Citing a “loss of trust and confidence” in Navy Capt. Michael O. Enriquez following a command investigation, Morris relieved him Monday from command of the California school, according to a Pentagon notification sent to Navy Times Monday afternoon and a second email sent Tuesday by the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.
Cmdr. Boyce R. Gire, the former executive officer of Field Medical Training Battalion-West, has assumed the responsibilities of commanding officer until a permanent relief is assigned, according to the Pentagon.
Enriquez has been reassigned temporarily to Naval Medical Center San Diego.
Enriquez had led the training battalion since June 29, 2018, after fleeting up from executive officer.
Attempts by Navy Times to reach Capt. Enriquez by telephone and email were not successful and it remains unclear why he was relieved or if he faces disciplinary action.
Navy officials in the Pentagon directed Navy Times to the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery for those answers.
BUMED requested questions be put into writing and emailed to a spokesperson, but they went unanswered into Monday evening. On Tuesday morning, BUMED indicated only that a command investigation prompted Morris to lose faith in Enriquez.
“For more information, please feel free to FOIA for official documents,” wrote BUMED spokeswoman Angela A. Steadman.
It usually takes months for a Freedom of Information Act request to be fulfilled by the Navy or Marine Corps bureaucracy.
BUMED’s statement contradicted the Pentagon release that went out on Monday. BUMED indicated that Enriquez was relieved on March 11, which is in the future.
Another Tuesday statement from BUMED returned the date Enriquez was removed to Monday.
Enriquez’s Field Medical Training Battalion-West exists to produce highly trained and battle ready Fleet Marine Force hospital corpsmen.
That’s a mission Enriquez knew well. A Mustang, he enlisted in the Navy in 1989 and graduated from Hospital Corpsman "A" School and Field Medical Service School before reporting to the Intensive Care Unit at Naval Hospital San Diego, according to his official biography.
He deployed to Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm as a member of I Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines before continuing a series of enlisted assignments and earning his undergraduate degree from Southern Illinois University and completing graduate studies at Central Michigan University.
He received his commission in the Medical Service Corps as a lieutenant junior grade in 1999.
His many decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, three Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon and the Good Conduct Medal with two bronze stars.
Navy Times editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect a partial Tuesday response from Navy officials at BUMED and to add another statement from BUMED that indicates the captain was relieved on Monday and he will not be relieved at a date in the future.
Prine came to Navy Times after stints at the San Diego Union-Tribune and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors and the Combat Infantryman Badge.