Disasterous Consequences for 4 recent USNA Grads


10-Year Member
Dec 5, 2007
Men accused of killing wading birds were Navy officers in training

NAPLES — Four men who were arrested this past week after authorities say they wantonly shot at and killed 21 protected wading birds near Goodland may have accelerated their lives right out of a career with the U.S. Navy.

Navy officials confirmed Friday that four of the seven people accused of shooting the protected birds on Tuesday night recently graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and currently are enrolled at the Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pensacola in northern Florida.

“The Navy absolutely takes seriously and does not condone any type of activity such as this,” said Lt. Doug Johnson, the public affairs officer in Pensacola.
Link :
Dumb and shocking. Other than those immediate responses, I'm having trouble putting this news in context.

Can someone explain how this kind of situation arises?
proud no-more

From the Pensacola News-Journal :

February 24, 2009

4 Pensacola NAS students charged with killing birds

Louis Cooper

In what Florida wildlife officials called a "wanton" act, four Pensacola Naval Air Station students have been arrested on charges of shooting and killing protected birds near Naples in Southwest Florida.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer on patrol Feb. 17 heard gunfire coming from a bird rookery. As he got closer, he observed birds flying erratically and some falling from the sky.

He called for backup and waited near some cars that were parked on a peninsula leading to a lake. The area is marked "no trespassing."

Three armed men who approached the officers by boat were arrested — including Pensacola NAS Ensigns Cullen M. Shaughnessy, 22, and Joseph W. Gursky, 22 — and charged with felony trespass with a firearm and booked into Collier County Jail.

Four others on the island were on foot and were ferried back to land, then charged with misdemeanor trespassing and booked into the jail.

Lt. Doug Johnson, public information officer for Naval Air Schools Command, said the men are on administrative hold pending the outcome of the civilian proceedings.

All were released on bond within 24 hours, said Gabriella B. Ferraro, spokeswoman for the wildlife commission.

More felony charges are possible, including the taking of protected bird species, Ferraro said. The shooters did not appear to be hunters, she said.

"A hunter is one who takes wildlife for a purpose, and these were just left for dead," Ferraro said. "They were shooting them wantonly, without reason."
Very sad, but we don't need officers like that in the Navy.
Very poor judgement.

Okay, so they get off off trespassing on a technicality, not properly marked.
Okay, so they get off on shooting the birds on a technicality, they were armed and leaving the area with the dead birds, but no one actually saw them shoot the birds.

But, my opinion is this. It's an honor thing..... They know they trespassed. They know they were armed on a bird reserve. The Navy knows it also, and I would expect that once the civilians are finished dropping everything, or finding new charges, the Navy will step up and hold these folks accountable for their poor judgement as a minimum.

Sure, they can claim they didn't know it was a preserve, maybe it also wasn't marked well. But if you are going to take a loaded firearm into an enviornment and discharge it, you have a responsbility to know what that enviornment is and what the laws of the land are.

These are my opinions. I think at a minimum they showed poor judgement. If they were under my command, they would not be relaxing or celebrating right now.

hmm I live in Pensacola and I'm just now hearing about this..
hmm I live in Pensacola and I'm just now hearing about this..

then you must have been living in what your nickname is ;) I was in Pensacola during this episode and it was definitely in the PNJ.
How is nobody seeing them firing get them off?

Most murders aren't witnessed but you can still use the evidence...
All State charges were dropped. The Federal Governement is looking at the case and may file Federal charges against the officers. They are not off the hook. yet.
USNA grads guilty in bird shootings

USNA grads guilty in bird shootings

April 18, 2010
The Capital

FORT MYERS, FLA. - Four Naval Academy graduates and one other man were sentenced to probation in a high-profile poaching case in Florida last week.

Zachary James Mato, 23, of Florida; Cullen Mark Shaughnessy, 23, of Florida; Joseph W. Gursky Jr., 24, of Florida; Alexander B. Wilhelm Jr., 25, of Texas; and Mark Lewis McClure, 24, of Texas pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to the unlawful killing of migratory birds.

Shaughnessy, Gursky, Wilhelm and McClure are graduates of the Naval Academy's Class of 2008.

According to prosecutors, the men went to the Rookery Bay National Estuary Research Reserve in February 2009. They had a small boat, nine guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Wildlife officers recovered 21 birds of the estimated 30 that were shot, including 11 white ibises, three double-crested cormorants, two little blue herons, one tri-colored heron, one snowy egret, one cattle egret and two tree swallows.

State charged were dropped when a local prosecutor said there wasn't enough strong evidence. The U.S. Attorney's Office announced federal charges last month.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Gustave J. DiBianco sentenced each man to six months of probation, 150 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine payable to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to pay for bird conservation activities in the area.
They had a small boat, nine guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Wildlife officers recovered 21 birds of the estimated 30 that were shot.

They sound like lousy marksmen.
Should these numnutz have been graduates of State U, that would not have been a part of the story or headline, much less gained a national feed. Just one of the aspects of the spotlight of SA mids/cadets/grads and their conduct at or away from the SA.

This reminds me I want to go research that story or urban myth I've been hearing about the impulse center of the human male brain does not fully develop until about age 25. I'm not picking on guys, that's the way I'm hearing the story. Women can be just as numnutzy.

Maybe our resident doc KP2001 can comment?! :biggrin:
This reminds me I want to go research that story or urban myth I've been hearing about the impulse center of the human male brain does not fully develop until about age 25.

Maybe our resident doc KP2001 can comment?! :biggrin:

I would say mine still isn't fully developed so I think we need to bump that 25 age up a little :biggrin::shake::biggrin:

To be honest I've got no clue, but wouldn't surprise me. I would think though that commen sense and intelligence could overcome some of that.

I haven't heard what is to become of these 4 for their Naval careers. They were allowed to progress into primary flight school, but were apparently put on hold when the new charges were brought.
If I were their commander (and they may thank whomever they wish I am not) I would have called the JAG into my office to ask the following:

Me: "Colonel...(or whatever grade) you know the facts as presented...am I within my rights to recommend to the convening authority the following:

1. Article 133, of the United States Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), enacted at 10 U.S.C. § 933.

The elements are:

That the accused did or omitted to do certain acts; and
That, in the circumstances, these acts or omissions constituted conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

Here "officer" is understood to include commissioned officers, cadets, and midshipmen of both sexes, hence the more common term conduct unbecoming. A gentleman is understood to have a duty to avoid dishonest acts, displays of indecency, lawlessness, dealing unfairly, indecorum, injustice, or acts of cruelty.

2. Article 134. General article:

Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special, or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court.

Me: "It is my intention to recommend to the convening authority charges under either or both articles.

JAG: *****I have no idea what he/she would say*****

We do NOT need "officers" like this in the military. At the very least they've shown they have limited common sense, no understanding of obedience to orders (read: law), and a willful disregard for said laws.

If I can't trust them to obey simple laws such as these, how can I trust them to lead others, with national secrets, etc...etc...

Just my opinion.