THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1996, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Wednesday, October 16, 1996 TAG: 9610160391 SECTION: FRONT PAGE: A3 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: BY DALE EISMAN, STAFF WRITER DATELINE: WASHINGTON LENGTH: 74 lines
The Navy has censured a retired admiral who investigators have concluded was involved in an ``unduly familiar'' relationship with a Marine Corps officer before leaving the military earlier this year.
But the service has decided not to demand repayment of about $3,600 in disputed expenses it incurred because of one of Adm. Richard C. Macke's trips to visit the woman in San Diego. There was evidence that Macke's staff had advised him that the trip, which also involved official business, was properly chargeable to the government, a Navy official said.
Macke was forced from his post as commander of all U.S. forces in the Pacific last November, hours after he made insensitive remarks to reporters about the rape of a Japanese girl by U.S. servicemen stationed on Okinawa. Macke's comment that the soldiers could have hired a prostitute for less than they spent on a van used in the attack triggered an international uproar.
Allegations about Macke's involvement with the Marine surfaced after that incident.
The disputed expenses resulted from a three-day leave Macke took in the San Diego area to visit the woman after an official trip. His Navy plane, along with a communications officer and flight crew, remained in San Diego during Macke's stay; the inspector general said he should have released them and taken a commercial flight back to his headquarters in Hawaii after his leave.
Macke retired April 1 as a two-star admiral after the Pentagon and the Clinton administration decided not to nominate him for retirement at the four-star rank he held in the Pacific. The loss of two stars reduced his pension by almost $1,500 a month, from $7,384 to $5,903.
In a carefully worded report, released to reporters only in a heavily edited form, the Pentagon's inspector general said Macke placed 607 phone calls to the woman's home or office from August 1994 until December 1995. The pair also visited numerous times, either at Macke's residence at Pearl Harbor or the woman's home, the report said.
The woman involved, a lieutenant colonel who remains on active duty, was not named in the report. She was not directly under Macke's command, though like all U.S. service members stationed in the Pacific she was ultimately answerable to him.
The Pentagon said that she, like Macke, had received a ``punitive letter of reprimand'' from Navy Secretary John H. Dalton. Both she and Macke told investigators that they were merely good friends and denied that they had any romantic or sexual relationship.
``No witnesses testified to observing any inappropriate conduct'' between the pair, the report said. ``Further, witnesses testified that the relationship was not prejudicial to good order and discipline.''
Still, ``the evidence shows that the relationship . . . had become a topic of conversation among the staff . . . ,'' the report said. Some officers ``were given the impression that the two were `dating,' and even the commandant of the Marine Corps was aware of a rumor that Adm. Macke was engaged to (a Marine officer).''
That evidence, as well as the frequent telephone and personal contacts between the two, ``supports a conclusion that the relationship between Adm. Macke and (the woman) was of a nature to bring discredit upon the service,'' the report concluded.
Macke was unavailable for comment Tuesday. But his lawyer, Navy Capt. Timothy Young, said, ``Adm. Macke disputes the conclusions of the inspector general and Adm. Macke's position is that his behavior has always been in accordance with laws and regulations.''
The inspector general's report indicates that Macke has reimbursed the government for about $2,300 worth of personal phone calls, including many to the woman. He made regular reimbursement payments as the calls were incurred, reviewing phone bills received by his office.
But some apparently personal calls had not been reimbursed, the report said. ILLUSTRATION: Photo
Adm. Richard C. Macke retired in April, with his rank and pension
KEYWORDS: U.S. NAVY by CNB