As a Navy commander and former commanding officer of an aviation squadron, I am offended by the tenor of Edwin M. Yoder Jr.'s column {op-ed, Aug. 3} concerning the Navy's decision to spare Capt. Glenn Brindel from court-martial. The insinuation that this decision tosses overboard two centuries of command tradition and responsibility was particularly galling. Accountability is not synonymous with judicial punitive action, as Mr. Yoder implied. The termination of a promising naval career just approaching fruition and the memory of 37 lost crewmen will not let Capt. Brindel forget his accountability, I am sure.

The purpose of a court-martial is to determine guilt or innocence of an alleged violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, not to provide a forum for investigating the incident, as Mr. Yoder suggested. His statement that ''no one can yet assume that either Capt. Brindel or Lt. Basil Moncrief was guilty of an avoidable dereliction of duty'' strikes me as a subtle but significant perversion of the basic tenet of our legal system, which I am sworn to defend. I believe we should assume they are innocent.

The Board of Inquiry and other investigative bodies are more appropriate for assessing the facts of the incident. I am encouraged that the chain of command analyzed these facts and exercised its responsibility to make the final decision. That's how I was taught the system is supposed to work. In the meantime, accountability remains firmly in place 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

There is no golden parachute. The captain still goes down with the ship.

J. K. SIKES Burke

Mr. Yoder embarked on a typical Washington diatribe in his piece on the USS Stark. In prevailing fashion, he foams at the mouth in anticipation of some grand public event that will fix ''the exact focus of personal responsibility.'' He is the same individual who in the past never missed a public hanging to be satisfied that justice had been done.

The hazardous environments of military service frequently cause accidents that result in deaths. This is unfortunate -- but provided personal negligence is not involved, the military is best served by incorporating lessons learned and then moving on.

The Navy has and continues to study the Stark incident and has found no criminal negligence on the part of the commanding officer. Why then should an apparently distinguished officer such as Capt. Brindel be subject to the humility and criminal sanctions of a court-martial? Just to satisfy the blood lust of the likes of Mr. Yoder?

The Navy too often bows to political pressure in making decisions. This time it is right.

EDWARD ROBINSON Springfield