Oct 18

Senior Naval Aviator Recognized with Gray Eagle Trophy

Saturday, October 18, 2014 5:06 PM
The Gray Eagle honors the most senior Naval aviator with continuous active-duty service. It started in 1961, but those who would have earned it have their names inscribed on the trophy, beginning with Cmdr. Theodore Ellyson, Naval Aviator No. 1, who would have held the title from June 2, 1911 to Feb. 27, 1928. NHHC photo

The Gray Eagle Trophy honors the most senior Naval aviator with continuous active-duty service. It started in 1961, but those who would have earned it have their names inscribed on the trophy, beginning with Cmdr. Theodore Ellyson, Naval Aviator No. 1, who would have held the title from June 2, 1911 to Feb. 27, 1928.
NHHC photo

From the Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

While ribbons and medals adorn uniforms and depict a service member’s professional journey, there’s one honor unlikely to be shared by any other naval aviator or worn on a uniform: the Gray Eagle.

It’s exactly as it sounds: A nod to distinguish and recognize the pilot who has the earliest Naval Aviator designation for the longest continuous active-duty service.

For the time the recipient remains the most senior aviator, the trophy may be kept at their command or in the custody of the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla. It features a silver eagle landing on the arresting gear of the Navy’s first aircraft carrier, USS Langley (CV 1).

The inscription: “The Venerable Order of the Gray Eagle. The Most Ancient Naval Aviator on Active Duty. In recognition of a clear eye, a stout heart, a steady hand, and a daring defiance of gravity and the law of averages.”

Retired Vice Adm. James Zortman, Sector Vice President for Global Logistics and Operational Support at Northrop Grumman, presents Adm. William E. Gortney, the Commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, with the Gray Eagle Trophy award during a ceremony aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Oct. 18. The Gray Eagle Trophy is presented to the most senior Navy or Marine Corps aviator serving on active duty. Gortney will keep the title as Gray Eagle until he retires and a new active duty Navy or Marine Corps aviator can be named by the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations who maintains the official precedence list of prospective Gray Eagles. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan E. Donnelly/Released)

Retired Vice Adm. James Zortman, Sector Vice President for Global Logistics and Operational Support at Northrop Grumman, presents Adm. William E. Gortney, the Commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, with the Gray Eagle Trophy award during a ceremony aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Oct. 18. The Gray Eagle Trophy is presented to the most senior Navy or Marine Corps aviator serving on active duty. Gortney will keep the title as Gray Eagle until he retires and a new active duty Navy or Marine Corps aviator can be named by the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations who maintains the official precedence list of prospective Gray Eagles. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan E. Donnelly/Released)

 

The newest person with that “clear eye, stout heart and steady hand” is Adm. Bill Gortney, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. He received the Gray Eagle Trophy Award Saturday afternoon, Oct. 18, just prior to the U.S. Fleet Forces Band Birthday Concert aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) during Fleet Week Hampton Roads’ celebration of the Navy’s 239th birthday.

Adm. “shortney” Gortney has amassed more than 5,360 mishap-free flight hours and 1,265 carrier-arrested landings over his nearly 38-year career, primarily in the A-7E Corsair II and the F/A-18 Hornet. He spent that time flying in support of maritime security operations and combat operations in the U.S. Central Command for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, including stints with Carrier Strike Group 10 onboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), Carrier Air Wing 7 onboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67), and VFA-15 onboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).

GRAY EAGLE AWARD (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan E. Donnelly/Released)

GRAY EAGLE AWARD (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan E. Donnelly/Released)

 

Prior to that, Gortney served with Attack Squadron 82 onboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68), VFA-87 onboard USS Theodore Roosevelt; served as executive officer of both VFA-132 onboard USS Forrestal (CV 59) and VFA-15 onboard USS Theodore Roosevelt, and deputy commander of Carrier Air Wing Seven onboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).

The Gray Eagle Trophy Award was established in 1960, making its first appearance in 1961 during the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Naval Aviation when it was presented to Adm. Charles R. Brown. Naval aviators who would have earned the distinction if it had been in existence were also given the honor, beginning with Cmdr. Theodore Ellyson, Naval Aviator No. 1, who would have held it from June 2, 1911 to Feb. 27, 1928, up through and including Vice Adm. Thomas S. Combs. Combs would have held the honor from Oct. 1, 1959 to April 1, 1960.)

The trophy was originally sponsored by Chance Vought Aircraft, which after several acquisitions, was folded into Northrop Grumman Corporation in 1994. Retired Vice Admiral Jim Zortman presented the trophy to Gortney.

Gortney’s military awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (four awards), Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Air Medal (three awards: Gold Numeral One, two Strike/Flight), Defense Commendation Medal (three awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Sea Service Ribbon (8 awards), and the Overseas Service Ribbon (2 awards).

 

 
Oct 17

Remembering the First Black Women Naval Officers

Friday, October 17, 2014 12:01 PM
Lt. j.g. Harriet Ida Pickens (left) and Ensign Frances Wills are photographed after graduation from the Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School at Northampton, Massachusetts, in Dec. 1944. They were the Navy's first African-American "WAVES" officers. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Lt. j.g. Harriet Ida Pickens (left) and
Ensign Frances Wills
are photographed after graduation from the Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School at Northampton, Massachusetts, in Dec. 1944. They were the Navy’s first African-American “WAVES” officers.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

 

By Regina T. Akers, Ph.D., Naval History and Heritage Command, Histories and Archives Division

 “Navy to admit Negroes into the WAVES,” so read the newspaper headlines Oct. 19, 1944. For the first time black women would be commissioned naval officers as members of the Navy’s female reserve program.

The program first made news July 30, 1942, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed it into law. Their official nickname was WAVES, an acronym for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. It would be two more years before the WAVES became open to all women.

It was not an easy journey. During the Congressional hearings Thomasina Walker of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Non-Partisan Political Council testified the legislation creating the Navy’s female reserve program should include a non-discrimination clause so all eligible women could volunteer to serve. Her argument fell on deaf ears. Public Law 689 creating the program did not specify blacks could not be recruited, yet they were denied the opportunity to do so for most of the war.

Whites and blacks representing civic, religious, and civil rights organizations across the country urged the Navy to recruit black women. The black press published articles about blacks being turned away at recruitment offices and the individuals and organizations demanding the Navy reverse its policy of exclusion. During a campaign speech in Chicago, Thomas Dewey, the Republican candidate in the 1944 presidential election, accused his opponent President Franklin D. Roosevelt of discriminating against blacks by not allowing them to become WAVES.

Citizens expressed their opposition to the Navy’s policy of excluding blacks from the WAVES by sending letters and petitions to President Roosevelt and Secretary of the Navy William “Frank” Knox. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt held a meeting with military and civilian leaders to discuss the issue.

Capt. Mildred McAfee, the WAVES director, supported diversity but she was well aware of Secretary Knox’s objections. She is reported to have overheard him saying that “[Blacks] would be in the WAVES over his dead body.” James Forrestal succeeded Knox after a fatal heart attack in April 1944. The new Navy Secretary did not believe a segregated Navy was cost-effective or made the best use of naval personnel. Under his leadership, the WAVES and the Navy Nurse Corps integrated.

Frances Wills(left) and Harriet Ida Pickens are sworn in Nov. 16, 1944 as Apprentice Seamen by Lt. Rosamond D. Selle, USNR, at New York City. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Frances Wills (left) and Harriet Ida Pickens are sworn in Nov. 16, 1944 as Apprentice Seamen by Lt. Rosamond D. Selle, USNR, at New York City. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Harriet Ida Pickens, a public health worker, and social worker Frances Elizabeth Wills distinguished themselves in mid-December, 1944 as the first black women to receive their commissions in the U.S. Navy. Pickens’ father, one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People advocated for the diversity of the WAVES program.

Interestingly, there were Japanese and Native American WAVES before Pickens and Wills. The Navy assigned Pickens as a physical training instructor and Wills as a classification test administrator at the main enlisted WAVES training facility at Hunter College in New York City, also known as USS Hunter. More than 70 blacks joined the enlisted ranks by Sept. 2, 1945. Among them was Edna Young, one of the first enlisted WAVES to later be sworn into the regular Navy.

Rear Adm. George L. Russell, USN, swears in the first six women in the Regular Navy on July 7, 1948, while the Secretary of the Navy John L. Sullivan, far left, looks on. Capt. Joy B. Hancock, Director of the Women's Reserve, is to RADM Russell's left The first six enlisted women are: Front row: (left to right) Chief Yeoman Wilma J. Marchal, USN; Yeoman Second Class Edna E. Young, USN; Hospital Corpsman First Class Ruth Flora, USN Second row: (left to right) Aviation Storekeeper First Class Kay L. Langen, USN; Storekeeper Second Class Frances T. Devaney, USN; and Teleman Doris R. Robertson, USN NHHC Collection

Rear Adm. George L. Russell, USN, swears in the first six women in the Regular Navy on July 7, 1948, while the Secretary of the Navy John L. Sullivan, far left, looks on. Of the six enlistees, Yeoman Second Class Edna E. Young is in the center. She later becomes the first female African American promoted to rank of chief petty officer.NHHC Collection  

During the past 70 years, black women across the ranks, ratings and communities have had outstanding careers in the Navy, including the following:

Edna Young was the first of her race and gender to be promoted to the rank of chief petty officer.

Brenda Robinson, the first black aviator, and Matice Wright, a naval flight officer, excelled in naval aviation.

Vivian McFadden integrated the Navy Chaplain Corps.

Janie Mines was the first black woman Naval Academy graduate.

Joan C. Bynum, a Navy nurse was the first black woman naval officer to attain the rank of captain (0-6).

  • Rear Adm. Lillian E. Fishburne, was the first African American woman to achieve that rank in the U.S. Navy.

    Rear Adm. Lillian E. Fishburne, was the first African American woman to achieve that rank in the U.S. Navy.

Lillian E. Fishburne, a communications officer, was the first of her race and gender to reach the rank of rear admiral in 1998.

Fleet Master Chief April Beldo is one of a select few men or women to become a fleet or force master chief.

Annie Anderson is the third black woman flag officer

  • WASHINGTON (July 1, 2014) Adm. Michelle Howard lends a hand to Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus as he and Wayne Cowles, Howard's husband, put four-star shoulder boards on Howard's service white uniform during her promotion ceremony at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Howard is the first woman to be promoted to the rank of admiral in the history of the Navy and will assume the duties and responsibilities as the 38th Vice Chief of Naval Operations from Adm. Mark Ferguson. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Peter D. Lawlor/Released)

    WASHINGTON (July 1, 2014) Adm. Michelle Howard lends a hand to Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus as he and Wayne Cowles, Howard’s husband, put four-star shoulder boards on Howard’s service white uniform during her promotion ceremony at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Howard is the first woman to be promoted to the rank of admiral in the history of the Navy and will assume the duties and responsibilities as the 38th Vice Chief of Naval Operations from Adm. Mark Ferguson. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Peter D. Lawlor/Released)

On July 1, 2014, Michelle J. Howard reached unprecedented heights with her promotion to the rank of four-star admiral and assignment as the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, the Navy’s first woman to hold that rank and position. Media outlets around the world celebrated her achievements. Howard is making history and doing a job that is reflective of her outstanding warfighting, leadership, and command abilities.

Just as the Navy was better with Pickens, Wills and the 70 enlisted women who followed them, it is better with Adm. Howard. Howard, like the first black female naval officers before her, is paving the way for even greater opportunities for women.

 

Regina Akers, PhD

Akers

Regina Akers, Ph.D., is an archivist and historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command based out of the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.

 
Oct 12

First Transit: 100 Years of the U.S. Navy in the Panama Canal

Sunday, October 12, 2014 7:00 AM
USS Jupiter

USS Jupiter off Mare Island Navy Yard, Calif., Oct. 1913. The future USS Langley (CV-1) would be the first U.S. Navy ship to transit the Panama Canal west to east on Oct. 12, 1914. NHHC photo

 

By Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

The Navy tradition of the Order of the Ditch may be getting as rare as hen’s teeth these days since opportunities to transit the Panama Canal have become fewer and fewer.

Unofficial Order of the Ditch (crossing Panama Canal) certificate by Tiffany Publishing

Unofficial Order of the Ditch (crossing Panama Canal) certificate by Tiffany Publishing

That wasn’t the case 100 years ago once U.S. naval ships started transiting the 51-mile-long mechanical marvel of locks linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

The first U.S. Navy ship to go through the locks was USS Jupiter, then a collier, on Oct. 12, 1914, taking nearly two days to complete the passage. The ship spent a day floating in the fresh lake water of the locks so they could kill their saltwater barnacles before slipping into the Atlantic Ocean.

It was just another series of firsts for the collier built at Mare Island Navy Yard in California and commissioned April 1913 as fuel ship #3. She was the first surface ship propelled by electric motors, yet would spend much of her life hauling coal to fuel other ships.

After her historic crossing (and barnacle-relieving) trip through the Canal, USS Jupiter supplied coal to combat and logistical forces on both sides of the Atlantic through World War I.

Langley being converted from a collier to an aircraft carrier at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in 1921.

Langley being converted from a collier to an aircraft carrier at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in 1921.

 In March 1920, Jupiter began her conversion to an aircraft carrier, USS Langley (CV 1). By November 1922, the “Old Covered Wagon” had successfully launched recovered and catapulted aircraft off her deck.

She remained operational as an aircraft carrier until 1936 when she was converted yet again into a seaplane tender (AV-3). During World War II, while transporting Army fighters to the Netherland East Indies, USS Langley was bombed by Japanese fighters. She was so damaged she was scuttled by her escorts Feb. 27, 1942.

Naval Air Station, North Island, San Diego, California, with a Douglas DT-2 airplane taking off from her flight deck. 1925. NHHC

Naval Air Station, North Island, San Diego, California, with a Douglas DT-2 airplane taking off from her flight deck. 1925.
NHHC

Like many firsts, there can be more than one, depending on your perspective. For instance, the first ship to officially go through the locks was the American steamer SS Ancon, as part of the ceremony opening the canal Aug. 15, 1914. Ancon was later purchased by the Navy in 1918, USS Ancon (ID 1467) was used to bring U.S. troops home after World War I.

SS Alcon transiting the Panama Canal during opening ceremonies Aug. 15, 1914.

SS Ancon transiting the Panama Canal during opening ceremonies Aug. 15, 1914. Photo courtesy of canalmuseum.org

The first combatant Navy ships passed through the locks in July 1915 when battleships USS Missouri (BB 11), Ohio (BB 12) and Wisconsin (BB 9) transited the canal.

Powered by Roosevelt

For years the need for a shortcut between the two oceans had been debated. Naval theorist Adm. Alfred Thayer Mahan wrote in his 1890 book The Influence of Sea Power upon History that a canal in Central America was vital to the defense of the United States. During the Spanish-American War eight years later, USS Oregon (BB 3) further proved his point by taking 67 days to travel from San Francisco to Florida via Cape Horn to assist the Atlantic Squadron in fighting the Spanish fleet at the Battle of Santiago at Cuba.

The defeat of the Spanish gave the United States territories in the Pacific, and a need to be able to get ships and soldiers from one hemisphere to another.

While there was a consensus about the need for a canal, it was much less so about where. The Panama Railroad was built in 1849. From 1857 until 1880, there was much talk about where to put the canal and effort into surveying different locations, but in 1880, the French started an effort to build a lockless, sea-level waterway that would cost $132 million and take 12 years to complete.

By 1888, the project had chewed up twice the amount of money and had covered only a third of the distance, with 16,500 deaths, mostly to yellow fever. By the time the designer realized he would have to go to a lock system in the canal, the project ran out of money in 1889.

Then Theodore Roosevelt became president. After being convinced the best route was along the Isthmus of Panama in the Panama province of Colombia, Roosevelt got both Houses of Congress to first pass the Spooner Act in June 1902 and then the 1903 Hay-Herran Treaty, which offered Colombia $10 million in gold with annual payments of $250,000.

The Colombians, however, wanted to stall the passage of any treaties until 1904 when the land used by the French project would revert back to Colombia. They wanted $10 million from the French and $15 million from the United States.

The Panama province, which had already tried to overthrow Colombia’s rule 53 times in 57 years, threatened to riot – again — if Colombia failed to pass the treaty. But this time Panama had the power of the United States protecting its back along with its own self-interest. When Panama declared its independence Nov. 3, 1903, Roosevelt made sure the U.S. Navy had warships parked in the harbor. Colombia failed to respond to the uprising and the United States was quick to recognize Panama as its own nation.

President Theodore Roosevelt visiting construction at the Panama Canal in Nov. 1906. New York Times archival photo

President Theodore Roosevelt visiting construction at the Panama Canal in Nov. 1906. New York Times archival photo

After that bit of gunboat diplomacy, work began on creating the canal. Roosevelt was the first sitting president to travel outside of the United States when he visited the canal zone in 1909.

When it officially opened for business Aug. 15, 1914, it came in at $326 million dollars, $144 million more than originally planned by the French. It opened to civilian and commercial traffic on July 12, 1920 at the cost of $53 million more, hampered by landslides in 1915-16, strikes in 1916-17 and the years of World War I. All told it cost $375 million, which included $10 million paid to Panama and $40 million to the French. During the American construction, 5,609 deaths were recorded, to be added to the more than 20,000 hospital-recorded deaths during the French construction era.

Secretary of State Henry Stimson declared the Panama Canal “the one spot external to our shores that nature has decreed to be most vital to our national safety, not to mention our prosperity.”

Prosperity indeed. By the beginning of World War II, the United States’ income increased by four percent due to the Panama Canal lopping off weeks in the transportation of cargo. It took approximately 10 hours to make the 50-mile journey through six locks to the tune of $200,000 to $400,000.

Prior to World War II, the United States relied heavily on the Panama Canal to cut short the distance by nearly 8,000 miles as they brought ships back and forth from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Circumstances changed, however, after the Naval Expansion Act of 1940 that allowed the United States to ramp up its ship-building program as a show of force to Germany and Japan. With an influx of new vessels and the passage of the Destroyers for Bases Act, the Navy could support a two-ocean fleet, keeping ships in both theaters rather than moving them back and forth.

Still, the canal was essential during World War II as the U.S. transited ships from its Atlantic Fleet to augment its decimated Pacific Fleet and to bring new ships to the theater as they came out of east coast shipyards. At the time, Essex-class aircraft carriers, built between 1941-50, could only squeeze through the locks after they took down the lamp posts lining the locks.

USS Missouri (BB-63) in the Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal, Oct. 13, 1945, while en route from the Pacific to New York City to take part in Navy Day celebrations. Note the close fit of the ship in the locks. The beam of battleships of this era was determined by Panama Canal lock dimensions. Specifically, the locks are 110 feet wide, and the beam of the vessels are 108 feet and some inches, leaving about 8 inches of clearance, per side. US Navy photo

USS Missouri (BB-63) in the Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal, Oct. 13, 1945, while en route from the Pacific to New York City to take part in Navy Day celebrations. Note the close fit of the ship in the locks. The beam of battleships of this era was determined by Panama Canal lock dimensions. Specifically, the locks are 110 feet wide, and the beam of the vessels are 108 feet and some inches, leaving about 8 inches of clearance, per side. US Navy photo

By the end of World War II, however, the Panama Canal had lost some of its luster for the U.S. Navy. Strategically, the war established the need for the United States to maintain fleets on both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, so there was less pressing need to quickly get ships from one side of Central America to the other. The canal’s importance remains, however, particularly with training exercises that have been held with maritime partners, such as PANAMAX 2014, an exercise on how to defend the canal held in August at Mayport, Fla., with 320 military and civilian personnel from 15 countries participating.

MAYPORT, Fla. (Aug. 10, 2014) Operations officer Lt. j.g Daniel Minter, left, Operations Specialist 1st Class Gavin Hawthorne, Chilean navy Capt. Allan Nettle, Commander of Command Task Force, and Peruvian Capt. Christian Ponce, all members of Command Task Force 801, discuss high value target locations during PANAMAX 2014 at Naval Station Mayport. PANAMAX is an annual U.S. Southern Command-sponsored Exercise series that focuses on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Andre N. McIntyre/Released)

MAYPORT, Fla. (Aug. 10, 2014) Operations officer Lt. j.g Daniel Minter, left, Operations Specialist 1st Class Gavin Hawthorne, Chilean navy Capt. Allan Nettle, Commander of Command Task Force, and Peruvian Capt. Christian Ponce, all members of Command Task Force 801, discuss high value target locations during PANAMAX 2014 at Naval Station Mayport. PANAMAX is an annual U.S. Southern Command-sponsored Exercise series that focuses on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Andre N. McIntyre/Released)

More recently, many of the Navy’s newest classes of ships are too large to fit through the locks, so earning an Order of the Ditch, commonplace last century, has been rare for the 21st Century Sailor.

The Panama Canal, which made the Civil Engineering Seven Wonders of the World list in 1994, is currently undergoing a $5.25 billion expansion to make it more relevant for naval transit in the decades to come. The upgrade, at 80 percent complete now, is slated to open in the spring of 2016 and will be able to handle supertankers known as post-Panamax ships, and today’s aircraft carriers. The lanes will accommodate 50-foot drafts, up from 39.5; vessels 1,200-feet long compared to 965-feet, and 160-feet wide, compared to 106.

Vice President Joseph Biden, visiting the new construction at the Panama Canal, spoke Nov. 19, 2013, expressing to Panamanians that the canal “is a reminder that our futures, the United States and Panama and this hemisphere, are inextricably linked.”

 
Oct 9

Celebrating in the Big Apple: America’s Navy in Ticker Tape

Thursday, October 9, 2014 12:15 AM
From the Statue of Liberty collection -- Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. Caption reads: The grand demonstration on "Liberty Day" October 28th--the military and civic procession passing down lower Broadway, with the naval pageant in the distance. Photo courtesy of Statute of Liberty National Park Service

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. Caption reads: The grand demonstration on “Liberty Day” October 28th–the military and civic procession passing down lower Broadway, with the naval pageant in the distance. Photo courtesy of Statute of Liberty National Park Service

From Naval History and Heritage Command Communication and Outreach Division

The iconic New York City ticker-tape parade started Oct. 28, 1886 as an impromptu celebration following the dedication of the Statute of Liberty.

Since then, more than 200 have been deserving recipients of a ticker-tape parade. Throwing ticker-tape was considered a throwback to the ancient ritual of tossing flowers before the paths of conquering heroes. The ticker-tape, a one-inch wide paper upon which stock quotes were printed, came in either spools or could be cut into confetti-sized pieces. It was used mostly in the financial district where the spools would create streamers from the buildings to the ground floor. The recipients rode in custom-built limousines to allow dignitaries to sit on top.

The parade begins at Battery Park, where most visiting dignitaries, such as the King and Queen of England, would disembark oceanliners, travel through the Canyon of Heroes on Broadway and end up at City Hall in Manhattan.

The first live person to have a ticker-tape parade after Lady Liberty and one honoring the 100th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration was Sept. 30, 1899 for Navy Adm. George Dewey, the hero of the Battle of Manila during the Spanish American War.

Lt. Cmdr. Richard E. Byrd is photographed with Army Maj. Gen. Charles P. Summerall, (left), and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore D. Robinson (right) after Byrd's return from the North Pole, June 23, 1926. His first ticker-tape parade in New York City was the same day. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Lt. Cmdr. Richard E. Byrd is photographed with Army Maj. Gen. Charles P. Summerall, (left), and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore D. Robinson (right) after Byrd’s return from the North Pole, June 23, 1926. His first ticker-tape parade in New York City was the same day.
U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Navy Cmdr. Richard Byrd claims the title of having the most ticker-tape parades at three. His first was June 23, 1926 with Chief Aviation Officer Floyd Bennett for their flight over the North Pole. The second was a year later on July 18, 1927 for his transatlantic flight, and his third, June 18, 1930, now a rear admiral, followed his expedition to Antarctica.

 

If the size of the parade is measured by the waste left behind, then the record goes to NASA astronaut and Ohio Sen. John Glenn, who at age 62 was honored for being the oldest-ever astronaut, along with the rest of the space shuttle Discovery crew, with a ticker-tape parade Nov. 16, 1998. The record-setting parade collected more than 3,474 tons of ticker-tape and debris. It was the second ticker-tape parade for the retired Marine colonel. His first was March 1, 1962 to honor him as the first American to orbit the earth.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur holds the record for the second-highest amount at 3,249 tons for the ticker-tape parade held in his honor April 20, 1951, the day after President Harry S. Truman removed him from his position as commander of the United Nations forces defending South Korea. When he spoke to Congress April 19 to declare his 52-year career was over, MacArthur received 50 standing ovations.

Both Glenn’s and MacArthur’s parades, at 19 miles, were longer than most today.

Until 1990, New York city paid out of its pocket for the parades, but since then, the parades have been paid for with a combination of donations, private funds or corporate sponsorship.

Mayor John Lindsay, who had greatly limited the number of ticker-tape parades after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, broke tradition when he rode with the moon-walking 1969 astronauts from Battery Park to City Hall, rather than waiting until the motorcade arrived at City Hall.

And there was actually a real Mr. Ticker-Tape, according to the Alliance for Downtown New York. Grover Whalen oversaw more than 1,000 public events (including dozens of ticker tape parades) as the city’s official greeter for 30 years beginning in 1919. He rode in the vehicle with Fleet Adm. Nimitz in 1945. He is distinguished by his top hat and carnation in his button hole. He also was responsible for setting up NYC’s municipal radio WNYC and the 1939/40 World’s Fair.

Ticker-tape parades today use shredded computer paper or any other paper that can be found, with most ticker-tape parades averaging around 50 tons of waste collected by the city’s sanitation department. One overly-excited person who planned to use the pages out of a phone book forgot to rip them out and hoisted the whole thing out the window. It struck a person on the street, knocking him unconscious.

Ironically, the most ticker-tape ever collected wasn’t even a parade. It was from the impromptu celebrations of Aug. 13-14, 1945, upon the announcement Japan had agreed to surrender, or what is more normally referred to as V-J Day. More than 5,438 tons of material, from cloth, feathers, hat trimmings, ticker-tape and confetti filled the streets over two days.

Navy Ticker-Tape Parade Recipients:

 

 
Oct 9

Millions Turn Out to Cheer Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz for NYC Ticker-Tape Parade

Thursday, October 9, 2014 12:05 AM
Nimitz Day Parade, New York City, 9 October 1945. Preceded by marchers and cars bearing Admiral Nimitz and his party, Marine Corps Medal of Honor winners (in Jeeps) ride up Broadway and Cedar Street. Private First Class Jacklyn H. Lucas, awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism on Iwo Jima, was one of those who participated in this parade. Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 103871.

Nimitz Day Parade, New York City, 9 October 1945. Preceded by marchers and cars bearing Admiral Nimitz and his party, Marine Corps Medal of Honor winners (in Jeeps) ride up Broadway and Cedar Street. Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 103871.

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

After commanding more than 2 million Soldiers, Sailors and Marines during the Pacific campaign of World War II, Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz probably wasn’t too concerned about rain clouds that threatened to rain on his parade Oct. 9, 1945.

But just like the Japanese a month earlier, the heavens capitulated and it was mostly sunny but breezy for the nearly 3-hour ticker-tape parade in New York City.

It was 69 years ago today when Adm. Nimitz took part in the second parade in his honor, the first being Oct. 5 at Washington, D.C. While the DC parade included speaking before both chambers of Congress and in front of thousands packing the National Mall, the New York City parade was mostly pomp and circumstance that epitomizes a New York City ticker-tape parade.

As with the Washington parade, Adm. Nimitz didn’t travel alone: Riding in a series of Jeeps behind him were 13 newly-awarded Medal of Honors recipients, and the admiral’s son, Cmdr. Chester W. Nimitz Jr., who had received the Navy Cross for his actions as a commander of submarine Haddo. Nimitz Jr. rode with prisoner of war and Marine ace Col. Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, followed by:

The more than 4-million turnout over the length of the route from Battery Park through Broadway (Avenue of Heroes) to City Hall in Manhattan and then Queens, at times overwhelmed Nimitz, who said “I can’t believe this is happening to me. I think I’m in a dream.”

New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia was clearly impressed with Nimitz’ modesty over such a display of admiration. “Strange, these real fighters are such mild-mannered persons,” he told a New York Times reporter.

Private First Class Jacklyn H. Lucas, USMCR. Waves from the back seat of a Jeep as he leaves LaGuardia Airport for Nimitz Day celebrations in New York City, New York on 9 October 1945. Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 103870.

Marine Private First Class Jacklyn H. Lucas, waves from the back seat of a Jeep during Nimitz Day celebrations in New York City Oct. 9, 1945. He was one of 13 Medal of Honor recipients who made up part of the parade. Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 103870.

None were quite as exuberant as Medal of Honor recipient Pfc. Jacklyn Lucas. He stood in the back seat of his Jeep, waving and throwing kisses to the women who lined the streets. One young lady even ran up to plant a kiss on him as they drove past.

Navy WAVES march smartly in formation on lower Broadway, New York City, as huge crowds watch the parade for Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, the first Naval hero to visit New York officially after World War II. The parade was on 9 October 1945. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 62428.

Navy WAVES march smartly in formation on lower Broadway, New York City, as huge crowds watch the parade for Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, the first Naval hero to visit New York officially after World War II. The parade was on 9 October 1945. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 62428.

The motorcade was led by 175 hand-picked Marines, veterans of action in the Pacific, plus six Navy and Coast Guard bands that alternated playing martial music, plus another 3,800 Navy, Marine, Coast Guard personnel along with 600 Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), women Marines, SPARS (“Semper Paratus—Always Ready” the name given to the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve), and Navy nurses.

Parade participants weren’t limited to those on streets, either. Along the East River, water craft added to celebration with blasts from their whistles, and two fire boats which spewed water from every hose nozzle.

Missing from the parade, however, was Catherine Nimitz, the guest-of-honor’s wife. Having already ridden with him for the Washington, D.C., parade, Mrs. Nimitz explained “there isn’t the slightest reason why he shouldn’t ride alone. It’s his day.” She was taken directly to City Hall to await her husband’s arrival there.

As New York celebrated the end of the war, Mrs. Nimitz knew her husband’s service to the U.S. Navy still wasn’t over, or for her as a volunteer worker at the Navy’s hospital in Oakland, Calif.

“Someday, perhaps when they send my husband home to stay, I’ll realize that is really over,” she told a New York Times reporter. “I don’t think anybody could work among the badly wounded and feel that it’s over. There’s so much still ahead of us, adjustments with other countries, adjusting in our own country.”

Hoping for an eventual return to normalcy, Mrs. Nimitz looked forward to her and her husband getting back to Pearl Harbor so she could “put her easel and paints in the back of her car and go off awhile.”

Once the motorcade got to City Hall, Adm. Nimitz stepped out on the stage built to look like the prow of a ship, with 1,000-pound anchors standing in the corners, 4-inch hawsers strung through hawse pipes and large pilings to give it the appearance of a pier. Navy life preservers hung on piles with bunting draped between. Six long ropes of Navy signal flags streamed from the cupola down the façade of the building. And bunting with five silver stars hung from the second balcony. Below that hung a huge map called “Nimitz Sea” with a lightning bolt from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo, Japan.

La Guardia spoke first, saying the city was honoring the man who had been given “the greatest and most difficult task ever entrusted one man,” command of the Pacific Fleet after the attack on Pearl Harbor. “There was no doubt at any time – it was just a matter of time – that Adm. Nimitz would clear the way from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo – and he did.”

A key to victory was training the people who served in the Navy. “Men and boys who had never seen the ocean were trained in seamanship, gunnery, navigation,” the mayor said.

As Adm. Nimitz walked to the podium to receive the city’s Gold Medal of Merit, there was the sound of the ship’s bell and shrill piping of bosun whistles as the 350,000 people in the vicinity cheered.

He spoke briefly, accepting the honors “on behalf of the two million men of the Army, the Navy, Marine Corps, men of New Zealand, men of Great Britain, all of whom teamed up together to defeat Japan.”

Victory had been achieved because America came together, Nimitz said, from the fighting forces overseas and on the home-front by industry and agriculture achieving “proud production miracles, by American shipyards building the world’s mightiest fleet and the greatest merchant marine.”

While the war may be over, Nimitz stressed the U.S. Navy “must remain strong” and retain adequate seapower” to make sure peace reigns.

“Never again should we risk the threat that weakness invites,” he said. “We owe this to the men who have fought and to the youngsters who are growing up today. Let us give our next generation a heritage of strength so that our citizens may live without having to spend their blood in battle.”

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, addresses a VFW Rally in New York City during Nimitz Day Celebrations in New York City, 9 October 1945. Mrs. Nimitz is at right. Courtesy of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, (Retired). NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 49756

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, addresses a VFW Rally in New York City during Nimitz Day Celebrations in New York City, 9 October 1945. Mrs. Nimitz is at right. Courtesy of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, (Retired). NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 49756

The parade ended at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel at Park Avenue and 56th Street where Adm. Nimitz was treated to lunch at the Starlight Roof with classmates from his Naval Academy Class of 1905. Afterward, Nimitz stopped by the Women’s Military Services Club.

That evening, he attended a $15 a plate dinner with 2,000 guests. It is here where Adm. Nimitz showed a lighter side and his sense of humor.

As reported by the New York Times on Oct. 10, 1945, “Admiral Chester W. Nimitz scored a salvo on his audience at the dinner in his honor at the Waldorf-Astoria last night when he interpolated into his serious address a rollicking bit of doggerel: ‘Nimitz and Halsey and Me.’ The verse, he said, was written by an unnamed naval officer in the Pacific and it illustrated the camaraderie in the Navy.”

 

NIMITZ AND HALSEY AND ME

 

Patsy McCoy, an American boy,

Left his home in the old Empire State.

He set out to sea in a shiny DD,

And wound up in Task Force 38.

He cruised for awhile with a satisfied smile,

And then he took his pencil in hand.

And here’s what he wrote

In a well-censored note.

To the folks back in home-state land!

 

Me and Halsey and Nimitz

Have sure got the [Japanese] on the run

We’re driving them wacky in old Nagasaki.

We’re setting the damn Rising Sun,

Kyushu and Kobe and Kure

Are wonderful ruins to see.

We’ve got ‘em like gophers a’seeking’ a hole;

The way that they burrow is good for the soul:

And everything out here is under control –

By Nimitz and Halsey and me.

 

Me and Halsey and Nimitz

Are having a wonderful time.

What we ain’t uprootin’ by bombing and shooting,

Will fit on the face of a dime.

They say they’re a face-saving nation,

And that may be true as can be;

They’re taking a pushing all over the place;

We’re giving ‘em arsenic minus old lace.

They’re getting a kicking but not in the face –

From Nimitz and Halsey and me.

 

Me and Halsey and Nimitz

Are anchored in Tokyo Bay;

The place is just drippin’ with American shippin’,

They stretch for a hell of a way.

We hear that the fightin’ is finished

And that’s the way it should be.

Remember Pearl Harbor – they started it then;

We’re warning ‘em never to start it again;

For we have a country with millions of men —

Like Nimitz and Halsey and me.

 

Information for this blog came from published news reports in the New York Times Oct. 10, 1945.

 

 

 
Oct 7

Tomahawk Missiles Brought Power to the Punch During Operation Enduring Freedom

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 6:38 PM
Naval vessels from five nations sail in parade formation for a rare photographic opportunity at sea. In four descending columns, from left to right: ITS Maestrale (F 570), De Grasse (D 612); USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), Charles de Gaulle (R91), Surcouf (F 711); USS Port Royal (CG 73), HMS Ocean (L12), USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67), ITS Luigi Durand de la Penne (D560); and HNLMS Van Amstel (F 831). #PartnershipsMatter (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of PH3 Alta I. Cutler)

Naval vessels from five nations sail in parade formation for a rare photographic opportunity at sea. In four descending columns, from left to right: ITS Maestrale (F 570), De Grasse (D 612); USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), Charles de Gaulle (R91), Surcouf (F 711); USS Port Royal (CG 73), HMS Ocean (L12), USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67), ITS Luigi Durand de la Penne (D560); and HNLMS Van Amstel (F 831). #PartnershipsMatter (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of PH3 Alta I. Cutler)

By Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

It was 13 years ago today, in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Operation Enduring Freedom began against the Taliban and Al Qaeda holed up in the mountain ranges of Afghanistan.

The U.S.-led coalition launched tomahawk missiles against terrorist training camps and military installations. First among them came from destroyer John Paul Jones (DDG 53) and guided-missile cruiser Philippine Sea (CG 58).

Aboard USS John Paul Jones (Oct. 8, 2001) -- A "Tomahawk" land attack missile (TLAM) is launched from aboard the guided missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) in a strike against al Qaida terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan on Oct. 8, 2001. The carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a base for terrorist operations and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime. The John Paul Jones is steaming at sea as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Ted Banks. (RELEASED)

Aboard USS John Paul Jones (Oct. 8, 2001) — A “Tomahawk” land attack missile (TLAM) is launched from aboard the guided missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) in a strike against al Qaida terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan on Oct. 8, 2001. The carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a base for terrorist operations and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime. The John Paul Jones is steaming at sea as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Ted Banks. (RELEASED)

“These carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations, and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime,” President George W. Bush told Congress the morning of Oct. 7, 2001.

The United States was joined by coalition members of Great Britain, Germany, France, Canada and Australia. More than 40 other countries granted air transit or landing rights and shared intelligence.

“By destroying camps and disrupting communications, we will make it more difficult for the terror network to train new recruits and coordinate their evil plans,” Bush explained. “As we strike military targets, we’ll also drop food, medicine and supplies to the starving and suffering men and women and children of Afghanistan.”

Bush continued by adding the United States is a “friend to the Afghan people, and we are the friends of almost a billion worldwide who practice the Islamic faith. The United States of America is an enemy of those who aid terrorists and of the barbaric criminals who profane a great religion by committing murder in its name.”

The military action, Bush continued, was just one part of the campaign against terrorism. The other parts include diplomacy and intelligence.

“Today we focus on Afghanistan, but the battle is broader. Every nation has a choice to make. In this conflict, there is no neutral ground….We’re a peaceful nation. Yet, as we have learned, so suddenly and so tragically, there can be no peace in a world of sudden terror. In the face of today’s new threat, the only way to pursue peace is to pursue those who threaten it. We did not ask for this mission, but we will fulfill it.”

And fulfill it they did. Early combat operations included Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from both U.S. and British ships and submarines, while air strikes came from carrier-based F-14 and F/A 18 fighters and land-based B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers.

After the first wave of air and missile strikes, Special Operations Forces were sent in to engage in unconventional warfare tactics ahead of the arrival of coalition ground forces.

A Tomahawk cruise missile is launched from the USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) in a strike against al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001. The carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a base for terrorist operations and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime. The USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) is steaming at sea as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer's Mate Master Chief Terry Cosgrove. DOD Still Media Photograph: 011007-N-1523C-001

A Tomahawk cruise missile is launched from the USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) in a strike against al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001. The carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a base for terrorist operations and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime. The USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) is steaming at sea as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer’s Mate Master Chief Terry Cosgrove. DOD Still Media Photograph: 011007-N-1523C-001

 

Tomahawk in Combat

It is said that in a crisis one of the first questions asked by military leaders is “Where are the carriers?” However, since the Tomahawk land attack missile was first used in combat during Operation Desert Storm, most military operations have really begun with strikes using these precision weapons launched from cruisers, destroyers and submarines.

The Tomahawk is an all-weather, long-range cruise missile capable of being launched from more than 140 U. S. Navy surface ships and submarines for land attack warfare. It can precisely strike high value or heavily defended land targets. All cruisers, destroyers and guided-missile and attack submarines are capable of using the system.

Here is a list of some of the combat operations in which the Tomahawk has figured prominently.

1991

Jan. 17, 1991: At 1:30 a.m., nine ships in the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, and Red Sea fired the first of 122 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Iraqi targets during Operation Desert Storm. This marked the first combat launch of the Tomahawk. The guided-missile cruiser San Jacinto (CG 56) fires the first Tomahawk from the Red Sea, while the guided-missile cruiser Bunker Hill (CG 52) fires the first Tomahawk from the Persian Gulf. By the end of the second day of the operation, ships and submarines had launched 216 Tomahawks against 17 Iraqi military leadership, electric, and oil targets. On day three of the operation, the fast attack submarine USS Louisville (SSN 724), while submerged in the Red Sea, fired the first submarine-launched Tomahawk cruise missile in combat history

1993

Jan. 17, 1993 In response to Iraqi violations of the Middle East no-fly zone the guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 53) and destroyers USS Hewitt (DD 966) and USS Stump (DD 978) steaming in the Persian Gulf, and destroyer USS Caron (DD 970) in the Red Sea, launched 42 Tomahawks against targets in Iraq.

June 26, 1993 In what Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin L. Powell, described as a “proportionate” response to the Iraqi assassination plot against former President George H. W. Bush, his wife Barbara, two of their sons, and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) launched nine Tomahawks from the northern Persian Gulf, and the destroyer USS Peterson (DD 969) fired 14 more missiles from the Red Sea, in a coordinated night attack against the Iraqi intelligence service headquarters building in Baghdad.

1995

Aug. 30, 1995 Three weeks after the end of the Croatian military’s successful Operation Storm, aircraft from the carrier Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) spearhead attacks against Bosnian Serb air defense missile sites, radar sites and communications facilities as part of the opening day of Operation Deliberate Force. The operation lasts until Sept. 20 and includes, among other operations, thirteen Tomahawk land attack missile strikes from the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60). In part as a result of the operation, the Bosnian Serb forces agree to enter peace negotiations that ultimately result in the Dayton Accords, ending the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

1996

Sept. 3, 1996 Operation Desert Strike began—retaliation against the Aug. 31 dispatch by Saddam Hussein of 40,000 Iraqi Republican Guardsmen and regulars against Irbil, a Patriotic Union of Kurdistan town 48 miles east of Mosul. Desert Strike attacked Iraqi fixed surface-to-air missile sites and air defense command and control facilities in southern Iraq. The guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67) and the guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon (DDG 58) fired 14 Tomahawks The next day, the destroyer USS Hewitt (DD 966), and the guided-missile destroyers USS Laboon (DDG 58) and USS Russell (DDG 59), and fast attack submarine USS Jefferson City (SSN 759) fired 17 more.

1998

Aug. 20, 1998 Operation Infinite Reach (Resolute Response) began—two simultaneous retaliatory raids in response to the twin al-Qaeda attacks on the embassies in East Africa on Aug. 7. The guided issile cruisers USS Cowpens (CG 63) and USS Shiloh (CG 67), destroyer USS Elliott (DD 967), guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69), and fast attack submarine USS Columbia (SSN 771) fired 73 Tomahawks at the Zhawar Kili al-Badr terrorist training and support complex, 30 miles southwest of Khowst, Afghanistan. Meanwhile the destroyers USS Briscoe (DD 977) and USS Hayler (DD 997) steaming in the Red Sea launched six Tomahawks against the al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant near Khartoum, Sudan.

Dec. 16, 1998 With Iraqi President Saddam Hussein obstructing weapons inspections, the U.S. launches Operation Desert Fox, a series of sustained air strikes against Iraqi, chemical and biological weapons development facilities. Seven ships carrying Tomahawk cruise missiles, participate in the operation.

1999

March 24, 1999 With the collapse of diplomatic efforts to counter Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) President Slobodan Milosevic’s “cleansing” of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) launches Operation Allied Force, with Navy surface ships and submarines launching Tomahawk cruise missiles.

2001

Oct. 7, 2001 Operation Enduring Freedom begins when a U.S.-led coalition launched tomahawk missiles and air strikes against terrorist training camps and military installations.

Oct. 7-14, 2001 As the war in Afghanistan entered its second week, British and U.S. naval-launched Tomahawks attacked seven target areas—two near Kandahar, one near the crucial crossroads of Mazār-e-Sharīf, and two around the capital of Kabul that collectively consisted of training facilities, surface-to-air missile storage sites, garrisons, and troop staging areas.

2003

March 19, 2003 A coalition of nations launched Operation Iraqi Freedom which began with Tomahawk strikes.

2011

March 19, 2011: U.S. naval forces participated in a Tomahawk missile strike March 19 on Libya as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn designed to set the conditions for a coalition no-fly zone. The guided-missile destroyers USS Stout (DDG 55) and USS Barry (DDG 52), fast attack submarines USS Providence (SSN 719), USS Scranton (SSN 756) and the guided-missile submarine USS Florida (SSGN 728) participated in the strike.

2014

Sept. 22, 2014: U.S. military forces and partner nations, including Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, undertook military action against ISIL terrorists in Syria. The strikes included 47 Tomahawks launched from the guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 61) and USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) operating from international waters in the Red Sea and North Arabian Gulf.

 
Oct 5

Washington, D.C. Turns Out to Say “Welcome Back” to Fleet Adm. Nimitz

Sunday, October 5, 2014 8:17 AM
Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz riding in a limousine during a parade in his honor at Washington, D.C. on Oct. 5, 1945. National Archive photo

Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz riding in a limousine during a parade in his honor at Washington, D.C. on Oct. 5, 1945. National Archive photo

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

 

Sixty-nine years ago today, Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz was honored twice with parades for his part in the Navy’s victory in the Pacific campaign and ending World War II. The first was held in Washington, D.C. The second, four days later on Oct. 9, 1945, was a ticker-tape parade in New York City.

Few things can upstage the Washington Monument among the landmarks at the National Mall. Yet on Oct. 5, 1945, USS Missouri managed to do just that. Or at least a wooden facsimile of the bow of the battleship on which World War II officially ended the month before, except this battleship had the Washington Monument as its backdrop.

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, returns triumphant to Washington, D.C. at the end of World War II. Photograph shows one of the plane formations forming the letter “N” in honor of him. This was taken as planes flew over Pennsylvania, 5 October 1945. Other formations spelled out the rest of his name. Courtesy of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, (Retired). NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 62321.

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, returns triumphant to Washington, D.C. at the end of World War II. Photograph shows one of the plane formations forming the letter “N” in honor of him. This was taken as planes flew over Pennsylvania, 5 October 1945. Other formations spelled out the rest of his name. Courtesy of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, (Retired). NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 62321.

It was all part of a celebration and parade honoring Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz. A parade from the Capitol to the wooden viewing stand featured Nimitz, wearing his dress blue uniform and a wide grin, riding in the back of an open-air limousine. More than 1,000 Navy aircraft from fighters to dive and torpedo bombers, filled the skies above, thrilling the thousands of people who packed the National Mall and the parade route. The crowd cheered upon the arrival of planes that spelled out N I M I T Z in block letters (thank goodness his name wasn’t Eisenhower).

Once Nimitz arrived at the viewing stand, it took nearly an hour for the hundreds and hundreds of military personnel, equipment and even Coast Guard sentry dogs to file past. The last truck to file by featured a sign “The Alpha and Omega of the Pacific War” and it carried a 1,600-pound bomb that had been dropped on USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor and a yellow-painted pagoda carrying the samurai sword that was surrendered by Japanese Imperial Navy Vice Adm. Denshichi Okochi onboard the Missouri.

Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, sitting on top of the open convertible car, returns triumphant to Washington, D.C. on Oct. 5, 1945. Pictured is a portion of the parade on Pennsylvania Avenue in his honor with an overhead banner that reads, “Well Done Admiral,” October 1945. Courtesy of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, (Retired). NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 62354.

Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, sitting on top of the open convertible car, returns triumphant to Washington, D.C. on Oct. 5, 1945. Pictured is a portion of the parade on Pennsylvania Avenue in his honor with an overhead banner that reads, “Well Done Admiral,” October 1945. Courtesy of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, (Retired). NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 62354.

The biggest cheer that day came not for Nimitz, but for the Navy and Marine veterans of the battles of Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan, Philippine Sea and Okinawa engagements.

And Nimitz wouldn’t have it any other way as he stood to address the thousands who packed the National Mall that Friday.

“I can accept none of these honors for myself as an individual. I can accept them, and I gratefully do accept them, in the name of all the Soldiers, Sailors and Marines who fought under my command in the Pacific….In my opinion, there has never been a finer body of determined patriots, even among those early Americans who fought under the great man whose monument rises here as a symbol of freedom throughout the world.”

Rather than reveling in the victory, though, Nimitz warned the “future for us all lies in a world” greatly altered with the use of atomic power.

“Perhaps it is not too much to predict that history will refer to this present period not as the ending of a great conflict but as the beginning of the great new atomic age,” he said, adding “scientists and technologists have already theorized atomic power will be harnessed and available for industrial and humanitarian uses.”

Nimitz told the crowd the introduction of atomic power gave new importance to seapower from the standpoint of America’s future welfare and safety.

“Our defense frontiers are no longer our own coastlines or the adjacent waters by which they are bounded,” he said. “Today our frontiers are the entire world.”

Earlier in the day, Nimitz spoke to both houses of Congress, pointing out that Japan — from the standpoint of troops and aircraft –was better off on V-J Day than she was when she initiated “national hari-kari with their treacherous attack on Pearl Harbor.”

Nimitz explained at the time of the surrender on Sept. 2, Japan had more than 2 million trained professional military personnel. In Japan’s “stolen empire to the south,” there were more than 3 million men for a total of more than 5 million, compared to only 3 million when the war began.

Japan began the war with approximately 5,300 planes, of which roughly 3,200 were combatant types, Nimitz told Congress. On the day the war ended, Japan’s air force had increased by approximately 100 percent to a total of 11,000 planes, of which approximately 6,000 were combatant types.

“So why then, did the enemy have no alternative but to surrender, and why sue for peace before the introduction of the atomic bomb and before the entry of Russia into the war?” Nimitz asked.

Because the Imperial Navy had ceased to exist. “Of a once great navy of this year, Japan had still afloat one battleship, damaged; four aircraft carriers, all damaged; two heavy cruisers, both damaged, and two light cruisers, one damaged. Not one of these ships had a crew aboard,” he explained.

Thirty-nine of Japan’s once large force of destroyers remained, but six were damaged and 10 were without crews. Only 51 enemy submarines survived, and 95 small patrol craft. In addition, there were a couple of minelayers, two old training cruisers and a submarine tender.

“By the middle of 1945, Japan might as well have scuttled this remnant of her navy for all the good it could do against our own powerful sea-air forces,” Nimitz said.

The United States also exacted a toll against Japan’s merchant ships, they counted themselves lucky if three out of five made it through from Singapore.

“Our enemy was forced to surrender because Japan…a maritime nation, dependent on food and materials from overseas, was stripped of her seapower,” Nimitz said. “On the other hand, we had the seapower that made it possible to capture – and hold – the bases within Japan’s system of inner defenses from which our Army’s very long range bombers and other aircraft operated.

“We had the seapower that made it possible to cut the enemy’s lines of overseas communications to ports on the Asiatic continent and in the Southwest Pacific, denying access to needed resources. His industry was strangling and his people were at the point of starvation.

“We had seapower that made it possible to protect our own lines of communication and move vast quantities of men, materials and munitions to our forward bases and also to the Russians.

“We had seapower to prevent an enemy effort to launch amphibious counter-attacks on our flanks or in the rear. We had seapower to cover and support every amphibious landing of the Pacific War. We had powerful carrier forces that had struck strategic and tactical targets in the innermost recesses of the empire. We had seized forward bases and built the air fields that made possible the wonderfully successful B-29 bombing and mining missions, and eventually the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“With our seapower making possible the use of all our other resources, we gave Japan the single choice of surrender or slow but certain death.”

Nimitz said no one service deserved praise above another for their country’s victory. “They were all brave men. There was no difference in the way they fought; and when they fell – whether they were dressed in Army khaki, Marine green or Navy blue – they all wore the same red badge of honor that is stained with the blood of free men who hold that liberty is dearer than life itself.”

Nimitz praised his late Commander-in-Chief, Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose “foresight and keen interest resulted in a rapid up-building of the Navy soon after he assumed” the presidency.

He also thanked Congress for providing “the tools, machines and weapons in such quantity and of such quality as has never before been known in the history of warfare.”

Nimitz then pointed out “the sad fact that we have never yet entered a war for which we were prepared. The science of warfare is constantly changing, but with the emphasis always on speed. In the name of all we Americans hold dear, I pray that no future war may ever again find us unprepared.”

Crowds gathered in front of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. in a ceremony to honor Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz. National Archive photo

Crowds gathered in front of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. in a ceremony to honor Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz. National Archive photo

As he told the throngs on the National Mall, Nimitz told Congress he stands before them “merely as the representative of the Soldiers, Sailors and the Marines who have won the victory in the Pacific. We have carried out the duty imposed upon us on Dec. 7, 1941. I am deeply moved by – and profoundly grateful for – the evidence I have seen today that Congress considers that duty to have been well and faithfully discharged.”

At a banquet that evening attended by top-ranking military and naval leaders in Washington, Nimitz continued his stumping for keeping a strong and professional navy with a push toward more technological advances.

“We should never forget that permanent attitude of willingness to defend our freedom will always stand as our greatest contribution to a continuing world peace.”

 

 On Thursday, revisit Adm. Nimitz’ triumphant return to New York City and the ticker-tape parade he received there.

 

The information for this blog came from articles published in the New York Times Oct. 6, 1945, which included the complete texts of Nimitz’s speeches before Congress and the National Mall.

 
Oct 2

Washington Navy Yard: A Celebrated Legacy of Service to the Fleet

Thursday, October 2, 2014 2:15 PM

From Naval History and Heritage Command Communication and Outreach Division

The Washington Navy Yard was established 215 years ago today, Oct. 2, 1799, the Navy’s first and oldest shore base. At first it was built as a shipyard, under the careful guidance of its first commandant, Capt. Thomas Tingey. And then during the War of 1812 we famously burned it down (not the British) and then our neighbors looted it (again, not the British).

060701-N-ZZ999-111 WASHINGTON (July 2006) An aerial photograph taken in July 2006 of the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

060701-N-ZZ999-111 WASHINGTON (July 2006) An aerial photograph taken in July 2006 of the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

The base was back running again by 1816, although it never quite came back as a shipbuilding yard due to the shallowness of the Anacostia River. Its mission changed with the establishment of the Bureau of Ordnance at the Washington Navy Yard in the late 1880s and the building of a large gun factory. The yard then evolved into a place to test the most scientific, technologically advanced naval weaponry in the nation. By the end of World War II, when the yard was renamed the U.S. Naval Gun Factory in Dec. 1945, it had become the largest naval ordnance plant in the world, peaking at 188 buildings on 126 acres of landing and employing nearly 25,000 people.

But during the 1950s, as fewer weapons were needed, the Navy Yard began to phase out its ordnance factories. On July 1, 1964, the property was re-designated the Washington Navy Yard and unused factory buildings were converted to office use. The yard is now home to the Chief of Naval Operations (living in the same house as the yard’s original commandant) and is also headquarters for the Naval History and Heritage Command, the National Museum of the U.S. Navy and numerous other commands.

Just as captivating as the Yard’s transition from shipbuilding to ordnance technology to host of various command headquarters, are the hints of the macabre that lurk among the centuries-old brick and mortar of the Washington Navy Yard.

Which takes us back to Commodore Thomas Tingey. The plump commodore lovingly nurtured his navy yard through its first construction, then had suffer the horrible orders to burn it in August 1814 during the War of 1812. And he did, waiting until he could almost see the British before finally ordering it set ablaze. He returned the next day overjoyed to find the two housing quarters – A and B – unburned, along with the massive gate designed by Benjamin Latrobe.

Long-time superintendent of the Washington Navy Yard -- Commodore Thomas Tingey. His ghost has been rumored to haunt Quarters A, also known as the Tingey House. NHHC photo

Long-time superintendent of the Washington Navy Yard — Commodore Thomas Tingey. His ghost has been rumored to haunt Quarters A, also known as the Tingey House. NHHC photo

But after all that, Commandant Tingey got the Navy Yard back running again building ships by 1816. In 1829, Commandant Tingey, still running the place and living in his beloved Quarters A at the top of the hill, reported he was tired and wanted to work half days. He died five days later. He was so attached to the home he lived in for nearly 30 years that people have claimed to see a rotund apparition roaming the halls in his nightshirt while wearing his sword. In 1886, the shipyard changed direction to become the Naval Gun Factory, thanks to the technological advances by Capt. John A. Dahlgren. Rumor has it Tingey’s ghost gave out a loud cry at the indignity of it.

This plaque, on Bldg. 28 parking garage, explains why the leg of Col. Ulrich Dahlgren happened to be buried at the Washington Navy Yard. Alas, Col. Dahlgren soon followed his leg in the ground after he was killed in 1864 during a raid on Richmond.

This plaque, on Bldg. 28 parking garage, explains why the leg of Col. Ulrich Dahlgren happened to be buried at the Washington Navy Yard. Alas, Col. Dahlgren soon followed his leg in the ground after he was killed in 1864 during a raid on Richmond.

And speaking of the Civil War, Capt. Dahlgren served as the commandant of the base in 1861-62 and again in 1869-70. But it was Army Col. Ulrich Dahgren who would leave a lasting legacy: His leg. After the battle of Gettysburg, Col. Dahlgren had his leg amputated at the navy yard in 1863. It was buried amid new construction at the shipyard. He would lose the rest of him (minus an eye) when his men were ambushed in 1864 while attempting to take Richmond. Papers found on his body, thereafter called the “Dahlgren Papers,” outlined a planned assassination attempt on Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Outrage from Southerners over that plan has been speculated to have fueled the plot to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln, a close friend of Capt. Dahlgren.

Just a few days after his second inauguration, President Lincoln would indeed be assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. The actor’s body – along with suspected cohorts – was brought to the Washington Navy Yard where an autopsy was performed onboard the monitor USS Montauk.

The leg of Army Col. Ulrich Dalhgren was buried amid construction of a building at the Washington Navy Yard in 1863. A plaque marks the spot.

The leg of Army Col. Ulrich Dalhgren was buried amid construction of a building at the Washington Navy Yard in 1863. A plaque marks the spot.

Which brings us back to the Navy Yard, which was known to have a special place in the heart of Lincoln. The yard bade its final farewell to the slain president by firing guns every half hour from noon until sundown on May 4, 1865, the day the president was buried at Springfield, Ill.

A more complete history of the Washington Navy Yard may be found here.

 

 
 
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