Archive for the 'People' Category

Jul 30

First WAVES

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 10:11 AM
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WAVES in a R4D transport plane, Nov. 1944

On July 30, 1942 President Roosevelt signed into law the establishment of the WAVES (Woman Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). Establishing the WAVES was a lengthy effort. Inter-war changes in the Naval Reserve legislation specifically limited service to men, so new legislation was essential. The next few months saw the commissioning of Mildred McAfee, and several other prominent female educators and professionals, to guide the new organization. Just one year later in July 1943, 27,000 women wore the WAVES uniform.

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WAVE aircraft mechanic turns over the propeller of a SNJ, 1943

The WAVES performed jobs in fields such as aviation, clerical, medical, communication, legal, intelligence, and science and technology. The wartime Navy’s demand for them was intense as it struggled to defeat Hitler and Mussolini in Europe and the Japanese in the Pacific. At the end of the conflict, there were well over 8,000 female officers and some ten times that many enlisted WAVES, about 2 ½ percent of the Navy’s total strength. In some places WAVES constituted a majority of the uniformed naval personnel and many remained in uniform to help get the Navy through, the post-war era. On June 12, 1948, President Harry Truman signed Public Law 625, the “Women’s Armed Services Integration Act”, which approved regular and Reserve component status for women in the military and disbanded the WAVES.

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WAVES visiting USS Missouri, 1944

 Women are an essential part of our nation’s military tradition. Throughout the U.S. Navy’s 238 years’ of history, its female Sailors have steadily integrated into jobs that were once opened only to males. Earlier this year, following a unanimous recommendation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Former Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced the end of the direct ground combat exclusion rule for female service members. As part of the new policy, the services are reviewing about 53,000 positions now closed by unit but that will be open to women who meet standards developed for the positions. Women make up about 15 percent, or nearly 202,400, of the U.S. military’s 1.4 million active-duty personnel. Over the past decade, more than 280,000 women have deployed in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 152 of them have died*. Today is a great day to celebrate the accomplishments of Women through our nation’s history.

*Pellerin, Cheryl (2013). Dempsey: Allowing Women in Combat Strengthens Joint Force. American Forces Press Service.

For more information on the history of women in the Navy, please visit the NHHC website: http://www.history.navy.mil/special%20Highlights/Women/Women-index.htm

 
Jul 5

John Paul Jones’s 266th Birthday

Friday, July 5, 2013 3:27 PM
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John Paul Jones, Father of the U.S. Navy
Born 6 July 1747

As an officer of the Continental Navy of the American Revolution, John Paul Jones, born July 6, 1747, helped establish the traditions of courage and professionalism that today’s Sailors of the United States Navy proudly maintain. John Paul was born in a humble gardener’s cottage in Kirkbean, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland, went to sea as a youth, and was a merchant shipmaster by the age of 21. Having taken up residence in Virginia, he volunteered early in the War of Independence to serve in his adopted country’s young navy and raised with his own hands the Continental ensign on board the flagship of the Navy’s first fleet. He took the war to the enemy’s homeland with daring raids along the British coast and the famous victory of the Bonhomme Richard over HMS Serapis. After the Bonhomme Richard began taking on water and fires broke out on board, the British commander asked Jones if he had struck his flag. Jones replied, “I have not yet begun to fight!” In the end, it was the British commander who surrendered.

Jones is remembered for his indomitable will and his unwillingness to consider surrender when the slightest hope of victory still burned. Throughout his naval career, Jones promoted professional standards and training. Sailors of the United States Navy can do no better than to emulate the spirit behind John Paul Jones’s stirring declaration: “I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast for I intend to go in harm’s way.”

Although John Paul Jones is often credited with being the “father” of the U.S. Navy, there are many men who are responsible for the Navy’s establishment. Naval records show that the Continental Congress created the Navy in the resolution in Philadelphia on Oct. 13, 1775, a date now recognized as the Navy’s birthday, so members of Congress must collectively receive credit for the creation of the Continental Navy, the forerunner of the modern U.S. Navy.

The importance of the sea as a highway, a source of food, or a battlefield, if necessary, was well understood by the American colonists. When the American Revolution came, there were many who played prominent roles in the founding of the U.S. Navy, including George Washington, John Barry, John Paul Jones, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and many others.

Should John Paul Jones be considered the “Father” of the U.S. Navy? If not, who do you believe earns this title?

CAPTION: Battle between Bonhomme Richard and HMS Serapis. Painting by Thomas Mitchell

CAPTION: Battle between Bonhomme Richard and HMS Serapis. Painting by Thomas Mitchell

The next time you are in Annapolis, MD, stop by the US Naval Academy to view the corporal remains of John Paul Jones which were interred into the crypt beneath the Naval Academy Chapel in 1906 in a ceremony presided over by President Theodore Roosevelt. From the point of his death in 1792 until then, John Paul Jones’ remains had been in a grave in France, where he died.

 

 
Apr 18

Operation Praying Mantis, 18 April 1988

Thursday, April 18, 2013 6:40 AM

On 14 April 1988, watchstanders aboard USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) sighted three mines floating approximately half of a mile from the ship. Twenty minutes after the first sighting, as Samuel B. Roberts was backing clear of the minefield, she struck a submerged mine. The explosive device tore a 21-foot hole in the hull, causing extensive fires and flooding. Ten Sailors were injured in the attack. Only the heroic efforts of the ship’s crew, working feverishly for seven straight hours, saved the vessel from sinking. Four days later, forces of the Joint Task Force Middle East (JTFME) executed the American response to the attack: Operation Praying Mantis. The operation called for the destruction of two oil platforms being used by Iran to coordinate attacks on merchant shipping. On 18 April, the coalition air and surface units not only destroyed the oil rigs but also various Iranian units attempting to counter-attack U.S. forces. By the end of the battle, U.S. air and surface units had sunk or severely damaged half of Iran’s operational fleet. Navy aircraft and the destroyer Joseph Strauss (DDG 16) sank the frigate Sahand (F 74) with harpoon missiles and laser-guided bombs.

 

The main building of the Iranian Sassan oil platform burns after being hit by a BGM-71 Tube-launched, Optically-guided, Wire-guided (TOW) missile fired from a Marine AH-1 Cobra helicopter

The main building of the Iranian Sassan oil platform burns after being hit by a BGM-71 Tube-launched, Optically-guided, Wire-guided (TOW) missile fired from a Marine AH-1 Cobra helicopter

A laser-guided bomb dropped from a Navy A-6 Intruder disabled frigate Sabalan (F 73), and Standard missiles launched from the cruiser Wainwright (CG 28) and frigates Bagley (FF 1069) and Simpson (FFG 56) destroyed the 147-foot missile patrol boat Joshan (P 225). In further combat A-6s sank one Boghammer high-speed patrol boat and neutralized four more of these Swedish-made speedboats. One Marine AH-1T Sea Cobra crashed from undetermined causes, resulting in the loss of two air crew. Operation Praying Mantis proved a milestone in naval history. For the first time since World War II, U.S. naval forces and supporting aircraft fought a major surface action against a determined enemy. The operation also demonstrated America’s unwavering commitment to protecting oil tankers in the Arabian Gulf and the principle of freedom of navigation.

The Iranian frigate Is Sahand (74) burns after being attacked by aircraft of Carrier Air Wing 11 from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65).

The Iranian frigate Is Sahand (74) burns after being attacked by aircraft of Carrier Air Wing 11 from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65).

An aerial view of the Iranian frigate Is Alvand (71) burning after being attacked by aircraft of Carrier Air Wing 11 from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65).

An aerial view of the Iranian frigate Is Alvand (71) burning after being attacked by aircraft of Carrier Air Wing 11 from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65).

Sources: Edward J. Marolda and Robert J. Schneller Jr., Sword and Shield: The United States Navy and the Persian Gulf War (Washington, DC: GPO, 1998), 37-8; Michael A. Palmer, On Course to Desert Storm: The United States Navy and the Persian Gulf (Washington, DC: GPO, 1992), 141-46; unpublished draft material from Mark Evans’ forthcoming naval aviation chronology.

For more information on Operation Praying Mantis,
visit the NHHC website:
http://www.history.navy.mil/Special%20Highlights/OperationPrayingMantis/index.html

 

 
Jan 22

The Wilkes Exploring Expedition Discovers the Antarctic Coast in January 1840

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 3:05 PM

 “The Wilkes Exploring Expedition: Its Progress Through Half a Century” was originally published in the September/October 1914 issue of Proceedings magazine by Louis N. Feipel:

Portrait of Charles Wilkes by Thomas Sully

Portrait of Charles Wilkes by Thomas Sully

The important expedition known as the Wilkes, or South Sea, Exploring Expedition, fitted out in 1838 by national munificence, was the first that ever left our shores, and the first to be com­manded by an officer of the United States Navy. But although organized on a most stupendous scale, and shrouded in a most in­teresting history, this expedition is to-day comparatively unknown.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 22

Cuban Missile Crisis: “When the Right Words Counted”

Monday, October 22, 2012 1:00 AM

On 22 October 1962, President John F. Kennedy delivered a televised speech, arguably “the most serious speech delivered in his lifetime” and the “most frightening presidential address” in U.S. history.’ Soviet missile-launch sites had been discovered under construction in Cuba. The response resuIted from deliberations among the President and his ad hoc Executive Committee (ExCom).

Its final draft was improved significantly by an unlikely person: the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Admiral George W. Anderson, Jr.  Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jul 18

John Paul Jones Remembered

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 8:15 AM

Portrait of John Paul Jones by Cecilia Beaux in the U. S. Naval Academy Museum

The United State’s first well-known naval fighter died 220 years ago, on July 18, 1792. Originally published in the July 1947 issue of Proceedings to mark the bicentennial of his birth, the following article outlines the life of John Paul Jones and his contributions to the Navy.

THE BICENTENNIAL OF JOHN PAUL JONES

By DR. LINCOLN LORENZ

VIEWED from the bicentennial of his birth, John Paul Jones has even greater eminence now as a leader of the American Navy at its beginning than he won at the time of his incomparable triumph in the battle of the Bonhomme Richard with the Serapis. The climax of his intrepid career on this occasion was in keeping with his life so that he remains today, even following the panorama of heroic exploits of two world wars, an indomitable warrior of unique personality. He became the first American naval officer to set a tradition of victory, to win respect for the flag by other nations, and to have the statesmanship to foresee and urge the paramount importance of the Navy in our future history. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 15

Lieutenant Porter’s Camel Expedition

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 1:00 AM

February 15th, 1856

LT David Dixon Porter leaves Smyrna, Syria for

Indianola, Texas with 21 camels on board

 

Just five years before the outbreak of the Civil War, Lieutenant David Dixon Porter received unusual orders from the Secretary of War at the time, Jefferson Davis, to travel to the Mediterranean on the USS Supply. There, he was required to join Major Henry C. Wayne, then the Quartermaster of the Army, and aid him in finding and purchasing camels for experimental use in the American desert. The Supply had already traveled to the Mediterranean before, on Lieutenant William Lynch’s expedition to the Dead Sea, where Lynch himself had encountered camels, and managed to substitute them for draught-horses. Lynch’s interactions with these camels, and his lengthy descriptions of these creatures, no doubt inspired Porter’s unique assignment. Proceedings describes the history of Lieutenant Porter’s travels, as well as the fate of the camels he acquired.

Supply‘s next assignment was perhaps the most unusual duty of her career. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 26

The Final Resting Place of John Paul Jones

Thursday, January 26, 2012 1:00 AM

January 26th, 1913

The body of John Paul Jones is interred at the U. S. Naval Academy.

 

Almost a full century ago, the body of John Paul Jones, recently discovered in a Parisian cemetery, reached its final resting place in an ornate crypt on the campus of the U. S. Naval Academy. Fifty years after the discovery of his remains, the July 1955 issue of Proceedings printed a an article about the search for and identification of Jones’ body, written by a freelance writer, Dorothy Tooker. In her article, Tooker told the story of restoring the American naval hero to his rightful tomb, from the challenges of finding his body in Paris, to the task of identifying his remains after they had been discovered in an unmarked coffin. For John Paul Jones, whose mystery endured almost 113 years after his death, this story of his return to the United States makes a fitting end.

The breeze blew cold through the tunnel, and the smell of damp from its earthen walls permeated the men’s nostrils. At the bend in the passageway the grave gentlemen in derby hats halted while workmen dragged an old leaden coffin into the passageway. It was outmoded, tapered at the foot with a widened, rounded projection at the head, and encrusted with dirt and mold from long burial. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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