U.S. 5th Fleet Commander Found Dead in Bahrain

| December 2, 2018

Vice Adm. Scott StearneyVice Adm. Scott Stearney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet aboard USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109) on Oct. 24, 2018. US Navy Photo
By Sam LaGrone

Mick brings us the sad news of Vice Adm Scott Stearney’s death. Unfortunately it looks like suicide. We may never know what caused his decision, but people there is help out there for the asking. Use it.

Vice Adm. Scott A. Stearney, commander of U.S. 5th Fleet, was found dead in his quarters in Bahrain on Saturday, according to a statement from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson.

While an investigation is ongoing, the death of Stearney will almost certainly be ruled a suicide, a U.S. defense official told USNI News. An official determination on the cause of death is expected by mid-week, USNI News has learned.

A Navy spokesperson didn’t have additional information on the investigation when contacted by USNI News on Saturday.

“The Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Bahraini Ministry of Interior are cooperating on the investigation, but at this time no foul play is suspected,” read a statement from Richardson.

“Scott Stearney was a decorated naval warrior. He was a devoted husband and father, and he was a good friend to all of us,” Richardson said. “The Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Bahraini Ministry of Interior are cooperating on the investigation, but at this time no foul play is suspected. Rear Adm. Paul Schlise, the deputy commander of 5th Fleet, has assumed command and is maintaining continuity in our responsibilities and posture in the U.S. 5th Fleet.”

Condolences to his family, friends and shipmates. The rest of the article may be viewed here at USNI.org

Category: Navy

Comments (32)

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  1. IDC SARC says:


  2. Ret_25X says:

    Being a senior leader in our armed forces is complex and provides only a life full of traps, enemies, and self doubt.

    Every person you engage with, every decision you make, every cup of coffee you drink has consequences you can only guess at. If the job was as easy as troop leading as a corporal, we would not need the seasoned, mature warriors to do it.

    With that comes guilt. Wave upon wave of guilt and self doubt. Did I make the right decision to bust Private Snuffy? Should I have made a stronger case for Sergeant Schmedlap? What could I have done to help Captain Fucknuckle’s marriage? Am I pushing too hard? Too easy?

    Of course, none of these questions have right answers because you are dealing with perspectives and shades of grey.

    I am never shocked by suicide among GOs and CSM/SGMs. Not at all. What I am shocked by is the low rate among them. Which is a testament to their maturity overall, I think.

    Now if we could find a test for moral failings like thievery and sexual misconduct…which is even more galling because those dudes always have a self preservation gene in spades.

    • Ret_25X says:

      I can remember many nights at home talking with my wife about issues at work and being completely convinced I had something wrong. When I was wrong, my people felt the pain of it.

      After a while, that stress can kill…

      • 5th/77th FA says:

        You never know how lonely it is at the top; until you are at the top. No matter if it’s their fault, your fault, or nobody’s fault….It’s still your fault.

        Tragically sad. Peace be unto his family.

      • Sj says:

        Awesome post 25X.

    • MustangCryppie says:

      One time one of our 2 stars was shooting the shit on our watch and he lamented that his dog had more freedom than he did. The only choice he really got to make was what cereal to eat in the morning.

      • Sj says:

        Being an Aide to a MG/LTG opened my eyes and killed any idea that I wanted to be a GO. (Not that there was a chance in hell anyway.)

  3. RGR 4-78 says:

    Rest in Peace.

  4. The Other Whitey says:

    One of my firefighters told me last week that he’s contemplating ending his life. His wife is cheating, divorce in progress, he feels like it’s his fault somehow and that he’s failed his kids. Bad shit going on.

    I hooked him up with peer support and employee assistance, and got him in touch with our new chaplain (we haven’t had one for over a decade thanks to some chickenshit ruling by the state, which the new chaplain* found a way around). We’ve also been talking to him daily, having him hang out at the station when he’s off, and he’s also been staying with some of the crew on his off time. It’s bad, but it’s also reassuring to see my crew come together to help him out.

    * The chaplain’s son worked for us until he took his own life last year. Suffice it to say, firefighter mental/spiritual/emotional health and suicide prevention are a pretty big deal for him.

    • Mason says:

      Make sure he knows he’s not the only one. That he’s mentioned it and is willing to take help is better than most. First responders (like the military) train and condition people to hold all that stuff in and not ask for help until it’s too late.

      Saying I was having those thoughts out loud, even to my wife, was the hardest thing. At least it’s only gotten better since.

      • desert says:

        It is very sad..and the consequences are even worse! I read about a nurse that tried to kill herself, ended up a NDE, she was shown what happens when one kills themselves…they are destined to live that part of their life that brought on the decision over and over and over! reliving every hurtful minute of it! Our life is NOT OURS TO TAKE…it belongs to God/Jesus….only he can say when it is time for us to leave this earth and hopefully to go to him if we were smart enough to accept him! He is life CHANGING..never underestimate the Lord!

    • MustangCryppie says:

      I’ve been there, done that, brother. Not his exact circumstances, but I’ve been in a place where I had dug a hole and had no idea how to get out.

      It all came down to putting one foot in front of the other. One day at a time and sometimes one millisecond at a time.

      It WILL get better.

      And when you’re feeling especially shitty, do not make the mistake of comparing your insides to someone else’s outsides. You are always wrong.

      Chin up!

    • OTW. I started as a Volley Fire Fighter way back in 1977 and these suicides today among the FF’S and other emergency workers were unheard of. Fire Engineering has articles on this tragic loss of life. Over the years, we had civilian losses of life at fire scenes and we had a lot of graveyard humor if you know what I mean among the on scene members to relieve the stress and it really didn’t bother me until I went to bed and started to think how we could have prevented the loss of life but shit happens before the first due units arrive and usually too late to save someone. Takes awhile before my head clears and I look at it as part of my being able to do the job and be a service to my Community. I think what is going on deals with mostly paid depts who do this hour after hour and day after unlike my having a job and then being a Volley when I got home from work. 30 years as a Volley and thank God I came out of it okay except with a broken heel and some minor eye, and heat injuries. Stay safe OTW.

      • The Other Whitey says:

        I’m alive today because my .45 malfunctioned 12 years ago, not long after the state shrink diagnosed me with PTS. I stripped it to the pins and found nothing mechanically wrong with it, and it functioned flawlessly when I took it back to the range, but when I pressed it to the side of my head and pulled the trigger, the hammer would not drop. I pulled that trigger hard enough that my finger almost bled. I was in a pit of despair and couldn’t see a way out.

        Since then, I bought a house, met and married my wife, and had my three children. Those old feelings still creep up on bad days, but a thought of my wife and kids always chases them away. It’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve talked to anyone, even my wife, about the time I tried to put a hole in my head. I shared that story with him the other day. He’s a damn good man, the kind the world needs more of. I feel fortunate that I know him, and told him so, which brought him to tears. I’m praying that he keeps that in mind. I’ve buried more than enough of my friends already.

        • 5th/77th FA says:

          T.O.W. A number of us have almost been there, almost done that. As you know, there is purpose for all of us to be here now, and a reason behind that purpose. We are here for you, for your brother firefighter, and for one another. Good on you and the other folks stepping up. Good on him for speaking up. If the Admiral had of done the same, or maybe someone had of spoken up, he may still be with us.

        • desert says:

          Should be proof to you that the Lord was not through with you yet, you had and have things to do! Thank Jesus, he made that gun malfunction imho

          • The Other Whitey says:

            That has crossed my mind more than once since then. It’s the only time that 1911 has ever malfunctioned.

            • Fyrfighter says:

              Good on you and your crew for being there for him TOW. having had a suicide on my crew, and 3 more on my dept, I can only say I wish we’d had the chance to act before they did. You and he are lucky, keep up the good work, but at the same time, understand that you can only do so much, and God forbid, it this has a negative outcome, it was not due to failings of you and your crew.
              Jeff, as to suicides being unheard of in the Fire Service in the 70’s, there’s a couple reasons for that. One may be that the numbers were actually lower, but others include the stigma attached led many ME’s to list cause of death as something else, out of respect for the individual / family, which obviously skewed the numbers. Another is where actual cause of death truly seemed to be something else. I read something recently (sorry, don’t have a link) that said a ridiculously high number of single vehicle crashes are actually suicides. In those cases, it was the individual trying to protect the family from the stigma, or just a spur of the moment decision. Very complex problem, and one I hope we can get a handle on!

  5. Green Thumb says:

    My thoughts to his family.

  6. HMC Ret says:

    Great sadness. I can only guess at the demons that took control of him. As mentioned, it almost certainly was self doubt re PVT Snuffy, CAPT Jones or whomever. I pray his family can survive this time of great sadness.

  7. MustangCryppie says:

    Rest in peace, shipmate. I only wish that you had found in yourself to talk to the people who love you…and no matter how alone you felt, you are loved.

    So sad.

  8. 100E says:

    The decision to commit suicide can be the result of any one of a thousand reasons. In the end though, it boils down to death being preferable with life. I’ve been a friend of four who committed suicide. All did it for different reasons.

  9. TN Jay says:

    Thank god you were there to help him. I felt guilty for surviving one tour in Iraq when four other members of my MIIT team were killed. This lasted for several years. I finally got the help I needed to deal with the issues. God bless his family and lets hope that any other service members get the help they need.

  10. Rich C says:

    I hate to speculate, but, well, we always put these things down to stress without knowing the persons whole story.

    The Admiral was 58, which, is not “old” but , still, I wonder if his doc gave him some really bad news.

    I had an aquaitence who at the age of 62 was diagnosed with cancer. His house was paid off, he was debt free, and had a decent savings and pension plan. Cancer treatment would have wiped his family out financially and he only had a 20% chance of survival and at that , it would have been only 5 more years with the barbaric Chemo/Radiation crap they do. Instead, he took his wife on a vacation to Europe, spent a month giving his kids and grand kids gifts, then one night drank a bottle of $100 scotch, went out behind his barn and shot himself.

    He picked his day.

    • Comm Center Rat says:

      “When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.” ~ Tecumseh

      Modern medicine and chemistry allows us to live with disease much longer but we often will die from the disease being treated, especially cancer. Quality of life vs. quantity of years. I do not advocate suicide but I understand and respect your friend’s brave choice.

      • desert says:

        Only…if you have Jesus in your heart and life will you life a life fulfilled, full of joy, peace and absolutely no fear of dying..because “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”! All the above stories show a need to turn to Jesus…if you have the guts…TRY HIM, PROVE HIM. He WILL respond to you!

    • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

      When I get that diagnosis you’ll read about an amateur sailor who attempted to circumnavigate the globe and didn’t make it.

      You’ll know that was me, because there’s no fucking way I’m going out shitting myself in a diaper weighting 93 pounds, better mother nature and I get into a giant dance and I get to choose my way out. I’ve seen too many go that other way, there’s no dignity left in that…can’t even climb out of bed to take a dump and somebody rolling you on your side like a piece of furniture to wipe your ass…God bless those who do that care giving work, no doubt but I can’t see my way clear to put myself in a position where they need to do it for me.

  11. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    For manly men, the notion of needing outside help for psychological issues is unacceptable. A real man needs no such help. He just needs to tough it out, suck it up, and deal with it privately. And that approach can be fatal. Most of us don’t feel that way about physical health issues, especially serious ones. We go to a doctor. We get treatment. We let strangers know what our symptoms are and we allow ourselves to be tested, poked, retested and poked again. Why are mental health issues different? Because we think we are weak, that we alone ought to be able to overcome what troubles us. We cannot change the culture that has created this. In fact, given the choice, many of us wouldn’t because toughing things out and sucking it up is exactly what needs to be done more often than not. But when it comes to contemplating suicide to stop the emotional pain, we cross a line that sends the John Wayne approach to the junkyard. Outside help is precisely what is needed. It’s not a sign of weakness any more than shortness of breath and tingling in an arm is a sign of weakness. You don’t consult with a caring friend: you get professional help. And that’s what I believe needs to be done when we or someone we know expresses (explicitly or not) a desire to end it all.

    • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

      Largely due to the stigma still present with mental health treatment. No matter what we say as a society, our actions betray the reality that we still look at mental health treatment as something for crazies and not simply a health issue.

    • desert says:

      AirCav…you are exactly right…and its the same reasoning that too many men will not turn to Jesus, they think that is a weakness…let me tell you..being a Christian IS NOT BEING WEAK..you better have some intestinal fortitude to do it….Jesus gave his life at 33 to be tortured, whipped, beat, assaulted and flogged with a cat-0-9-tails for us..US, you and me and he would have done it all if there was only one person needing salvation…amazing! A simple thank you Jesus, and simple help me, a simple SAVE ME….doesn’t seem like to big a chore for eternal peace and joy! I hate to be the bearer of sad tidings, but if you can’t do the above..then you are not the manly man you think you are! imho

  12. Ex-PH2 says:

    Too sad for words.