Here’s To You, Holly Graf

Despite the misfortune of Navy Capt. Holly Graf and the alleged suffering of the USS Cowpens (CG 63) crew under this so-called Capt. Bligh, we find the allegations and subsequent findings against her outrageous.

Foul and harsh language around sailors a problem? Fear on a warship? What has this Navy come to?

In the name of “We’re bored so now we’ll spy in on our commanding officers,” it has been reported the Navy has relieved no fewer than six commanders since January – this January. But, the downfall of “Horrible Holly” has piqued considerable interest and spiked column inches.

Graf is a 1985 Naval Academy grad who was relieved for allegedly abusing her position and crew.  The Navy Inspector General performed its investigation post haste. Its finding against Graf: cruelty and maltreatment. This is a rare—and not to mention a tad suspect. Do we have another railroaded officer to cover the deficiencies of her seniors?

Graf may have treated everyone poorly, but she treated them equally. In watching the carnage, we cannot help but ask, “So, do you, Cowpens crew, get it now?” We certainly are shedding no tears for this ship’s company. Our guess is the whistleblowers, while justified, have not endured years of true abuse, maltreatment, beratement and sexual harassment. Hey, let’s add sexual assault to the mix. They like to say those things don’t happen today; we’ll let them live the fantasy.

In a statement to investigators, Graf explained her actions were her way to challenge her crew. (Sounds reasonable.) We say it was a way to toughen up what has become a flaccid Navy. Most commanders probably would not subscribe to Graf’s methods. (With all Navy’s focus on diversity, vice leadership, will hugs be required next?)

We wonder about Graf’s executive officer, with whom many of the quoted conversations should have taken place. “Don’t come to me with your problems,” Graf said. “You’re a f______ department head.” Sounds reasonable to us. “I can’t express how mad you make me without getting violent.” Apparently this statement was a problem for the Navy, but not a problem for Graf. She was to the point and used imagery with great effect.

We’re told the overall morale in the Navy, especially the surface community, has been in the toilet for some time. The officer corps seems to lack the (oddly out-of-control) strength and confidence of a Holly Graf, traits she may have sought to instill in her crew.

The main offenders in this tragedy are the myriad officers above Graf. Reports say she has had this controversial leadership style for some time. Where were those officers to say, “Hey Holly, what the hell is going on?” They certainly rushed to judgment when her behavior became a problem for them.

Navy – In case of war, break glass.

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