Archive for January, 2014

Jan 31

Vice Adm. Samuel L. Gravely, Jr., USN: Naval Officer, Trailblazer

Friday, January 31, 2014 10:38 AM

Prepared by Regina T. Akers, Ph.D., Historian, Naval History and Heritage Command 

 

gravelyfal

On Jan. 31, 1962, then-Lt. Cmdr. Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. took command of destroyer escort USS Falgout (DE 324) becoming the first African-American to command a U.S. Navy combatant ship. It was one of many firsts set by a man who was a trailblazer for minorities in the Navy, but was first and foremost an outstanding naval officer. Below are some quotations and factoids about this important figure in naval history.

 QUOTATIONS FROM VICE ADM. GRAVELY:

“Success in life is the result of several factors. My formula is simply education plus motivation plus perseverance. Education is paramount. Motivation : one must decide what he [or she] wants to do in life, how best to get there and to proceed relentlessly towards that goal. Perseverance: the ability to steadfastly proceed to your goal despite all obstacles. It is the ability to overcome”

“One by-product of my success is a role that has been thrust upon me: to serve as an inspiration for others coming along. I accept that role as graciously as I can, because there are people out there who feel I am sort of a role model.”
Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. and Paul Stillwell with Alma Gravely, Trailblazer, The U.S. Navy’s First Black Admiral, page 237

“Equal opportunity is something I think this country has got to practice. But I think at some point in time we’ve got to reach the place wherein equal opportunity is so routine that we don’t have to call it equal opportunity, that it is just matter of fact. I almost think we’ve called attention to equal opportunity, that we ought to be beyond that point. I’m hoping that one these days we will get there. But when, I have no idea.”
Trailblazer, page 235

QUOTES ABOUT VADM GRAVELY:

Mrs. Alma Gravely (The following quotes were taken from her telephone conversation with Regina T. Akers, Ph.D., Historian, NHHC, Jan. 27, 2014)

“The most significant part of his legacy is the numerous notes and phone calls that I continue to receive expressing how much members of his crews and staffs appreciated him and the opportunity to serve with him. . . . Since his death, I am learning how much he touched people across races and ranks.”

“Today’s Sailors need to know about Vice Admiral Gravely because he was just another person who kept his nose to the ground, did his job well, stayed focused, and ignored a lot . . . he wasn’t meek but he was humble,”

“We were breaking the color barrier during his career, however subtly, but did not realize how much.”

“After retiring, he especially enjoyed sharing sea stories with his shipmates.”

“He really liked a clean ship.”

Rear Adm. Mack Gaston, USN, Retired
(The following quotes were taken from his telephone conversation with Regina T. Akers, Ph.D., Historian, NHHC, Jan. 28, 2014)

“He was just an absolute superstar all the time, as an admiral and as a person.”

“The first time that I met him I was an Ensign assigned to USS Buck (DD 761) that was tied up outboard to USS Taussig (DD 746). I was determined to meet Captain Gravely, the only Black commanding officer in the Navy. As I began to introduce myself he reached across and shook my hand. That image is the lasting image of Gravely in my heart.”

“It wasn’t about him. It was about getting things done.”

“He was not angry. He took the situation at sea or at port and made the best that he could from it . . . It wasn’t about personality but about getting the job done.”

“He loved driving ships . . . he was great at driving ships and managing people.”

“If someone were to ask me to share something negative about Gravely, I would not have anything to share . . . as a ship driver, husband or father. He was a great man . . .he was not God . . .he was great man . . he changed our Navy for the better.”

“When I commanded my first ship, I had already learned from him that the people who run the ships are the Chief Petty Officers . . .He told me to remember that and to make sure that I meet with them . . . and often because the chiefs run the Navy . . . the officers make the rules.”

“He told me not to worry about anyone else . . . do your job and do it well.”

“As a commanding officer and admiral he was enjoyed professionally and helped others advance . . . I never heard him say anything negative about anyone.”

Rear Adm. Andrew Winns (Quoted in Great Black War Fighters: Profiles in Service by Ben L. Walton)
“Gravely was an inspiration, not only to African-Americans but to all naval officers aspiring to be the best that they can be. To this day, I think he is still an inspiration to us all, just an absolutely wonderful officer, gentleman, and a Christian. He strived to mentor and promote excellence in all junior officers, without regard to race or gender.”

gravely

 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM HIS LIFE AND PIONEERING 35 YEAR CAREER:

  • · Born: June 4, 1922 in Richmond, VA
  • · Enlisted into the U.S. Naval Reserves: Sept. 15, 1942
  • · Married: Alma Bernice Clark on Feb. 12, 1946
  • · Children: Robert, Tracy and David
  • · Retired: Aug. 1, 1980 as the Director, Defense Communications Agency
  • · After retiring he remained active in his community and enjoyed traveling
  • · Died in Oct. 22, 2004 at the age of 82
  • · See http://www.history.navy.mil/bios/gravely.htm for his complete biography


SELECT LIST OF FIRSTS DURING HIS CAREER:

  • First African-American to command
    • A Navy ship, USS Theodore E. Chandler (DD 707), a radar picket destroyer, Jan. 15 , 1961 to Nov. 21, 1961 
    • A Navy warship, USS Falgout (DE 324), a radar picket destroyer, Jan. 31, 1962 (Although Theodore Chandler was a destroyer, Gravely’s command was spent almost entirely in the shipyard as the ship underwent a major overhaul, so many histories say Falgout was the first warship to be commanded by and African-American 
    • A Navy warship under combat conditions, USS Taussig (DD 746), Jan. 22, 1966 (On June 1, Taussig took up station off the coast of Vietnam to provide naval gunfire support for operations ashore. From then until early October, Taussig alternated naval gunfire support with plane guard duty for Constellation on the southern SAR station off Vietnam). 
    • A Navy major command warship, USS Jouett (DLG 29), May 22, 1970 
    • A numbered Navy fleet, Third Fleet, Sept. 197

 

First of his race to achieve the rank of 
Captain (Unrestricted Line)
Admiral in April 1971
Vice Admiral in July 26, 1976

 

YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED TO KNOW THAT VADM GRAVELY:
* Wrote most of his own speeches

* Was a pigeon fancier, belonged to the pigeon clubs but did not fly his pigeons; his interest in these birds date from his childhood; Pigeons are depicted in the crest for USS Gravely (DDG 107)

* The Bureau of Naval Personnel considered him for command of the Navy’s first black Reserve Officer Training Corps at a historically black college, Prairie View A&M; Commander Gerald Thomas was assigned

* Enjoyed fishing and traveling with his wife especially after retirement

* Loved to entertain in his home

WHAT CAN BE LEARNED FROM VADM GRAVELY’S CAREER:
Regina T. Akers, Ph.D., Historian, NHHC
I am encouraged and inspired by the following:

  • · You can be proud of your achievements and humble at the same time.
  • · Pick your battles; sometimes it takes more courage and character to ignore something than it does to respond to it.
  • · Do not let the limitations people assign to you limit you in any way.
  • · Being a pioneer is not easy and can come at great costs and sacrifice.
  • · Success is not given, it must be achieved.
  • · You can respect someone who does not respect you.
  • · Humility is not a weakness but a strength; it is too easy to get focused on yourself, to become arrogant, and to take your blessings for granted.
  • · True success involves helping others along the way.
  • · There are usually more persons supporting you than the number trying to hinder you.
  • · Your real legacy is the difference you make in others’ lives.
  • · Every job, be it at or below your skill set, is an opportunity to excel.
  • · Expect trials and difficulties; they are part of life but do not stop there. Expect to conquer them or find a way to work around them.
  • · Being the first a, b, c, or d may sound great but you really just want to be known as striving to be the best a, b, c, or d possible.
  • · Racism exists but do not use it as an excuse for not trying to do something or to improve yourself.

 

A SAMPLING OF HIS NUMEROUS AWARDS AND HONORS:
“His life is a demonstration of what happens when someone can take advantage of opportunities and in doing so create opportunities for others. It is truly fitting that both a warship and a school are named for him, because they embody the values that he cherished throughout his life. I was so happy to take an active part in his long journey.” Alma Gravely’s Afterward in Trailblazer, 262

  • · National Naval Officers Association Tribute at Naval Air Station, Coronado, California, February 12, 2000
  • · Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. Elementary School in Haymarket, VA dedicated June 4, 2009; the school motto is VADM Gravely’s formula for success: Success=Education+Motivation+Preseverance
  • · USS Gravely (DDG 107), Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, christened May 16, 2009; see http://www.gravely.navy.mil for more information
  • · Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. Memorial Scholarship, Booze/Allen/Hamilton Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Scholarship for undergraduate and graduate study
  • · Admiral Gravely Boulevard, a street named after him in his hometown

 

SOURCES FOR FURTHER RESEARCH ABOUT VADM GRAVELY’S DISTINGUISHED CAREER
Henry E. Dabbs, Black Brass, Black General and Admirals in the Armed Forces of the United States, 2nd Edition (Charlottesville, Virginia: Howell Press, 1997), 303-33

Desire D. Linson, Lt. Cmdr., USN, Thesis, “Vice Admiral Samuel Gravely: Leadership by Example,” Air Command and Staff College, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, April 1998
http://www.dtic.mil/docs/citations/ADA398601

Reminiscences of VADM Samuel L. Gravely, Jr., United States Navy, Retired, (Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute, 2003), Navy Department Library, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.

Interviewed with the Library of Congress’ National Visionary Leadership Project
http://www.visionaryproject.org/gravelysamuel/

Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. with Paul Stillwell, Trailblazer, The U.S. Navy’s First Black Admiral, Afterward by Alma B. Gravely (Annapolis, Maryland, Naval Institute Press, 2010)

 
Jan 24

John Paul Jones Comes Home

Friday, January 24, 2014 1:00 PM
Annapolis, Md. (May 27, 2005) - Father of the U.S. Navy, John Paul Jones, is entombed at the U.S. Naval Academy and is guarded by Midshipman 24-hours a day, three hundred sixty five days a year. Jones is forever immortalized by uttering the words, "I have not yet begun to fight", during the battle between USS Bonhomme Richard and HMS Serapis, off the coast of England in 1779. Jones was buried in a pauper's grave in Paris. More than a century later, his remains were returned to the United States and placed at the academy as a national shrine. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Kevin H. Tierney (RELEASED)

Annapolis, Md. (May 27, 2005) – Father of the U.S. Navy, John Paul Jones, is entombed at the U.S. Naval Academy and is guarded by Midshipman 24-hours a day, three hundred sixty five days a year. Jones is forever immortalized by uttering the words, “I have not yet begun to fight”, during the battle between USS Bonhomme Richard and HMS Serapis, off the coast of England in 1779. Jones was buried in a pauper’s grave in Paris. More than a century later, his remains were returned to the United States and placed at the academy as a national shrine. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Kevin H. Tierney (RELEASED)

It is possible that the axiom “all good things come to those who wait” could not be more applicable to any historic Navy figure than John Paul Jones, a Scotland-born Sailor who rose to fame as a captain in the Continental Navy of the United States, widely considered one of the founders of the U.S. Navy.

After languishing for 113 years in a virtually unmarked grave paved over by a Paris laundry, this legendary naval leader was found, reclaimed by the U.S., and now lays in an ornate sarcophagus styled after French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

C’est la vie!

Jones’ crypt is not as large as the famed French emperor, but they share the same center-placed sarcophagus surrounded on the perimeter by marble columns.

Designed by Beaux Arts architect Whitney Warren, the French sculptor Sylvain Salieres crafted the sarcophagus and columns out of black and white Great Pyrenees marble. The top is garnished with garlands of bronze sea plants, while the sarcophagus itself is held aloft on the backs of four bronze dolphins.

Surrounding the sarcophagus, etched in the marble floor and then inset in brass, are the names of the Continental Navy ships commanded by Jones during the American Revolution: Providence, Alfred, Ranger, Bonhomme Richard, Serapis, Alliance and Ariel.

In between the eight columns that form the perimeter of the crypt are American national ensigns (flags) and Union Jacks.

In the periphery of the circular space surrounding the sarcophagus are niches displaying historic objects related to Jones’ life and naval career, which include an original marble copy of the Houdon portrait bust, a gold medal awarded to Jones by Congress in 1787, the gold-hilted presentation sword given to Jones by Louis XVI of France, and Jones’ commission as captain, Continental (U.S.) Navy, signed by John Hancock.

And also inlaid in brass is this inscription:

 

JOHN PAUL JONES, 1747-1792; U.S. NAVY, 1775-1783.

HE GAVE OUR NAVY ITS EARLIEST TRADITIONS OF HEROISM AND VICTORY.

ERECTED BY THE CONGRESS, A.D. 1912.

 John Paul Jones Tomb Courtesy United States Naval Academy flickr

Perhaps Congress giving itself credit for the sarcophagus might have been a bit overreaching. But there is a plaque that does give nod to the man who brought John Paul Jones home: Brevet Gen. Horace Porter, a United States Military Academy at West Point graduate and close friend of Ulysses Grant. When work on Grant’s Tomb stopped due to lack of money, it was Porter who kept the project rolling with his fundraising efforts. A large audience was in attendance when the monument on Riverside Drive in New York was dedicated April 27, 1897.

And so with work finished on Grant’s Tomb, Porter jumped into a similar mission when he was appointed as ambassador to France in 1897: Find and bring back the body of naval hero John Paul Jones.

Porter spent the next six years researching and funding the investigation to determine where Jones had been buried. Records revealed Jones was likely buried in the Saint Louis Cemetery for Foreign Protestants, but it had been paved over.

Congress agreed to pay $35,000 for the excavation, but rather than waiting for the funds to be released, Porter paid for the work himself. The body was found almost perfectly preserved in an alcohol-filled lead coffin within a wooden coffin. That was done because when he died in 1792 Jones’ friends believed the U.S. would eventually bring the body back to America.

By the time Porter was convinced through autopsy and other records that he had found John Paul Jones, it was 1905. Naval enthusiast President Theodore Roosevelt used repatriating Jones’ remains as an opportunity to show off his growing naval power.

On July 6, 1905, to commemorate the 158th year of Jones’ birth, his remains were led by military escort through the streets of Paris and taken by torpedo boat to USS Brooklyn which, along with a squadron of warships, brought Jones’ body back to America, 113 years after his death.

Roosevelt deemed Jones’ final resting place to be the U.S. Naval Academy’s chapel which was being built on its Annapolis, Md., campus. Jones’ body was placed in a temporary vault until his final crypt was finished.

April 24, 1906 was chosen for the formal commemorative exercises of John Paul Jones’ re-internment because it was the anniversary of Jones’ famous 1778 capture of the British warship Drake.

Held at the Naval Academy, Roosevelt presided over the ceremony, using it as an opportunity to not only recognize the “memory of the dead hero” whose “indomitable determination and dauntless scorn of death” should be emulated by future naval officers, but also to push his agenda on the need to build ships in time of peace to prepare for future need.

He evoked the image of the British burning Washington, D.C. during the War of 1812 as he thundered: “The sin of the invaders in burning the buildings is trivial compared with the sin of our own people in failing to make ready an adequate force to defeat the attempt.”

In case that message didn’t get through, he added “Let us remember our own shortcomings and see to it that the men in public life today are not permitted to bring about a state of things by which we should in effect invite a repetition of such a humiliation.”

After this ceremony, Jones was placed back into the vault to await the designing and sculpting of his final resting place. During this period of time, Roosevelt completed building his Great White Fleet, launched it on its 2-year circumnavigation of the world, and oversaw the building and completion of the Panama Canal and left office.

Finally, on Jan. 26, 1913, John Paul Jones was entombed within the 21-ton ornate marble and bronze sarcophagus. Considered a pirate by the British, a rogue by the Russians, and nearly forgotten by America, John Paul Jones had risen yet again from obscurity to lay in splendor for eternity as the Sailor who gave the modern U.S. Navy many of its traditions.

John Paul Jones Courtesy United States Naval Academy

 
Jan 20

NAS Pensacola Celebrates 100 Years of Naval Training Excellence

Monday, January 20, 2014 12:59 AM

NAS_Pensacola;vt6

Today marks the kickoff of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Fla. The “Cradle of Naval Aviation”is where most Navy and Marine Corps aviators, past and present,began their flight training. Tens of thousands of naval aviators have been trained there, including astronauts Alan Shepard and Neil Armstrong. It is the home of the world renowned Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron.

In October of 1913, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels appointed a board that recommended the establishment of an aviation training station in Pensacola, making NAS Pensacola the first naval air station commissioned by the Navy.

NAS_Pensacola_1918_NAN12-2-43[1]

When America entered WWI, NAS Pensacola, still the only naval air station in the country, had 38 aviators, 163 enlisted men trained in aviation support, and approximately 50-55 fixed-wing aircraft. Two years later, NAS had grown exponentially with 438 officers and 5,538 enlisted men, and had trained 1,000 naval aviators.

At the end of the war,aviation training slowed almost to a crawl, largely as a result of the Great Depression and post WWI military cutbacks. It was so slow in fact, that only 100 pilots on average were graduating each year.

In the mid-1930s, the establishment of the aviation cadet program caused rapid growth. When Pensacola’s training facilities could no longer accommodate the ever increasing number of cadets accepted by the Navy, two more naval air stations were created—one in Jacksonville, Florida, and the other in Corpus Christi, Texas.

During WWII, training at NAS Pensacola increased dramatically, reaching its peak in 1944, with 12,000 men completing almost 2 million hours of flight school in that year alone. Those numbers dropped significantly after the war, but experienced a bump during the Korean conflict.

During the early 1950s, the Navy was in transition. The old propeller type aircraft were being replaced by the much faster and technologically advanced jets which required NAS Pensacola to revise training techniques and courses.

Training intensified during the 1960s and 1970s to meet the demands of the Vietnam War, with pilot production increasing to nearly 3,000 aviators in 1968.

One of the country’s most visited attractions is the National Museum of Naval Aviation located on board NAS. The museum opened for business in 1963 and has had millions of visitors walk through its doors.

Today, the museum houses some of the most famous aircraft in the world, including the first airplane to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, the only surviving aircraft from the Battle of Midway, and a trainer flown by President George H. W. Bush during his World War II training.

nas pcola museum

Over the years since Vietnam, the base has had some new tenant commands that have come to call NAS Pensacola home. The Naval Education and Training Command, or NETC, provides direction and control of all Navy education and training throughout the fleet. Almost all of the Navy’s aviation training schools are also located at NAS Pensacola.

However, NAS Pensacola’s most famous tenant command is the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels. The Blues fly at airshows all over the world demonstrating their aerial superiority while promoting naval aviation for millions of people with their precision maneuvers.

As NAS Pensacola celebrates its 100 year anniversary, one can only wonder what the next 100 years might bring. No matter what new aircraft or technology may appear, the essence of NAS Pensacola remains simply those who have passed through the “Cradle of Naval Aviation” and those yet to come.

 
Jan 11

Michael Murphy

Saturday, January 11, 2014 3:54 PM
A photographic imageby Mass Communication Specialist 2d Class Jay Chu of Lt. Murphy and Michael Murphy (DDG 112), 7 May 2008. (U.S. NavyPhotographic Illustration 080507-N-5025C-003, Navy Chief of Information)

A photographic imageby Mass Communication Specialist 2d Class Jay Chu of Lt. Murphy and Michael Murphy (DDG 112), 7 May 2008. (U.S. NavyPhotographic Illustration 080507-N-5025C-003, Navy Chief of Information)

Lt. Michael P. Murphy — born in Smithtown, N.Y., on 7 May 1976 — grew up in the New York City commuter town of Patchogue, Long Island, N.Y. Murphy participated in sports and attended Patchogue’s Saxton Middle School. In high school, Murphy took a summer lifeguard job at the Brookhaven town beach in Lake Ronkonkoma, returning to that position each summer through his college years. Murphy graduated from Patchogue-Medford High School in 1994. He attended Penn State University, where he excelled as an all-around athlete—especially in ice hockey—and student, graduating with honors. He read voraciously; his reading tastes ranged from the Greek historian Herodotus to Count Lev N. “Leo” Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Murphy’s favorite book was Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire, about the Spartan stand at Thermopylae. Murphy graduated with two Bachelor of Arts degrees — in political science and psychology — in 1998.

Several law schools accepted Murphy but he set his sights on joining the Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) teams. Slightly built at 5 feet 10 inches, Murphy decided to attend SEAL mentoring sessions at the Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, N.Y. He accepted an appointment to the Navy’s Officer Candidate School, Pensacola, Fla. (September2000). Murphy was commissioned as an ensign in the Navy (13 December 2000), and began Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training at Coronado, Calif. (January 2001), graduating with Class 236.

011019-N-0000X-001 CORONADO, Calif. (Oct. 19, 2001) - Navy file photo of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) graduating class 236. Navy SEAL Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, 29, from Patchogue, NY is pictured on the far left side of the back row. Murphy was killed by enemy forces during a reconnaissance mission, Operation Red Wing, June 28, 2005, while leading a four-man team tasked with finding a key Taliban leader in the mountainous terrain near Asadabad, Afghanistan. The team came under fire from a much larger enemy force with superior tactical position. Murphy knowingly left his position of cover to get a clear signal in order to communicate with his headquarters and was mortally wounded while exposing himself to enemy fire. While being shot and shot at, Murphy provided his units location and requested immediate support for his element. He returned to his cover position to continue the fight until finally succumbing to his wounds. U.S. Navy photo (RELEASED)

011019-N-0000X-001
CORONADO, Calif. (Oct. 19, 2001) – Navy file photo of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) graduating class 236. Navy SEAL Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, 29, from Patchogue, NY is pictured on the far left side of the back row. Murphy was killed by enemy forces during a reconnaissance mission, Operation Red Wings, June 28, 2005, while leading a four-man team tasked with finding a key Taliban leader in the mountainous terrain near Asadabad, Afghanistan. The team came under fire from a much larger enemy force with superior tactical position. Murphy knowingly left his position of cover to get a clear signal in order to communicate with his headquarters and was mortally wounded while exposing himself to enemy fire. While being shot and shot at, Murphy provided his units location and requested immediate support for his element. He returned to his cover position to continue the fight until finally succumbing to his wounds. U.S. Navy photo (RELEASED)

Upon graduation from BUD/S, he attended the Army Jump School, SEAL Qualification Training, and SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) school. Murphy earned his SEAL Trident and joined SDV Team (SDVT) 1 in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (July 2002). In October of 2002, he deployed with Foxtrot Platoon to Jordan as the liaison officer for Exercise Early Victor.Following his tour with SDVT-1, Murphy served with Special Operations Central Command in Florida, and deployed to Qatar in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He then assisted in the operational planning of future SDV missions while deployed to Djibouti, Horn of Africa.Murphy was assigned to SDVT-1 as assistant officer in charge of Alfa Platoon (early 2005), and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Murphy served as the officer-in-charge of a four-man SEAL element in support of Operation Redwing (27–28 June 2005). His orders directed him to find a key Taliban commander inthe mountainous terrain near Asadabad, Afghanistan. Shortly after the SEALs inserted into the objective area, three goat herders spotted the Americans, who detained and then released the Afghans. The herdsmen (apparently) immediately reported the SEALs’ presence to the Taliban.

050628-N-0000X-005 Navy file photo of SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy, from Patchogue, N.Y., and Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson, of Cupertino, Calif., taken in Afghanistan. Both were assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Murphy and Axelson were killed by enemy forces during a reconnaissance mission, Operation Red Wing, June 28, 2005. They were part of a four-man team tasked with finding a key Taliban leader in the mountainous terrain near Asadabad, Afghanistan, when they came under fire from a much larger enemy force with superior tactical position. U.S. Navy photo (RELEASED)

050628-N-0000X-005
Navy file photo of SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy, from Patchogue, N.Y., and Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson, of Cupertino, Calif., taken in Afghanistan. Both were assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Murphy and Axelson were killed by enemy forces during a reconnaissance mission, Operation Red Wings, June 28, 2005. They were part of a four-man team tasked with finding a key Taliban leader in the mountainous terrain near Asadabad, Afghanistan, when they came under fire from a much larger enemy force with superior tactical position. U.S. Navy photo (RELEASED)

A battle erupted on the steep face of the mountain between the SEALs and a larger number of enemy militants, who fired AK-47 assault rifles, RPK light machine guns, RPG-7 rocket propelled grenades, and 82 millimeter mortars at the Americans. Despite the intensity of the firefight and suffering grave gunshot wounds himself, Murphy risked his own life to save the lives of his teammates. Intent on making contact with headquarters but realizing the difficulty of gaining contact because of the extreme terrain, Murphy unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own life moved into the open, where he could gain a better position to transmit a call to get help for his men.

Congressional Medal of Honor Awarded to Lt. Michael P. Murphy

Moving away from the protective mountain rocks, he knowingly exposed himself to increased enemy gunfire. This deliberate and heroic act deprived him of cover and made him a target for the enemy. While under fire, Murphy contacted and requested assistance from the Special Operations Forces Quick Reaction Force (QRF) at Bagram. He calmly provided his team’s location and estimated the number of militants while requesting immediate support. A round struck him in the back at one point, causing him to drop the transmitter. Murphy picked it back up, completed the call and continued firing at the approaching enemy.Severely wounded, Murphy returned to his cover position with his men and continued the battle.

As a result of Murphy’s call, a Boeing MH-47 Chinook helicopter of the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), carrying eight additional SEALs of SDVT-1 and SEAL Team 10, and eight soldiers of the 160th,arrived as part of the QRF to extract the four embattled SEALs. As the Chinook drew nearer to the fight, a rocket-propelled grenade hit the helicopter, causing it to crash and killing all 16 men on board.

121006-N-WL435-467 NEW YORK (Oct. 6, 2012) The ship's officers and crew man the ship during the commissioning ceremony of the Arleigh-Burke class destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112). Murphy is named after Lt. Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient who posthumously received the nation's highest military honor for bravery during combat in Afghanistan in 2005. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Lawlor/Released)

121006-N-WL435-467
NEW YORK (Oct. 6, 2012) The ship’s officers and crew man the ship during the commissioning ceremony of the Arleigh-Burke class destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112). Murphy is named after Lt. Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient who posthumously received the nation’s highest military honor for bravery during combat in Afghanistan in 2005. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Lawlor/Released)

The four SEALs on the ground continued fighting but shot the last of their ammunition.Murphy and two of the other SEALs, Gunner’s Mate 2d Class Danny P. Dietz, Jr., and Sonar Technician 2d Class Matthew G. Axelson, died during the battle. A rocket-propelled grenade blasted the fourth SEAL, Hospital Corpsman 2d Class Marcus Luttrell, over a ridge, knocking him unconscious. Though severely wounded, Luttrell evaded the enemy for nearly a day; Afghan tribesmen then carried him to a nearby village, where they hid Luttrell from the Taliban until U.S. forces rescued him (2 July). The Americans killed an estimated 35 Taliban.

Michael Murphy (DDG 112), crest

By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and inspirational devotion to his men in the face of certain death, Murphy conveyed the position of his team, an act that ultimately led to the rescue of Luttrell and the recovery of the remains of the three men who fell. Murphy received the Medal of Honor posthumously, and was buried at Calverton National Cemetery, less than 20 miles from his childhood home.

Petty Officer 2d Class Erik Swanson, USCG, captures this shot of Michael Murphy as she sailspast the Statue of Liberty,New York Harbor, 1 October 2012. (U.S. Coast Guard Photograph121001-G-TG089-038).

Petty Officer 2d Class Erik Swanson, USCG, captures this shot of Michael Murphy as she sails past the Statue of Liberty,New York Harbor, 1 October 2012. (U.S. Coast Guard Photograph121001-G-TG089-038).

 

Mark L. Evans, Naval History and Heritage Command

Related Link:

Lt. Michael P. Murphy, USN, Operation Red Wings, Summary of Action, June 28, 2005

http://www.navy.mil/moh/mpmurphy/soa.html

 

 
Jan 10

NHHC Recognizing 100 Years of Navy Photographers

Friday, January 10, 2014 3:08 PM

 

Lt. Walter Richardson

Lt. Walter Richardson

By Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford,
Naval History and Heritage Command Communication Outreach Division

In recognition of one man’s commitment to the Navy and photography, Naval History and Heritage Command will celebrate 100 years of naval photographers. To commemorate the centennial, NHHC is planning to share photographs to our Facebook site from each year since 1914.

One hundred years have passed since the first Sailor was designated to document important Navy events around the world. Walter Leroy Richardson, who joined the Navy in 1911 as a ship’s cook, had been taking photographs for the USS Mississippi and the crew. The ship dropped anchor at former Naval Shipyard Pensacola Jan. 20, 1914, to survey the land for a future Naval Aeronautical Station; Richardson, on his off-duty time, was there taking pictures. Because of his competency behind the lens, Richardson was soon transferred to a shore command where he was expected to use his talent full-time as the navy’s first official photographer.

This is where audience participation will make this year-long commemoration all the more memorable. If you are Sailor — or were a Sailor — acting in an official capacity as a photographer for the Navy when an image was shot, NHHC wants to see it! While every Sailor who takes a photo is technically a Navy photographer, the purpose of the commemoration is to recognize professionals specifically charged by the Navy during the past 100 years to visually document our story.

Every Tuesday and Thursday throughout 2014, NHHC’s social media team will share a photo from each year of the centennial. Act quickly – we’re kicking it off beginning Jan. 14. With your help we’ll add between one and eight images to the album.

NHHC is looking for photos that are easily relatable to today’s Navy and Sailors –it’s on you to show us why. They should be well-composed, compelling, impactful, and ultimately help tell a story about our Navy. Photos must be digital (either scanned from photograph / negative or inherently digital), be of high quality and can only be submitted by the Sailor or veteran. By submitting the image, senders permit full use of the image by NHHC should we select them for sharing.

Please email digital images to USNHistory@gmail.com with complete captions describing:

  • The scene
  • Names of individuals depicted
  • Date and location where the photo was shot
  • Full name and rank of the photographer
  • Your own contact information should there be any questions.

If certain information is not known, please note “unknown.” Though we appreciate all submissions, we are seeking to share as much contextual information as possible. Please keep that in mind as you submit imagery.

We can’t wait to see what you submit, and thanks for using the lense of history to better understand our Navy today.

 
Jan 8

Jan. 8, 1815 – Battle of New Orleans

Wednesday, January 8, 2014 2:33 PM

 

Capt. Daniel Todd Patterson by John Wesley Jarvis

Capt. Daniel Todd Patterson by John Wesley Jarvis

Today marks the final victory over the British that ended the War of 1812. The Battle of New Orleans was settled at Chalmette Plantation, where Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson’s troops scored a final victory for the United States.

Less known, however, is the naval skirmish three weeks prior that set up Jackson’s victory. During the Battle of Lake Borgne, American Sailors and Marines, with just a few gun boats, slowed the approach of 8,000 British troops advancing toward New Orleans. Armed with the knowledge the British were coming, Jackson was able to prepare and amass his troops for the greatest land battle victory during the War of 1812. All thanks to the intuition of Commodore Daniel Todd Patterson.

Patterson was born on Long Island in 1786 and like so many Americans at the time, descended from loyal British subjects. His uncle had been a royal governor of what is now St. John’s Island in Canada. Patterson started his career in the Navy in 1799, fought the French, was taken captive during the Quasi Wars, and led raids against pirates blocking New Orleans. He was later a prisoner of the Barbary pirates in Tripoli until the American victory in 1805.

Stationed in New Orleans, by 1812 Patterson was highly experienced in combat and leadership. He was ready for the British, who had won battles in the Great Lakes, burned Washington, and were now ready to invade the South.

But where? The British had already sent ships to the Gulf of Mexico. Jackson believed it would be Mobile, Ala., and he insisted Commodore Patterson, now the Commander of New Orleans, to send whatever he had to protect Mobile from attack. Patterson repeatedly refused Jackson, convinced the British would attack New Orleans.

In the meantime, the British Commander-in-Chief of the North American Station, Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, had anchored in the Gulf of Mexico with a large armada of ships holding 8,000 soldiers and sailors ready to invade.

Patterson had little with which to respond. As the Master Commandant, he had written to the Secretary of the Navy many times asking for ships that could stand a chance in combat against the British fleet. Patterson wrote the year before in December 1813 that none of his ships could even depart from the Gulf of Mexico without “falling into enemy hands.”

The British had HMS Seahorse, which carried 22 nine-pounder guns. Cochrane also had ships like Armide and Sophie, which contained two six-pounder bow guns and 16 32-pounder carronades, which were giant short-range cast iron cannons.  

Patterson had five gunboats, a schooner and two sloops of war, USS Alligator and USS Tickler. The squadron had fewer than 250 Sailors, armed with 16 long guns, 14 carronades, two howitzers and 12 swivel guns. The gun boats were often referred to as “Jefferson-class” tug boats, because they were built during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson who believed all America needed was a coastal patrol force, not a blue-water navy. The “Jefferson-class” gun boats didn’t even have names. They had numbers — Numbers 156, 163, 5, 23, and 162.

But now the British were anchored in the Gulf of Mexico. Vice Adm. Cochrane decided the easiest way to New Orleans would be through Lake Borgne, where Patterson’s squadron was patrolling and reporting back to Jackson about the British logistics and movements.

Finally, on Dec. 12, 1814, 1,200 British sailors and marines began their approach to Lake Borgne. After 36 hours of rowing, the invaders faced a hail of grape shot. Patterson had calculated correctly that even without ships to match the Royal Navy, his gunboats could harass any landing party as they rowed ashore, blocking the entrance of Lake Borgne, the gateway to New Orleans.

 

NHHC

NHHC – Battle of Lake Borgne

 

But outmanned and outgunned, the British captured all the American gunboats on Dec. 14. The British then made a tactical error. Rather than pressing forward, they were allowed time to rest.

Jackson heard about a British encampment just seven miles from New Orleans and exclaimed: “By the Eternal they shall not sleep on our soil.”

So during the night of Dec. 23, the Americans attacked the British with troops by land and with USS Carolina and Louisiana, stationed in the Mississippi River, bombarding their encampment. Heavily outnumbered, the Americans were forced to retreat.

The British realized their advance would not be as easy as they thought, and again, hesitated, allowing even more time for Jackson to shore up his forces and prepare their defense. Under bombardment and constant attack, the British tried to advance into New Orleans for the next two weeks until the culmination of the battle on Jan. 8, 1815.

The Treaty of Ghent was signed in Belgium on Dec., 24, 1814, just one day after Jackson’s assault on the British. But neither side knew the treaty had been signed until after the battle was over two weeks later. After Jan. 8, the British, in one last effort after losing New Orleans, tried to take Mobile again, but then withdrew upon hearing of the treaty. It would formally end all hostilities between the two nations. 

Patterson himself commanded naval batteries on the Mississippi during the Battle of New Orleans. He, as well as his Sailors and Marines fought alongside Jackson’s Soldiers during the last week in December and the first week in January. Jackson would go on to give high praise to Patterson, who would be promoted to captain. Patterson would later take command of USS Constitution, and serve in the Navy for another 24 years.

And old Hickory himself, a national hero, would ride his 1815 victory to become the nation’s seventh president in 1829.

 

LINKS

Commodore Daniel Todd Patterson

http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/pers-us/uspers-p/d-patrsn.htm

The Battle of New Orleans

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-battle-of-new-orleans

The Battle of Lake Borgne

http://www.navalhistory.org/2010/12/13/the-battle-of-lake-borgne

 The penultimate battle of the War of 1812

Today in 1815 marks the final victory over the British that ended the War of 1812. It was Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson’s Army that carried that ball over the goal line for the win. But they crossed that end zone because the U.S. Navy got the ball to within the 10-yard line.

How so, you might ask? The British planned to attack New Orleans weeks prior to Jan. 8, 1815, but a small contingent of American gunboats kept the Red Coats from coming ashore from the Gulf of Mexico through Lake Borgne, allowing Jackson the time to amass more men to prepare for their attack.

A history teacher named Jimmy Driftwood back in the 1936 wrote a little ditty called the Battle of New Orleans to get his history students interested in the War of 1812, using a popular American folk tune called “The 8th of January.” Singer Johnny Horton turned into a 1959 hit.

But since that song was about the land battle that kept the British out of New Orleans, with our apologies to Driftwood, here’s the Navy version, based on the same tune, on how a handful of Navy boats held off the Royal Navy, and helped set the stage for the bigger victory three weeks later on Jan. 8, 1815.

Battle of Lake Borgne

(Music to play: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54HJ6Pj9StA)

In 1814 the British took a trip,

Down south to the mouth of the mighty Mississip.

They had 11 thousand men looking to conspire,

After victories in Canada and setting Washington on fire.

 

The Brits, they were anchored in the Gulf of Mexico

With 8,000 troops, New Orleans would be their Jericho.

But at Lake Borgne they faced an American esprit de corps

Of a quintet of gunboats and a pair of sloops of war.

 

Commodore Daniel Todd Patterson was his name,

Planning and commanding were his game.

It was at Lake Borgne where he would take his stand,

Against 12 hundred Red Coats with his small command.

 

Each time the British tried to row ashore,

The Americans fired back with their 4-pounder bore.

Despite the valiant fight, the British finally got ashore,

After capturing all the gunboats and a pair of sloops of war.

 

Now as the British tried to catch a little breather,

The Navy said no to rest and no to leisure.

Jackson said they shall not upon our soil sleep,

And so came the plan for the British to be beat.

 

It was in December they signed the Treaty of Ghent,

For the Brits and Yanks, of that treaty there was no hint.

There was no Twitter or Internet that year,

So the Red Coats tried to take Mobile which was near.

 

The British withdrew after hearing about the treaty.

Since the United States troops had beaten them completely.

Patterson and his sailors fought long into the action.

And for his efforts he would be awarded the rank of captain. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 3

Return of USS HOUSTON Artifacts to NHHC

Friday, January 3, 2014 11:41 AM

Last week, the Naval History & Heritage Command (NHHC) Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) received a trumpet and ceramic cup and saucer from World War II cruiser USS HOUSTON. The artifacts were returned to the US Naval Attaché in Canberra, Australia after their unsanctioned removal from the wreck site and made a journey of more than 10,000 miles to reach NHHC headquarters in Washington, DC. The artifacts will undergo documentation, research and conservation treatment at the UAB Archaeology & Conservation Laboratory.

Trumpet and ceramics recovered from USS HOUSTON. (UAB Photo).

Trumpet and ceramics recovered from USS HOUSTON. (UAB Photo).

 

USS HOUSTON, nicknamed the “Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast”, was a Northampton-class heavy cruiser that played an important role in the Pacific during WWII. The ship and her crew saw significant action and served in the Battle of Makassar Strait and the Battle of the Java Sea along with allied vessels from Australia, Britain and the Netherlands. On 1 March 1942, USS HOUSTON, fighting gallantly alongside HMAS PERTH during the Battle of Sunda Strait, was sunk by enemy gunfire and torpedoes, taking the lives of nearly 700 US Navy sailors and Marines. 

 

USS Houston anchored off San Pedro, California, 18 April 1935. Photo # 80-CF-21337-1

USS Houston anchored off San Pedro, California, 18 April 1935. Photo # 80-CF-21337-1.

After nearly 72 years under water off the coast of Indonesia, the wreck of USS HOUSTON remains the property of the US Government and serves as a military gravesite. Underwater sites often allow for excellent preservation of archaeological material, however without conservation treatment after recovery artifacts can suffer permanent damage and sometimes complete destruction from unmitigated physical and chemical stresses. The HOUSTON artifacts are poignant reminders of an incredible chapter in US Navy history and the importance of scientific recovery and preservation for future generations to experience, study and appreciate.

A detail of the trumpet's mother of pearl buttons. (UAB Photo).

A detail of the trumpet’s mother of pearl buttons. (UAB Photo).

 

The safe return of these artifacts to the US Navy is the culmination of collaborative efforts by NHHC, Department of Navy and Department of State colleagues at the US Embassy in Canberra, Australia. NHHC is particularly grateful to CAPT Stewart Holbrook and ETC Jason Vaught for their assistance with the recovery, safe storage and packaging of the artifacts. NHHC also extends its thanks to the Naval Historical Foundation for assistance with the expedited transportation of the artifacts to NHHC for conservation treatment.

 Please stay tuned for further updates on the USS HOUSTON artifacts!