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He’s now in full denial mode — it was only some “well-meaning” staffer who did it. But his chief of staff is now on record saying it was OK by him, and it would be “silly” to fire anyone over it.

In case you missed it, the Navy was asked by a White House staffer to hide one of our proud destroyers from the tender eyes of the president during his photo-op visit to our naval base in Yokosuka, Japan, on Memorial Day.

Why? Because that destroyer bears the name USS John S. McCain, originally named not for the pilot who flew combat missions in Vietnam and then served with honor in the U.S. Senate.

This ship was named on its commissioning 25 years ago for Sen. McCain’s grandfather, and his father, both of whom achieved four-star rank as Navy admirals. Sen. McCain was officially added as a namesake only last year, after his death.

Our head draft dodger was out playing golf with a “medical” deferment while the junior of the three McCains this ship now honors spent five years in a North Vietnamese prison during the Vietnam War.

Our president has mocked John McCain several times before. Remember him saying he thinks only those who weren’t captured are his heroes?

Think about that — by that twisted logic, anyone who was killed in combat, or captured, or wounded, can’t be a hero to our president. None of those brave men finished their tours in fighting shape, so they all must be scorned by this avoider of military service.

This man’s craven doublespeak about our military personnel is personal to me. I commanded a ship in the 7th Fleet. I served a tour at the Naval Academy with a returned POW superintendent and several other POWs. I know their grim stories of loyalty and patriotism, blinking “Torture” in Morse code when paraded before the press.

That anyone in the White House would think it is OK to mock even one of those men should make any true patriot cringe. That anyone working for him thinks it is OK to shame a ship named for two four-star admirals and now their son and grandson POW Navy captain and get away with it hurts my heart.

That so few seem at all offended by this latest smear of this family of American heroes is a shameful reminder of how far President Trump and his staff have made a mockery of honorable military and naval service.

Yes, the president later claimed he knew nothing of this “well-meaning” staffer’s demand to hide a proud ship from his possible view. But even in denying he knew about it, he went on to rant more about how he has never “liked” this honorable American icon.

Mr. President, this is not about whether you liked Sen. McCain, or the two admirals this ship is named for. Every American, especially including you and your staff, owe all three McCains respect for full careers of going in harm’s way. Playing politics with a warship’s name borders on delusional.

To the captain and crew of USS John S. McCain, apologies for the shameful disrespect shown by the staff of your commander in chief. You deserve far better than this travesty.

— Butler served in the 7th Fleet during the Vietnam War, and commanded ships in both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets during his career. He retired as a captain after the first Gulf War. Now a resident of DeLand, he is a freelance writer for The Beacon.


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