Navy Command Master Chief Told Sailors to 'Clap Like We're at a Strip Club' for Pence

Vice President Mike Pence salutes sailors on the flight deck aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), Apr. 30, 2019. (U.S. Navy photo/Adelola Tinubu)
Vice President Mike Pence salutes sailors on the flight deck aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), Apr. 30, 2019. (U.S. Navy photo/Adelola Tinubu)

The top enlisted leader on a Navy aircraft carrier is under fire for telling his troops to "clap like we're at a strip club" ahead of the vice president's stop aboard the ship Tuesday.

Command Master Chief Jonas Carter made the remark to sailors aboard the carrier Harry S. Truman, Lt. Cmdr. Laura Stegherr, a spokeswoman for the ship, confirmed to Military.com.

"This statement was inappropriate, and this issue is being addressed by Truman's leadership," she said.

CNN first reported the incident Tuesday.

Pence met with senior leaders and gave a speech aboard the Truman, which is pierside in Virginia. During his speech, he said President Donald Trump would save their carrier from early retirement, despite the commander-in-chief authorizing the move earlier this year in his 2020 budget proposal.

George Reed, a retired Army colonel who served as director of command and leadership studies at the Army War College, said while Carter's phrasing might not have been appropriate for a public audience, sailors likely understood his intent.

"Of course, you want sailors to give a good reception to the vice president, no matter your party preference," Reed said.

If the command master chief's comments were more partisan in nature, though, that's cause for concern.

"There was a time when the mere act of voting was considered by many officers to be too partisan," he said. "The shift to a period where military [leaders] feel comfortable sporting bumper stickers and yard signs favoring their party or favored candidate reflects cultural change that might not be in the best interest of the armed forces or the nation."

This isn't the first time a Trump administration event involving troops has made headlines.

Last March, when Trump pointed to reporters during a speech to Marines at a California air station and called them "fake news," the leathernecks cheered.

And in December, when Trump visited troops in Iraq, some had him sign their "Make America Great Again" caps. Since it's the commander in chief's political campaign slogan, some said it was inappropriate for them to ask for signatures while in uniform.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Show Full Article