Abandoned Shipmate: The Destruction of Coast Guard Captain Ernie Blanchard
Ladson F. Mills, III
Captain Ernie Blanchard left for work January 10, 1995, a successful officer. Respected by superiors and subordinates, his personal and professional values seemed perfectly aligned with the institution he served, the United States Coast Guard. By day’s end his career was finished.
At a speaking engagement at the Coast Guard Academy, Blanchard’s icebreaker—a series of time-tested corny jokes—was met with silence. Within hours, an investigation was underway into whether his remarks constituted sexual harassment. Several weeks later, threatened with a court-martial, he shot himself.
The author investigates Blanchard’s “death by political correctness” in the context of the turmoil surrounding the U.S. Armed Forces’ gender inclusion struggles from the 1980s to the present.