Former sailors claim discrimination after getting kicked out of Navy: Captain says action justified

Sailors say: Discharge was because of power trip

Three former San Diego-based sailors are claiming they were kicked out of the navy because of their Christian beliefs.

The former sailors said they are proud of their service and are upset how their time in the Navy came to a sudden end.

Cedric Davis and his brother Tracy were a month away from their four-year commitment when they were discharged and denied future benefits.

Graig Mitchell was more than year into the service before he got his papers. All three said they were kicked out because of their faith. The three are Seventh-Day Adventist, a Christian denomination that celebrates Sabbath on Saturdays. On that day, worshippers are not allowed to work.

"I was in Captain's mast and the Captain told me, 'Davis you've been perfect,'" said Tracy Davis. "...and then he proceeds to tell me 'your only mistake was keeping the Sabbath.'"

MItchell, Cedric and Tracy all served on the USS Nimitz, which was homeported in San Diego until last year.

Tracy Davis said he applied for and got Saturdays off, but during a September training mission at sea, he and Mitchell were ordered to work. They refused.

Rick Rogers, who served nine years in the U.S. Army, said the military will make accommodations for religion, but is not obligated to as the mission is deemed the first priority.

"Being in the military is a 24-hour, 7-day a week job, that's what they signed up for," said Rogers.

After a congressman asked for answers on behalf of the men, the U.S.S. Nimitz captain said in a letter that Tracy Davis was discharged for "not following directions," and his brother for a "pattern of misconduct."

The brothers, who boast a variety of commendations, said the real reason is a captain's power trip.

"He almost made it a personal situation. Ok, you're doing what God say, but I want you do what I say," said Mitchell.

10News contacted the U.S. Navy for a response, but calls were unreturned.

The three sailors, who live in Bakersfield, are considering legal action.

In a similar case, a court sided with an employer, the U.S. Postal Service, against a Seventh-Day Adventist.

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