The top enlisted sailor at Naval Hospital Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been fired after allegations of personal misconduct surfaced — allegations the sailor, through his lawyer, has denied.
Master Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/AW/FMF) Robert Banuelos was relieved of his duties by his commanding officer, Capt. Daryl Daniels, due to “lack of confidence” in Banuelos in the wake of the allegations, the Navy said in a Thursday news release.
The misconduct is under investigation, the release said, though no details as to the nature of the misconduct were released.
Banuelos — through his Washington, D.C.-based lawyer, Gary Myers — maintains he is innocent and is protesting the fact his command has accused him of personal misconduct through a news release before the investigation has been completed.
Myers declined to discuss the nature of the alleged misconduct until the investigation is over and formal charges have been filed.
“We understand the Navy has the right to relieve and investigate,” Myers told Navy Times on Friday. “But the commander does not have the right to destroy by press release the reputation and career of a stellar master chief petty officer. This is unacceptable conduct by the command, and they should be held to account.”
HMCS (SW/AW/FMF) Michael Graven has taken over as acting command master chief, and Banuelos has temporarily been assigned to other duties pending the outcome of the investigation, the release said.
Banuelos took over as the hospital’s senior enlisted adviser in May. Previously, he served as command master chief of the 1st Marine Division, according to an archived version of his online biography, which has been removed from the hospital’s website.
A native of Stockton, Calif., Banuelos enlisted in the Navy in August 1988, his bio stated. It listed nine previous commands, mostly in sea-duty billets with Marines and Seabees, and shore tours at various naval hospitals and training commands.
Among his personal awards are the Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal.