Click here to tell us what you think about "The Navy Blues"

I did not get to follow the Investigations so your documentary was quite fascinating as it pulled together the various snippets of information during the five year period of investigations into a one hour long show. I read viewers comments as well as the newspaper reviews in order to get a sense of what these two sources felt about the program. Their thoughts are as significant as the content of the program.

For the most part, the news media panned the program as I would have expected. However, Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal deserves a thumbs up for her review. She was "right on". The majority of your viewers echoed my own feelings about this whole sordid affair. Thumbs up for Stumpf, Hultgreen, and Admiral Arthur. Thumbs down for Durenberger, Shroeder, and Especially Hansen, who was attempting to blame everyone else for her obvious lack of flying talent. The Admiral probably saved her life so that she can become a lawyer. I shudder to think that she may represent someone in court someday. And as usual, Congress again demonstrates its marvelous ability to back seat drive in a vehicle it knows nothing about.

Just watched the rerun and here's my gut reactions.
1st Pat Schroder's greatest accomplishment in the House was her decision not to run again, she did more damage to the US Navy than Iran and Iraq together. Her whining about equal treatment in a world that she has no true knowledge of is disgusting.

Your story seemed to be for the most part correct, just wish that you had shown the increase in pregnancy rate in women on ships in the 2 months prior to extended deployments.

jrchilds, BTC SW (ret)
Perkasie, PA

I must comment on your segment about the Navy and its trials of late. Ms Hansen's position is clearly motivated by the fact that she feels that the male establishment owes her something. The brief showings of reports clearly show that she was a substandard pilot, and should not be flying combat jets. As for her medical retirement due to her carelessness during recreational activity is an injustice in its own right. As a combat vet who lost some hearing due to combat I was denied any military benefits. I think that this is a travesty that should be corrected immediately. As for the sexual harassment Ms Hansen should pursue those incidents as warranted and not make a reason to hide her inadequacies. She is clearly not a person who should not be a combat pilot. That role would only get others killed. As a lawyer she can lie all she wants.

A story well told. How sad that our politicians have such power and control in this country to be able to destroy the lives of good men in our military for the most shallow of reasons, even more sad is that they are willing. It is obvious to the most untrained eye that Lt. Rebecca Hansen was a poor pilot used by the political powers that be to advance a political agenda. Have we forgotten as a country that our military is in place to defend us. War involves killing. Unfortunate as that may be, the military's job is to train civilians into men and women that are willing to kill and be killed. This is not a social organization to advance and protect political correctness or women's rights. In a time of a national crisis, who would you want in command.... Rep. Schroeder? Sen. Durenburger? Lt. Hansen? ... or a man like Admiral Arthur? I choose Admiral Arthur. Shame on Sen. Durenburger and on Rep. Pat Schroeder, but mostly shame on the American people who elect such "leaders?????"

Joan S.

Lt. Rebecca Hansen is an embarrassment to me and should be an embarrassment to every military woman. After serving six years as a female Marine I encountered much worse behavior from my male counterparts, but I certainly never blamed my failures on those incidents. Her whining and obvious refusal to except her apparent inability to meet military training standards makes military women appear to be babies set on getting their way by using their sex as a weapon. Military women have a history to be proud of. I regret that she was able to curtail the career of Adm. Arthur. It angers me that she is receiving disability. She doesn't deserve anything.

Jacksonville, North Carolina

Baltimore, Md

Good job.

The consequences of the scandal spilled over to the other services as well. As an Air Force pilot who gave nine years of honorable service, including Desert Shield/Storm, I saw the emphasis of my role in the USAF shift from one of continued combat readiness to one of paranoid political correctness. The leadership in my flight squadron fostered this attitude of shifting priorities. Perhaps another war will cure this foolishness, but I am not hanging around to find out. Last year I left the military to pursue a career in civilian aviation.

Laurel, MD

I was impressed with your coverage of the debacle. You managed to put the whole sorry event in it's historic and political context. The initial misbehaviors at were unconscionable and the initial whitewash was sadly typical. But you showed how politicians seized on the issue to advance their own agendas and scapegoated hundreds of decent brave officers. The careers of men who went in harms way were destroyed to bring political pressure on the Navy and the executive branch. The case of Commander Stumpf was a painful example of a good man destroyed by congressional spite. I was even more outraged by the Hansen incident. Ms Hansen came across as a paranoid and spoiled child. She seemed to believe that a giant conspiracy had caused her to fail at flight training, instead of her documented weaknesses. That the career of a hero like Admiral Stanley Arthur should be destroyed to help her get the wings she could not earn was sickening. Sen Durenburger has my undying contempt.

James Sullivan
St Louis, Missouri


I watched closely the piece on "Navy Blues" and found it to be very informative as are most PBS news articles. I am a 17 year veteran of the Navy. I took advantage of the downsizing in the military and chose a civilian lifestyle after the arrival of my daughter in to this world. It was important to me that I be home for my wife and daughter rather than defending against a dwindling cold war foe.

I was every bit a sailor throughout my career and felt uneasy emotions as I watched fellow comrades described the innocent, naive attitude of the times that had suddenly halted their careers. I too was an aviator - an enlisted helicopter crew member that might have been at such an event had circumstances allowed. I too was a product of the times in which the Navy was emerging from post-Vietnam era recklessness and was beginning to embrace the moral and ethical issues that had been overlooked, such as drug abuse. I too was easily taken up by the atmosphere of the times and the lax attitude of a society that was also learning to deal with the everyday problems of an increasing female presence in the workplace.

While the Navy's perils were splattered across the front pages there were similar drama's being handled in the civilian and government sectors as shown in the film. You see, there in lies the bitter truth - the military is a sampling of society, with all it's troubles and tribulations. What you see in the military society is a highly concentrated image of all of the elements of American society.

Their courses parallel in most aspects and in many instances you can find a similar situation being portrayed in either element at any given time. America is a growing country and we are all subject to be caught up in our surroundings. As kids get caught up in gang wars because it is the daily norm, so do abused spouses find themselves the prisoners of their day to day environment. As we continue to exist as a nation and have a military that comes from within society, where people coexist as in civilian society, we will continue to have incidents that seem tragic, in both elements.

Perhaps the single most important point in the entire program was touched upon by Admiral Arthur. That point was this:
IF it is necessary to accept blame for Tailhook and use the placement of that blame, as a deterrent to such terrible incidents in the future, that is what must be done. THE SELFLESS DEDICATION TO DUTY AND THE ACCEPTANCE RESPONSIBILITY AND CONSEQUENCE, EVEN THE WILLINGNESS TO DIE IN THE LINE OF THAT DUTY, IS THE PRICE WE PAY FOR HAVING SUCH A GREAT COUNTRY.

We must believe in ourselves. We must trust ourselves to cure these types of problems when they arise. We must fix elements that are broken and not at any point assume that one incident or associated series of instances makes the whole unit bad. That goes for the military, the government and society as a whole. We should try not to sensationalize tragedy but as their are people who take advantage of situations we will always have sensationalism.

We are a great people - lets portray ourselves that way.

Matt Gee
Aviation Machinist Mate 1st Class, Ret.
Ash Flat, AR

I just watched a very interesting and informative PBS documentary about the effect the Tailhook convention had on the US. Navy. I do, however, strongly disagree and take personal offense on a statement you made about Adm. Boorda's demise. I quote "Admiral Boorda chose a Warrior's death." He chose to take his own life rather than come face-to-face with his upcoming scrutiny. This is not a "Warrior's death", it is the coward's way out. Some say he did it for the good of the Navy. That is a crock of $%^#. He left behind family and friends that would have supported him no matter what the circumstances. Rather than stand tall and face these accusations as a true warrior, Mike Boorda chose not to uphold God and Country, rather, he chose to take the easy way out. I am far from a warrior but, to all the true warriors out there, you owe a sincere apology.

Major Mike Lane
California Air National Guard


Judging from my perspective as a television journalist, I think it's a shame the reporter for "Navy Blues," took a very important issue and ground it into garbage in the mill of ignorance. Several times I found myself shaking my head in disbelief at statements made in the story. Most egregious was the claim that Adm. Boorda's tragic death was "...a warriors'," death. Never in my eight years as a warrior in the Marine Corps, did I witness any suicides that evoked images of gallant servicemen that gave their lives in combat. Adm. Boorda took a cowards' way out, an unfortunate footnote to a stellar career.

Additionally, Lt. Rebecca Hansen deserves no pity nor pampering for experiencing a small fraction of what thousands of other military women go through every day. Harassment exits, it's wrong and only constant vigilance will correct the problem. However, the destruction of the career of a man who stood in the gap more than most by a woman who OBVIOUSLY lacked the basic skills of combat flight, is unforgivable.

Her flight instructor deserved to be kicked out for what he did. Adm. Arthur did nothing to deserve the actions taken against him. Hansen implied she was "patronized," because she was a boot Ensign, and Arthur was supported by Navy brass because he was part of the old guard. Can someone with a college education be so blind and ignorant? Here's a man with over three decades of experience in aviation, 16 of his countries highest decorations for gallantry in aerial combat, but he doesn't know enough to judge the capability of a green aviator? Come on PBS! Assign a reporter with a clue of the military. The only thing more disgusting than the report, or the premature end of Adm. Arthur's career, is the fact that part of the money I sweat to earn will support Hansen for the rest of her life.

Dale Ream
Jacksonville, North Carolina


I have no connection with the US. Navy, yet I must admit that your program and the follow up research and coverage posted here on your Web Site has benefited my decisions greatly. I am a Canadian with an earnest interest in the US. Navy, I am young, politically correct and come from the other side of North American culture. I suppose many of my insights are ignorant of all and many of the facts yet, I must admit I would hope that of all these incidence that have come to attention would help progress the Navy. It is regrettable that the loss of position and even more tragically, life has come to signify an uncompromising standard. It like many other of the facets of social distinction and evolution has meet change with earnest, it is imperative to survive. To adapt it will,(I sincerely hope)defend its time honored traditions, by evolving into the Military of today.

It is unarguably true that the President of the U.S.A. is the leader of the free world, and so the defense both domestic and FOREIGN lies with these United States, in more ways they care to address. This is by no means an attack on US. Political investments or interests but simply a plea for a forward growth. We all reside, here on Earth we all are of the same basic race, why would an institution of such history comprised of so many uniquely gifted individuals find no compromise. I still look forward to my application to US. Immigration, and to my enlistment in the Navy. I dream however of a stronger, more flexible Navy willing and able to meet any challenge either martially or socially. Its disgusting to think of the Officers involved in harassment and subterfuge of rank and advancement. It is with a willingness to face challenge that perhaps the old adage "an Officer and a Gentleman" may still find its home in the hearts of those who wear the Uniform.



For the second time I have watched Navy Blue and became madder than the first. When I see honorable people such as Commander Stumpf stripped of opportunity because of political expediency of folks such as Pat Schroeder and others, I know we are in trouble. This is just a continuing of the degrading of our country's once high standards of the military and the country's spiral downward. If someone can meet a standard, then let them take the challenge, but do not sacrifice our sovereignty just to quiet and appease a vocal few. I wish Comdr.. Stumpf all the best, he deserves it and we owe it to him!

Sincerely Yours,
Marc Gellart, '79 Texas A&M University


The "real" winner in your segment was ADM. Arthur in the sense that he didn't choose to confront the injustice Ms. Hansen and her congressman imposed on his future post as CINCPAC. Ms. Hansen is not only the loser but she doesn't even accept her loss (Any decent human being would accept a loss) of her potential wings. Instead she gets herself, her mom and her congressman on a "I'll take everyone down" bandwagon waving the "harassment" flag and "unfair" flag and "I'm a woman" flag. Face it Ms. Hansen, you just can't fly - period. According to your segment, Ms. Hansen has a monthly disability check from the Navy for her skiing accident. I strongly believe the Navy didn't force her to ski, why are our tax dollars paying for her stupidity - not only can't she fly but she can't ski either.

This is called fraud, waste and abuse. As far as the part of the story, let it rest and die peacefully. I saved the best for last. . . .ADM. Boorda cared a lot (I mean a lot) for his troops.



I greatly enjoyed your Navy Blues episode but it touched a nerve with me. As a former Marine I have seen the problems that this sexual struggle has caused. Morale in the Armed Services drops to extremely low levels everytime scandals such as this surface. The public treats the soldiers the same as they did when they came back from Vietnam. Shameful and disgusting. While sexual harassment should not be tolerated, token's to affirmative action threaten not only the moral of the military but the stability of the US war machine. If these struggles continue at the present state when time comes for action our forces will be significantly weakened to create another fiasco that Vietnam was.

Steven St. Laurent
Atlanta, GA


I was beside myself after viewing this presentation. Political correctness has claimed too many victims in this post cold war era. Hopefully, the American public will not be the next victims if our troops are called on again for a major conflict. As an ex soldier(male) I do not resent the fact that there are women in combat roles. However, as in affirmative action, laxed standards only serve to cause resentment. Right now the physical standards are not the same. I wonder if Patsy Schroeder had an eighteen year old daughter, would she take her to the post office to register her for selective service and insist that equal amounts of women be placed in the draft lottery? I am sure that I know the answer to that Question.

Greg Sandy
Mobile, Al

I found the PBS presentation "The Navy Blues" a very dissappionting attempt at reporting facts and opinion on a topic that deserves accurate and insightful investigation. Specifically, the case of Navy LT(jg) Rebecca Hansen was used to highlight an alleged case where the reporting of sexual harassment caused a female Student Naval Aviator the fair chance to win her wings. Why was LT(jg) Hansen's mother used for opinion? Why did the author not explain the details of LT(jg) Hansen's fllight training reports and grades? These documents were shown several times hinting that the author had access to them, the term BAW was clearly visible yet the audience was not informed that this stood for "Basic Air Work". Was this because it might have taken away from the arguement that LT(jg) Hansen was attrited due to her sexual harassment charge and not her inability to fly the aircraft? Also, how many flight downs had this officer had? Why weren't any of her former flight instructors or fellow students interviewed? Additionally, I noticed that we did not hear from any other participants of Tailhook '91 who might have validated Cdr. Stumpf's claims regarding his participation in the lewd activities. Perhaps we should have heard from Cdr. Stumpf's mother? There was no mention of LT. Kara Hultgreens failures during training as a fighter pilot including difficulty practicing one engine landings. These were documented in the Navy's MIR on the accident which was placed on the Internet some time ago. Why did the author leave out so many obvious sources? Also, why did we not hear the opinions of any other female combat pilots in the Navy? I think that although this was a slick presentation including many good shots of aircraft, pilots, and politicians, the author left out many avenues of pertinent information intentionally in order to cast a further shadow on the Navy and it's efforts to deal with sexual harassment.
Thank You.
Spring, TX

As someone who attended the '91 Tailhook Convention, I found Mr. Boyer's reporting to be the most even-handed and objective that I have read (or seen)in the civilian media. One point that he makes in passing is rarely recognized; that the events which have drawn the most attention were independent of the formal convention agenda and the Tailhook Association. Clearly those accused of outrageous behavior were convention attendees, but there were a few thousand of us who came to the convention for legitimate reasons, and who did not engage in objectionable behavior. The after-hours events at the convention provided an opportunity to reign in a traditionally independent service, and achieve other political objectives. It had little to do with identifying and prosecuting the offenders.
Falls Church, VA

While I found The Navy Blues lacking in some respects it was certainly successful in provoking thought and a certain amount of anger. As a Vietnam era veteran and father of a recently discharged sailor I think I know what goes on in the real NAVY. I have no reason to doubt Lt. Hansen's assertion she was verbally and physically mistreated. However this story also makes it clear she was a bad pilot who couldn't accept that fact. It wouldn't surprise me if some of the other flight instructors she came in contact with didn't want to see her succeed. But it would surprise me if they all had that attitude. I believe these people are professionals first and hold the safety of those they graduate paramount. Ms. Hansen's suggestion that Admiral Arthur shouldn't be CINCPAC because he couldn't move her case to the resolution she wanted shows hour far from reality she has been driven by the circumstances. The totally opposite views of Senator Durenberger's staff and the NAVY admiral's about how much information was provided certainly give rise to suspicions about senatorial grandstanding. And of course we can always count on Rep. Schroeder to take advantage of any opportunity to bash the military. There are certainly people in the NAVY who haven't got it yet. But how fast can we expect this organization, where the very essence of everyone's job depends on the carefully controlled application of macho, to change it's attitudes to those like the most plural of corporate HR departments? It won't happen overnight or even in a small number of years. And how much degradation in our military might can we afford while this process disrupts that machine? Better I think, the careful and slow introduction of women into this society of mature warriors and 19-year-old street kids, than to force it and suffer the consequences.
Parker, CO

Your program "Navy Blues" was excellent, and, unlike, so much in the liberal media with regard to the military, balanced.

While one is necessarily grieved by the death of Admiral "Mike" Boorda, your program was a real eye opener on the political interference that is demoralizing today's Navy. Obviously, the likes of Congress Person Patty Schroeder (a long time enemy of the armed services and a pacifist) have so overreacted to "Tailhook" that they've conducted a witch hunt and ruined the careers of blameless officers like Cmdr. Bob Stumpf.

Admiral Stan Arthur's career was needlessly brought to a premature end and the nation lost his long developed skills because he backed up his subordinates correct apprasial of an obviously underqualified flight trainee who could have endangered the lives of hundreds aboard a carrier. Rebecca Hansen, who was clearly kept in the flight training program in order for the Navy to meet some sort of "female quota," has found her real niche, as a lawyer! Senator Durenberger should be hiding in shame!
Pompano Beach, FL

I am writing to express my disdain for a comment made near the end of your story on the Navy "Tailhook" incident and sexual harassment. It was a comment made in regard to the suicide/death of former Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Boorda. The comment was that Adm. Boorda in chosing suicide, chose "a warrior's death." For your program to suggest that Adm.Boorda, who fraudulently wore not one but two ribbons of valor connoting action in combat, chose a "warrior's death," is an insult to every man and woman who has served our country in combat; and it is especially an insult to those who have truly died a "warrior's death." A choice that most or all of them did not have. With all due respect to Adm. Boorda, his family, and his many accomplishes and achievements, I find it extrememly painful to categorize his death and the circumstances surrounding it with those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of our country.
Respectfully Submitted,

In "Navy Blues" Frontline has again convincingly and rationally made the case that egregious injustices have occurred. But Frontline has also characteristically overstated the case by claiming that Adm Boorda's suicide is the product of a culture war driven by gender politics. There seems to be little to support this theory, though it adds a narrative cohesion to your report. Even so, the image of a young female aviator candidate- who had truly been harassed- claiming that a sinister conspiracy was at the heart of her poor evaluations, rather than genuine dismay at real harassment, is ironic. The image of her glibly dismissing the fate of the esteemed and venerable Adm Arthur is haunting.

If, as Frontline suggests, (and doubtless many viewers will agree) these conflicts represent a clash of cultures, then we are doomed to lose accomlished veterans from the "wrong" culture for every incompetent conspiracy theorist from the "right" one. And it appears that some legislators, like that young aviator, prefer culture wars to the difficult business of ferreting out real injustice and assigning appropriate praise or blame.

Surely, as Sen McCain seems to suggest, we can support both women in the armed forces and the claims of justice and honor. It would be disconcerting if your viewership agreed that one or the other "culture" must prevail. Faced with a competing POLITICAL culture do we seriously wish to completely replace the "warrior culture" among those who must fight, and its call- so graphically forsaken by so many- to honor?
Flagstaff, AZ

The so-called liberators of sexual harassment are tainted with deep prejudice and closed-minded arrogance against the male nature and their traditionally male dominated institutions. To allow a selfish and cynical woman (Rebecca) to end the careers of our war heros and belittle the Navy itself are acts of treason.

I have just recently watched your documentary on the changing face of the US Navy. I can not describe my distaste for those that brought down a once proud and honorable institution in the name of "PC". Once again, PBS has done justice to a issue whose "other" side was never seen in the mainstream media. Keep up the good work!
Washington, DC

While I found the bulk of the content of "Navy Blues" to be enlightening, I was particularly horrified by the comment made in regards to Admiral Boorda's suicide. The commentator said, "He chose a warrior's death." I think it is a sad day in America when we look at suicide as a "warrior's death." In my opinion, suicide is a "coward's death." If Admiral Boorda were such an outstanding individual and a true warrior, he should have faced the consequences of his decision to wear those Vietnam combat medals. To glorify his suicide under those circumstances does a huge disservice to those true warriors who gave their lives in the Vietnam War! The devastation his suicide undoubtedly left behind in his family's and friends' lives hardly qualifies his actions as heroic or something to applaud.
Wentworth, WI

Good job. There needs to be a balance between civilian control of the military and civilian micro management, especially for political purposes. Don't expect the military to put their life on the line one day and be rewarded by politicians second guessing their every move on the next day. we need to find some way to readjust that balance, or we won't have a military that is worth a damn.
Baltimore, MD

In what was a typically excellent broadcast, a number of shocking images emerged.Near the top of the list was the appearance of Senator Durenberger cast in the role of champion of right, given his well known ethical difficulties. But perhaps most troubling of all, was Ensign Hansen. Completely unable to see that any of her difficulties might have arisen from her own shortcomings, all blame was deflected upon others, given this unrelenting self-centredness, it is easy to see how Admiral Arthur might have concluded that she would pose a danger to others and herself. The real crime of those who participated in "Tailhook" was to provide the merciless foes of the military, such as Congresswoman Schroeder the opportunity to launch the assault on the armed forces which they had long wished. In conclusion, may we long remember the observation of Ensign Hansen, that if a decorated Hero such as Admiral Arthur didn't "get it", then he would have to go, such wisdom from one who was unable to make the grade without umpteen second chances.
Toronto, Canada

I thought Navy Blues was a well-balanced show. As a Navy veteran from the Vietnam era, with a son and daughter midshipmen at the Naval Academy, I have grown tired of all the Navy-bashing, especially by people who sit comfortably in their offices and have no clue as to the sacrifices sailors make being torn from their families for six months at a time.

I thought the interviews with both Admiral Arthur and the ex-pilot who damaged her knee in a ski accident let me draw my own conclusion. It is unfortunate that Commander Stumpf has been lost from the Naval leadership ranks; maybe balanced shows like this will help de-politicize women in the military. I hope so, for my daughter's sake.

I suppose by now people have commented that you switched from inside shots of A-6's to outside shots of F-14's. You are forgiven for these journalistic requirements, though. Now, if we could just have more action scenes of F-14's and F-18's taking off of carriers...

Chesterfield, MO

I find this laughable, that one (1) woman who can't fly a helicopter can influence the decision making process on who is to run the NAVY. Why don't we just put her in charge. That should solve all the problems and make everyone happy. That idiot Clinton will sure be happy. Well only until we need the NAVY for something really important like a WAR. If the only thing that senator has to do is worry about a bad helicopter pilot, perhaps he should look for a new job. The country came out on the short side of the stick on this one.
Lake Forest, CA

If you read this, please withhold my name. I thought your Navy Blues was very penetrating. The feminist movement of the past twenty five years has really jumped the track and opted for single-issue politics at all costs. Such was apparent here. The first female fighter pilot might have been sacrificed before she was experienced enough in order to conform to Congressional pressure. As for the flunky fighter pilot, well, her chronic crisis oriented confrontational background should have been a red flag. Con artists ARE out there trying to capitalize on legitimate sexist issues. I say this as a former feminist and one who was on the front of a pioneer movement. Things are not what they seem and the bad guys and the good guys (or girls) do not always wear black or white hats.
I was very intrigued with the program however I did not see it in its entirety. I spent 10 years in the Navy and saw my share of injustice towards men as well as women. The Navy, appears to have swept aside traditions in it effort to become politically correct. The attitude seems to be "Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead" without knowing if the waters are are clear of obstructions. Yes, it does seem the the Navy sacrificed at least a couple of fine officers to appease Congress however these gentlemen were spotighted and I know that others have suffered from alleged sexual harrasment.

Rebecca Hansen had a valid argument about her treatment in Corpus Christi but she used that as a crutch at Whiting Field. How many male pilot candidates would have been given as many chances as she was? She gave the impression of "sour grapes" because the Navy washed her out. The mentality of blaming others for our own failures has become too commonplace. I think the program could explore much deeper into the post Tailhook period but if it had done so in this installment the program would have been much too long.
Jeff Brooks

I very much enjoyed the Frontline episode "Navy Blues." I thought one of the great tragedies of the story was the forced retirement of both Adm. Arthur and Cdr. Stumpf, both for obviously political reasons. I was extremely impressed by the response of Adm. Arthur noting that his being denied the post of CINC-PAC was the price we pay for civilian control of the military, and that he, for that reason, accepted his fate. I only wish that the country had more people with his grace and abilities in positions of leadership. The seeming paranoia of Ens. Hanson stands in stark contrast to the Admiral's sense of duty, and it is the country's loss that we listen to those who are bent on making names for themselves at the expense of those who truly are worthy of leading.
Apex, NC

I'm very lucky, we have three PBS stations within viewing range and a fourth that was taken away from KQED and doesn't do well. So, I know that I will catch Frontline again. I was so angry last night, there is more than a grain of truth to sexual harassment. It has been a main stay of the Navy. It is not restricted to female officers, it travels up and down chain of command from the lowly E-1 to the O's. And though the Navy has had Stand Downs with required attendance, it only places a bandage on a very long ingrained tradition.

It's not surprising that higher up in the chain of command follow the tradition of treating females as less than their equal. It has become the exception that your superior will believe you and investigate charges of harassment, the standard is too blame you the female. How do I know because it happened to me. Don't get me wrong I had superior's that were shining stars in that deep dark drink called the Navy. But you will never see them rise to a level of being examples to the men and women in the Navy. enlisted and officer's who don't play the politics don't rise. You could run the NAVY without a CNO or MCPO or even a Secretary of the Navy, we know our jobs and do them.

A great show. As a former sailor, I was absolutely disgusted by the way politics have taken over the naval profession. The story of the female pilot trainee was really amazing. I can tell you that while us sailors are certainly guilty of viewing women as "sex objects", it is in the same way that most men do. "Sailor" is a job, not a genetic code. As far as working with women, we obeyed the orders and respected the work they did. Aviators seem more into the "macho" code than the rest of us, and while there were certainly problems with sexual harassment, politicians accising high ranking officers of allowing this behavior to receive some kind of silent approval is pretty idiotic. For a senator to ignore the written record of a flight student and the real expert opinion of a very distinguished naval aviator for his own political agenda is making sec. Webbs remarks at the Naval Academy a self - fulfilling prophecy. "Cover your butt" will take the place of the warriors code of serving you shipmates, your command, and your country the same way is has in the corporate world. Is this really the type of military we can depend on in times of crisis?

I wasn't impressed by Navy Blues. I don't watch much TV, and your show was an example of why. I remember that a 1 hour TV show can be transcribed on a page of news print. What about the Navy's dismal history for admitting blacks. The Army was letting black soldiers fight and die in the Civil War. In WW I, there were black colonels commanding troops in combat. Blacks in the Navy couldn't do much besides serve food until 1948. Just before your show, I watched a paean of praise to nuclear submarines on another channel. It sure looked like white men ran that Navy. I didn't even see anybody who looked Hispanic, let alone black or oriental. So no discussion of Navy history, glorious traditions of exclusion, and so on.

And what was the outcome of the case of the woman who couldn't fly quite well enough. Did her Senator ever get the documents that he wanted to see that the Navy wouldn't give him? Or did the sacrifices of Borda and Arthur permit the glorious Navy tradition of obfuscation to continue? And we get to pay for this? And only a little about why the Navy is so hidebound? Like that fact that they go out on seas that can take the armored decks on those pretty aircraft carriers and twist them out of shape? Like they've got enough bombs out there on both subs and carriers to kill at least 50 million people (OK 200 million, if they optimize).

It could have been a bit more exciting, huh? It seemed to me a little bit slanted toward the Navy establishment, but that's probably because I'm not too thrilled with their actions here. Incidentally, the highest ranked American pilot in the world aerobatics championship last month was a woman, Patty Wagstaff. She finished 12th. I like to go to airshows, and I like Patty's show better than the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds.

The highest woman in the competition was Russian, she finished 4th. She was not all that experienced a pilot. She is an ex-gymnast. Was there a single Navy senior officer who supported the idea that women should fly combat aircraft?

I guess I'll wait for the book.
Dallas, TX

It is hard to to produce a documentary that takes a point-of-view and leaves thinking viewers feeling that they have not be pandered to. It is more difficult to serve opposing points-of-view leaving, viewers at both extremes feeling that their position has been explained. "Navy Blues" set a new standard for me of what sensitive, objective broadcast journalism could be. It's crew should get a medal.

The show provided some interesting facts on the problems of the Navy. However it doesn't reveal an exisiting gender war, in fact the coverage of Ms Hansen and the bias of the story encourages positive discrimination toward women in the military, a disservice to the women and men proudly serving now. Perhaps it is time for Ms Hansen to "face the facts" that the Navy was right and she wasn't a good pilot, and that the suspension of training was warranted. I can understand the heartbreak anyone would feel at being suspended, but turning it into an issue that set the Congress on fire is a bit more than was warranted. The bigger pity is that so many distinguished officers were so willingly thrown away, without a trial, this is not justice for the men or the country. These trained officers are a scarce resource and this only indicates the lack of understanding and problems of bureaucrats and politicians getting too deeply involved in the military. Civilian control YES, but not individual senators stopping officers careers and demanding response after response, rather than accepting the military judgement provided. Another sad tale for the US history books.

I thought it was an extremely well done piece. There is going to much in the way of sour grapes from those who will think it should have been more slanted against the Navy's old guard. They seem to have lost the point that the navy is for fighting wars, not pleasing punk staff members from the senate. I'm pretty liberal, but those officers have been caught up in the ridiculous puritanism of the nineties, which is turning out to be about as rational as the puritanism of the seventeenth century, and about as destructive. It even has its own witch burnings.
Orange, CT

As a former Naval aviator, I found myself glued to the tv set and either applauding or arguing with the presentation. It appears to me that the Navy has done very well in comply- ing with Congress's directive to integrate women into Naval aviation. But I resent a senator's disastrous interference in preventing the promotion of Adm Stanley Arthur to a well earned promotion. It was clear to me that Rebecca Hansen was a person who habitually blamed others for her own failures, and was indeed an 'accident waiting to happen'. Ms Hansen should instead thank the admiral for keeping her alive. I wonder had some young male aviator had these same problems, could he have availed himself of reaching the top brass to listen to his story as did Ms Hansen. I hardly think so.
San Jose, CA

The reporter's treatment seemed exceptionally even handed and kept me interested throughout the program. It seemed to me that he pointed out a serious problem of congressional (and therefore political) meddling in military affairs that should have been left to the Navy once the original abuses had been flushed out and dealt with. I hope Durenberger has enough decency to be at least ashamed of his behavior and the outlandish result in the lives of the two gentlemen who's stories were told. How many other people who had the same or less actual responsibility were similarly destroyed? It was a very revealing story interestingly told.
Newnan, GA

It made me nauseated to see what the feminazis and political hacks have done to what used to be the greatest navy in the world. I wonder where America would be today if General Dwight Eisenhower or Admiral Nimitz had been forced to make decisions during World War II based on what some whiny Ensign Hansen thought or what some meddling fool senator wanted. Think about it.
Thorsby, AL

Outstanding article and program. The treatment of dedicated career officers such as Stumpf and Arthur is a mindboggling travesty. Schroeder and Durenburg have done the nation and the Navy an outrageous diservice and harm in the name of fuzzy minded political correctness. The book "the Art of War" by Sun Tzu says the way to defeat an adversary is to destroy his will to fight by undermining their moral and support at home. Thank you for bringing this matter to the publics attention. I was at the decommissioning of the SARATOGA two years ago where Admiral Boorda spoke. I heard that he was a good man but that he had lost the respect of Naval Officers under him because of the gutless way he handled the Stan Arthur and Stumpf cases. Great reporting. How refreshing.
Shaker Heights, OH

I was very disappointed to find that "Navy Blues" failed to give me one more ounce of information than the New Yorker article Boyer wrote a few weeks ago. It's not typical of Frontline to recycle information. I expect more.

The first part of "The Choice" was surprisingly superficial. It seemed as if the producers took what the average person knows about Clinton and Dole (what we've been hearing from the media all along) and just supported those "facts" with endless mush comparing the landscapes of Clinton and Dole's home states to their personalities. I think we've seen enough hype about "character". How about some talk about the issues? Thank goodness it picked up in the second part -- I would hate to have to turn off Frontline.
Somerville, MA

I've just viewed your program NAVY BLUES. Excellent coverage; it closely parallelled the recent NEW YORKER article on Adm. Boorda. Your program and the NEW YORKER made an excellent case for keeping females out of the combat branches of the armed services. Contined denial of the unalterable sexual dynamics that will always exist between men and women can only lead to disaster.

While there is nothing about TAILHOOK that can be excused, and there is no doubt that the Navy's own examination of the affair was shabby in the extreme, there was no reason for so many fine officers to be axed at the altar of political correctness. Admiral Boorda's suicide was the only honorable course for him to follow, but Boorda's elevation to the post of CNO, in the first place, was just another example of the kind of mistake we can blunder into when we use political correctness as our principal guide.
Columbus, IN

Rarely have I seen a documentry where the heroes and villains are not altogether clear. One cries about the lose of Lt. Kara Hultgreen yet winces at Lt.(j.g) Hansen. When Commander Stumpf and Admiral Arthur are sacrificed it recalls Salem only this time Congresswomen such as Rep.Pat Schroeder wrap them- selves in righteousness and burn the wrong victims. Navy Blues succeeds because it is thought provoking and demonstrates the point that personal collaterial damage can be caused by over- zealous friendly fire.
Ojai, CA

This program was just another "60 minutes" style attempt to twist and turn a story to fabricate a controversy. Yes the Navy position was presented but it was always countered by the "opinions" of the self-described injured party. The Navy has bent over backwards to integrate women in almost every area. It has nothing to gain from excluding people like Ensign Hanson. There may be a few that would delight in her failure but I reject that the Navy leadership who had invested so much time and effort in giving women more opportunities would do this. In the end it comes down to a question of credibility; Ensign Hanson's or Admiral Aurthor's , Admiral Boorda's and Secretary Dalton's. I choose the Admirals' judgement over the Ensign's attempt to advance her dream.
Virginia Beach, VA

I thought the program was excellent, putting aside the occasional misuse of aviation footage, (wrong airplanes, etc ). As a former Naval aviator and squadron commander myself I particularly empathized with Admiral Arthur when he said that sometimes you just know when a fledling aviator should not continue in training. And I too have questioned myself wether some lenience of mine was a factor in a mishap or an accident. My son is striving to be a Naval aviator too, and I pray that if an instructor of his sees a problem that he makes the right call. Although I think the Tailhook affair was out of control in some areas I think the viewers will conclude that the Patsy Shroeders of the world have done some terrible damage not only to to rising stars such as Commander Stumf and others unnamed but to the Navy itself, for their own agendas. T.S.
Havelock, NC

After watching Frontline I was left with just one feeling: TOTAL DISAPPOINTMENT. I have been watching these programs for years and have always looked forward to their total coverage of an issue. In this report the focus on Ms. Hansen reminded me more of First Edition or A Current Affair. I have known people like Ms. Hansen before. She is the type of woman that causes the whole nation to hesitate before accepting sexual harassment wholesale. She came across as an mentally unstable. Giving this person a forum to tell her unbelievable story is a disservice to women who have real harassment complaints. I find it hard to believe that someone could be harassed at every point in her life by so many different people.

She is the chronic victim. Her part in this story should have lasted about 2 minutes. The rest would have been better told by the narrator. To see that she received support from Congressional Staffers sounds a lot like the Anita Hill case. It seems to me she was a willing participant in a political Witch Hunt to further various political careers and agendas. To say that someone who served his country so diligently for such a long time, like Adm Stumpf, was unqualified to make a judgment as to her qualifications to fly is a joke. There was only on mistake made by the Navy regarding Ms. Hansen and that was allowing her to join in the first place. The final straw was Ms. Hansen saying that Adm. Stumpf was not qualified to command CINCPAC because he did not decide her case the way she wanted. This left me with a sick feeling that will that a long time to get over.

I have felt from the beginning that Tailhook gatherings were terrible events for the Navy to condone and should have been cause for shake up in the Navy's structure, but after this show I am left feeling that the Navy has been harassed and that the Congressional Women's Caucus and Ms. Hansen should be chastised. It is sad to see someone dedicate 30 years of his life to an organization only to have his retirement become an scandal in stead of a celebration. I will potentially watch one more Frontline to see how it "Candy Coat" the Washington Press Corps and if this is indeed the case I will never watch again.
Jasper, IN

I was pleased to see a balanced report on a hot issue by a media authority. It was sad to see the destruction the US Navy has undergone in just the last 5 years. I thought the previous comments by the journalists was quite typical. Once again they totally miss the boat and only see the stuff that THEY want to see. I was appalled to learn of Mike Boorda's involvement in trying to defend an obviously arrogant, incompetent wanna-be-navy-flyer woman who had an obvious chip on her shoulder. By contrast the extremely experienced 3-Star admiral being considered for head of the Pacific Fleet had a very professional response to the idiocy caused by this woman and her refusal to accept the fact that she could not measure up to the standard necessary for consistant flight experience. Congress, and especially the weepy Patsy Schroeder have done a great dis-service to our navy and our country.

All that skill, courage and experience tossed out like stale bread on the whims of some twisted liberal logic. The armed services have never been about careers; it is about defence of our country. It is about fighting and dying and blood and guts to defend what the fathers of this nation died for - our freedom as a republic. We have allowed a large group of socialist liberals to revamp our educational and training process in this country to the point that no longer has the good of the nation in mind, rather the rights of the unqualified to be anything they want to be. We started this in the sixties, and now we are lowering all the test standards. Is it any wonder this woman believed she SHOULD be a pilot, and that she knew better her qualifications than a decorated, experinced, combat fighter pilot/hero admiral?? This is our nation today. It sure is a lot worse than when I grew up. We thought of the common it's everyone for himself.

We cannot survive this mentality and still remain a free, prosperous, strong republic. Somewhere along the line this nation will have to wake up and get back to common sense, otherwise anarchy is on the horizon. Thanks for a balanced story.
West Palm Beach, FL

This program left me with a deep sense of frustration; as a former fighter pilot and a current airline pilot, I am dusturbed that my profession has become a battle ground for the current version of "politically correct". I am especially angry about those harridans in congress who have siezed on a wild party (in which women as well as men participated) in order to curry favor with their constituency. Essentially, they have taken up the cause of a woman who was incompetent in the flying business and have used her snivelling excuses to destroy the careers of men whose performance will not be matced by any woman for a long time to come. In flying, there is one standard: competence. This is the coin by which one achieves standing among one's peers. No act of congress or charges of sexual harrassment can make one a fighter pilot. Judging competence in flying is a straightforward affair; there is little room for subjective skewing by an instructor or examiner.

You can either do it or you can't In my airline career, I've worked with female pilots who have that coin, that ability, and it is no surprize that they are treated with respect by their collegues. Then there are those women(or men, or minorities) who for whatever reason can't meet the demands of flying, yet try to force their way into this select company by using personal connections(men), charges of sexual harrassment(women) and preferential hiring(minorities) to force a way in. That the cause of such people should be taken up by dongressmen and senators is a disgrace; that the careers of men like Admiral Turner and Commander Stumpf should be cut short by the likes of that Hansen woman adds to that disgrace. And now she's going to law school;I'll bet even money that she fails and then charges her profs with ...guess what?
Seattle, WA

Thank you for the Navy Blues documentary. It was informative, fair and allowed the evidence to speak for itself; all the elements of a good documentary. Television frequently uses visual impact, story lines and drama to editorialize events. I for one was grateful not to have those influences interfer with my formation of my opinions on this matter. Perhaps if there were more sources of information without the "visual impact, story lines and drama" more Americans would think for themselves and work to change behaviors that discredit us all in the long run. Visual impact, story lines and drama are tools of persuasion used to reflect a viewpoint documentaries must restrict themselves without indulging in relative and subjective viewpoints whenever possible. I'm in advertising; I know all about visual impact, story lines and drama. I don't want it in my news, thank you very much.
Sugar Land, TX

Your excellent documentary hints at the real question facing our armed forces -- are they primarily agents of national defense, or are they agents of socialization?

Our country's inability to answer this question has many disturbing implications. Among these are the shattered careers of men ("warriors" as you call them) who thought to serve the nation's defense first and foremost, and gave little thought to political concerns that swept the nation after 1989. We must also think about the costs of putting women into combat roles in all the armed services, before we know the difficulties this might pose.

But the question must be addressed, and answered, before more careers are destroyed, and before our nation's daughters start coming home in body bags because they were convenient pawns for a political agenda.

Thank you for your fine work.
Bloomington, IN

click here for more viewer response

Click here to tell us what you think about "The Navy Blues"

pilots, jets, & the enterprise | tailhook '91 | old navy/new navy | what ails the navy? | readings | reactions | tapes & transcripts | admiral boorda's in basket | chronology of women in the navy | explore frontline | pbs online | wgbh

web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation pbs online