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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 7, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 01
Navy captain canned after raunchy video surfaces
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Navy captain canned after raunchy video surfaces

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor The Navy permanently removed Captain Owen Honors, a senior officer in command of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, on January 4 because of raunchy comedy videos he made and showed to the crew several years ago when he was the ship's executive officer.

The videos, which include anti-Gay slurs and sexual innuendo, showed extremely poor judgment by Capt. Honors, said the commander of U.S. Fleet Forces, Admiral John C. Harvey, Jr.

"While Capt. Honors' performance as commanding officer of USS Enterprise has been without incident, his profound lack of good judgment and professionalism while previously serving as executive officer on Enterprise calls into question his character and completely undermines his credibility to continue to serve effectively in command," Harvey said in a statement read to reporters in Norfolk on January 4.

Honors has been reassigned to an administrative role.

According to the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot - the newspaper that broke the story - Capt. Honors appears in one scene with two female Navy sailors who are standing in a shower stall aboard the aircraft carrier, pretending to wash each other. They joke that they should get six minutes under the water instead of the mandated three.

In other skits, sailors parade in drag, use anti-Gay slurs, and simulate masturbation and a rectal exam. Another scene implies that an officer is having sex in his stateroom with a donkey.

All the skits are a part of a series of short movies produced aboard the Norfolk-based aircraft carrier in 2006 and 2007 and broadcast to nearly 6,000 sailors and Marines.

Over the weekend, the Navy at first downplayed the videos as humorous skits, then called them unacceptable and said they were being investigated.

The video's existence was not news to Navy brass. The Navy said its leadership had put a stop to videos with "inappropriate content" on the Enterprise about four years ago.

Some sailors who served with Honors aboard the Enterprise had stepped forward to defend their captain, saying the skits provided a much-needed morale boost during long deployments at sea.

The posts - mostly on the social networking site Facebook - say Honors is a man who genuinely cares about his sailors during six-month tours of duty in the Middle East at the height of the Iraq War. Maintaining morale is typically part of the executive officer's job.

One of the sailors jumping to Honors' defense is Eric Prenger, a Gay man. Prenger, a former petty officer who came out after leaving the Navy, says he was "absolutely not" offended by the videos.

"Myself, nor the other Gay crew members that I knew of at the time, were ever offended by those videos," said Prenger. "In my time aboard that ship, I never got the feeling he was against Gays at all."

Prenger said that although it may be shocking that someone of such a high rank participated and masterminded such videos, "For people to think he's a homophobe or a Gay-basher who didn't even know him or weren't even there to serve under him is pretty frustrating."

Prenger has nothing but praise for his former executive officer, saying, "He was a great man to serve under, and this is an unfortunate circumstance, and if I can do my part to help him in any way, I would be more than happy to do so."

The military - the Navy in particular - has undergone a cultural shift in recent decades away from the ill-mannered, frat-boy behavior that was exposed by the Tailhook scandal in 1991. The service is now working to accommodate Gays in its ranks. Also, the Navy is opening its all-male submarine force to women this year.

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