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The Navy officer whose unsigned letter of personal attacks on Adm. Jeremy M. "Mike" Boorda was published in Navy Times newspaper just days before Boorda's suicide has identfied himself and apologized for the letter.

In a signed letter to the editor of Navy Times published in this week's edition, Cmdr. John E. Carey wrote that Boorda, who shot himself to death on May 16, was "the last person in the Navy any of us thought might kill himself.""I am sorry I wrote to Navy Times at a time when Adm. Boorda must have had many troubles on his mind," Carey wrote of his earlier letter.

In a suicide note left at his residence at the Washington Navy Yard, Boorda expressed distress over what he apparently felt would become a media scandal over questions about the legitimacy of two combat pins he had worn on his chest.

Aides to Boorda said later that while no one fully understands what drove Boorda to kill himself, he had felt wounded by the anonymous attack in Navy Times, which had no connection to the matter relating to Boorda's combat pins.

In the unsigned letter published May 13, Carey called for Boorda to resign, saying he had lost the respect of his fellow officers. He wrote that admirals often referred to the Navy chief as "Little Mikey Boorda" out of disrespect.

In publishing Carey's attack, Navy Times did not mention that Carey several months earlier had been relieved of his command of the destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur for verbally abusing his crew.

In his latest letter to the editor of Navy Times in which he admitted having written the anonymous attack, Carey noted that Boorda had strongly and frequently advocated suicide prevention, "and the loss of each sailor hurt him."

"We all mourn the loss of Adm. Boorda," he wrote. "We all cried at the sounding of the taps. Let's tell the helmsman to get us back on course now. I am sorry for Adm. Boorda's family and for the sailors he loved."

In an editorial in this week's edition, Navy Times said it regretted having published the attack on Boorda.