War and American Women: Heroism, Deeds, and Controversy

By William B. Breuer | Go to book overview

27 Two Admirals Walk the Plank

Early in 1994, four-star Admiral Stanley R. Arthur, a hero of two wars, was nominated by President Bill Clinton to be commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, one of the most complex and potentially explosive military regions. It includes the Korean peninsula, where the Communist regime in North Korea was making threats to invade U.S.-protected South Korea.

North Korea's greatest threat to peace in the Far East, however, may have been its development of nuclear weapons. The Central Intelligence Agency believed that North Korea already had such devices. Kim Jong II, the nation's strongman, refused to permit international inspectors to poke around known nuclear sites and visit other locations where weapons-grade plutonium may have been stashed.

Admiral Arthur's credentials were impressive. He was a warrior, not an ivory-tower theorist, and he had earned an extraordinary eleven Distinguished Flying Crosses while on more than 500 combat missions in the Vietnam War. During the Persian Gulf conflict, Arthur had been in command of the Seventh Fleet.

" Stan Arthur is one of the most aggressive admirals I'd ever met," General H. Norman Schwarzkopf said later. "He had run three aircraft carriers up into the shallow and constricted waters of the [Persian] Gulf where the Navy had always refused to allow even one."1

Not only had Arthur been a fighting man, but his Pentagon experience was exemplary: Nearly three years as head of the Navy's mammoth, worldwide logistics system and the past two years as the vice chief of naval operations.

Washington observers felt that Arthur's nomination would sail through Senate confirmation with flying colors. However, Senator David Durenberger, who was not a member of the Armed Services Committee, took to the floor to declare that he had serious reservations about Arthur's nomination. He said that a constituent, Navy Lieutenant (j.g.) Rebecca Hansen, had complained to him that she had unfairly failed helicopter flight training after accusing a male instructor of making "sexual remarks" to her.2

Earlier, a Navy investigation found that Hansen had been sexually harassed. The instructor was disciplined and later left the Navy. But the

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