Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Nov 1

Two Services, One Fight: Navy, Coast Guard Remain Important Maritime Partners

Saturday, November 1, 2014 8:00 AM
USCGC Northland, pictured above in Greenland, circa 1944, had an active career with the Coast Guard during World War II rescuing stranded Army Air Force crewmen in Greenland and attacking German weather stations and supply trawlers.

USCGC Northland, pictured above in Greenland, circa 1944, had an active career with the Coast Guard during World War II rescuing stranded Army Air Force crewmen in Greenland and attacking German weather stations and supply trawlers.

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

While most of the nation was adamant about keeping the United States out of what was developing into World War II during the early years of 1939-40, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and members of his cabinet were probably all-too aware it was just a matter of time before the country would be pulled into another war in Europe.

And so it was during a series of moves on Roosevelt’s part from 1939 to just a month before Pearl Harbor that he quietly orchestrated getting the country ready for war.

Available Here: http://youtu.be/aPptcCivb9E Produced by the National Naval Aviation Museum, this video provides a 40 second overview of the Coast Guard’s role as a part of the Navy in World War II.

Available Here: http://youtu.be/aPptcCivb9E
Produced by the National Naval Aviation Museum, this video provides a 40 second overview of the Coast Guard’s role as a part of the Navy in World War II.

 

One of those moves was Nov. 1, 1941, when Roosevelt placed the Coast Guard under the Department of Navy. The announcement was made the day after USS Reuben James (DD 245) became the first ship lost to enemy action in World War II when it was sunk by a German U-boat torpedo, killing 115 of her crew.

Roosevelt was already using the Coast Guard for enforcement of the Neutrality Act as far east as Greenland. The country was operating under an “unlimited national emergency” when the Coast Guard cutter Northland (PG 49) seized the Norwegian trawler Buskoe en route to establish German radio weather stations in Greenland. It was the first U.S. seizure of a ship since the War of 1812.

At the time of the Nov. 1 announcement, the Coast Guard brought 613 officers, 764 warrant officers, 17,450 enlisted, 199 Cadets and 525 ships.

At the height of World War II, the Coast Guard had 170,000 in the fight, including 1,000 officers and 10,000 female SPARS, with 3,395 vessels.

It wasn’t the first time, and certainly wasn’t be the last, that the Coast Guard has worked side-by-side with her sister service. In fact, they have done so in every conflict since during every conflict since the ratification of the Constitution.

But this time it was different. During World War I, the Coast Guard was integrated within the Navy Department, but Coasties were often mixed in with Navy crews. During World War II, however, the Coast Guard remained its own separate force, similar to how the Marines operate under the Department of the Navy, according to historian Chris Havern of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Historian’s Office Office .

“The biggest difference was the organization and the manner in which the transition was conducted,” Havern explained.

“Late in the war, when the Navy didn’t have the manpower to man some of their vessels, especially patrol frigates, those ships were commanded and manned by Coast Guard personnel,” Havern said. “They also manned Army and Navy transports and logistics vessels in both theaters of operations.”

Commander Frank Erickson poses with a Hoverfly Commander F. A. Erickson, USCG, an expert helicopter pilot and one of the pioneers in the adaptation of this craft for practical purposes is shown here congratulating the rescuing pilot, Ensign W. C. Bolton, USCG, for a job 'well done.'"

Commander Frank Erickson poses with a Hoverfly Commander F. A. Erickson, USCG, an expert helicopter pilot and one of the pioneers in the adaptation of this craft for practical purposes is shown here congratulating the rescuing pilot, Ensign W. C. Bolton, USCG, for a job ‘well done.'”

The Coast Guard brought two very unique skill sets to the Navy: the handling of small boats and craft and the use of helicopters.

“Coast Guardsmen were primarily experienced in handling of small boats and craft, and that was generally not something the Navy did,” Havern said. “Coast Guard personnel participated in amphibious operations on both sides of the war. And when the Navy needed personnel trained in small boats, the Coast Guard became the cadre force that helped in the Navy’s training of landing craft coxswains.”

As the war went on, the Navy devoted more personnel to small boat operations.

“The Coast Guard was integral in disseminating that knowledge to those who would conduct those missions,” Havern said. “They also served in key capacities in planning amphibious missions in both Europe and the Pacific. Coast Guard vessels would be modified so they could become command vessels for amphibious operations in the Pacific.”

The Coast Guard’s value to the Navy during World War II wasn’t limited to the service’s boat skills. The Coasties, with search and rescue as one of its missions, also made an impact in naval aviation.

“One of the Coast Guard’s most significant contributions to the Navy during World War II was the introduction of the helicopter to naval aviation,” according to Hill Goodspeed, historian at the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Fla. “It was Coast Guard personnel led by Coast Guard Cmdr. Frank Erickson who evaluated the HNS Hoverfly and conducted experiments in shipboard operations and the use of rotary-wing platforms for search and rescue. The foundation for helicopter operations today rests on the work of these wartime Coast Guardsmen.”

The responsibility of “seagoing development of the helicopter” was given to the Coast Guard by a directive from Adm. Ernest J. King, who at the time was serving as both Chief of Naval Operations and Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet.

In January 1946, control of the Coast Guard reverted back to the Treasury Department until it became part of the Transportation Department in 1967. Nearly 242,000 Coast Guardsmen had served during the war, with 574 combat deaths, plus an additional 1,343 dying from non-combat-related causes (crashes, accidents, disease or drowning).

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team fast rope from an MH-60T Jay Hawk helicopter onto the deck of Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 1664 during a joint training event Oct. 6, 2014, in Virginia Beach, Va. LCU-1664 is assigned to Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2, providing premier ship-to-shore operations in support of combatant commander's tasking. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Patrick Nolan/Released)

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team fast rope from an MH-60T Jay Hawk helicopter onto the deck of Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 1664 during a joint training event Oct. 6, 2014, in Virginia Beach, Va. LCU-1664 is assigned to Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2, providing premier ship-to-shore operations in support of combatant commander’s tasking. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Patrick Nolan/Released)

In 2003, the Coast Guard became a key component in the stand-up of the newly-formed Department of Homeland Security, created in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Coast Guardsmen participated in both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. A Coast Guardsman killed in action during OIF became the service’s first combat death since the seven lost during Vietnam.

The Coast Guard continues to adapt and evolve within the Department of Homeland Security. The service has 11 statutory missions that include port and waterways security, search and rescue, conduct of military operations, law enforcement, and environmental protection and response.

Havern said the Coast Guard is unique in that it is, by statute, one of the nation’s five armed services, but is outside the Department of Defense. The Coast Guard’s status as an armed service was part of the legislation that combined the Revenue cutter Service with the U.S. Life-Saving Service to form the U.S. Coast Guard in 1915.

He pointed out that Paul Yost, who later became Commandant of the Coast Guard, was the only Coast Guard officer to command a Navy unit during the Vietnam War. He was also instrumental in putting the Harpoon missiles anti-ship missile system onto Coast Guard vessels in the 1980s.

The partnership between the sister services continues today as Coasties and Sailors work together providing joint training with allies, maritime security at sea, counter transnational organized crime operations, as well as diving, salvage and rescue missions.

For additional information about naval history, please contact the Naval History and Heritage Command’s Communication and Outreach division at 202-433-7880 or via email at NHHCPublicAffairs@navy.mil

 
Oct 25

There’s Ghosts Among the Guns and Galleries at US Navy Museum

Saturday, October 25, 2014 12:13 PM

By Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

With apologizes to the Addams Family tune

 

It’s creepy and sometimes kooky,

Mysterious and spooky,

With Marines always on duty,

At the Washington Navy Yard

 

On Saturday at the museum,

there will be lots of screamin,

Free from 4-10 to see’em,

At the Washington Navy Yard.

 

The shipyard was put afire,

When the enemy was so dire,

Tingey’s home survived the fire,

At the Washington Navy Yard.

 

Tucked in a wall is a limb,

Of an unlucky colonel so grim,

But it’s no longer used for shim,

At the Washington Navy Yard

 

After the assassination of Lincoln,

As all the people mourned him,

The body of Booth was brought in,

At the Washington Navy Yard.

 

There’s a ghost of a Commodore,

For 52 years walked the corridor,

1881 ends his nocturnal monitor,

When it became Naval Gun Factory.

 

The soldier who was unknown,

Came to peace back at home,

On a ship the color of bone,

At the Washington Navy Yard.

 

After years of shooting weapons,

The residents are still deafened,

Yet a new name again beckons,

Back to the Washington Navy Yard.

 

So now the Yard holds commands,

Like the CNO and the Navy Bands,

Where admirals & COs shake hands,

At the Washington Navy Yard.

 

Go get your cover or cap on,

Or catch a slug to come in on,

Be sure to make a call on,

The Washington Navy Yard.

 

For more about the National Museum of the U.S. Navy’s Haunted Gallery from 4-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, click here.

 
Oct 24

Ghastly Ghouls and Ghosts: Something Creepy Comes to the Cold War Gallery

Friday, October 24, 2014 6:00 PM
 Laura Hockensmith, the National Museum for the U.S. Navy's Director of Education and Public Programs, decorates the Cold War Gallery of the NMUSN as part of their 'Haunted Gallery' for Halloween event from 4-10 p.m. Oct. 25. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood/Released)

Laura Hockensmith, the National Museum for the U.S. Navy’s Director of Education and Public Programs, decorates the Cold War Gallery of the NMUSN as part of their ‘Haunted Gallery’ for Halloween event from 4-10 p.m. Oct. 25. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood/Released)

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

Come on in, my pretties….don’t mind the dark; we’re upgrading the electrical system to stand up to apparitions that go bump in the night. So just follow the person with the flashlight, because nothing could possibly go wrong during your visit to the Haunted Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Navy, right?

At least that’s Laura Hockensmith’s plan from 4-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25. As the chief ghoul for the All Things Creepy Division within Naval History and Heritage Command, Hockensmith will be inviting one and all to come visit her dark and twisty department hidden among the static displays of the National Museum’s Cold War Gallery.

Spiders galore stalk those brave enough to enter the Haunted Gallery event from 4-10 p.m. Oct. 25 at the National Museum of the United States Navy.

Spiders galore stalk those brave enough to enter the Haunted Gallery event from 4-10 p.m. Oct. 25 at the National Museum of the United States Navy.

There’s Arachnophobia Alley where creepy, crawlies wait to pounce on unsuspecting prey. Those who make it past the eternal-looping NMCI web will then be treated to Autopsy Avenue. Who knows, perhaps it will be the body of John Wilkes Booth once again being examined at the Washington Navy Yard…but WHY IS IT STILL MOVING?? And over there, could that be the missing leg of Col. Ulric Dahlgren?

Bonnie Holm decorates the Cold War Gallery of the National Museum for the U.S. Navy as part of their 'Haunted Gallery' for Halloween event from 4-10 p.m. Oct. 25. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood/Released)

Bonnie Holm decorates the Cold War Gallery of the National Museum for the U.S. Navy as part of their ‘Haunted Gallery’ for Halloween event from 4-10 p.m. Oct. 25. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood/Released)

Still unscathed? Then peek into Black Hole Boulevard, because what Cold War Museum wouldn’t have a section to feature the Space Race between Russia and the United States? But don’t look too deep, because that screaming from deep within may be the last sound you hear on Earth.

Tours will be from 4-7 pm. for children 12 and under, while those braver teens who know it all may try to make it through from 7:30-10 p.m.

While the sweet innocents…er…children are waiting to enter the haunted gallery, they can take advantage of arts and crafts time, making treat bags, Halloween-themed picture frames, masks and key chains. There were also be Halloween-themed movies playing in the Constitution Gun Deck, Hockensmith said. And what visit to a Navy Yard wouldn’t be complete without a tattoo (temporary, of course).

Hockensmith commanded her first terror troupe in 2006 when it was hosted onboard the Historic Display Ship Barry. It was held every year since then on the ship until 2013 when the base tightly restricted assess following the Washington Navy Yard shooting the previous month. In previous years, more than 1,000 people would attend the free, family-friendly event, depending on the weather.

But this time, Barry is closed to the public while it prepares for annual maintenance and the pier gets renovated.

It takes about a week to set up the haunted galleries, Hockensmith said, and getting the nearly two-dozen actors/tour guides prepared for their night of terror. While getting on base requires a little extra time, Hockensmith said there will be escorts at the Visitor’s Center bringing people in regularly. All they need is a photo identification for those 18 and older.

“We’ve had a few visitors pee their pants, but mostly it’s all for laughs and having a good time,” Hockensmith said.

For event and access information, call 202-433-6897. And just in case, pack some extra diapers…for children and adults.

To read our nod to the Addams Family tune, click here.

 
Oct 18

Senior Naval Aviator Recognized with Gray Eagle Trophy

Saturday, October 18, 2014 5:06 PM
The Gray Eagle honors the most senior Naval aviator with continuous active-duty service. It started in 1961, but those who would have earned it have their names inscribed on the trophy, beginning with Cmdr. Theodore Ellyson, Naval Aviator No. 1, who would have held the title from June 2, 1911 to Feb. 27, 1928. NHHC photo

The Gray Eagle Trophy honors the most senior Naval aviator with continuous active-duty service. It started in 1961, but those who would have earned it have their names inscribed on the trophy, beginning with Cmdr. Theodore Ellyson, Naval Aviator No. 1, who would have held the title from June 2, 1911 to Feb. 27, 1928.
NHHC photo

From the Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

While ribbons and medals adorn uniforms and depict a service member’s professional journey, there’s one honor unlikely to be shared by any other naval aviator or worn on a uniform: the Gray Eagle.

It’s exactly as it sounds: A nod to distinguish and recognize the pilot who has the earliest Naval Aviator designation for the longest continuous active-duty service.

For the time the recipient remains the most senior aviator, the trophy may be kept at their command or in the custody of the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla. It features a silver eagle landing on the arresting gear of the Navy’s first aircraft carrier, USS Langley (CV 1).

The inscription: “The Venerable Order of the Gray Eagle. The Most Ancient Naval Aviator on Active Duty. In recognition of a clear eye, a stout heart, a steady hand, and a daring defiance of gravity and the law of averages.”

Retired Vice Adm. James Zortman, Sector Vice President for Global Logistics and Operational Support at Northrop Grumman, presents Adm. William E. Gortney, the Commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, with the Gray Eagle Trophy award during a ceremony aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Oct. 18. The Gray Eagle Trophy is presented to the most senior Navy or Marine Corps aviator serving on active duty. Gortney will keep the title as Gray Eagle until he retires and a new active duty Navy or Marine Corps aviator can be named by the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations who maintains the official precedence list of prospective Gray Eagles. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan E. Donnelly/Released)

Retired Vice Adm. James Zortman, Sector Vice President for Global Logistics and Operational Support at Northrop Grumman, presents Adm. William E. Gortney, the Commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, with the Gray Eagle Trophy award during a ceremony aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Oct. 18. The Gray Eagle Trophy is presented to the most senior Navy or Marine Corps aviator serving on active duty. Gortney will keep the title as Gray Eagle until he retires and a new active duty Navy or Marine Corps aviator can be named by the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations who maintains the official precedence list of prospective Gray Eagles. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan E. Donnelly/Released)

 

The newest person with that “clear eye, stout heart and steady hand” is Adm. Bill Gortney, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. He received the Gray Eagle Trophy Award Saturday afternoon, Oct. 18, just prior to the U.S. Fleet Forces Band Birthday Concert aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) during Fleet Week Hampton Roads’ celebration of the Navy’s 239th birthday.

Adm. “shortney” Gortney has amassed more than 5,360 mishap-free flight hours and 1,265 carrier-arrested landings over his nearly 38-year career, primarily in the A-7E Corsair II and the F/A-18 Hornet. He spent that time flying in support of maritime security operations and combat operations in the U.S. Central Command for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, including stints with Carrier Strike Group 10 onboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), Carrier Air Wing 7 onboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67), and VFA-15 onboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).

GRAY EAGLE AWARD (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan E. Donnelly/Released)

GRAY EAGLE AWARD (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan E. Donnelly/Released)

 

Prior to that, Gortney served with Attack Squadron 82 onboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68), VFA-87 onboard USS Theodore Roosevelt; served as executive officer of both VFA-132 onboard USS Forrestal (CV 59) and VFA-15 onboard USS Theodore Roosevelt, and deputy commander of Carrier Air Wing Seven onboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).

The Gray Eagle Trophy Award was established in 1960, making its first appearance in 1961 during the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Naval Aviation when it was presented to Adm. Charles R. Brown. Naval aviators who would have earned the distinction if it had been in existence were also given the honor, beginning with Cmdr. Theodore Ellyson, Naval Aviator No. 1, who would have held it from June 2, 1911 to Feb. 27, 1928, up through and including Vice Adm. Thomas S. Combs. Combs would have held the honor from Oct. 1, 1959 to April 1, 1960.)

The trophy was originally sponsored by Chance Vought Aircraft, which after several acquisitions, was folded into Northrop Grumman Corporation in 1994. Retired Vice Admiral Jim Zortman presented the trophy to Gortney.

Gortney’s military awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (four awards), Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Air Medal (three awards: Gold Numeral One, two Strike/Flight), Defense Commendation Medal (three awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Sea Service Ribbon (8 awards), and the Overseas Service Ribbon (2 awards).

 

 
Oct 17

Remembering the First Black Women Naval Officers

Friday, October 17, 2014 12:01 PM
Lt. j.g. Harriet Ida Pickens (left) and Ensign Frances Wills are photographed after graduation from the Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School at Northampton, Massachusetts, in Dec. 1944. They were the Navy's first African-American "WAVES" officers. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Lt. j.g. Harriet Ida Pickens (left) and
Ensign Frances Wills
are photographed after graduation from the Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School at Northampton, Massachusetts, in Dec. 1944. They were the Navy’s first African-American “WAVES” officers.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

 

By Regina T. Akers, Ph.D., Naval History and Heritage Command, Histories and Archives Division

 “Navy to admit Negroes into the WAVES,” so read the newspaper headlines Oct. 19, 1944. For the first time black women would be commissioned naval officers as members of the Navy’s female reserve program.

The program first made news July 30, 1942, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed it into law. Their official nickname was WAVES, an acronym for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. It would be two more years before the WAVES became open to all women.

It was not an easy journey. During the Congressional hearings Thomasina Walker of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Non-Partisan Political Council testified the legislation creating the Navy’s female reserve program should include a non-discrimination clause so all eligible women could volunteer to serve. Her argument fell on deaf ears. Public Law 689 creating the program did not specify blacks could not be recruited, yet they were denied the opportunity to do so for most of the war.

Whites and blacks representing civic, religious, and civil rights organizations across the country urged the Navy to recruit black women. The black press published articles about blacks being turned away at recruitment offices and the individuals and organizations demanding the Navy reverse its policy of exclusion. During a campaign speech in Chicago, Thomas Dewey, the Republican candidate in the 1944 presidential election, accused his opponent President Franklin D. Roosevelt of discriminating against blacks by not allowing them to become WAVES.

Citizens expressed their opposition to the Navy’s policy of excluding blacks from the WAVES by sending letters and petitions to President Roosevelt and Secretary of the Navy William “Frank” Knox. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt held a meeting with military and civilian leaders to discuss the issue.

Capt. Mildred McAfee, the WAVES director, supported diversity but she was well aware of Secretary Knox’s objections. She is reported to have overheard him saying that “[Blacks] would be in the WAVES over his dead body.” James Forrestal succeeded Knox after a fatal heart attack in April 1944. The new Navy Secretary did not believe a segregated Navy was cost-effective or made the best use of naval personnel. Under his leadership, the WAVES and the Navy Nurse Corps integrated.

Frances Wills(left) and Harriet Ida Pickens are sworn in Nov. 16, 1944 as Apprentice Seamen by Lt. Rosamond D. Selle, USNR, at New York City. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Frances Wills (left) and Harriet Ida Pickens are sworn in Nov. 16, 1944 as Apprentice Seamen by Lt. Rosamond D. Selle, USNR, at New York City. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Harriet Ida Pickens, a public health worker, and social worker Frances Elizabeth Wills distinguished themselves in mid-December, 1944 as the first black women to receive their commissions in the U.S. Navy. Pickens’ father, one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People advocated for the diversity of the WAVES program.

Interestingly, there were Japanese and Native American WAVES before Pickens and Wills. The Navy assigned Pickens as a physical training instructor and Wills as a classification test administrator at the main enlisted WAVES training facility at Hunter College in New York City, also known as USS Hunter. More than 70 blacks joined the enlisted ranks by Sept. 2, 1945. Among them was Edna Young, one of the first enlisted WAVES to later be sworn into the regular Navy.

Rear Adm. George L. Russell, USN, swears in the first six women in the Regular Navy on July 7, 1948, while the Secretary of the Navy John L. Sullivan, far left, looks on. Capt. Joy B. Hancock, Director of the Women's Reserve, is to RADM Russell's left The first six enlisted women are: Front row: (left to right) Chief Yeoman Wilma J. Marchal, USN; Yeoman Second Class Edna E. Young, USN; Hospital Corpsman First Class Ruth Flora, USN Second row: (left to right) Aviation Storekeeper First Class Kay L. Langen, USN; Storekeeper Second Class Frances T. Devaney, USN; and Teleman Doris R. Robertson, USN NHHC Collection

Rear Adm. George L. Russell, USN, swears in the first six women in the Regular Navy on July 7, 1948, while the Secretary of the Navy John L. Sullivan, far left, looks on. Of the six enlistees, Yeoman Second Class Edna E. Young is in the center. She later becomes the first female African American promoted to rank of chief petty officer.NHHC Collection  

During the past 70 years, black women across the ranks, ratings and communities have had outstanding careers in the Navy, including the following:

Edna Young was the first of her race and gender to be promoted to the rank of chief petty officer.

Brenda Robinson, the first black aviator, and Matice Wright, a naval flight officer, excelled in naval aviation.

Vivian McFadden integrated the Navy Chaplain Corps.

Janie Mines was the first black woman Naval Academy graduate.

Joan C. Bynum, a Navy nurse was the first black woman naval officer to attain the rank of captain (0-6).

  • Rear Adm. Lillian E. Fishburne, was the first African American woman to achieve that rank in the U.S. Navy.

    Rear Adm. Lillian E. Fishburne, was the first African American woman to achieve that rank in the U.S. Navy.

Lillian E. Fishburne, a communications officer, was the first of her race and gender to reach the rank of rear admiral in 1998.

Fleet Master Chief April Beldo is one of a select few men or women to become a fleet or force master chief.

Annie Anderson is the third black woman flag officer

  • WASHINGTON (July 1, 2014) Adm. Michelle Howard lends a hand to Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus as he and Wayne Cowles, Howard's husband, put four-star shoulder boards on Howard's service white uniform during her promotion ceremony at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Howard is the first woman to be promoted to the rank of admiral in the history of the Navy and will assume the duties and responsibilities as the 38th Vice Chief of Naval Operations from Adm. Mark Ferguson. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Peter D. Lawlor/Released)

    WASHINGTON (July 1, 2014) Adm. Michelle Howard lends a hand to Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus as he and Wayne Cowles, Howard’s husband, put four-star shoulder boards on Howard’s service white uniform during her promotion ceremony at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Howard is the first woman to be promoted to the rank of admiral in the history of the Navy and will assume the duties and responsibilities as the 38th Vice Chief of Naval Operations from Adm. Mark Ferguson. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Peter D. Lawlor/Released)

On July 1, 2014, Michelle J. Howard reached unprecedented heights with her promotion to the rank of four-star admiral and assignment as the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, the Navy’s first woman to hold that rank and position. Media outlets around the world celebrated her achievements. Howard is making history and doing a job that is reflective of her outstanding warfighting, leadership, and command abilities.

Just as the Navy was better with Pickens, Wills and the 70 enlisted women who followed them, it is better with Adm. Howard. Howard, like the first black female naval officers before her, is paving the way for even greater opportunities for women.

 

Regina Akers, PhD

Akers

Regina Akers, Ph.D., is an archivist and historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command based out of the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.

 
Oct 12

First Transit: 100 Years of the U.S. Navy in the Panama Canal

Sunday, October 12, 2014 7:00 AM
USS Jupiter

USS Jupiter off Mare Island Navy Yard, Calif., Oct. 1913. The future USS Langley (CV-1) would be the first U.S. Navy ship to transit the Panama Canal west to east on Oct. 12, 1914. NHHC photo

 

By Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

The Navy tradition of the Order of the Ditch may be getting as rare as hen’s teeth these days since opportunities to transit the Panama Canal have become fewer and fewer.

Unofficial Order of the Ditch (crossing Panama Canal) certificate by Tiffany Publishing

Unofficial Order of the Ditch (crossing Panama Canal) certificate by Tiffany Publishing

That wasn’t the case 100 years ago once U.S. naval ships started transiting the 51-mile-long mechanical marvel of locks linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

The first U.S. Navy ship to go through the locks was USS Jupiter, then a collier, on Oct. 12, 1914, taking nearly two days to complete the passage. The ship spent a day floating in the fresh lake water of the locks so they could kill their saltwater barnacles before slipping into the Atlantic Ocean.

It was just another series of firsts for the collier built at Mare Island Navy Yard in California and commissioned April 1913 as fuel ship #3. She was the first surface ship propelled by electric motors, yet would spend much of her life hauling coal to fuel other ships.

After her historic crossing (and barnacle-relieving) trip through the Canal, USS Jupiter supplied coal to combat and logistical forces on both sides of the Atlantic through World War I.

Langley being converted from a collier to an aircraft carrier at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in 1921.

Langley being converted from a collier to an aircraft carrier at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in 1921.

 In March 1920, Jupiter began her conversion to an aircraft carrier, USS Langley (CV 1). By November 1922, the “Old Covered Wagon” had successfully launched recovered and catapulted aircraft off her deck.

She remained operational as an aircraft carrier until 1936 when she was converted yet again into a seaplane tender (AV-3). During World War II, while transporting Army fighters to the Netherland East Indies, USS Langley was bombed by Japanese fighters. She was so damaged she was scuttled by her escorts Feb. 27, 1942.

Naval Air Station, North Island, San Diego, California, with a Douglas DT-2 airplane taking off from her flight deck. 1925. NHHC

Naval Air Station, North Island, San Diego, California, with a Douglas DT-2 airplane taking off from her flight deck. 1925.
NHHC

Like many firsts, there can be more than one, depending on your perspective. For instance, the first ship to officially go through the locks was the American steamer SS Ancon, as part of the ceremony opening the canal Aug. 15, 1914. Ancon was later purchased by the Navy in 1918, USS Ancon (ID 1467) was used to bring U.S. troops home after World War I.

SS Alcon transiting the Panama Canal during opening ceremonies Aug. 15, 1914.

SS Ancon transiting the Panama Canal during opening ceremonies Aug. 15, 1914. Photo courtesy of canalmuseum.org

The first combatant Navy ships passed through the locks in July 1915 when battleships USS Missouri (BB 11), Ohio (BB 12) and Wisconsin (BB 9) transited the canal.

Powered by Roosevelt

For years the need for a shortcut between the two oceans had been debated. Naval theorist Adm. Alfred Thayer Mahan wrote in his 1890 book The Influence of Sea Power upon History that a canal in Central America was vital to the defense of the United States. During the Spanish-American War eight years later, USS Oregon (BB 3) further proved his point by taking 67 days to travel from San Francisco to Florida via Cape Horn to assist the Atlantic Squadron in fighting the Spanish fleet at the Battle of Santiago at Cuba.

The defeat of the Spanish gave the United States territories in the Pacific, and a need to be able to get ships and soldiers from one hemisphere to another.

While there was a consensus about the need for a canal, it was much less so about where. The Panama Railroad was built in 1849. From 1857 until 1880, there was much talk about where to put the canal and effort into surveying different locations, but in 1880, the French started an effort to build a lockless, sea-level waterway that would cost $132 million and take 12 years to complete.

By 1888, the project had chewed up twice the amount of money and had covered only a third of the distance, with 16,500 deaths, mostly to yellow fever. By the time the designer realized he would have to go to a lock system in the canal, the project ran out of money in 1889.

Then Theodore Roosevelt became president. After being convinced the best route was along the Isthmus of Panama in the Panama province of Colombia, Roosevelt got both Houses of Congress to first pass the Spooner Act in June 1902 and then the 1903 Hay-Herran Treaty, which offered Colombia $10 million in gold with annual payments of $250,000.

The Colombians, however, wanted to stall the passage of any treaties until 1904 when the land used by the French project would revert back to Colombia. They wanted $10 million from the French and $15 million from the United States.

The Panama province, which had already tried to overthrow Colombia’s rule 53 times in 57 years, threatened to riot – again — if Colombia failed to pass the treaty. But this time Panama had the power of the United States protecting its back along with its own self-interest. When Panama declared its independence Nov. 3, 1903, Roosevelt made sure the U.S. Navy had warships parked in the harbor. Colombia failed to respond to the uprising and the United States was quick to recognize Panama as its own nation.

President Theodore Roosevelt visiting construction at the Panama Canal in Nov. 1906. New York Times archival photo

President Theodore Roosevelt visiting construction at the Panama Canal in Nov. 1906. New York Times archival photo

After that bit of gunboat diplomacy, work began on creating the canal. Roosevelt was the first sitting president to travel outside of the United States when he visited the canal zone in 1909.

When it officially opened for business Aug. 15, 1914, it came in at $326 million dollars, $144 million more than originally planned by the French. It opened to civilian and commercial traffic on July 12, 1920 at the cost of $53 million more, hampered by landslides in 1915-16, strikes in 1916-17 and the years of World War I. All told it cost $375 million, which included $10 million paid to Panama and $40 million to the French. During the American construction, 5,609 deaths were recorded, to be added to the more than 20,000 hospital-recorded deaths during the French construction era.

Secretary of State Henry Stimson declared the Panama Canal “the one spot external to our shores that nature has decreed to be most vital to our national safety, not to mention our prosperity.”

Prosperity indeed. By the beginning of World War II, the United States’ income increased by four percent due to the Panama Canal lopping off weeks in the transportation of cargo. It took approximately 10 hours to make the 50-mile journey through six locks to the tune of $200,000 to $400,000.

Prior to World War II, the United States relied heavily on the Panama Canal to cut short the distance by nearly 8,000 miles as they brought ships back and forth from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Circumstances changed, however, after the Naval Expansion Act of 1940 that allowed the United States to ramp up its ship-building program as a show of force to Germany and Japan. With an influx of new vessels and the passage of the Destroyers for Bases Act, the Navy could support a two-ocean fleet, keeping ships in both theaters rather than moving them back and forth.

Still, the canal was essential during World War II as the U.S. transited ships from its Atlantic Fleet to augment its decimated Pacific Fleet and to bring new ships to the theater as they came out of east coast shipyards. At the time, Essex-class aircraft carriers, built between 1941-50, could only squeeze through the locks after they took down the lamp posts lining the locks.

USS Missouri (BB-63) in the Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal, Oct. 13, 1945, while en route from the Pacific to New York City to take part in Navy Day celebrations. Note the close fit of the ship in the locks. The beam of battleships of this era was determined by Panama Canal lock dimensions. Specifically, the locks are 110 feet wide, and the beam of the vessels are 108 feet and some inches, leaving about 8 inches of clearance, per side. US Navy photo

USS Missouri (BB-63) in the Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal, Oct. 13, 1945, while en route from the Pacific to New York City to take part in Navy Day celebrations. Note the close fit of the ship in the locks. The beam of battleships of this era was determined by Panama Canal lock dimensions. Specifically, the locks are 110 feet wide, and the beam of the vessels are 108 feet and some inches, leaving about 8 inches of clearance, per side. US Navy photo

By the end of World War II, however, the Panama Canal had lost some of its luster for the U.S. Navy. Strategically, the war established the need for the United States to maintain fleets on both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, so there was less pressing need to quickly get ships from one side of Central America to the other. The canal’s importance remains, however, particularly with training exercises that have been held with maritime partners, such as PANAMAX 2014, an exercise on how to defend the canal held in August at Mayport, Fla., with 320 military and civilian personnel from 15 countries participating.

MAYPORT, Fla. (Aug. 10, 2014) Operations officer Lt. j.g Daniel Minter, left, Operations Specialist 1st Class Gavin Hawthorne, Chilean navy Capt. Allan Nettle, Commander of Command Task Force, and Peruvian Capt. Christian Ponce, all members of Command Task Force 801, discuss high value target locations during PANAMAX 2014 at Naval Station Mayport. PANAMAX is an annual U.S. Southern Command-sponsored Exercise series that focuses on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Andre N. McIntyre/Released)

MAYPORT, Fla. (Aug. 10, 2014) Operations officer Lt. j.g Daniel Minter, left, Operations Specialist 1st Class Gavin Hawthorne, Chilean navy Capt. Allan Nettle, Commander of Command Task Force, and Peruvian Capt. Christian Ponce, all members of Command Task Force 801, discuss high value target locations during PANAMAX 2014 at Naval Station Mayport. PANAMAX is an annual U.S. Southern Command-sponsored Exercise series that focuses on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Andre N. McIntyre/Released)

More recently, many of the Navy’s newest classes of ships are too large to fit through the locks, so earning an Order of the Ditch, commonplace last century, has been rare for the 21st Century Sailor.

The Panama Canal, which made the Civil Engineering Seven Wonders of the World list in 1994, is currently undergoing a $5.25 billion expansion to make it more relevant for naval transit in the decades to come. The upgrade, at 80 percent complete now, is slated to open in the spring of 2016 and will be able to handle supertankers known as post-Panamax ships, and today’s aircraft carriers. The lanes will accommodate 50-foot drafts, up from 39.5; vessels 1,200-feet long compared to 965-feet, and 160-feet wide, compared to 106.

Vice President Joseph Biden, visiting the new construction at the Panama Canal, spoke Nov. 19, 2013, expressing to Panamanians that the canal “is a reminder that our futures, the United States and Panama and this hemisphere, are inextricably linked.”

 
Oct 9

Celebrating in the Big Apple: America’s Navy in Ticker Tape

Thursday, October 9, 2014 12:15 AM
From the Statue of Liberty collection -- Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. Caption reads: The grand demonstration on "Liberty Day" October 28th--the military and civic procession passing down lower Broadway, with the naval pageant in the distance. Photo courtesy of Statute of Liberty National Park Service

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. Caption reads: The grand demonstration on “Liberty Day” October 28th–the military and civic procession passing down lower Broadway, with the naval pageant in the distance. Photo courtesy of Statute of Liberty National Park Service

From Naval History and Heritage Command Communication and Outreach Division

The iconic New York City ticker-tape parade started Oct. 28, 1886 as an impromptu celebration following the dedication of the Statute of Liberty.

Since then, more than 200 have been deserving recipients of a ticker-tape parade. Throwing ticker-tape was considered a throwback to the ancient ritual of tossing flowers before the paths of conquering heroes. The ticker-tape, a one-inch wide paper upon which stock quotes were printed, came in either spools or could be cut into confetti-sized pieces. It was used mostly in the financial district where the spools would create streamers from the buildings to the ground floor. The recipients rode in custom-built limousines to allow dignitaries to sit on top.

The parade begins at Battery Park, where most visiting dignitaries, such as the King and Queen of England, would disembark oceanliners, travel through the Canyon of Heroes on Broadway and end up at City Hall in Manhattan.

The first live person to have a ticker-tape parade after Lady Liberty and one honoring the 100th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration was Sept. 30, 1899 for Navy Adm. George Dewey, the hero of the Battle of Manila during the Spanish American War.

Lt. Cmdr. Richard E. Byrd is photographed with Army Maj. Gen. Charles P. Summerall, (left), and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore D. Robinson (right) after Byrd's return from the North Pole, June 23, 1926. His first ticker-tape parade in New York City was the same day. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Lt. Cmdr. Richard E. Byrd is photographed with Army Maj. Gen. Charles P. Summerall, (left), and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore D. Robinson (right) after Byrd’s return from the North Pole, June 23, 1926. His first ticker-tape parade in New York City was the same day.
U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Navy Cmdr. Richard Byrd claims the title of having the most ticker-tape parades at three. His first was June 23, 1926 with Chief Aviation Officer Floyd Bennett for their flight over the North Pole. The second was a year later on July 18, 1927 for his transatlantic flight, and his third, June 18, 1930, now a rear admiral, followed his expedition to Antarctica.

 

If the size of the parade is measured by the waste left behind, then the record goes to NASA astronaut and Ohio Sen. John Glenn, who at age 62 was honored for being the oldest-ever astronaut, along with the rest of the space shuttle Discovery crew, with a ticker-tape parade Nov. 16, 1998. The record-setting parade collected more than 3,474 tons of ticker-tape and debris. It was the second ticker-tape parade for the retired Marine colonel. His first was March 1, 1962 to honor him as the first American to orbit the earth.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur holds the record for the second-highest amount at 3,249 tons for the ticker-tape parade held in his honor April 20, 1951, the day after President Harry S. Truman removed him from his position as commander of the United Nations forces defending South Korea. When he spoke to Congress April 19 to declare his 52-year career was over, MacArthur received 50 standing ovations.

Both Glenn’s and MacArthur’s parades, at 19 miles, were longer than most today.

Until 1990, New York city paid out of its pocket for the parades, but since then, the parades have been paid for with a combination of donations, private funds or corporate sponsorship.

Mayor John Lindsay, who had greatly limited the number of ticker-tape parades after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, broke tradition when he rode with the moon-walking 1969 astronauts from Battery Park to City Hall, rather than waiting until the motorcade arrived at City Hall.

And there was actually a real Mr. Ticker-Tape, according to the Alliance for Downtown New York. Grover Whalen oversaw more than 1,000 public events (including dozens of ticker tape parades) as the city’s official greeter for 30 years beginning in 1919. He rode in the vehicle with Fleet Adm. Nimitz in 1945. He is distinguished by his top hat and carnation in his button hole. He also was responsible for setting up NYC’s municipal radio WNYC and the 1939/40 World’s Fair.

Ticker-tape parades today use shredded computer paper or any other paper that can be found, with most ticker-tape parades averaging around 50 tons of waste collected by the city’s sanitation department. One overly-excited person who planned to use the pages out of a phone book forgot to rip them out and hoisted the whole thing out the window. It struck a person on the street, knocking him unconscious.

Ironically, the most ticker-tape ever collected wasn’t even a parade. It was from the impromptu celebrations of Aug. 13-14, 1945, upon the announcement Japan had agreed to surrender, or what is more normally referred to as V-J Day. More than 5,438 tons of material, from cloth, feathers, hat trimmings, ticker-tape and confetti filled the streets over two days.

Navy Ticker-Tape Parade Recipients:

 

 
Oct 9

Millions Turn Out to Cheer Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz for NYC Ticker-Tape Parade

Thursday, October 9, 2014 12:05 AM
Nimitz Day Parade, New York City, 9 October 1945. Preceded by marchers and cars bearing Admiral Nimitz and his party, Marine Corps Medal of Honor winners (in Jeeps) ride up Broadway and Cedar Street. Private First Class Jacklyn H. Lucas, awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism on Iwo Jima, was one of those who participated in this parade. Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 103871.

Nimitz Day Parade, New York City, 9 October 1945. Preceded by marchers and cars bearing Admiral Nimitz and his party, Marine Corps Medal of Honor winners (in Jeeps) ride up Broadway and Cedar Street. Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 103871.

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

After commanding more than 2 million Soldiers, Sailors and Marines during the Pacific campaign of World War II, Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz probably wasn’t too concerned about rain clouds that threatened to rain on his parade Oct. 9, 1945.

But just like the Japanese a month earlier, the heavens capitulated and it was mostly sunny but breezy for the nearly 3-hour ticker-tape parade in New York City.

It was 69 years ago today when Adm. Nimitz took part in the second parade in his honor, the first being Oct. 5 at Washington, D.C. While the DC parade included speaking before both chambers of Congress and in front of thousands packing the National Mall, the New York City parade was mostly pomp and circumstance that epitomizes a New York City ticker-tape parade.

As with the Washington parade, Adm. Nimitz didn’t travel alone: Riding in a series of Jeeps behind him were 13 newly-awarded Medal of Honors recipients, and the admiral’s son, Cmdr. Chester W. Nimitz Jr., who had received the Navy Cross for his actions as a commander of submarine Haddo. Nimitz Jr. rode with prisoner of war and Marine ace Col. Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, followed by:

The more than 4-million turnout over the length of the route from Battery Park through Broadway (Avenue of Heroes) to City Hall in Manhattan and then Queens, at times overwhelmed Nimitz, who said “I can’t believe this is happening to me. I think I’m in a dream.”

New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia was clearly impressed with Nimitz’ modesty over such a display of admiration. “Strange, these real fighters are such mild-mannered persons,” he told a New York Times reporter.

Private First Class Jacklyn H. Lucas, USMCR. Waves from the back seat of a Jeep as he leaves LaGuardia Airport for Nimitz Day celebrations in New York City, New York on 9 October 1945. Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 103870.

Marine Private First Class Jacklyn H. Lucas, waves from the back seat of a Jeep during Nimitz Day celebrations in New York City Oct. 9, 1945. He was one of 13 Medal of Honor recipients who made up part of the parade. Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 103870.

None were quite as exuberant as Medal of Honor recipient Pfc. Jacklyn Lucas. He stood in the back seat of his Jeep, waving and throwing kisses to the women who lined the streets. One young lady even ran up to plant a kiss on him as they drove past.

Navy WAVES march smartly in formation on lower Broadway, New York City, as huge crowds watch the parade for Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, the first Naval hero to visit New York officially after World War II. The parade was on 9 October 1945. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 62428.

Navy WAVES march smartly in formation on lower Broadway, New York City, as huge crowds watch the parade for Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, the first Naval hero to visit New York officially after World War II. The parade was on 9 October 1945. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 62428.

The motorcade was led by 175 hand-picked Marines, veterans of action in the Pacific, plus six Navy and Coast Guard bands that alternated playing martial music, plus another 3,800 Navy, Marine, Coast Guard personnel along with 600 Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), women Marines, SPARS (“Semper Paratus—Always Ready” the name given to the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve), and Navy nurses.

Parade participants weren’t limited to those on streets, either. Along the East River, water craft added to celebration with blasts from their whistles, and two fire boats which spewed water from every hose nozzle.

Missing from the parade, however, was Catherine Nimitz, the guest-of-honor’s wife. Having already ridden with him for the Washington, D.C., parade, Mrs. Nimitz explained “there isn’t the slightest reason why he shouldn’t ride alone. It’s his day.” She was taken directly to City Hall to await her husband’s arrival there.

As New York celebrated the end of the war, Mrs. Nimitz knew her husband’s service to the U.S. Navy still wasn’t over, or for her as a volunteer worker at the Navy’s hospital in Oakland, Calif.

“Someday, perhaps when they send my husband home to stay, I’ll realize that is really over,” she told a New York Times reporter. “I don’t think anybody could work among the badly wounded and feel that it’s over. There’s so much still ahead of us, adjustments with other countries, adjusting in our own country.”

Hoping for an eventual return to normalcy, Mrs. Nimitz looked forward to her and her husband getting back to Pearl Harbor so she could “put her easel and paints in the back of her car and go off awhile.”

Once the motorcade got to City Hall, Adm. Nimitz stepped out on the stage built to look like the prow of a ship, with 1,000-pound anchors standing in the corners, 4-inch hawsers strung through hawse pipes and large pilings to give it the appearance of a pier. Navy life preservers hung on piles with bunting draped between. Six long ropes of Navy signal flags streamed from the cupola down the façade of the building. And bunting with five silver stars hung from the second balcony. Below that hung a huge map called “Nimitz Sea” with a lightning bolt from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo, Japan.

La Guardia spoke first, saying the city was honoring the man who had been given “the greatest and most difficult task ever entrusted one man,” command of the Pacific Fleet after the attack on Pearl Harbor. “There was no doubt at any time – it was just a matter of time – that Adm. Nimitz would clear the way from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo – and he did.”

A key to victory was training the people who served in the Navy. “Men and boys who had never seen the ocean were trained in seamanship, gunnery, navigation,” the mayor said.

As Adm. Nimitz walked to the podium to receive the city’s Gold Medal of Merit, there was the sound of the ship’s bell and shrill piping of bosun whistles as the 350,000 people in the vicinity cheered.

He spoke briefly, accepting the honors “on behalf of the two million men of the Army, the Navy, Marine Corps, men of New Zealand, men of Great Britain, all of whom teamed up together to defeat Japan.”

Victory had been achieved because America came together, Nimitz said, from the fighting forces overseas and on the home-front by industry and agriculture achieving “proud production miracles, by American shipyards building the world’s mightiest fleet and the greatest merchant marine.”

While the war may be over, Nimitz stressed the U.S. Navy “must remain strong” and retain adequate seapower” to make sure peace reigns.

“Never again should we risk the threat that weakness invites,” he said. “We owe this to the men who have fought and to the youngsters who are growing up today. Let us give our next generation a heritage of strength so that our citizens may live without having to spend their blood in battle.”

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, addresses a VFW Rally in New York City during Nimitz Day Celebrations in New York City, 9 October 1945. Mrs. Nimitz is at right. Courtesy of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, (Retired). NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 49756

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, addresses a VFW Rally in New York City during Nimitz Day Celebrations in New York City, 9 October 1945. Mrs. Nimitz is at right. Courtesy of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, (Retired). NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 49756

The parade ended at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel at Park Avenue and 56th Street where Adm. Nimitz was treated to lunch at the Starlight Roof with classmates from his Naval Academy Class of 1905. Afterward, Nimitz stopped by the Women’s Military Services Club.

That evening, he attended a $15 a plate dinner with 2,000 guests. It is here where Adm. Nimitz showed a lighter side and his sense of humor.

As reported by the New York Times on Oct. 10, 1945, “Admiral Chester W. Nimitz scored a salvo on his audience at the dinner in his honor at the Waldorf-Astoria last night when he interpolated into his serious address a rollicking bit of doggerel: ‘Nimitz and Halsey and Me.’ The verse, he said, was written by an unnamed naval officer in the Pacific and it illustrated the camaraderie in the Navy.”

 

NIMITZ AND HALSEY AND ME

 

Patsy McCoy, an American boy,

Left his home in the old Empire State.

He set out to sea in a shiny DD,

And wound up in Task Force 38.

He cruised for awhile with a satisfied smile,

And then he took his pencil in hand.

And here’s what he wrote

In a well-censored note.

To the folks back in home-state land!

 

Me and Halsey and Nimitz

Have sure got the [Japanese] on the run

We’re driving them wacky in old Nagasaki.

We’re setting the damn Rising Sun,

Kyushu and Kobe and Kure

Are wonderful ruins to see.

We’ve got ‘em like gophers a’seeking’ a hole;

The way that they burrow is good for the soul:

And everything out here is under control –

By Nimitz and Halsey and me.

 

Me and Halsey and Nimitz

Are having a wonderful time.

What we ain’t uprootin’ by bombing and shooting,

Will fit on the face of a dime.

They say they’re a face-saving nation,

And that may be true as can be;

They’re taking a pushing all over the place;

We’re giving ‘em arsenic minus old lace.

They’re getting a kicking but not in the face –

From Nimitz and Halsey and me.

 

Me and Halsey and Nimitz

Are anchored in Tokyo Bay;

The place is just drippin’ with American shippin’,

They stretch for a hell of a way.

We hear that the fightin’ is finished

And that’s the way it should be.

Remember Pearl Harbor – they started it then;

We’re warning ‘em never to start it again;

For we have a country with millions of men —

Like Nimitz and Halsey and me.

 

Information for this blog came from published news reports in the New York Times Oct. 10, 1945.

 

 

 
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