Archive for the 'People' Category

Nov 13

Sullivan Brothers Lost at Guadalcanal, 13 November 1942

Sunday, November 13, 2011 12:01 AM

On 13 November 1942 the light cruiser Juneau (CL 52) sank off Guadalcanal, with the loss of all but ten of her crew. Among the dead were all five brothers of the Sullivan family from Waterloo, Iowa. Albert, Francis, George, Joseph, and Madison Sullivan had enlisted together on 3 January 1942, with condition that they be allowed to serve on the same ship. News of the deaths of all five brothers became a rallying point for the war effort, with posters and speeches honoring their sacrifice, extensive newspaper and radio coverage, and war bond drives and other patriotic campaigns which culminated in the 1944 movie, “The Sullivans.”

Their sister Genevieve enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve as a Specialist (Recruiter) Third Class and, with her parents, visited more than 200 manufacturing plants and shipyards under the auspices of the Industrial Incentive Division, Executive Office of the Secretary, Navy Department. According to a 9 February 1943 Navy Department Press Release, the Sullivans “visited war production plants urging employees to work harder to produce weapons for the Navy so that the war may come to an end sooner.” By January 1944 the three surviving Sullivans had spoken to over a million workers in sixty-five cities and reached millions of others over the radio.

On 10 February 1943 the Navy officially canceled the name Putnam (DD 537) and assigned the name The Sullivans to a destroyer under construction. Sponsored by Mrs. Alleta Sullivan, mother of the five Sullivan brothers, and commissioned 30 September 1943, The Sullivans served the Navy until decommissioning on 7 January 1965. In 1977 the destroyer was donated to the city of Buffalo, New York, as a memorial in the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Servicemen’s Park. The second The Sullivans (DDG 68) was laid down on 14 June 1993 at Bath, Maine, by Bath Iron Works Co. and launched on 12 August 1995 sponsored by Kelly Sullivan Loughren, granddaughter of Albert Leo Sullivan. Commissioned on 19 April 1997 at Staten Island, New York, under the command of Commander Gerard D. Roncolato, the ship’s motto, “We Stick Together,” echoes the determination and dedication of the brothers for which the ship was named.

 
Jul 7

Navy TV – All Hands TV

Thursday, July 7, 2011 11:32 AM

In the July edition of All Hands Television, we see the responsibilities of a Blue Angel Plane Captain, we see how sailors are put to the test in SERE, we meet some SERE instructors as they share their responsibilities, we see the high intensity training of Rescue Swimmers, and we hear the incredible stories of two soldiers preparing for the Warrior Games.

The Naval Media Center creates rich and enduring films about the Navy as part of All Hands Television. These segments document the most interesting facets of our sea services. All Hands Television releases these short documentaries on a monthly basis. Come back each month to find something new!

 
Jun 27

“A Hell of a War” Lieutenant Douglas E. Fairbanks, Jr.

Monday, June 27, 2011 12:02 AM

The actor Lt. Douglas E. Fairbanks, Jr., served on board “The Witch,” heavy cruiser Wichita (CA 45), during the terrifying battle of convoy PQ-17 in WWII. Born to his famous father in New York City in 1909, Fairbanks had also pursued the acting profession; however, he heeded his nation’s call, commissioned, and joined Wichita during a grueling run to help the Russians.

Before they sailed, King George VI toured the cruiser as the band played ‘God Save The King’; “Well, what are you doing up here?” he asked Fairbanks, “I’ve not seen you since we played golf at Sunningdale about five years ago!”

For a year the Russians had desperately struggled to hold back Hitler’s Blitzkrieg. Churchill and Roosevelt sent them supplies, but the Germans again tore open the Soviet lines and raced toward Stalingrad. The ships of PQ-17 sailed on 27 June 1942, but because the pack-ice floated so far south, the convoy’s route passed within range of German bombers that spotted them in the continual day light.

“Hi-yo Silver!” a lookout called out as he pointed toward the bombers. The Germans reported the ships to their superiors and raced in to attack. “Air defense–take battle stations!” sounded as the bugler’s blast sent sailors and Marines to action.

As the men of the convoy fought for their lives, the monstrous German battleship Tirpitz, sister ship of Bismarck, led her consorts to attack the convoy in Operation Rosselsprung (Knight’s Move). On the 4th of July the Allies learned of the enemy sortie, which sent ripples of panic through them: “Most Immediate…Convoy is to Scatter” the British Admiralty signaled. The skippers reluctantly obeyed and sailed off to make their way around icebergs and pack ice, unaware that the German ships had experienced trouble that forced them to return to Norwegian waters. German submarines and bombers, however, eagerly hunted the helpless ships.

Fairbanks described the frantic efforts that signalmen made to lure away the convoy’s tormentors with false messages, and their horror as they intercepted one distress call after another from victims but could not help. “The radio room is bedlam,” Fairbanks noted. “The bridge cannot keep up with the reports.” Disregarding regulations, many men began to sleep above the waterline to avoid ‘the hammer’ (a torpedo).

When gunners shot down a German bomber, the crew broke from Battle Stations and cheered as if they were “in a football game,” and Fairbanks had to remind them to return to their stations. The tension on the bridge grew thick as they debated whether to come about and help shipmates, however, the thought that lucky shots from bombers or U-boats would leave them helpless against Tirpitz persuaded them to stay on course.

As they left the ships to their fates, one of the British merchantmen cheerfully radioed “Celebrating your holiday with fireworks as suggested.” The men of Wichita, however, resolutely discussed returning to help, and British Rear Admiral Louis H. K. “Turtle” Hamilton, their commander, shared their sense of solidarity with his final signal: “I hope we shall all have a chance of settling this score with them [the Germans] soon.”

The Germans sank twenty-four of the convoy’s thirty-four ships. However, they assessed that their victories against PQ-17 were ironically due to the convoy’s failure to maintain formation.

After serving in what Fairbanks called “A Hell of a War,” he returned to acclaim as a screen star.

 
Jun 23

Navy TV – gone to the dogs…

Thursday, June 23, 2011 5:21 PM

Such a cliche, isn’t it. But this month on All Hands TV from NavyTV – a special Chapter on the Carolina Canines. This program is working with the Charleston Navy Brig to train dogs for wounded warriors. This helps the inmates and is a great service to the wounded warriors who will depend on these wonderful dogs as aides and companions.

The journey starts at the SPCA. The healing for everyone involved is amazing, the trainers who feel a sense of redemption, and the wounded veteran who is given the trained animal to assist them with their daily lives, from turning on lights, to being the steady companion when the spaces are too small and there are too many people; and the life of the dog, spared from the cages of the pound or even worse.

Watch this piece.. and realize the healing power of a dog!

 
Jun 2

Navy TV – Personal history of D Day

Thursday, June 2, 2011 12:25 PM

In a digital video oral history, D-Day survivor Peter Fantacone recalls his experience on Omaha Beach as a crewmember on USS LCI-492. This June 6 marks the 67th anniversary of the Normandy invasion.

Watch Mr. Fantacone’s personal account here on NavyTV.

 
May 18

The First Enterprise

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 1:34 AM

May, 18th 1775
Benedict Arnold captures a British Sloop and renames her Enterprise, the first of many ships with this name.



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May 15

First USMC Medal of Honor Recipient: John Freeman Mackie (1835-1910)

Sunday, May 15, 2011 12:01 AM

John Freeman Mackie was born on 1 October 1835 in New York City. Working there as a silversmith, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on 24 April 1861. His first assignment was on the USS Savannah as part of the ship’s Marine Detachment. On 1 March 1862, Mackie was promoted to the rank of corporal and was assigned to the ironclad U.S.S. Galena under the command of Commander John Rodgers.

On 15 May 1862, a small Union navy flotilla which included the Galena, Aroostook, Port Royal, Naugatuck and the famous USS Monitor attacked Confederate Fort Darling, located about 4 miles below Richmond, Virginia, near a bend in the James River called Drewry’s Bluff. Fort Darling, sited on top of the bluff, guarded the river entrance to the Confederate capital and was of tremendous strategic importance to the rebel cause. At 0600 Galena opened fire on the well-defended fort, but this attack was strongly resisted by the Confederates. Almost immediately Commander Rodgers was severely wounded by a Confederate shell. Early on in the fighting it was obvious that the Union ships were at a clear disadvantage. The well-armored USS Monitor was unable to elevate its guns to properly target the fort and a hundred pound gun on the Naugatuck exploded and forced that ship to also retire out of range. The Port Royal and Aroostook were both wooden hulls and not able to withstand the plunging fire from the fort. Thus the lone remaining ironclad, Galena, was forced to fight alone for over four hours.

While the Galena was indeed considered an ironclad ship, its armor was still fairly thin as compared to that of the more powerful USS Monitor. Confederate rounds from the fort repeatedly penetrated Galena’s armor plating and caused a significant number of casualties. To make matters worse, Confederate Marines manning rifle pits on the nearby riverbank used sharpshooters to pick off any exposed personnel. At the height of the fighting, a 10-inch round once again penetrated Galena’s armor belt and smashed into one of its 100 pound Parrot guns, killing nearly its entire crew. Shouting, “come on boys, here’s a chance for the Marines,” Mackie and a number of nearby comrades quickly manned the Parrot rifle and kept the weapon in action.

By noon, the Galena was entirely out of ammunition and Commander Rodgers moved the vessel down river and safely out of range. During the intense fighting in front of Fort Darling, the Galena had been hit dozens of times by solid shot. Twelve sailors and one Marine had been killed and eleven more men were wounded.

For his conspicuous performance in combat at the battle of Drewry’s Bluff, Mackie was promoted to sergeant and recommended for the Medal of Honor. Reassigned to the USS Seminole, Mackie received the medal on 10 July 1863 while anchored off Sabine Pass in Texas. He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps on 23 August 1865 in Boston, Massachusetts after having served over 4 years of continuous service. During his time on active duty, Mackie had participated in sixteen major naval engagements and was in dozens of skirmishes in his role as a Marine assigned to Union navy ships. The only wartime injury he received occurred in January 1864 when he was struck in the head with a chain hook while trying to quell a group of rioting Seminole sailors. Mackie was the first U.S. Marine to receive the Medal of Honor.

 
May 14

Wilkes Exploring Expedition

Saturday, May 14, 2011 1:40 AM

May, 14 1836
A U.S. Exploring Expedition was authorized to conduct exploration of Pacific Ocean and South Seas. This was the first major scientific expedition overseas by the United States. LT Charles Wilkes USN, led the expedition in surveying South America, Antarctica, Far East, and North Pacific.



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