Aug 20

#PeopleMatter: Naval Observatory Residence Honors Fleet Admiral Leahy

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 12:36 PM
WASHINGTON (Jul. 17, 2014) — The Leahy House in Washington, D.C. During World War 2, Fleet Adm. William Leahy was the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Zlotin)

WASHINGTON (Jul. 17, 2014) — The Leahy House in Washington, D.C. During World War 2, Fleet Adm. William Leahy was the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Zlotin)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood

What used to be known as “Quarters BB” at the Old Naval Observatory was recently renamed “Leahy House” in honor of Fleet Adm. William D. Leahy, who served during the Spanish-American War through to the Cold War.

But why Leahy?

Fleet Adm. William D. Leahy, circa 1945

Fleet Adm. William D. Leahy, circa 1945

The home’s current resident, Vice Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, believes Leahy does not share as prominent a place in history’s spotlight as some of his contemporaries.

“When you ask people to name all the five-star naval officers, they get [Chester] Nimitz, they get [Ernest] King, they get Bull Halsey,” said Tidd. “Almost nobody thinks about Fleet Adm. Leahy.”

Leahy started his long career as a Midshipman at the Naval Academy in 1897. He originally wanted to follow his father’s path as an Army officer, but West Point wasn’t offering any appointments, so he chose the Navy instead.

At that time in the Navy, by law, candidates for commission had to serve two years at sea before becoming officers. Leahy’s first two years were spent on the battleship Oregon, getting his first experience in conflict as the ship participated in the Battle of Santiago during the Spanish American War on July 3, 1898. Leahy donned his well-deserved ensign rank almost a year later on July 1, 1899.

During the Philippine Insurrection and the Boxer Rebellion in China, Leahy was there, serving on gunboat Castine, stores ship Glacier, and Mariveles, a gunship he commanded, between his commissioning date of Jul. 1, 1899 and 1902. During the American occupation of Nicaragua in 1912 he served as Chief of Staff to the Commander, Naval Forces in the country.

When Leahy took command of the dispatch gunboat Dolphin in 1915, he developed a close friendship with then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). It was a friendship that would influence his career profoundly later in life.

Leahy saw a lot of action on-ship and off during his career before WWII. He was a part of transporting troops to France in 1918 during WWI and sailing Turkish waters during the Greco-Turkish war in 1921. This was followed by auspicious assignments as Director of Officer Personnel in the Bureau of Navigation and eventually becoming the Chief of Naval Operations in 1936.

WASHIGNTON (Jul. 17, 2014) — A model of the guided missile destroyer USS Leahy (DLG 16) sits in a glass case at the Leahy House. During World War 2, Fleet Adm. William Leahy was the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Zlotin)

WASHINGTON (Jul. 17, 2014) — A model of the guided missile destroyer USS Leahy (DLG 16) sits in a glass case at the Leahy House. During World War 2, Fleet Adm. William Leahy was the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Zlotin)

As war clouds were forming over Europe, one month shy of the invasion of Poland, Leahy retired. If that was the end of his story, he would have been able to tell the story of a long and honorable career. But almost as premonition, an old sailing buddy of his that had become the President of the United States, FDR told him on the occasion of his retirement, “Bill, if we have a war, you’re going to be right back here, helping me run it.”

War there was. Germany invaded Poland in September 1939 and Europe started towards another “Great War,” WWII. Before U.S Involvement, Leahy acted as Governor of Puerto Rico, and as the U.S. Ambassador to Vichy France until recalled in May 1942.

Franklin fulfilled his latent promise two months later, recalling Leahy to active duty as the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. In this position, he presided over the Joint Chiefs, and also the combined Chiefs when the U.S. was host. His duties were extraordinarily diverse, and it is to his credit and an attestation of his work ethic that his job is now separated into three different government positions: the chief of staff of the White House, the National Security Advisor and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Leahy was the first promoted to the highest rank achievable, Fleet Admiral in 1944, and it was at this rank that he retired permanently in 1949.

Leahy continued to serve the Navy even after retiring a second time, in the office of the Secretary of the Navy and as the president of the Naval Historical Foundation. He died July 20, 1959.

So why Leahy? The reasons are numerous, including being the first five-star admiral of World War II, a diplomat and confidante of presidents, a strategist, a veteran of three wars and living nearly his whole life in service to his Navy and his country. His remarkable career can serve as both an icon and a lesson for its steadiness of the Sailor’s spirit through the gamut of adversity — during times of prosperity, depression, war and peace. One thing is for certain, as Tidd intended it, when we see the house named for Leahy, we’ll remember and appreciate the man who gave so much in service to the nation that repeatedly called on him during her darkest hours.

WASHINGTON (Jul. 17, 2014) — Members of the Leahy family pose for a photo beside a painting of Fleet Adm. William Leahy, Jul. 17. During World War 2, Fleet Adm. William Leahy was the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Zlotin)

WASHINGTON (Jul. 17, 2014) — Members of the Leahy family pose for a photo beside a painting of Fleet Adm. William Leahy, Jul. 17. During World War 2, Fleet Adm. William Leahy was the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Zlotin)

 
Aug 19

USS Constitution: Presence Then, Presence Now

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 5:13 PM

By Cmdr. Sean Kearns
73rd Commanding Officer
USS Constitution

Cmdr. Sean Kearns, 73rd Commanding Officer of USS Constitution

Cmdr. Sean Kearns, 73rd Commanding Officer of USS Constitution

The Chief of Naval Operations’ Guiding Principles (Warfighting First, Operate Forward, Be Ready) were as important and applicable to the early chapters of our Navy’s history as they are today. In the months leading up to our declaration of war against Great Britain, Captain Isaac Hull personally witnessed the rising tension between our Navy and the Royal Navy. As he departed Cherbourg to bring USS Constitution home in January 1812, he was hailed by British ships in the Mediterranean Sea. Upon reaching Washington, D.C., Captain Hull’s suspicions that our country was on a trajectory to war were confirmed. By early-March, Constitution was undergoing a major refit and on June 18, the very day war was declared, Constitution sailed from Washington to Annapolis and received orders to sail to New York to rendezvous with other ships. Less than a month later, Constitution was nearly ambushed by a squadron of five British warships while executing these orders. Captain Hull and his First Lieutenant, Charles Morris, expertly evaded capture in the face of negligible winds and high temperatures in a 57-hour affair July 15-17, 1812 that became known as the “Great Chase.”

 On August 19, Constitution came across one of the five ships she evaded the previous month – HMS Guerriere. The ensuing 35-minute battle with Guerriere resulted in America’s first victory over a ship of the Royal Navy and earned Constitution her famous nickname, “Old Ironsides.” This victory would not have been possible without foresight and attention to world affairs and current events by Captain Hull. Nor would this victory have been possible without Captain Hull’s determination to train his crew in sailing their ship and firing her guns. And, perhaps most-importantly, this victory would not have been possible without the willingness and determination of Captain Hull to sail into harm’s way. This victory embodied principles laid out by John Paul Jones during the American Revolution; these principles live on in the CNO’s Guiding Principles.

One can conduct a cursory review of the events surrounding this chapter in USS Constitution’s history and easily find the Secretary of the Navy’s Four Ps (People, Platforms, Power, and Partnerships). At the time of her construction, USS Constitution was an expression of outer limits of shipbuilding technology; a hull design with a higher length-to-beam ratio for speed, heavy construction employing Southern Live Oak that made “Old Ironsides all but impenetrable, diagonal riders to reduce hogging, and a heavy gun armament. These signature features made for a strong ship that could sail fast and easily defeat ships of equal size. The U.S. Navy of 1812 was, as is the case today, a volunteer force which, because the U.S. Navy certainly offered a better quality of life and more pay than the Royal Navy or many of the merchants, attracted high-quality Sailors. Without the best and brightest Sailors or Captain Hull’s leadership, Constitution could never have served her long and distinguished career. After the War of 1812, Constitution would serve the Navy as a tool for diplomacy and partnership. From 1844 to 1846, the ship sailed around the world; her feats during this voyage include transporting the U.S. Minister to Brazil, rescuing hostages from Da Nang, and impressing the Hawaiian King Kamehameha with a demonstration of the Paixhans guns (precursor to the Dahlgren gun that fired exploding shells). She even received Pope Pius IX – the first Pontiff to ever set foot on sovereign American territory – on August 1, 1849, during her last voyage to the Mediterranean Sea.

For more on the USS Constitution click here.

Action between USS Constitution and HMS Guerriere, August 19, 1812: "In Action" Oil on canvas, 32" x 48", by Michel Felice Corne (1752-1845), depicting the two frigates firing on each other, as Guerriere's mizzen mast goes over the side. Painting in the collections of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, transferred from the Navy Department in 1869. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives Photograph, K-26254 (Color).

Action between USS Constitution and HMS Guerriere, August 19, 1812: “In Action” Oil on canvas, 32″ x 48″, by Michel Felice Corne (1752-1845), depicting the two frigates firing on each other, as Guerriere’s mizzen mast goes over the side. Painting in the collections of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, transferred from the Navy Department in 1869. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives Photograph, K-26254 (Color).

 
Aug 15

Welcome USS John Paul Jones and USS Preble

Friday, August 15, 2014 11:00 AM

Rear Adm. Rick Williams

Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

 

Rear Adm. Rick WilliamsThis week historic Pearl Harbor welcomes two new warships to our waterfront: USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) and USS Preble (DDG 88).

Each ship is named for a founder of the U.S. Navy – leaders who made their mark in the Revolutionary War, especially in the case of Jones, and – in Preble’s case – in the war against Barbary pirates.

On the deck of the captured Serapis, John Paul Jones salutes the Bon Homme Richard as it sinks with its colors still flying. (Taken from a print in the John Paul Jones house at Portsmouth)

On the deck of the captured Serapis, John Paul Jones salutes the Bon Homme Richard as it sinks with its colors still flying. (Taken from a print in the John Paul Jones house at Portsmouth)

Two hundred and thirty eight years ago this month, in August of 1776, John Paul Jones was temporarily promoted to Captain and assumed command of the sloop Providence.

He sailed from the Delaware with orders to “cruise against the enemy” off the northeast coast of America, where he captured supply ships, preventing them from reaching the British.

In the next three years he raided off the coast of England, rescued American prisoners of war and defeated enemy ships in some of the most memorable battles in U.S. Navy history.

More than 150 years ago, James Fennimore Cooper said in a Jones biography:

“There can be no question that Paul Jones was a great man … all the cruises of the man indicated forethought, intrepidity, and resources. Certainly, no sea captain under the American flag, Preble excepted, has ever yet equaled him, in these particulars.”

Commodore Edward Preble NHHC

Commodore Edward Preble
NHHC

If John Paul Jones is considered one of the fathers of the Navy, Commodore Edward Preble must be considered another of our founders.

Like Jones, Preble fought with fearless determination.

Two hundred and eleven years ago this month, in August 1803, he sailed the American frigate USS Constitution toward the Mediterranean.

Aboard Constitution and with Marines at his side, Preble led Jefferson’s Navy into Tripoli. He sailed with young men who would become captains in the War of 1812 – Stephen Decatur, James Lawrence, Isaac Hull and David Porter.

Preble defeated the Barbary pirates and established some of the foundations for the modern Navy and demonstrated our nation’s firm commitment to the rescue and return of our prisoners of war.

Between Jones and Preble, there have been ten United States ships named for these great heroes of our Navy. These namesake ships – most of them destroyers – have fought in the Mexican-American war, Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Cold War, Vietnam and in the Middle East.

It is a privilege to welcome USS John Paul Jones and USS Preble to Hawaii. I know you will bring advanced capabilities in radar and weapon systems, including Aegis ballistic missile defense and Navy Integrated Fires, and I’m grateful you’re joining our team. You’ll find a supportive family and many friends at DESRON 31 and MIDPAC. You’ll join other ships with proud namesakes and outstanding records of achievement.

Happily, many of the Sailors and families already serving here in Hawaii will be able to join shipmates aboard one of these fine warships arriving this week.

To USS Preble and USS John Paul Jones: Welcome Aboard and Aloha!

photojjjj

 

 

 
Aug 14

#PartiesMattered: At Japanese Surrender, Truman Authorizes Two-Day Celebration for War-Weary Nation

Thursday, August 14, 2014 1:38 PM
President Harry S. Truman announces the surrender of Japan at the White House Aug. 14, 1945. Accession number: 64-24

President Harry S. Truman announces the surrender of Japan at the White House Aug. 14, 1945.
Accession number: 64-24

 

By Naval History and Heritage Command, Communications and Outreach Division

 Our historical celebration for today is about, well, celebration! It was 69 years ago today, at 7 p.m. Aug. 14, 1945, when President Harry S. Truman told the world the Japanese had surrendered.

“This is the day we have been waiting for since Pearl Harbor,” Truman said that evening from the White House. “This is the day when Fascism finally dies, as we always knew it would.”

To mark the occasion, Truman announced a two-day holiday for Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 15-16, 1945, holidays shared by the allied nations of United Kingdom and Australia.

Why two days? “The reason we are making it two days is because we didn’t get to celebrate for the other,” Truman said, referring to the May 8 Victory in Europe Day.

Truman spoke directly to Federal employees on the need for a two-day holiday: “One of the hardest working groups of war workers during the past four years – and perhaps the least appreciated by the public – has been the Federal employees in Washington and throughout the country. They have carried the day-to-day operations of the government which are essential to the support of our fighting men and to the carrying out the war. On behalf of the nation, I formally express thanks to them.”

He requested all heads of departments, agencies and bureaus throughout government to excuse their employees for Wednesday and Thursday, operating with only skeleton staff.

“I hope all of the employees of government will enjoy this well-deserved – though inadequate – holiday,” Truman said in Press Statement 102.

Truman was quick to make sure all workers – federal, state and private — would get their pay during the 2-day celebration. That evening, he amended Executive Order No. 9240 on the overtime wage compensation regulations to temporarily add V-J Day to the list of time and a half holidays.

Crowd outside the White House after the announcement of the Japanese surrender on Aug. 14, 1945. Accession number: 73-2022

Crowd outside the White House after the announcement of the Japanese surrender on Aug. 14, 1945.
Accession number: 73-2022

And celebrate the nation did. The U.S. had endured four years of food and gasoline rations, recycling home appliances to produce more steel for more ships to be built and sending hundreds of thousands of young men into battle while women went to work in droves to take their place.

So across the country there was much rejoicing, revelry and even riotous behavior as inhibitions dropped with increased imbibing of alcohol. Bands played patriotic songs for impromptu parades, church bells were rung and people danced in the streets. In the garment district of New York, seamstresses threw out bits of fabric and ticker tape that piled up to five inches on the streets below. Women jumped naked into fountains in San Francisco, and crowds surged onto the White House lawn.

It was that evening at Times Square in New York City that Life Magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt snapped the iconic picture of a sailor planting a kiss on a very surprised dental nurse. A Navy photographer snapped this similar picture from a different angle.

US Navy photographer Victor Jorgensen captured a different view of infamous Times Square V-J Day kiss. His photo was published in the New York Times.

US Navy photographer Victor Jorgensen captured a different view of infamous Times Square V-J Day kiss. His photo was published in the New York Times.

Another reason to celebrate was Truman’s approval to reduce inductions of young men into the Armed Forces from 80,000 per month to 50,000 and for only those aged 26 and younger. The draft couldn’t end completely, he explained, since the war department would still need people to cover those who would get relief of long-service men overseas.

“In justice to the millions of men who have given long and faithful service under the difficult and hazardous conditions of the Pacific War and elsewhere overseas a constant flow of replacements to the occupational forces is thought to be imperative,” Truman noted. “Mathematically and morally, no other course of action appears acceptable.”

After two days of near riotous behavior, Truman had another announcement to give to members of the press during an Aug. 16 briefing.

“I have issued a proclamation setting aside Sunday as a day of prayer. After the two days celebration I think we will need the prayer,” Truman said to the laughter of the room.

The proclamation declared “This day is a new beginning in the history of freedom on this earth. Our global victory has come from the courage and stamina and spirit of free men and women united in determination to fight. It has come from millions of peaceful citizens all over the world turned soldiers almost overnight who showed a ruthless enemy that they were not afraid to fight and to die, and that they knew how to win.”

Calling upon the people “of all faiths,” Truman asked his “countrymen to dedicate this day of prayer to the memory of those who have given their lives to make possible our victory.”

Truman warned during an Aug. 16 press briefing there wouldn’t be an official V-J Day until Japan — with more than two million fully armed — formally signed the surrender document. Sadly, he was correct. As Americans were celebrating the end of the war, some members of the Japanese Imperial Army went against Emperor Hirohito’s announcement to put down arms. After surviving years in prisoner of war camps, hundreds of POWs were killed in the days following the Aug. 14 announcement.

Did the president envision V-J Day as a national holiday, the press questioned? Ever pragmatic, Truman said no. “I think they have had their holidays,” he said, referring to the 2-days of celebration. “There is too much to do to declare too many holidays.”

Truman finally got his V-J Day on Sept. 2, 1945 when Japanese officials signed the surrender documents onboard USS Missouri, which was used as the backdrop as a tip to Truman’s home state.

Sixty-nine years later, only one state celebrates what had been V-J Day. Rhode Island recognizes the second Monday in August as the end of World War II, although it is now called Victory Day.

 
Aug 13

#PeopleMatter: Hospitalman John Kilmer Showed Dedication to Marines Until Death

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 2:12 PM

By the Naval History and Heritage Command, Communications and Outreach Division

Today we remember Medal of Honor recipient John Edward Kilmer, a hospital corpsman with the Third Battalion, Seventh Marines during the battle of Bunker Hill in the Korean War.

John Kilmer

A native of Highland Park, Ill., Kilmer was born Aug. 15, 1930, just the beginning of a slew of August dates that would define Kilmer’s life.

By the time Kilmer was in high school, he was living in San Antonio, Texas. The day after turning 17 on Aug. 16, 1947, Kilmer dropped out of high school to join the service at the Navy Recruiting Station in Houston. The Apprentice Seaman, who went by the nickname of Jackie, entered the Hospital Corps School in San Diego, Calif., graduating in 1948 as a Hospital Apprentice. By Sept. 1, 1950, he had been promoted to Hospitalman.

When the Korean War began, Kilmer was stationed on USS Repose nearing the end of his four-year enlistment. Hoping to put his medical expertise to use in the war, he re-enlisted in the Navy in Aug. 1951.

In his picture, he is wearing a dark uniform and a white “dixie cup” cover. His face shows the beginnings of a mustache, grown perhaps to appear older. He stares straight and unsmiling into the camera with just a glint of a challenge in his brown eyes, which might explain why he dropped out of school to join the Navy and then a few years later, after a dispute with a superior officer, asked for a transfer to the Fleet Marine Force.

We will never know the cause of that dispute. But we certainly know its outcome.

Kilmer completed the Field Medical School at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and was transferred to the Third Battalion of the Seventh Marines, deploying with that unit to Korea.

On Aug. 12, 1952, Kilmer’s unit was pinned down under heavy mortar fire while dug into defensive positions well ahead of the main line of resistance. As stated at the Marine Corps History Division website, Kilmer “moved from position to position in the defense works through artillery, mortar, and sniper fire, administered aid to the wounded, and oversaw their evacuation. He was wounded by shrapnel from an exploding mortar round while en route to aid another wounded soldier, but continued on. Kilmer slowly inched his way to the Marine, but once he began to treat the soldier’s wounds, another heavy barrage of mortar fire began. The two men were unprotected from the explosions, and Kilmer unhesitatingly shielded the wounded man from shrapnel with his own body. Kilmer was mortally wounded during the shelling, but thanks to his heroic self-sacrifice, the wounded man lived.”

Kilmer died the following day, Aug. 13, just two days shy of his 22nd birthday. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. According to the citation: Hospitalman John E. Kilmer, “by his great personal valor and gallant spirit of self-sacrifice in saving the life of a comrade, served to inspire all who observed him. His unyielding devotion to duty in the face of heavy odds reflects the highest credit upon himself and enhances the finest traditions of the United States naval service. He gallantly gave his life for another.”

His mother, Lois Kilmer, accepted the Medal on his behalf June 18, 1953, from Secretary of the Navy Robert B. Anderson. Kilmer was also awarded the Purple Heart, Korean Service Medal and the United Nations Service Medal.

He is buried in San Jose Burial Park in San Antonio, Texas. The Navy Inn at Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington, Tenn., was named Kilmer Hall in his honor in January 2003.

 

 
Aug 2

#PeopleMatter – PT 59: The PT Boat You Didn’t Know About

Saturday, August 2, 2014 12:28 PM

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communications and Outreach Division

PT 59 and her crew, photographed in an unspecified location near VellaLavella and Choiseul, played a key role in the diversionary mission at Choiseul Island in early November 1943.

PT 59 and her crew, photographed in an unspecified location near VellaLavella and Choiseul, played a key role in the diversionary mission at Choiseul Island in early November 1943.

It may have looked like a speedboat, but beware anything that might threaten its mission. Loaded with two twin .50 cal. M2 Browning machine guns, two 40 mm guns (fore and aft) and four single .30 and .50 cal. machine guns, the water craft had the power to destroy any obstacle that got in its way.

That was the power of PT-59. A former Motor Boat Submarine Chaser that was converted into a motor gunboat, PT-59 was about 77 feet long and able to get up to speeds of 45-47 bone jarring miles per hour. Although the craft and crew were capable, its rough ride was a challenge for PT-59’s commanding officer who silently felt every jar after suffering a serious injury on his previous assignment. Despite injuries that could have sent him home, he insisted on staying in the fight and was assigned command of PT-59 in the Solomon Islands.

The commanding officer and crew of PT-59 were put to the test when they were ordered to help evacuate more than 40 Marines of the 1st Parachute Battalion, 1st Marine Parachute Regiment on Nov. 2, 1943, who had been surrounded by Japanese forces on Choiseul Island. Some of these Marines were wounded and one of them died in the skipper’s bunk aboard PT-59 that night.

On the night of Nov. 5-6, PT-59 led three PT boats to Moli Point and Choiseul Bay, where they attacked Japanese barges. During the next week and a half, PT-59 prowled off Choiseul Bay looking for barges. The final action of PT-59’s commanding officer was on the night of November 16–17, when he took PT-59 on what turned out to be an uneventful patrol.

It wasn’t until a doctor directed him to leave PT-59 in mid-November due to numerous health reasons that he gave up command, returned to the U.S. in January of 1944 and underwent a year of physical therapy to overcome his injuries which were likely exacerbated by his service on PT-59. Despite a strong desire to continue to serve, his injuries made that impossible. He resigned from the Navy in 1945 to begin a political career.

The skipper of PT-59 was in fact Lt. John F. Kennedy. We’ve all heard about Kennedy’s first command PT-109, the infamous patrol which was struck by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri on this date, Aug. 2, 71 years ago in 1943 near Kolombangara Island. The collision cut his craft in two, killing two crew members. Kennedy rescued another crew member who was badly injured, despite his own crippling back injury – the injury that finally ended his Naval career and plagued him for the rest of his life.

March 28, 1944; Pacific Ocean; JOHN F. KENNEDY Navy portrait circa World War II. Kennedy and his surviving crew swam to an island a few miles away, and with the help of some local natives and a Coastwatcher, they returned to Rendova PT base in early August of 1943. And from there, Kennedy, the future president of the United States, took command of PT 59.

March 28, 1944; Pacific Ocean; JOHN F. KENNEDY Navy portrait circa World War II.
Kennedy and his surviving crew swam to an island a few miles away, and with the help of some local natives and a Coastwatcher, they returned to Rendova PT base in early August of 1943.
And from there, Kennedy, the future president of the United States, took command of PT 59.

 
Aug 1

#PartnershipsMatter: Planning, Fostering, and Encouraging Seven Decades’ Worth of Science and Technology

Friday, August 1, 2014 11:02 AM
One of the first Office of Naval Research funded projects was Whirlwind I, development of large-scale high-speed computers as part of a research project to design a universal flight trainer that would simulate flight (the Aircraft Stability and Control Analyzer project). The project began at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Servomechanisms Laboratory. Eventually the focus of the grant, a flight simulator (using an analog computer), changed to the development of a high-speed digital computer. While building the computer, Jay W. Forrester invented random-access, coincident-current magnetic storage, which became the standard memory device for digital computers, replacing electrostatic tubes. The change to magnetic core memory provided high levels of speed and reliability. In the photo, Stephen Dodd, Jay Forrester, Robert Everett, and Ramona Ferenz perform test control at Whirlwind I in 1950.

One of the first Office of Naval Research funded projects was Whirlwind I, development of large-scale high-speed computers as part of a research project to design a universal flight trainer that would simulate flight (the Aircraft Stability and Control Analyzer project). The project began at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Servomechanisms Laboratory. Eventually the focus of the grant, a flight simulator (using an analog computer), changed to the development of a high-speed digital computer. While building the computer, Jay W. Forrester invented random-access, coincident-current magnetic storage, which became the standard memory device for digital computers, replacing electrostatic tubes. The change to magnetic core memory provided high levels of speed and reliability. In the photo, Stephen Dodd, Jay Forrester, Robert Everett, and Ramona Ferenz perform test control at Whirlwind I in 1950.

By Walter F. Jones, Ph.D

 August 1, 1946, is an important day in U.S. Navy and Marine Corps history for reasons that have little to do with battles, the speeches of admirals or generals, or even ships. On that day, President Harry S. Truman signed Public Law 588, an act establishing the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Born in the aftermath of war, a child of history’s most science-dominated conflict, ONR would in time help give birth to a host of progeny that together would redefine how American science is conducted in peacetime.

Dr. Walter Jones, Executive Director, Office of Naval Research. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mr. John F. Williams)

Dr. Walter Jones, Executive Director, Office of Naval Research. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mr. John F. Williams)

 ONR was founded with the mission “to plan, foster, and encourage scientific research in recognition of its paramount importance as related to the maintenance of future naval power, and the preservation of national security.” Congress placed an official stamp on ONR’s model for research with these words, but the model had already been developed during the war by a group of young naval officers known to us today as the “Bird Dogs.” These ensigns and lieutenants saw that traditional naval-led research and development could be enhanced by partnerships with civilian researchers. Collaboration at every level of the research process became the centerpiece of the ONR approach.

 It did not take long to see how influential the new organization could be. By 1949, ONR contracts (the power to provide grants came later) accounted for nearly 40 percent of the country’s total basic science spending, turning the upstart agency into what historian Harvey Sapolsky has called the “Office of National Research.” ONR’s share of that research has declined in relative terms over the decades as other organizations founded on similar principles have arisen—such as the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Army Research Office—but ONR’s importance to the nation and the Navy and Marine Corps remains stronger than ever.

 Despite changes in attitude toward government brought about by FDR’s New Deal in the 1930s and the massive federal support of science during World War II, creating a public organization that funds basic research in peacetime was still a novel idea in 1946. The military services had been conducting their own research for decades—but ONR was created to support civilian scientists whose research, in practice, only needed the potential to help the Navy and Marine Corps. The hallmark of ONR’s funding of science has always been its dual commitment to providing Sailors and Marines with innovative technologies while giving researchers the support they need even when outcomes don’t produce immediate results.

One of two electromagnetic railgun prototypes on display aboard joint high speed vessel USS Millinocket (JHSV 3) in port at Naval Base San Diego in July 2014. The railguns are being displayed in San Diego as part of the Electromagnetic Launch Symposium, which brought together representatives from the U.S. and allied navies, industry and academia to discuss directed energy technologies. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Kirsop/Released)

One of two electromagnetic railgun prototypes on display aboard joint high speed vessel USS Millinocket (JHSV 3) in port at Naval Base San Diego in July 2014. The railguns are being displayed in San Diego as part of the Electromagnetic Launch Symposium, which brought together representatives from the U.S. and allied navies, industry and academia to discuss directed energy technologies. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Kirsop/Released)

 This novel approach to funding science was a decisive break from the past. And it has proved decisive over the last seven decades in making ONR and its peer organizations relevant not only to helping warfighters do their jobs better, but also to making the United States the leader in science and technology that it is today.

 In those nearly 70 years, ONR has had a hand in the discovery, invention, and transition of things you might naturally associate with naval science, such as lighter and stronger steel for ships, longer range sonar for submarines, more efficient wing designs for aircraft, and the introduction of rail guns and lasers on naval vessels. But ONR also provided some of the earliest funding for research in artificial intelligence, modern computers, and the first programming languages. It supported basic research in solid-state electronics that eventually led to the first LED televisions. And it has long supported research that has brought us the first manned descent to the deepest depths of the sea and greatly improved our understanding of the global ocean environment. The list of things we depend on and that matter to all of us is long.

 Sixty-eight years and counting, the Office of Naval Research continues to support and develop today’s Navy and Marine Corps and the fleet and force of the future.

 Dr. Jones is the Executive Director of the Office of Naval Research.

 
Jul 31

Timeline to Justice – the quest to restore honor to the Captain and Crew of the USS Indianapolis

Thursday, July 31, 2014 4:00 PM

 

 

The following article was printed in the July/August 1998 issue of Naval History magazine. It was written by 12-year old Hunter Scott in his quest to restore honor to the Captain and Crew of the USS Indianapolis:

Survivors of the USS Indianapolis aboard the USS Hollandia

Survivors of the USS Indianapolis aboard the USS Hollandia

 

With perhaps greater reverence than many of my 12-year-old peers, I appreciate this opportunity to write about what has grown from a school history project into a mission. My quest has allowed me to be associated with individuals who fought so that all Americans could live in the greatest democracy the world has ever known. Throughout this journey, I have learned the great price of freedom, the meaning of honor, valor, and supreme sacrifice in the line of duty, and the fact that democracy is a treasure so valued that men and women are willing to give their lives in its pursuit.

 

For that reason, I have urged the introduction of a bill before Congress (H.R. 3710) to correct an injustice done 53 years ago. I pray that the men and women who gave their lives are looking down on what I am doing, knowing their sacrifice was not in vain. I am proud and honored to bring to the attention of Naval History readers again the case of Captain Charles B. McVay III and the crew of the USS Indianapolis (CA-35).

 

President Abraham Lincoln once said: “The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” I began such a “struggle” when I was 11 years old, for the “just cause” of restoring honor to Captain McVay and gaining a Presidential Unit Citation for the Indianapolis and her crew.

 

My dad tells me that, “the true test of your character is what it takes to make you quit.” The men of the Indianapolis and their captain did not quit in their quest to bring a hasty end to World War II. After making a record-setting run to the island of Tinian for delivery of components for the first atomic bomb, the ship was torpedoed, sinking in just 12 minutes. Of her 1,196 men, 850 to 950 made it off the ship and into the water, where they spent five nights and four days surrounded by sharks and death, while those responsible for their safety did not notice that the ship was missing. An accidental spotting of the survivors saved the lives of 316 crew members, 150 of whom are still with us today. Now, more than a half-century after this tragedy, we must not forget these men, and we must not quit in our effort to set the historical record straight.

Based on my research, the following timeline tells the story of the final days of the Indianapolis.

 

  • 16 July 1945—Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves choose to load components for the first atomic bomb on board the Indianapolis. Captain McVay receives orders to proceed “with all possible haste” to Tinian.

 

  • 21 July—The USS Underhill (DD-682) is sunk by a Japanese submarine in the same area where the Indianapolis will go down. Captain McVay never is given this information nor any notification that the Japanese submarines I-58 and I-367 are operating in the area. A directive from the Chief of Naval Operations, Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, prevents Captain McVay from receiving this intelligence.

 

  • 26 July—The Indianapolis arrives in Tinian; atomic bomb components with the USS Idaho (BB-42) on 2 August. The Idaho receives a garbled message about the arrival of the Indianapolis. No request is made for retransmission. The Idaho is unaware that the Indianapolis is en route. (This is the first in a series of blunders that led the Indianapolis to cruise into a bureaucratic void.)

 

  • 28 July—In Guam, Captain McVay is denied requests for an escort. His orders give him discretion concerning whether or not to zigzag while under way. The Indianapolis makes the trip from Guam to Leyte unescorted—the first heavy warship to do so during the war—without capabilities to detect enemy submarines.

 

  • 31 July—At sunset, Captain McVay comes on the bridge to discuss weather conditions. The night is overcast and cloudy. He believes he is cruising in waters free of enemy submarines, because of intelligence given to him prior to his departure from Guam. The Indianapolis is doing 17 knots, and Captain McVay gives orders to cease zigzagging because of poor visibility. He gives orders to be awakened if weather changes occur.

 

  • 1 August—At 0004, the ship is struck by two of six torpedoes fired by the 1-58. The first torpedo takes off 60 feet of her bow, andthe second hits amidships, igniting the powder magazine and shutting off most electrical power. Chief Radio Electrician L. T. Woods, observed by Radio Technician 2nd Class Herbert J. Minor, sends SOS and position of the Indianapolis on 500 kilocycles from Radio Room II, which maintains power. According to Minor, at least three signals are transmitted. Former Yeoman 2nd Class Clair B. Young stated in a letter received by Commander T. E. Quillman, Jr., “while stationed at U.S. Navy 3964 Naval Shore Facilities Tacloban, Philippine Islands, that he personally delivered the SOS message to Commodore Jacob H. Jacobson, U.S. Navy.”

 

Young awakens Commodore Jacobson and notices a strong odor of alcohol in the room. Commodore Jacobson reads the message, which identifies the ship, her location, and her condition. Mr. Young asks Commodore Jacobson: “Do you have a reply, sir?” The answer comes: “No reply at this time. If any further messages are received, notify me at once.” The SOS is received and ignored. Meanwhile, Commander Hashimoto of the 1-58 radios Japan and indicates that he has just sunk a battleship and gives the location. The message is decoded by the U.S. Navy. Still, no one checks on the whereabouts of the Indianapolis.

 

  • 2 August—The Indianapolis is due to arrive in Leyte that morning. Upon non-arrival, the ship is taken off the plotting board, and no effort is made to determine where she is. Admiral King had standing orders that combatant ships’ arrivals in port were not to be reported, which implied that non-arrivals also were not to be reported.
  • 3 August—Lieutenant Wilbur Gwinn, flying a Ventura bomber, accidentally spots Indianapolis survivors and radios Palau for rescue operations to commence. Lieutenant Adrian Marks lands a PBY in heavy seas and picks up 56 survivors. Tom Brophy defies orders and tries to swim to the plane; he does not survive.

    This is the PBY and her crew that set down at sea and rescued 56 men of the USS Indianapolis. The pilot, LT Marks, is 4th from the right. The plane was badly damaged by frantic men climbing aboard but stayed afloat through the night until rescue ships arrived.

    This is the PBY and her crew that set down at sea and rescued 56 men of the USS Indianapolis. The pilot, LT Marks, is 4th from the right. The plane was badly damaged by frantic men climbing aboard but stayed afloat through the night until rescue ships arrived.

 

  • 4 August—Rescue operations start in a 50-mile radius.

 

  • 6 August—First atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima.

 

  • 15 August—Japan surrenders. Navy releases information about the sinking of the Indianapolis. The press begins to ask the Navy why the ship was never missed.

 

Note: The father of the aforementioned Tom Brophy goes to Washington after the war to arrange a meeting with Captain McVay. According to Mr. D. J. Blum, Brophy tries to call on Captain McVay the day he arrives in Washington and is told to arrange the meeting for the following week because of Captain McVay’s prior commitments.

Brophy follows Captain McVay, who attends a party. Furious, Brophy meets with his friend, President Harry S. Truman, and convinces him to court-martial Captain McVay. President Truman pressures Admiral King to convene a court-martial. Admiral King himself appoints the members of the court, who know Admiral King wants Captain McVay found guilty and who also are depending upon Admiral King for promotions.

 

  • 3 December—Court-martial begins. Captain McVay requests Lieutenant Commander Donald Van Koughnet, Chief Legal Officer of the U.S. Navy Military Government for the Marianas Islands, to represent him. Admiral King denies the request. The charges are “failure to follow a zigzag course” and “failure to sound an abandon ship.”

 

Note: Since 1991, several Navy documents have been declassified, showing that Captain McVay was not given intelligence that could have prevented this disaster (see “Ultra and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis,” a paper given to the Eleventh Naval History Symposium, 1993). This same information—which could have been useful in Captain McVay’s defense, showing that the “super technical” charges were unfounded—was considered Top Secret in 1945 and was not used in the court-martial. The question as to why the men of the Indianapolis spent five nights and four days in the water without anyone noticing that the ship was missing was not considered in the trial.

 

  • 13 December—Admiral King brings in Hashimoto, commander of the 1-58 to testify against Captain McVay. Hashimoto states that zigzagging would have made no difference, that he would have sunk the Indianapolis anyway. The 1-58 had several kaiten on board, had the six-torpedo spread missed its target. The Indianapolis was doomed.

 

  • 19 December—Captain McVay found guilty of failure to follow a zigzag course, therefore hazarding his ship. His sentence, loss of 100 promotion numbers, is later remitted. His conviction is not. The guilty verdict stands to this day. Out of more than 700 ships lost in World War II, the Indianapolis is the only one to have her captain court-martialed.

 

  • 6 November 1968—Captain McVay commits suicide.

 

NOTE: In a 10 August 1990 letter to Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), Captain Russell E. Sullivan stated that he was on board the USS General R. L. Howze (AP-134), which traveled the same course as the Indianapolis and cruised through her wreckage. Bodies and debris were observed. Captain Sullivan stated: “We had not received orders to zigzag. We had 4,000 troops on board. We had not been notified that an enemy submarine was in the area. The foregoing can be confirmed by referring to the official log of the USS General R. L. Howze for August of 1945.”

 

In a letter dated 10 February 1998, Dr. Lewis Haynes, the chief medical officer on board the Indianapolis, stated that, as he was treating Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz at the Chelsea Naval Hospital, Admiral Nimitz told him that Captain McVay “should not have been court-martialed.”

 

Conclusion:

After two years of research and interviews with almost all remaining Indianapolis survivors, I have amassed what one naval historian has called “the greatest collection of information on the USS Indianapolis in the world.” On 22 April 1998, accompanied by Congressman Joe Scarborough (R-FL), Congresswoman Julia Carson (D-IL), and 11 Indianapolis survivors, I personally dropped H.R. 3710 into the hopper on the floor of Congress. This bill will erase all mention of the court-martial and conviction from the record of Captain Charles B. McVay III and award a Presidential Unit Citation to the USS Indianapolis and her crew.

 

In 1806, Thomas Jefferson wrote: “Political interest can never be separated in the long run from the moral right.” Now, 53 years after the politically motivated court-martial of an innocent ship captain, we are in the “long run,” and we have the opportunity to do what is “morally right.” I write this near the beginning of my life, making a request for many men who are toward the end of theirs. Please do not forget about the captain and crew of the Indianapolis for the second time in 53 years. Write to your congressmen and senators, asking them to support H.R. 3710.