Archive for the 'People' Category

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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May 5

NavyTV – Lights, Camera – ACTION

Thursday, May 5, 2011 6:44 PM

Now Hear This – the GI Film Festival is coming to the Navy Memorial next week!

The GI Film Festival, the nation’s first and only military film festival, is coming to the Navy Memorial May 9-15, 2011. We have a week full of celebrity red carpet events, dazzling parties and inspirational films by and about our servicemembers and veterans.

Watch a preview here on NAVY TV – there’s also a highlight film of the 2010 Festival.

Buy your tickets for the GI Film Festival here and enter code “MIL11″ for a discount. See you THERE!

 
Apr 7

NAVY TV – All Hands!

Thursday, April 7, 2011 1:24 PM

The April All Hands TV is up for viewing! 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!

Chapter One – There is a lot going on around the world right now, so Chapter 1 is taking a look at some of our sailors’ missions, followed by this month’s “News You Can Use,” touching on top headlines for this month.

Chapter Two (this will make all the kids happy!) Chapter 2 shows the story of a bottlenose dolphin named Theresa, who is a Navy Veteran that continues to serve, and takes a look at the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys.

 
Mar 19

The Navy’s First Enlisted Women, 19 March 1917

Saturday, March 19, 2011 12:01 AM

Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels authorized the enlistment of women on 19 March 1917 to help alleviate a projected shortage of clerical workers. They served under Class 4 of the 1916 United States Naval Reserve Force that provided for the first enrollment or enlistment of officer and enlisted personnel. Loretta Perfectus Walsh of Olyphant, Pennsylvania, became the first woman to enlist on 21 March 1917. By the time war with Germany was officially declared on 6 April, 200 women had joined her.

To distinguish these women from their male counterparts the Navy established the rate of Yeoman (F), though they were also known as “Yeomanettes” or “Yeowomen.” Men and women in the same rank earned equal pay, something not available in the civilian sector. Unlike their male counterparts, the highest rank a Yeoman (F) could reach was that of chief petty officer. Since they did not receive basic training, these enlisted women took classes and learned how to drill in the evenings. They worked as couriers, draftsmen, fingerprint experts, masters-at-arms, mess attendants, paymasters, recruiters, switchboard operators, and translators. A select few worked overseas at base hospitals in France and in naval intelligence in Puerto Rico. Female reservists also participated in Victory Loan Drives and parades. By the signing of the 11 November 1918 armistice between the Allies and Germany, a total of 11,275 Yeomen (F) had served in the Navy. The last Yeoman (F) was discharged from active duty in July 1919.

 
Mar 18

NavyTV – Women’s History Month Tribute

Friday, March 18, 2011 5:52 AM

March is Women’s History Month and NavyTV thought it would be appropriate to reintroduce the Navy’s top four Sailors in 2010 — the first time all four awardees were women! Meet HMC Ingrid J. Cortez, OSC Samira McBride, HMC Shalanda L. Brewer, and CTC Cassandra L. Foote, as they talk about their pride in their work and their responsibility to their Sailors here on NavyTV. In July, 2010, the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead presided over the pinning ceremony for the four Sailors of the Year, the first year all four awardees were women.

 
Mar 10

Father & Son – Navigating the Seven Seas

Thursday, March 10, 2011 11:17 AM

Navigating the Seven Seas

Father and son Vice Adm. and Master Chief Melvin Williams speak at a Navy Memorial “Authors on Deck” event about their memoir Navigating The Seven Seas: Leadership Lessons of the First African-American Father and Son to Serve at the Top of the Navy. In this lecture, they outline their seven “C”s of leadership: Character, Competence, Courage, Commitment, Caring, Communicating and Community, and tell their personal stories about overcoming racial barriers in the Navy over the course of 60 years of consecutive service. See their presentation on NAVY TV

Read more about them in the Navy Log Blog.

 
Mar 1

Trusty Son of Neptune: Boatswain’s Mate William Kingsbury

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 12:01 AM

Just as it did for commissioned officers, service on the high seas during the War of 1812 provided opportunities for petty officers to distinguish themselves and thereby earn promotion, as the experiences of sailors in frigate Essex illustrate.

Violent weather in rounding Cape Horn in late February and early March 1813 tested Essex’s crew. By 1 March “the sea had increased to such a height, as to threaten to swallow us at every instant.” Captain David Porter recalled, “the whole ocean was one continued foam of breakers, and the heaviest squall that I ever before experienced, had not equaled in violence the most moderate intervals of this tremendous hurricane.” The storm’s climax came in the wee hours of the morning of the gale’s third day.

About 3 o’clock of the morning of the 3d, the watch only being on deck, an enormous sea broke over the ship, and for an instant destroyed every hope. Our gun-deck ports were burst in; both boats on the quarters stove; our spare spars washed from the chains; our head-rails washed away, and hammock stanchions burst in; and the ship perfectly deluged and water logged, immediately after this tremendous shock.

When the sea broke over the ship, one of the prisoners, taken in a British packet captured by Essex, cried out in a panic that the ship’s side had been stove in and the frigate was sinking. The torrent of water cascading down the hatchways lent credence to this statement and increased the crew’s alarm, especially of those men who had been “washed from the spar to the gun-deck, and from their hammocks.” “This was the only instance,” in which future admiral David Glasgow Farragut, then a midshipman, “ever saw a regular good seaman paralyzed by fear at the dangers of the sea.”

Fortunately for all, several men, including those at the wheel, held fast and maintained their stations, and most of the men below responded promptly to the call for all hands on deck. Boatswain’s Mate William Kingsbury, whom Farragut remembered as the “trusty old son of Neptune” who played the role of Neptune when Essex crossed the line earlier in the cruise, led the men and heartened them, roaring with the voice of a lion, “Damn your eyes, there is one side of her left yet!”

The petty officers who “distinguished themselves by their coolness and activity after the shock” Porter advanced one grade by filling up posts vacated by men sent away in prize ships. Since the boatswain’s post was occupied, Boatswain’s Mate Kingsbury’s recognition had to wait. In May, when Porter converted a captured British whaler into a cruiser rechristened Essex Junior, he appointed Kingsbury its acting boatswain.

 
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