LT Fredd Milbry, USCG (Ret.) Wrote:
I reviewed the recently published book “The Case of CDR Benjamin Strickland (Unrestricted Coast Guard Chronicles (UCGC) Book 1)” written by our own retired Honorable Judge London Steverson.
First and foremost buy this book! Why you say, because if you’ve done anything righteous in life, there should be no problem explaining to whoever inquires, what was your rationale behind your actions and most importantly you should be recognized for doing what’s Right. The very essence of that statement is the basis of this book in my opinion.
As a retired CG Officer and former Enlisted man with over 20 years service experience in personnel matters, assignments, counseling, investigating various complaints/offenses of the UCMJ, etc. at different levels and assignments, I feel very confident to critique these matters. It was drilled into our heads that the leadership from the top sets the tone and in this case it seems the leadership was either grossly lacking; some subordinate(s) chose to dictate the scenario without being challenged or the Leadership was duped into believing and subsequently supporting another story. Race was not an issue.
All officers concerned were Caucasian and of the same race and sex. So Racial bias was not a factor in this situation. Which still leaves a bad taste in my mouth because simply put, right is right and wrong is wrong. And there were some wrongs done without ramifications to the doers, although the one right thing was met as though it was the wrong. A once rising career was dispensed as though the time spent cultivating it was not valued in the least.
A riveting story that will have you questioning how, when, who and ultimately why certain things took place with Commander Strickland’s career. The Author (the retired Honorable Judge London Steverson) will guide you through the maze of incidents so that you will be able to formulate some opinions and conclusions based on the facts at hand. Several things concern me with the entire narrative, one of which, is that as a retired Coast Guard officer I have to question since this type of treatment could be so easily done to any member in today’s Coast Guard with a career resume’ that is nothing short of spectacular. If in fact it could happen to CDR Strickland, it could happen to a member with far less superlative credentials/accolades, or time in service or rank, but who is still very important and dedicated to the organization.
You will have a good idea and a look into the organizational framework with regards to following and executing orders by senior leadership and the possible ramifications of doing the right thing but nonetheless, something altogether different happening with the outcome of those actions taken. You will have enough information to decide whether an injustice did take place considering the old axiom, there are two sides to every story. Well the jury is still out with the possibility of never shedding true light on the opposite story. That could counter the story written in this book. But one thing is definite, a brilliant career was stopped dead in its tracks and a military family was rewarded with a questionable exit from a organization they had sacrificed and dedicated their lives for. This is not representative of the organization I served. It is up to you, the reader to draw your own conclusions of the events based on the information in this very well written story.
You are truly a member in good standing of the “Long Blue Line” of retired Coast Guard Officers. It is obvious how much you love the Coast Guard.
And you are a moral person who still holds sacred the “core values” we were taught as officers; duty, honor, honesty, truth, loyalty, respect, obedience to your oath of office and support for higher authority; follow the chain of command.
All of this is apparent in your review of The Case of CDR Benjamin Strickland.
You are a leader; you started the Facebook Page Black Coast Guard Chronicles. You see things first and are frequently on the cutting edge of hot social and professional issues. This is all the more reason I am touched by your insights into The Strickland Case and the book outlining it.
You are middle America; you are the Coast Guard’s moral majority; you are the voice of our conscience.
When you speak people listen. And I hear you. It was for such an awareness as yours that the book was written. It was to highlight such gross arbitrary and capricious divergence from good order and proper procedure that the book was written.
When the most senior officers in the CG can completely disregard morality and sacrifice a decorated officer and his innocent family for no rational reason, it makes me shudder for the security of my fellow officers in the lower ranks and I fear for the future of our Coast Guard.
Is this behavior typical of the entire senior officer corps? I hope not.
Can this type of thing happen again? I pray not.
How did it happen this once? I fear there is no single answer.
What is clear is that a great wrong has been done! One of the best and the brightest of the fair haired boys has been sacrificed on an altar of arrogance, deceit, malice.
And why? All for doing his job; and doing it by the book; all for reporting a case of sexual assault in an Area (the Pacific Area) where no one wanted to rock the boat at a time when the next Commandant was being chosen.
And any whiff of a scandal, and any wide scale investigation might jeopardize the desired decision making. And so this case had to go away; and, anyone pushing it had to be silenced, even if it meant sacrificing his entire family.
This is a story that had to be told. Your review of the facts in the book makes that abundantly clear. Thank you my fellow retired Coast Guard Officer.