Navy Capt. Owen P. Honors, removed from command of one of the Navy’s most powerful warships and under investigation for ribald videos made to amuse his crew, is getting moral support from an unexpected quarter — gay sailors who served under his command.
Interviews with sailors on the Enterprise at the time, including several who have since left the Navy and say they were openly gay when they served, suggest that the videos, far from offending, did, as intended, raise morale through their crude humor. Many of Capt. Honors’ former shipmates think the Navy has already gone too far in stripping him of his command.
"I was not offended," said Nowie Solis, who was a mass-communications specialist, third class, in the ship’s media department. Mr. Solis, who says he was gay and that his sexuality was known to his shipmates, has since been honorably discharged. "I had plenty of gay friends on board and never heard of anyone who was offended," he told The Washington Times, "He wasn’t insulting" gay sailors, added Mr. Solis, "They were just harmless jokes."
Capt. Honors "absolutely did not" create a hostile or homophobic atmosphere on board, added Eric M. Prenger, a gay sailor who also served on the Enterprise at the time. Mr. Prenger, an electronics technician, third class, said the crew looked forward to the videos, which were broadcast on the ship’s closed circuit TV system every Saturday night, preceding the showing of a movie.
The former carrier commander fired for producing and starring in controversial shipboard videos says the films were made with the “affirmative and tacit approval of senior Navy leadership,” according to an official statement the former skipper, Capt. Owen Honors, has provided to investigators.