The Navy announced Monday that it has reprimanded a two-star admiral for getting drunk and wandering naked around a Florida beachfront hotel while attending a conference with defense contractors.
Rear Adm. David F. Baucom, the director of strategy and policy at the U.S. Transportation Command, became so intoxicated at an upscale beachfront resort in April that he struck his head on a barstool, wet his pants and needed an escort back to his room, according to an investigative report by the Naval Inspector General.
A few hours later, still in a haze, Baucom re-emerged from his room without any clothes on — as his door automatically locked behind him, the report states.
As the admiral stumbled around the grounds of the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club desperately looking for a towel to wrap around his waist, he was spotted by two alarmed female guests who reported him to hotel security.
After a disciplinary hearing, the Navy found Baucom guilty of disorderly conduct and conduct unbecoming an officer. He has since been transferred from his post at U.S. Transportation Command and reassigned to the Pentagon, Navy officials said.
In a statement, Baucom said he accepted “full responsibility and accountability for my actions.” He also said that four doctors have concluded that his drinking that night was probably exacerbated by a heart problem that left him lightheaded, disoriented and confused.
“I have served the Navy for more than 34 years and am proud of our institution,” Baucom added in his statement. “I deeply regret my actions caused discredit to the Navy I love.”
In their report, Navy investigators acknowledged that Baucom was taking prescription medicine that might have made him dizzy or drowsy, but concluded there was “no question” that Baucom was drunk. They also said his naked wanderings around the resort grounds were “the product of his intoxication.”
Baucom is the fifth admiral or general to lose their job or get punished by the armed forces for alcohol-related behavior in the past two years.
A one-star Army general who commanded U.S. Special Operations forces in Central and South America was removed from his post after he repeatedly became intoxicated in public, including during a deployment to Peru. A two-star Air Force general in charge of nuclear weapons was relieved of command for drinking too much and hanging out with suspicious women during an official trip to Moscow.
In addition, an Army major general in charge of a counterterrorism task force in Africa was fired for excessive drinking. And an Air Force brigadier general was cited by investigators for repeatedly drinking on duty and keeping a vodka bottle in his desk.
Baucom told Navy investigators that he had been drinking wine, whiskey and gin while attending a dinner for the National Defense Transportation Association’s Transportation Advisory Board.
He said he didn’t feel the effects of the alcohol until he was sitting at a hotel bar and it suddenly hit him “like a ton of bricks,” according to the inspector general’s report.
Security video at the hotel bar recorded Baucom falling down and striking his head on a barstool shortly after midnight. He got up, stumbled a few steps and collapsed again, falling head first into the back of a couch. A hotel bellman had to help him to his room.
Baucom said he woke up from a deep sleep a few hours later so he could go to the bathroom. Instead, he somehow found himself locked out of his room without any clothes on, which led him to stumble around the hotel grounds in search of a towel.
Although Baucom said there was much he didn’t remember about his actions that night, he clearly recalled why he wasn’t wearing any clothes.
He had failed to pack his pajamas because he was concerned about the weight of his luggage and “did not want to pay the extra $25 for a 2nd bag,” according to an email he sent a colleague a few days later.
“Lesson learned,” he concluded. “I’ll pack my PJs next time.”