The Secretary of the Navy will consider an honorable discharge for a helicopter pilot who says his religious beliefs would not allow him to lead women into combat.
Three Navy captains voted unanimously Thursday to remove Lt. Cmdr. Kenneth A. Carkhuff, who is based with an anti-submarine unit at Mayport Naval Station."I'm very disappointed in the decision," Carkhuff said. "I am confident of my abilities as a naval officer."
Carkhuff, a 13-year Navy veteran, is accused of failure to support and carry out Pentagon policy regarding women in combat.
If Navy Secretary John Dalton approves the board's recommendation, Carkhuff can appeal to federal court, said his attorney Stephen Gallagher.
"I think the Bible clearly teaches that we should not subject women to violence," said Carkhuff, who attends an Episcopal church. "I think combat is probably the most extreme violence one can undergo in society."
Gallagher said the Navy is trying to suppress an unpopular opinion.
"The worst possible thing that could happen to an officer is to come down on the wrong side of political correctness," Gallagher said. "It is not career-enhancing to express a view."
Cmdr. Douglas Beeks, Carkhuff's squadron leader, testified that Carkhuff told him in August that after months of consideration and prayer, he had decided he opposed the policy allowing women in combat.
Carkhuff's helicopter detachment, which had two women pilots, was preparing for possible assignment in Haiti.
Carkhuff was replaced as leader of the detachment. The unit was never sent to Haiti.