A Navy Board of 3 officers hearing an appeal for discharging a Navy officer for failure to obey a direct order related to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination voted 3-0 to retain the officer in the service, finding his refusal did not warrant misconduct by an officer.

LT William Moseley enlisted in the Navy in 2000, reaching the rank of Gunners Mate Chief Petty Officer before earning a commission in 2014 as a Surface Ordnance LDO/616. His enlisted assignments include Naval Security Forces Bahrain and Guam, SEAL Team Seven, Naval
Coastal Riverine Group One and SEAL Team ONE.

His deployment include Habbaniyah, Iraq in 2005, Al Asad, Iraq in 2007, Basilan, Philippines 2011,
Zamboanga, the Philippines in 2013, Jordan/UAE in 2014, and Gulf of Aden/Red Sea in 2017.

As a Limited duty Officer, LT Moseley was a weapons specialist aboard ship and shore stations as a Systems Test Officer. The STO is responsible for combat systems maintenance efforts, and evaluation of material, and operational readiness.  They are also charged with maintaining the efficiency of the ships’ Electronic Readiness Team.

As a prior service enlisted man holding the rank of Chief Petty Officer prior to receiving a c0mmission, Moseley is what is known as a “Mustang” in navy parlance and they are generally held in high regard by both enlisted men and officers for having experienced life in the navy from both perspectives. LT Moseley is a veteran of 22 years of active duty service and intended to remain in the military to at least 30 years and mandatory retirement.

LT Moseley opposes the vaccine for religious reasons related to the use of fetal stem cells in their development and production and questioned whether the navy could issue a lawful order to take the vaccine given that it was still in use as an experimental drug not approved fully and formally by the FDA. Courts have previously found that drugs that did not endure the formal test and evaluation procedures of the FDA, like an experimental Anthrax vaccine in 2014 should only be given to service members following their explicit consent.

LT Moseley decided against filing for a religious accommodation request, after learning that the Navy and the other services were processing these requests with a blanket denial baked into the process. After consulting with legal and medical experts, he pressed his claim that the order to take the vaccine was unlawful and that he could not comply with it in good conscience and in good faith to his oath as an officer.

When he was formally charged with failure to obey and direct order by his commanding officer and told he would receive non-judicial punishment and be separated from the service, Lt Moseley requested a Courts Martial proceeding which would take things out of the hands of his CO and bring it before a navy court instead. This was denied because the ship he was assigned to was at sea.