Hazing News

90 hazing incidents in 2009; two top personnel punished. Is the Navy finally taking hazing seriously?

So it appears

From the Daily Mail: excerpt

Two top U.S. Navy officers have been relieved of their duties after an investigation into ‘hazing’.

Commander Etta Jones, officer in charge of the Norfolk, Virginia-based Ponce, was sacked for not properly investigating sailors involved in the humiliating rituals, the Navy said.

Hazing is a practice whereby people are subjected to humiliating ordeals, often as an initiation.

‘Failed to serve our nation’: Commander Etta Jones, the top U.S. Navy officer sacked after an investigation into ‘hazing’

‘Failed to set a proper example’: Lieutenant Commander Kurt Boenisch was also sacked for failing to provide support to the commanding officer

Reported cases in the U.S. Navy include sexual and racial abuses, as well as officers being ‘hog-tied’, locked in faeces-filled kennels and force fed dog food.

Commander Jones also failed to properly handle a 9mm handgun during a security alert, which endangered some of her crew, the Navy said.

Lieutenant Commander Kurt Boenisch, the ship’s executive officer, was also sacked, after he failed to provide support to the command and commanding officer, according to the Navy.

The sackings come as the the amphibious transport dock Ponce – pronounced ‘ponsay’ – is deployed in the Mediterranean, after recently taking part in a mission in Libya.

Lieutenant Nathan Potter, spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet, said Commander Jones was fired due to ‘poor leadership, and failure to appropriately investigate, report, and hold accountable sailors found involved in hazing incidents.

‘Additionally, she failed to properly handle a loaded weapon during a security alert, which endangered some of her crew.’

As he removed the two officers from their posts, Vice Admiral Harry Harris said: ‘When leadership fails in setting a proper example or upholding proper standards on his or her ship, they fail to serve our sailors, our Navy and, ultimately, our nation.’

Captain Brad Skillman, deputy commander of Amphibious Squadron 4, has taken command of the Ponce, which is due home in about two months to be decommissioned.

Commander Jones is the eighth U.S. Navy commanding officer relieved so far this year, according to

The USS Ponce is a 40-year-old ship, one of the US navy’s oldest, but still hauls around 400 marines a day all around the world.

Earlier this month it was stationed off Libya to undertake a possible humanitarian mission, after training with the Kenyan army.

Two months ago the commanding officer and command master chief of the destroyer Stout, another Norfolk-based ship, were relieved of their duties in the Mediterranean.

One officer, six chiefs and one petty officer were also kicked off the ship after an investigation revealed multiple incidents of crew misconduct during port visits during the deployment.
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Hazing is defined as any conduct whereby a military member or members, regardless of service or rank, without proper authority causes another military member or members, regardless of service or rank, to suffer or be exposed to any activity which is cruel, abusive, humiliating, oppressive, demeaning, or harmful.

Soliciting or coercing another to perpetrate any such activity is also considered hazing.  Hazing need not be verbal or psychological in nature.  Actual or implied consent to acts of hazing does not eliminate the culpability of the perpetrator.

(Source: U.S. Naval Inspector General]

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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