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Pilot Wins Decision To Keep Job

August 20, 1995

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Navy Secretary John Dalton has rejected recommendations that a helicopter pilot be honorably discharged for refusing to lead women into combat.

Two separate Navy panels had voted to honorably discharge Lt. Cmdr. Kenneth Carkhuff, a 13-year Navy veteran who is based with an anti-submarine unit at Mayport Naval Station.

Carkhuff told a superior last year that his religious beliefs prevented him from sending women to battle. He is accused of failure to support and carry out Pentagon policy regarding women in combat.

Dalton cited an ``impeccable service record″ in recommending Friday that Carkhuff remain on active duty. The decision caps a yearlong effort by the 35-year-old helicopter pilot to remain in the Navy.

``I was elated. I thought it was terrific news,″ Carkhuff said. ``I’m just very grateful and thankful for what they did.″

Further review by Dalton and Adm. Mike Boorda, chief of Naval operations, is pending.

In August 1994, Carkhuff told his commanding officer, Cmdr. Michael Orfini, that he believes the Bible directs men to protect women from violence, and that combat is the most extreme form of violence.

Carkhuff’s helicopter detachment, which had two female pilots, was preparing for possible assignment in the U.S. military operation in Haiti.

At a May hearing, Carkhuff’s superiors testified that he refused to take his anti-submarine detachment to sea just before the Haiti invasion, citing religious beliefs.

He was replaced as leader of the detachment. The unit was never sent to Haiti.

Carkhuff, who has been assigned to a desk job for the past year, testified that he had been misunderstood, and that he would have led his detachment if he had been ordered to do so.

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