Image Image

  Nostalgia ain't what it used to be

Tuesday, 25 September, 2018
Image

Holly the Hun, Captain, U.S. Navy

Date: 15 February, 2011

By: Chief

Imageorry Attila for the put-down. Temptation simply got the better of me.

The principle difference between Attila the Hun and Holly the Hun is — Attila won. He won:

In short Attila was a conquerer. And a highly successful one at that.

Holly, on the other hand, cannot fight her way out of a wet paper bag. Hence she has lost ... everything. She is, in essence, a mere tyrant, a bully. And as everyone knows bullies are cowards. So is Holly. No more no less.

Epitome of a tyrant

Holly the Hun is a ring-knocker. Allow me to enlighten the uninitiated — a ring-knocker, in Naval parlance, is an officer (zero) who graduated from canoe school (Annapolis, the Naval Academy) and wears a class ring. Zeros will use their ring as a knocking device on a table, bar, etc., to draw attention to themselves or (rarely) to quite a boisterous room. The ring also denotes that the wearer is purportedly a 'cut above' other zeros.

Now that we have cleared the air about ring-knockers let us discuss Holly the Hun in a little more detail.

She graduated from canoe school in 1985. Holly holds (quoting Wikipedia):

"[. . .] A Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College and a further Master's degree in civil engineering from Villanova University."

While she maybe book smart, this does not mean she can lead. Indeed, as you shall discover, Holly the Hun is one of the worst leaders in all of Naval history.

Quoting Time magazine:

"Women are so common in the upper ranks of the U.S. military these days that it's no longer news when they break through another barrier. Unfortunately, the latest benchmark isn't one to brag about: being booted as captain of a billion-dollar warship for 'cruelty and maltreatment' of her 400-member crew. According to the Navy inspector general's report that triggered her removal - and the accounts of officers who served with her - Captain Holly Graf was the closest thing the U.S. Navy had to a female Captain Bligh."

Believe it or not folks, that is just the beginning. The beginning of the end that is. Now attend to the fact that being relieved of command before a command tour is up is the equivalent of a career death sentence. Further, while I have heard of commanding officers being relieved for running their ship aground or a collision at sea (dependent upon the circumstances), I have never heard of a commanding officer being relieved of command for "cruelty and maltreatment."

A long track record of tyranny

Apparently Holly the Hun's leadership by tyranny goes back a long, long way. That only makes sense. Because leaders are made — they are not born. However, as regrettable as it is, poor leaders do slip through the crack. This is most assuredly true ever since Tailhook 91. Since that incident Navy brass has been extremely timid - very near cowardly - when it comes to dealing with women.

Holly's tours of duty included (quoting Wikipedia):

"Auxiliaries Officer and First Division Officer on the USS Puget Sound (AD-38). Graf was also the Weapons Officer on the USS Ainsworth (FF-1090) and executive officer on the USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54). She was subsequently promoted to commander and served as commanding officer of the USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81) from 20 April 2002 to 6 February 2004. During this deployment, she participated in the opening stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She was promoted to captain in 2007. Graf then served as the assistant operations officer in the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) carrier strike group. From 20 March 2008 to 13 January 2010, Graf was the commanding officer of the USS Cowpens, based in Yokosuka, Japan."

Her leadership by tyranny appears to have gotten a real jump start while she was the executive officer aboard USS Curtis Wilbur. Quoting Time magazine:

"Nicole Waybright served as a junior officer for five years, including a year with Graf on the Wilbur in 1997-98, before leaving the Navy in 2001. 'She was a terrible ship handler', Waybright recalls. 'I was 23 years old and I wanted to show, just by my actions, that women could do it and just blend in like the gray doors with the rest of the gray ship', she said. 'But she betrayed our gender'. Waybright felt the Navy pushed women into command too quickly at the time, but adds that Graf's 'sadistic cruelty' didn't help" (emphasis added).

Over the course of time, naturally, things got worse until members of the crew of the USS Cowpens had had enough and contacted the Office of the Inspector General (IG) at Naval Base Yokosuka, Japan, home port of the Cowpens. An investigation, at long last, commenced.

I would be remiss if I left this out (quoting Time magazine):

"But many officers who served with Graf over the years were not surprised by the IG's findings. Paul Coco, a 2002 Naval Academy graduate, served as a gunnery officer under Graf aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Winston S. Churchill from 2002 to 2004. 'She would throw coffee cups at officers - ceramic, not foam', he recalls, 'spit in one officer's face, throw binders and paperwork at people, slam doors'. The hostile work environment led to a gallows humor among the crew. 'We all would joke that after Bush liberated Iraq, he would next liberate Churchill', he says. That day finally came in January 2004, when Commander Todd Leavitt arrived to replace Graf. 'As soon as Commander Leavitt said 'I relieve you' to Commander Graf, the whole ship, at attention, roared in cheers', he says."

But what about some other things Holly the Hun pulled as commanding officer of USS Cowpens? Well she (quoting Time magazine):

"[...]According to 29 of the 36 crew members who were questioned for the Navy's report, Graf repeatedly dropped F bombs on them. 'Take your goddam attitude and shove it up your f______ ass and leave it there', she allegedly told an officer during a stressful maneuver aboard the 567-ft., 10,000-ton vessel.

"Junior officers seeking her guidance were rebuffed. 'This is one of the reasons I hate you', she allegedly told one who was seeking her help. When another officer visited her quarters to discuss an earlier heated discussion, her response was terse: 'Get the f___ out of my stateroom'. She allegedly told a male officer, 'The only words I want to hear out of your mouth are 'Yes ma'am' or 'You're correct, ma'am'. She also allegedly put a 'well-respected master chief' in 'time out' - standing in the ship's key control room doing nothing - 'in front of other watch standers of all ranks'.

"[...] A younger woman recalled going to Graf to seek her help. 'Don't come to me with your problems', she said, quoting Graf. 'You're a f______ department head'.

"The officer also said that Graf once told her, 'I can't express how mad you make me without getting violent'.

"A second female officer told the IG that Graf was a 'terrible role model for women in the Navy', alleging that Graf once told her and a fellow officer on the bridge, 'You two are f______ unbelievable. I would fire you if I could, but I can't'."

End of the road

Well maybe. Yes Holly the Hun was relieved of command for cause. She in turn went before "Admirals Mast" which is vastly less severe than a courts martial (which is what she had earned). Quoting Navy Times:

"Capt. Holly Graf was brought before an admiral’s mast with Rear Adm. Kevin Donegan, the commander of Carrier Strike Group 5, after an inspector general's investigation found problems with her 'temperament and demeanor vis-a-vis her subordinates', said Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a spokesman for 7th Fleet.

"Davis said he could not elaborate about what the IG had found about Graf's treatment of her crew, but he said it had been taking place 'over a length of time', including when the ship was in port and at sea. Specifically, Donegan found Graf guilty of violating Article 93 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice - which covers 'cruelty and maltreatment' - and Article 133, 'conduct unbecoming an officer', according to information provided by Davis."

So finally a pittance of justice? Not on your fireless cooker. Holly the Hun was being allowed to remain in the Navy. Although she would never again be promoted much less given a command. She would become a permanent staff weenie (someone who is absolutely useless). And that is absolutely pure hogwash. And then, drum roll please, quoting Wikipedia:

"Graf was slated to take a job at the Office of Information, Plans and Strategy (N3/N5) at the Pentagon after leaving the Cowpens. However, after losing her command, Graf was reassigned to the Naval Surface Warfare Center's laboratory in Dahlgren, Virginia.

"A board of inquiry composed of three admirals held hearings regarding her conduct in November 2010. On December 3, 2010, the board of inquiry recommended that Graf receive a general discharge and be allowed to retire with the rank of captain. The recommendation is awaiting final review by the Secretary of the Navy."

The board of inquiry found she:

What is going on? That is not a fitting punishment. That is a white wash. I told you Navy brass is timid and very near cowardly when dealing with women. There is your proof. This is also why nothing was done about Holly the Hun before. And there were plenty of opportunities.

Epilogue

Holly the Hun, coward that she is, destroyed the lives and careers of some fine men and women. For that she should languishing in Leavenworth military prison. As it stands Holly the Hun is still on active duty while she awaits a final decision from the Secretary of the Navy. I have no idea how long that will take, if it ever happens.

Bear in mind should Holly the Hun be allowed to retire as a Captain her retirement pay before taxes will be in excess of $4,800 per month (based on a 2009 retirement pay chart).

A tyrant drawing a retirement check. Only in the 'new' Navy could such a travesty occur.

[Ed. note: Story update. On 06 January, 2012, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (for manpower and reserve affairs) Juan Garcia overturned the recommendation of the board of inquiry and determined that Holly the Hun shall: (a) retire, (b) at a Captain's pension and (c) be honorably retired (early). This is absolutely disgusting. This is not what I would call being held accountable and responsible for your actions. And it certainly does not inspire good leadership traits. You can read about it here or here.]

(Return to the top)