This was a PR nightmare that we created. We created it because we let her do what she wanted to do. As usual when exceptional people are treated in an exceptional manner - more often than not both the individual and the institution suffer.
Don't be mad at CAPT Graf - have a sit down with those who owned paper on her for the last decade and have them look you in the eye and tell you they had no idea. Talk to her XOs and Dept. Heads and ask them why they didn't speak up. Be open to the answers you will hear - my email box is full of them ..... but most won't go on the record.
Why? See top cover comment above. That's OK though - all you really need to know is in the IG report.
"Take your goddamn attitude and shove it up your f------ ass and leave it there," she allegedly told an officer during a stressful maneuver aboard the 567-foot, 10,000-ton vessel.This next paragraph is funny - as it simply is not a valid statement for anyone that reaches Major Command at Sea - especially if you are the first female to command a cruiser.
Junior officers seeking her guidance were rebuffed. "This is one of the reasons I hate you," she allegedly told one 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 our of your mouth are 'Yes ma'am,' or 'You're correct ma'am.'" She 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."
"Don't come to me with your problems," she said Graf responded. "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 "is a terrible role model for women in the Navy," alleging that Graf had 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."
Paul Coco, a 2002 Naval Academy graduate, served as a the 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 Cmdr. Todd Leavitt arrived to replace Graf. "As soon as Cmdr. Leavitt said 'I relieve you' to Cmdr. Graf, the whole ship, at attention, roared in cheers."
"I'm more upset that the Navy let this go on so long," says Kirk Benson, who retired from the Navy as a commander three years ago after a 20-year career. Many complaints up the chain fell on "deaf ears," he says. "When I think of Holly Graf, even 12 years later, I shake," he says of serving under her when she was second-in-command on the destroyer U.S.S. Curtis Wilbur in 1997-98. "She was so intimidating even to me, a 6-foot-4 guy."
Even though Graf comes from a Navy family — her sister and brother-in-law are both admirals, and her father was a captain — there appears to have been no "godfather" shielding her and greasing the skids for her promotion, Navy officers say. Prior to the IG probe's release, the Navy had tapped Graf for a top job at the Pentagon following her Cowpens command. Now she's being shuffled off to a Navy weapons lab outside the capital. "Her career," one admiral says, "is over."We all lose our temper. We all have our moments. I've heard worse on a ship. Not everyone has to Command though.
I haven't blogg'd too much on this as others have - but now that the IG is out, I thought one post should be enough. I don't want to ping on CAPT Graf too much - if anyone felt the need for her to be punished - she is more than being punished now. I just hope she finds peace and somewhere out there during her career she found some friends of some kind. People think Command is lonely? Wait until you lose your power and influence - then your fair weather friends depart post haste.
Don't beat up on her too much - she's only human and karma found her. However, if she isn't humbled by this - then stand clear of her. Looks like she has a significant frag pattern.