The thing about honorary titles is that they’re just that — honorary. They come with no salary, no responsibilities, just clap on the back and maybe a plaque. So even when the honoree turns out to be less than worthy, usually no demotion is in order.
But the U.S. Navy is taking the honorary title it bestowed upon Bill Cosby in 2011 very seriously — seriously enough to revoke it.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Michael Stevens announced Thursday that they are revoking Cosby’s title of honorary Chief Petty Officer after multiple accusations of sexual abuse by the comedian made news. In a press release, officials explained that “the Navy is taking this action because allegations against Mr. Cosby are very serious and are in conflict with the Navy’s core values of honor, courage and commitment.”
Cosby served for four years in the Navy as a young man, never making it past hospital corpsman third-class. But his fond recollections of his long-ago service impressed military brass. In September 2010, he accepted a Lone Sailor Award from U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation, which annually honors vets who achieved greatness in their post-military careers. The often-cantankerous comedian delighted the gala crowd by unexpectedly doing several minutes of stand-up about his sailor days. Five months later, he returned to Washington and did an extended version of that riff for an audience of both enlisted folks and brass at the Navy Memorial. In a brief ceremony, Mabus and Rick West, who then held the post of master chief petty officer, attached shoulderboards to his shirt, signifying that he was a CPO, and helped him into a dress blue jacket.
Of course, the military, too, has grappled with a wave of sexual assault reports that have been under close scrutiny from the White House and Congress recently; and as other organizations cut their affiliations with Cosby, the military community was buzzing last week about his Navy connections. Navy officials did not respond to the Post’s Checkpoint blog for comment last Friday. Here’s the full statement released by the Navy on Thursday:
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Michael Stevens today said the Navy is revoking Bill Cosby’s title of honorary Chief Petty Officer, originally presented in 2011. The Navy is taking this action because allegations against Mr. Cosby are very serious and are in conflict with the Navy’s core values of honor, courage and commitment.
Cosby enlisted in the Navy in 1956 and served for four years as a hospital corpsman before being honorably discharged in 1960 as a 3rd Class Petty Officer.
See earlier on Checkpoint blog: Former sailor Bill Cosby and the Navy have history together. Now it’s complicated.