Navy investigators have found that a ranking officer faked his death as a means to end an affair. The move has now cost him the command of a nuclear submarine.
The finding of the faked death was in a military report obtained by the Associated Press through a Freedom of Information request. It confirms details first reported by the Day, a newspaper in New London, Conn.
The case of Cmdr. Michael P. Ward II became known last month when he was appointed commander of the Pittsburgh, based in Connecticut. A week after assuming command Aug. 3, Ward was relieved of his duties amid reports that he had an affair with a 23-year-old Virginia woman and then faked his death to end it.
Ward, 43, married with children and living in Virginia, reportedly told the woman he was separated when he met her through a dating website in October. The woman said she became pregnant and then received an email in July saying Ward had died.
According to a news release from the Navy, Capt. Vernon Parks, commander of Submarine Development Squadron 12, relieved Ward “due to lack of confidence in Ward’s ability to command based upon allegations of personal misconduct on the part of Ward.”
Ward has been reassigned to administrative duties in Connecticut. Officials told the news service that he had received a letter of reprimand.
The woman, who works in the banking industry, told the Day she didn’t want to be identified for fear of hurting her career. She provided the newspaper with copies of text messages and email. The newspaper gave this account:
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, according to the newspaper.
“He asked me to contact you if this ever happened,” the email said. “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 to Ward’s house in Virginia, 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, the Day reported.