Admiral Boorda's 'InBasket'

A listing of some controversies, scandals and morale issues confronting Chief of Naval Operations Jeremy Mike Boorda in the weeks leading up to his May 1996 suicide:

1. Allegations of improper management and wrongful privileges at the Norfolk Naval Exchange involving senior Navy and Marine Corps officers.

2. James Webb's April 1996 speech at the Naval Academy, saying the navy was "struggling for its soul" and accusing Navy leaders of "disloyalty" to the service because they seek to "curry favor with politicians."

3. An anonymous May 20,1996 letter to Navy Times written by an officer alleging Boorda had lost the respect of senior officers.

4. Backbiting by Navy aviators who were upset about the havoc that Tailhook had wreaked on careers - in particular, the careers of esteemed officers such as Admiral Jack Snyder and Admiral Stanley Arthur.

5. The continuing controversy over F-18 procurement. Only a few weeks before Boorda's death, the Justice Department had opened a criminal investigation into alleged false testing and improper billing in one phase of in the F-18 jet fighter program at Northrop Grumman Corp.

The Navy is spending $3.2 billion to develop a new version of the F-18, known as the Super Hornet. The top-priority program could lead to the procurement of more than 1000 Super Hornets to replace aging fighter jets on aircraft carriers.

6. Cheating scandals, drug charges and other headaches at the Naval Academy. The month before Boorda's death, five midshipmen and four former students were accused of crimes ranging from car theft to molesting a child. The scandal revived charges of a deep-seated moral crisis at Annapolis. Three years earlier, a widespread cheating scandal at Annapolis was exposed and more recently (fall of 1995), drug charges were brought against 24 midshipmen.

7. Newsweek's investigation of Boorda's two "V" decorations--tiny bronze pins which signify valor in combat. Although Boorda had worn the pins for years, he had not actually been awarded the decorations.

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