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Sub commander relieved of duty after woman alleges he faked death to end affair

By Karen Florin and Jennifer McDermott

Publication: theday.com

Published August 12. 2012 9:00AM   Updated August 13. 2012 6:58PM

Navy Cmdr. Michael P. Ward II, who has been accused of having an affair with a 23-year-old Chesapeake, Va., woman and faking his death as a means of ending it, has been relieved of his duties as the commanding officer of the USS Pittsburgh, just one week after he was put in command.

The woman said she met Ward, 43, on a dating website in October. She said Ward, who is married with children, told her her he was separated and that he worked in "special ops." She said he got her pregnant then, in an effort to end the relationship, faked his death in an email communication in July.

The woman talked to The Day under the condition that her name would not be used. Reached by telephone Sunday afternoon, Ward, who lives in Gales Ferry, declined to comment.

According to a press release from the Navy, Capt. Vernon Parks, commander of Submarine Development Squadron 12, relieved Ward on Friday "due to lack of confidence in Ward's ability to command based upon allegations of personal misconduct on the part of Ward."

"Our Navy has a very clear and unambiguous standard regarding the character of our commanding officers, spelled out in the Charge of Command. I reviewed this Charge with Cmdr. Ward before he assumed command. He understood the Navy's high standards for command leadership and he failed to uphold them," Parks said.

Cmdr. Michael Savageaux has taken command of the USS Pittsburgh. He was the commanding officer before Ward assumed command on Aug. 3. Ward has been reassigned to administrative duties on the staff of Commander, Submarine Group Two.

Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg of Submarine Group Two said the Navy would not be releasing details of the investigation until it is complete.

The Virginia woman, who works in the banking industry, asked not to be identified because she does not want to jeopardize her career.

"I don't want revenge here," the woman said in a telephone interview Sunday. "I want everyone to know the truth about Michael. He does not need to be commanding a submarine. He's a deceitful man."

The woman said she has been in contact with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and with the master chief of the USS Pittsburgh. She provided The Day with copies of text messages and emails from Ward.

"I want you, but I don't know how to make this all perfect," one of the texts says. Another says, "I love you and I always will."

The woman said Ward sent her emails using the name Tony Moore, explaining that he had to use the name because of his position in the special forces. She said Ward told her his real name after they met.

On July 6, she received an email from his address purporting to be from a man named Bob who worked with Ward.

"He asked me to contact you if this ever happened," the email says. "I am extremely sorry to tell you that he is gone. We tried everything we could to save him. I cannot say more. I am sorry it has to be this way."

The email goes on to say, "He loved you very much," and that Bob had something Ward had wanted to give to her.

The woman said that on July 9, she drove with her family members to Ward's house in Burke, Va., to pay her respects and learned from the new owner that Ward was alive and had moved to Connecticut to take command of a submarine.

She said she became ill, was hospitalized, and learned she was pregnant. She said she has since lost the baby.

Ward, a Buffalo, N.Y., native, joined the Navy in 1987. He had served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. He said, upon taking command of the USS Pittsburgh last week, that it was the culmination of a lifelong dream.

The USS Pittsburgh, a Los Angeles-class attack submarine that was commissioned in 1985, returned to Groton in June following a six-month deployment that included stops in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Spain.

k.florin@theday.com

j.mcdermott@theday.com

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