In June, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Commander by Navy Capt. Erik Spitzer was relieved of its command. Spitzer has been chastised for tricking families into consuming contaminated water. His recent retirement earned him the Legion of Merit, his award citation praised his response to the leak of Red Hill fuel storage facility. The Navy did not reply to whether Spitzer or other Navy officers were disciplined. Navy authorities and officials were accused of presenting residents of Pearl Harbor-Hickam with contradictory information.
On one such occasion, Spitzer informed people that the water was safe to consume. The next day, the Hawaii Department of Health advised “all Navy water system customers” to avoid using the water. According to an internal Navy assessment, Spitzer’s speech was one of four “key friction points” that severely affected public confidence in the Navy. Capt. Mark Sohaney succeeded Spitzer during the official change of command ceremony. Later, Spitzer apologized for causing misunderstanding, stating that he wished he had used “more caring and affirming terms.” According to the Navy’s assessment, the Red Hill plant flaws persisted while the fuel leaks “persisted.”