SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Navy Capt. Steve Easting received the Navy Cross from Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus in a pierside ceremony today, honoring Easting's completion of his full deployment in command of guided missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG-59). The Navy Cross is the second highest medal in the U.S. military, below the Medal of Honor and equal to the Air Force and Army Distinguished Service Crosses.
Easting was commended for "failing to sexually harass the wife of a subordinate while on shore leave," and for "refraining from sexual intercourse with the ship's executive officer." He was also lauded for "avoiding racial slurs while using the 1MC for ship-wide announcements," and "maneuvering his ship without a single collision with another vessel." Most notably, Easting "declined to run a prostitution ring during his entire command," according to his award citation.
“Capt. Easting is joining the hallowed ranks of only a handful of sailors authorized to wear the Navy Cross,” Mabus said, going on to list prior recipients of the medal, many of whom had seen heavy combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Easting is the first commanding officer of a Pacific Fleet cruiser, destroyer or frigate in four years to complete his command tour without reprimand or firing. USS Cowpens, also stationed at San Diego, had seven different changes of skipper or executive officer during Princeton's six-month deployment.
Mabus read the full citation to assembled crew and guests, including Easting’s wife Janet and their two daughters Emily and Susanna.
“My daddy is a war hero!” exclaimed six-year-old daughter Emily at one point, getting more than a few chuckles from the audience.
After receiving the medal, Easting also had a few words to say about the prestigious achievement.
“I just want everyone to know that I don’t accept this medal for myself. It’s to honor all the brave men and women who didn’t come home, and those who are still out there, defending the freedoms that we all enjoy back here on the home front. In particular, my crew who at one point had 47 days without a lost-time brig incident.”
Fellow officers present told Duffel Blog that Easting's receipt of the award was particularly surprising, given his spotty history. Records show that on June 24, 2009, as a junior officer, Easting was formally reprimanded for allegations that he used naughty language during a dinner party at a private home.