JONATHAN JOHNSON: OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN
Oakland A’s minor league catcher Jonathan Johnson is upset, confused, and bewildered. Despite being recently decorated for his actions as a Navy officer fighting in the Gulf of Aden, Johnson wants to go home. Yahoo! Sports has a great story today about Johnson and his battles with both Somali pirates and the Navy. He was ripped away from his professional baseball career earlier this summer. Johnson had his career interrupted (maybe permanently) by a memo.
Johnson was playing professional baseball for the Class A Kane County Cougars of the Midwest League. He had a deal with the Navy that other professional athletes had with their service academies: Serve two years and double your commitment to the reserves and you’re free to pursue a professional sports career.
One man, with one stroke of his pen made liars out of the Navy. Navy Secretary Donald Winter signed a memo in November of 2007 rescinding all of the previous agreements. It ordered all Naval Academy midshipmen back to their original five-year commitments. Immediately and retroactively. No exceptions. Johnson was shipped off to sea despite his previous agreement.
Johnson isn’t the only professional athlete ordered back into service. Earlier this year the Army forced Caleb Campbell to leave the Detroit Lions training camp and return to active duty.