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Navy fires hospital ship's top officer, says he lied on PFA

Sep. 13, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Capt. William Cogar was relieved of his duties Friday as head of the hospital ship Mercy's medical treatment facility.
Capt. William Cogar was relieved of his duties Friday as head of the hospital ship Mercy's medical treatment facility. (Navy)
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The Navy removed the top officer on the hospital ship Mercy on Friday after an investigation uncovered evidence he mismanaged the physical fitness assessment — and lied about his weight to pass his own PFA.

Capt. William Cogar, who had been in charge of the Mercy’s medical treatment facility for six months, was punished at admiral’s mast in San Diego for having “attempted to influence his PFA results” and failing to enforce the PRT program, Military Sealift Command said in a Friday news release.

A yet-to-be-completed inspector general investigation discovered evidence that Cogar, 59, and as many as four other crew members lied about their heights and weights to pass the body composition assessment.

“He was, at the time, probably out of standards, and he allowed the PFA coordinator to enter a weight which would have allowed him to pass that part of the physical fitness assessment,” said MSC spokesman Tom Van Leunen. “And he knew that the person had put in incorrect data.”

One enlisted crew member, a PFA coordinator whose name and rank were not released, was disciplined for unspecified misconduct, MSC said. Cogar was issued a punitive letter of reprimand.

Cogar’s removal comes two weeks after his East Coast counterpart, the officer in charge of the MTF aboard the Navy’s only other hospital ship, Comfort, was fired.

MSC said it believes these are the first reliefs of MTF commanding officers, who are in charge of all the medical personnel assigned to the ship; that complement can jump to 1,200 when the ship deploys for a humanitarian mission. The ship is helmed by a civilian master.

“There doesn’t seem to be anything in common with the two reliefs,” Van Leunen said. “It just appears to be unfortunate timing.”

Cogar did not immediately respond to a phone call and an email seeking comment.

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