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Navy punishes sailors who wore ‘Make Aircrew Great Again’ patches during Trump speech

The Navy has punished several sailors who wore patches bearing President Trump‘s likeness that read “Make Aircrew Great Again” on their uniforms while attending his May 2019 speech aboard a ship in Japan, according to an official.

A group of sailors assigned to the Guam-based Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 who sported flight suits with the red patches violated a Pentagon order prohibiting service members from participating in political activities, Lt. James Adams, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Hawaii, told Fox News on Thursday.

The directive bars service members from attending political rallies and expressing political opinions as long as they are not “reasonably viewed as directly or indirectly associating the Department of Defense … with a partisan political activity,” Adams said.


A service member wears a patch that says “Make Aircrew Great Again” as they listen to President Donald Trump speak to troops at a Memorial Day event aboard the USS Wasp in Yokosuka, Japan. The patch includes a likeness of Trump. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“Though the investigation found the Sailors did not intend to wear the patches as a political statement for or against the president, U.S. Pacific Fleet determined that, because the American public could reasonably view the wearing of the patches on official uniforms as DoD association with President Trump’s 2020 campaign, it was in violation of DoDD 1344.10,” the Navy said in its statement to Fox News.

An official in charge of the sailors confiscated the patches after the speech aboard the U.S.S. Wasp, which was part of a stop on Trump’s four-day visit to Japan.

The Navy did not specify what type of punishment was given. The sailors were told not to wear the patches again and Navy officials are updating guidelines “regarding the wearing of patches to ensure the rich heritage and time-honored traditions of Naval Aviation are upheld in a manner that maintains the dignity of naval service,” according to its statement.

Trump’s Japan trip resulted in further scrutiny after it was revealed that the White House requested the Navy keep the U.S.S. John McCain out of view. The plan to do that was later scrapped.


McCain, a Naval fighter pilot who was held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, was a frequent Trump critic he died in 2019 from brain cancer.


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