is true, and it sucked bad esp. when you have a son being born and you can go home cause your CO wants to "Play" at sea and f*&^ around. Also told one of the guys I worked with after DRB that he wanted to "Keel Hull his ass" Terrible leader and thief got everything he deserved.

Anonymous said...

I was the guy he wanted to "Keel Hull" I wanted to stay in but, I was discharged and given a RE-4 so for 7 years I've been fighting to get back in. Wish the Naval review board would take this into consideration.