At least a few service members wore round patches emblazoned with a likeness of Mr. Trump and the words “Make Aircrew Great Again” — a play on the president’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” — on their flight suits while listening to their commander in chief speak.
Images of the patches promptly went viral. “They’re inappropriate & against regulation,” tweeted Mark Hertling, a retired three-star Army general.
Just days later, the Navy was embroiled in the McCain news. “All ships remained in normal configuration during the president’s visit,” said Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Navy spokesman.
In a statement late Wednesday, Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, a spokesman for the acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, said that Mr. Shanahan “was not aware of the directive to move the U.S.S. John S. McCain, nor was he aware of the concern precipitating the directive.”
The disclosure that the Navy entertained a request to hide a warship named after an American war hero from a president who did not serve is likely to resurface questions about whether Mr. Trump has politicized the military.
Mr. Shanahan, the president’s pick to become defense secretary — and who was in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Thursday and who will soon be visiting Tokyo — has taken pains to go along with White House requests, many of which were delayed by his predecessor, Jim Mattis. But this effort could make Mr. Shanahan’s confirmation fight in Congress more difficult.
The destroyer John S. McCain is named after the senator, as well as his grandfather, John S. McCain Sr., a Navy admiral during World War II, and his father, John S. McCain Jr., an admiral in the Vietnam era.
Meghan McCain, John McCain’s daughter, spoke out on Twitter on Wednesday night against the White House request. Ms. McCain, who has rebuked the president over how he has spoken about her father, wrote that Mr. Trump was “threatened by the greatness of my dads incredible life,” adding that in the “nine months since he passed, Trump won’t let him RIP.”