NORFOLK, Va. — Some people might say Captain Brett Crozier should get a medal for what he did. Instead, he got fired.
His crew made clear how they felt as Crozier departed the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Numerous videos on Twitter showed hundreds of sailors gathered in the hangar bay and chanting his name when he left the aircraft carrier in Guam.
Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly announced Thursday he relieved Crozier of duty after the CO's letter seeking help with the coronavirus cases on the TR went public. It ended up getting published in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Now, an online petition to reinstate Crozier has gotten more than 70,000 signatures. A new Facebook page shows numerous comments like this one: "What an honorable man. Ridiculous what just happened"
"What worries me is, relieving the commanding officer of Theodore Roosevelt sends a chilling message to every other commanding officer in the Navy: Keep your mouth shut," said retired Navy Captain Joe Bouchard of Virginia Beach.
Lawmakers have been critical. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith said Crozier's firing will "likely put our service members at greater risk."
Virginia Senator Mark Warner said Crozier "is a patriot who was trying to do what's best for his crew."
But Virginia Second District Representative and Naval Academy graduate Elaine Luria sees both sides.
"I applaud the captain for looking out for his crew, but I also understand that leadership in the Navy was concerned the way in which he did that may have made it more difficult to help the crew," she said.
The Navy now says the TR is up to 137 positive cases of COVID-19 among its 4,800 member crew.
RELATED: Military families concerned what coronavirus outbreak on aircraft carrier means for service members