HERO OF USS IOWA EXPLOSION STILL DENIED
JUSTICE TWENTY YEARS LATER - RETIRED NAVY
PETTY OFFICER 1ST CLASS JOHN MULLAHY'S
LIFE RUINED BY FEMALE OFFICER'S VENDETTA
AGAINST HIM - WE ASK CHIEF OF NAVAL OPNS
GARY ROUGHEAD TO ORDER FULL INVESTIGATION
"IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO RIGHT A WRONG."
SAILOR DESERVES RETROACTIVE PROMOTION
TO AT LEAST CHIEF PETTY OFFICER (E-7) PLUS
BACK PAY AND FULL BENEFITS
Twenty years after retired Petty Officer First Class John Mullahy saved the USS Iowa from blowing up, the hero sailor still is denied justice in what we at MilitaryCorruption.com consider to be one of the most egregious cases of abuse we have seen in the U.S. Navy.
This brave man, who risked a fiery death and the ultimate sacrifice in saving the lives of the ship's crew, deserves to have his record cleared. And we are calling upon Chief of Naval Operations Gary Roughead to order a full investigation into the abuses inflicted on John Mullahy. It's never too late to right a wrong.
We first ran the story you are about to read here in the Spring of 2001. It is just as relevant, if not more so, today. With an update at the end, including an interview with the former gunner's mate, now living in Thailand, we urge all active duty, Naval Reservists, veterans, and Navy retirees to send a copy of this story to your U.S. senators and congresspersons.
John Mullahy is an American hero. He deserves justice - now!
THE UNKNOWN HERO OF THE USS
IOWA EXPLOSION - HOW THE NAVY
FAILED TO PUNISH A FEMALE
OFFICER'S VENDETTA AGAINST HIM
It was one of the most heroic acts in the annals of the United States Navy. If it had occurred in wartime, Petty Officer 1st Class John Mullahy would have been recommended for the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Instead, he was the victim of a vendetta so vicious and unrelenting, his Navy career and life was ruined. His enemy, now-retired USN Capt. Patricia Rios, daughter and only child of (now-deceased) Vice-Admiral John Barrow, is alleged to have gone to great lengths to "punish" Mullahy for what he calls "refusing to obey an illegal order."
After an extensive investigation by Military Corruption.com, we have concluded Mullahy acted properly and was "guilty" of no more than arousing the hatred of an officer who would go to any length to harass and harm him.
Our story begins in the waters off Puerto Rico. The date, April 19, 1989. Aboard the USS Iowa, sailors in Turret 2 of the battleship's 16-inch guns prepared to fire during a training exercise.
Suddenly, a flash and a huge explosion rocked the ship. Quickly, other explosions followed. Fires raged. If the flames reached the powder magazine, the entire ship could be lost!
Deep in the bowels of Turret 2, Gunner's Mate Mullahy, a fearless Irishman from Boston, who'd made the Navy his career, rescued three of his shipmates trapped behind a jammed hatch.
Totally disregarding the extreme danger, and refusing to evacuate the area to save his own life, Mullahy single-handedly battered open the hatch with a wrench and dragged the three sailors to safety.
But that wasn't all.
Knowing the Iowa would be utterly destroyed if the fires reached the ship's magazine, Mullahy found his way through numerous smoke-filled compartments to the damage control center. There, he quickly activated the sprinkler system to Turret 2 and the powder magazine. That act of heroism kept the battleship from blowing up.
Finding Lt. Blackie passed out on the floor, Mullahy, without benefit of a gas mask and nearly collapsing from fumes and smoke, carried the unconscious man to forward battle station, saving the officer's life.
Mullahy continued to help men escape the blast areas and even volunteered for casualty identification duty. He worked for 36 straight hours without sleep.
In those critical moments after the explosion, Mullahy stared death in the face and didn't blink.
For his heroism that day, Mullahy was meritoriously promoted to petty officer first class and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for Bravery.
One would think the Navy public relations office would roll into high gear and crank out press releases about Mullahy's courageous actions which saved the Iowa and her crew. But no, the Navy brass prefer to keep silent to this day about a genuine hero they allowed to be destroyed.
REFUSING AN ILLEGAL ORDER
Three years earlier, in 1986, John Mullahy was stationed at a 73-acre Navy ammunition depot at Cartagena, Spain.
At first all went well. Mullahy's boss, then-Lt. Cdr. Patricia Rios, was very pleased with his excellent work.
In a document obtained by MilitaryCorruption.com - Mullahy's "enlisted efficiency report" for 86Jan06 to 86Nov30 - Rios couldn't praise her petty officer enough.
"HIS PERFORMANCE HAS BEEN SUPERIOR. A SELF-STARTER, HE HAS TAKEN THE INITIATIVE TO UPGRADE ALL ASPECTS OF AMMUNITION STORAGE, ACCOUNTABILITY AND HANDLING AT THIS ACTIVITY AND HAS DONE A REMARKABLE JOB.
"HE RECEIVED COMMENDATORY COMMENTS FROM THE EXPLOSIVE SAFETY BOARD, CINCUSNAVEUR AMMUNITION OFFICER AND CTF-63 WEAPONS OFFICER FOR HAVING HAD A POSITIVE IMPACT ON THE UNIT'S PERFORMANCE AND FOR IMPROVING READINESS. HIS INNOVATIVENESS, COGENT SUGGESTIONS AND DRIVE TO EXCEL MAKE HIM A VALUABLE ASSET TO THIS COMMAND.
"PETTY OFFICER MULLAHY DEMONSTRATES THE REQUISITE QUALITIES OF A SUCCESSFUL LEADER AND IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR RETENTION AND ADVANCEMENT TO CHIEF PETTY OFFICER."
Sound good? It should. Mullahy was one of the top petty officers in the Navy. But soon, all those deserved words of praise would be forgotten in the unreasoning anger of a bitter and hate-filled vendetta.
A COMMANDER WHO "CUT CORNERS"
One day in 1987 at the San Javier Airport, Rios ordered Mullahy to spray paint over all "explosive" markings and place the explosive devices - from a U.S. C-130 aircraft - in his personal pick-up truck.
According to his sworn statement, Mullahy refused because of a number of very good reasons
First of all, Lt. Cdr. Rios had "forgotten" to get "diplomatic clearance" from the Spanish Government for the explosives-laden aircraft to land. Then, in direct violation of treaty agreements between the United States and Spain, she ordered Mullahy to move the explosives over Spanish roads without informing the local authorities and obtaining an escort. The trip from San Javier to Cartegena was approximately 35 miles, plenty of time for an accident to occur.
Mullahy knew it was a dangerous and illegal command, and true to his "by-the-book" training, he refused the order. When Rios reacted angrily, the veteran petty officer reported the matter to a Capt. Kennedy at CINCNAVEUR in London. Rios was subsequently "called on the carpet," and when she returned to Cartagena, Mullahy said, "all hell broke loose."
This wasn't the first time Rios had violated regulations, Mullahy said. "I remember once she ripped up incident reports when explosives were dropped or otherwise needed to be inspected. It was as if she realized she was a screw-up, but was determined to conceal that and cover it up at all costs," he said.
Mullahy told MilitaryCorruption.com of a 1988 incident in which a pallet of 8-inch howitzer ammunition was dropped while being taken off the USS Milwaukee. Two sailors marked the ammunition as "unusable" and prepared a report. But Rios allegedly ordered one of the sailors to change the markings to indicate the ammunition was "ready for use," then tore up the report and threw it in the trash. Rios allegedly told the sailor he was not a "team player."
Now Mullahy could do nothing right, at least according to Rios. She was determined to punish him and get even. In direct contrast to her earlier signed evaluation, she now "blistered" the petty officer in the next one:
"PETTY OFFICER MULLAHY . . . LACKS THE MOTIVATION, COMMITMENT, SENSITIVITY AND MORAL STANDARDS TO BE A LEADER," she wrote in his June 1988 enlisted evaluation.
"(MULLAHY) IS NOT COMPLETELY TRUSTWORTHY, POMPOUS AND HIS DISLOYAL ATTITUDE HAD UNDERMINED MORALE. HE IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR ADVANCEMENT OR RETENTION."
Next, Mullahy told a MilitaryCorruption.com investigator, Rios started "digging" through his records and finding what she claimed was "theft of government funds."
Mullahy's first wife abandoned him while he was at sea years earlier. She divorced him in the United States without sending him, or the Navy, any notice. And the sailor had no way of finding her for three years.
"I wasn't sure of my marital status," Mullahy said. "During that time, I continued to receive a housing allowance at a ' with dependant' rate. On more than one occasion, I tried to have the allotment stopped, but was advised to continue to receive it, since I had no record of my divorce."
Mullahy was told by one Navy lawyer the divorce was "probably invalid" because it occurred while he was at sea. The Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act protects service members from judicial proceedings they are unable to attend.
But that didn't faze Rios. She brought up her once favored petty officer on charges and suddenly Mullahy was facing a court-martial. He was refused the opportunity to "pay back" the disputed funds.
What happened next will forever be a blot on the Navy's so-called system of "military justice."
A NIGHTMARE OF INJUSTICE
The day after he returned from his honeymoon with his second wife, a Spanish national, Mullahy was sent to Naval Station Rota on technical arrest orders. Under Navy regulations, the maximum time TAO's are valid is six months. Mullahy was held on them for eight.
Rios extended her harassment to Mullahy's wife. She was denied a dependent's ID card and all exchange and commissary privileges. Later, she was given just "24 hours" to "vacate" her husband's military housing - in effect, putting the young woman out on the street.
Two days before his court martial in June 1988, the Navy arbitrarily changed PO1 Mullahy's defense counsel.
Also, on the day the proceedings were to begin, Mullahy was told none of the officers who advised him about his housing allowance could be found to testify in his defense. In addition, his civilian lawyer was barred from entering the base.
The "fix" was in.
The veteran petty officer, who was given no legal counseling, was taken directly to court-martial while similar "offenses" are usually dealt with by a "captain's mast" or some form of non-judicial punishment.
"It was clear that Rios and her family connections, with her daddy being a vice-admiral and all, made my chances to survive a court-martial slim-to-none," he said.
Mullahy was advised to plead "guilty," with the warning that if he was "convicted" - and the conviction rate against enlisted sailors was around 98 per cent at the time - he could get two years in the brig and a dishonorable discharge.
With 17 outstanding years of service behind him, Mullahy chose to plead "guilty," even though he knew he was innocent, and accept a two-grade bust in rank plus five months in the Philadelphia brig.
But Rios and her pals were not done torturing the petty officer. Her cruelty knew no bounds. In what the Navy now acknowledges was it's own "error," Mullahy was ordered to "repay" cash advances he had legitimately received for food and housing while awaiting his court-martial.
Meanwhile, Rios allegedly contacted all the petty officer's creditors and told them because of his court-martial, Mullahy was now a "felon." The result was devastating.
"Ford took my truck. I was three payments ahead with Sears and J.C. Pennys. Those, and my bank credit cards, were cancelled. I was financially ruined. Rios even opened my mail in my absence, for reasons I will never know," Mullahy said.
NO LET UP
In 1991, two years after the Iowa explosion, now restored to his original rank of petty officer 1st class, Mullahy retired from the Navy.
But the vendetta continued unabated. And the Navy was not about to discipline or punish the daughter of an admiral. No matter what she had done. This despite a 1989 Inspector general's report that found, in part, Lt. Cdr. Rios "MADE DELIBERATE EFFORTS TO RUIN THE CAREER AND REPUTATION OF GUNNERS MATE JOHN M. MULLAHY JR."
Incredibly, Rios was promoted twice after that. John Mullahy, a certified hero, didn't even get to retire as a chief petty officer.
In the years since Mullahy left the Navy, the campaign of slander and harassment got worse. It reached its zenith in the mid-1990's when Ms. Andremda Tommasi, an official translator for the 6th Fleet and a close friend of Patricia Rios, got up at an official Navy function in Cartagena and slammed retired PO1 Mullahy.
In front of the mayor of Cartegena, U.S. Ambassador to Spain, and the commander of the U.S. 6th Fleet, Tommasi declared:
"I AM THE U.S. NAVY REPRESENTATIVE AND THIS IS THE OFFICIAL POSITION OF THE UNITED STATES NAVY AND THE NAVAL INVESTIGATIVE SERVICE - THAT JOHN MULLAHY WAS A SUSPECT IN THE MASS MURDER OF 47 MEN IN GUN TURRET # 2 ON THE USS IOWA."
Incredible! Now Mullahy was being publicly accused of possible "murder" when he actually saved the ship and the lives of the crew aboard her!
The NIS later denied Tommasi was their "official representative." When they investigated where the translator had received her outrageously false information, they were told it came from none other than Capt. Patricia Rios.
Three years later, just prior to Christmas 1997, someone reported to the Navy that Mullahy was "dead." His pension checks stopped. It took months for the retired petty officer to combat that lie and straighten out the mess.
AN INTERVIEW WITH MULLAHY IN THAILAND
Since our initial story ran eight years ago, and the follow up: WE GET ACTION FOR HERO OF USS IOWA, as well as our story on the inaccurate TV movie "A GLIMPSE OF HELL," we found retired PO1 John Mullahy living in Thailand where he does volunteer work for various orphanages and is founder and first president of the U.S. Navy League in Thailand.
Here, in his own words, is what has happened to him in the intervening years:
"Since your story WE GET ACTION etc. ran on MilitaryCorruption.com, (which was just a smokescreen by the Navy IG), I never heard from them again.
"Rios and Tommasi didn't let up harassing me, even after Capt. Simms, the commanding officer at Rota, Spain sent me a letter of apology dated 4 May 1995. My situation in Spain, where I retired, went downhill steadily after Tommasi's statement about me being a murder suspect.
"Because her remarks were repeated on Spanish television, in the newspapers, and spread throughout the country, I was refused employment in Cartagena and everywhere else. Shopkeepers asked me not to come into their place of business. I was denied entry to restaurants and when my children went to school, I was told I could not even come and pick them up or drop them off. It was a living hell!
"I will always be grateful to the Iowa's skipper, Capt. Mossally, who in retirement, wrote to General Electric on my behalf and got me a job with one of their subcontractors UTE in Madrid. I was hired as an equipment maintenance engineer for LEXAN 2. That lasted less than six weeks, as all the other workers, poisoned by the falsehoods spread in the local media about me, were afraid to work beside me. So I was let go.
"I then separated from my wife and children in June 2001, so my kids would at least have a chance of growing up without being pegged as having a "mass murderer" father. It got so bad that I found myself the only U.S. Navy retiree living in Spain denied access to MWR facilities!
"Later on, I got a job in Saudi Arabia as a weapons and explosives advisor and finally moved to Thailand where I do all I can to help orphaned children and lend support and advice to my fellow veterans here. What you guys do on MilitaryCorruption.com is wonderful, and I will never forget you were there for me when most everyone else turned their back and walked away."
HOW TO RECTIFY THIS OUTRAGE
Anyone having an ounce of decency and a sense of justice, after reading the above account, realizes action must be taken to clear PO1 John Mullahy's name, his military record, and a financial remedy arrived at to compensate him, at least in part, for his pain and suffering.
With the help of CNO, Adm. Gary Roughead and the Secretary of the Navy, Mullahy's service record could be corrected and an investigation begun into how and why he was treated so unfairly.
We realize nothing will be done to Rios, at least not in this world, so we are not asking the Navy to penalize her for any wrong-doing. Nothing is to be gained by putting the top brass and politicians in a such a delicate spot. But something can be done to give Mullahy the justice he has so long been denied.
For example, a man with his years of experience and accomplishment would at the very least attain the rank of chief petty officer E-7 prior to reaching minimum retirement at twenty years service. We are asking for Mullahy to be advanced to that grade (retroactively) and consideration given for him to be retired at one pay grade higher - E-8 - which we think a man of Mullahy's skill and ability may well have attained if he had not been victimized by such a vicious and hate-filled commander.
Mullahy is anything but your typical sailor. The highly-decorated Irish-American was a hero in 1975 when he threw himself on a live grenade near the Subic Bay Naval Station, Philippines, saving the lives of four of his comrades.
During his twenty years in the Navy, John Mullahy excelled at every assignment. His retirement deprived the Navy of an outstanding petty officer. This nation should be proud that men of Mullahy's high character still exist.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Telephone and e-mail all the members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. (See our LINKS LIST on the MCC home page.) Appeal to the Secretary of the Navy. Write President Obama and both U.S. senators from Mullahy's home state of Massachusetts: Sens. John Kerry and Edward Kennedy. Let them know what you feel about what was done to this man.
Download and print copies of this article and send it to your local news media. Use the green tab on the bottom right hand side of this story to "e-mail" a copy to a friend or elected official. If you are a veteran and in the American Legion, DAV, and VFW, get your members together to send a letter on behalf of your Post to show your support for John Mullahy.
If you have loved ones in the Navy, please e-mail them this story and ask them to pass it around. Post it on bulletin boards, discuss it at meetings, do whatever you can for this good man.
One more thing. If you feel shame for what the Navy and Rios did to Mullahy, despite his loyal and courageous service to our nation, please take a minute and drop him a line at: email@example.com. Let him know he is not alone, that his fellow Americans appreciate and respect his selfless service to our country.
All of us at MilitaryCorruption.com render a salute to you, John Mullahy, a true American hero.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: We would like to offer any U.S. Navy spokesperson or retired Capt. Patricia Rios space on these pages to respond to any allegations made in our carefully-researched and thoroughly-documented story. As the largest investigative military web site in the world, we reserve our journalistic right to comment on any such statements.]