In his recent commentary ("Punishing honesty at the Naval Academy," May 28), Professor Randall Leonard has missed the point of the honor system but has, perhaps inadvertently, raised a different but valid point. Midshipmen are, or should be, taught to tell the truth at all times. The honor system applies to all midshipmen, regardless of their class standings.

Only a pathological liar speaks untruthfully when he or she has nothing at stake. The U.S. Naval Academy honor system requires honesty in spite of personal cost. If a midshipman lies to get a desirable service assignment after graduation (hopefully a very rare occasion), he or she has acted dishonorably. It is no excuse that he will suffer personally for telling the truth. That is the ultimate test of character that is far more important for a future officer than his duty assignment. The solution to this so-called problem is to ensure that all midshipmen are thoroughly indoctrinated in principles of personal honor and honesty.

If the screening standards for certain specialties are invalid, they should be changed. However, there should be no relaxation of the highest standards of honesty and honor.

Paul Lang, Timonium

The writer is a 1961 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.