Archive for the 'Wars' Category

Feb 10

Extraordinary American

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 3:50 PM

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Jack Schiff selflessly dedicated himself to the Navy and related organization even after his death in 1998. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

In many ways, John J. “Jack” Schiff typified that once very large and now rapidly dwindling group of extraordinary Americans that Tom Brokaw so aptly characterized as “the greatest generation.” Like so many of those brave souls in those troubled times when Nazis and Fascists and other monsters roamed the earth, Jack left a promising business in Cincinnati to don his nation’s uniform in March 1942. Because it was not in Jack Schiff’s character to tell others of his achievements, we cannot know the full extent of his contributions to the war effort and can only piece together his service… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 8

A Lack of Seatbelt Saves a Life

Monday, February 8, 2016 12:01 AM

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De Havilland DH-4

Colgate W. Darden, a U.S. Navy aviator during World War I, received his wings in 1918 and went to France as a Marine Corps flier. Shortly before the end of the war, he was involved in a terrible plane accident. He was sitting in the rear of a De Havilland DH-4 with pilot and Medal of Honor recipient Second Lieutenant Ralph Talbot (USMCR) on 25 October 1918. Darden, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was flung from the airplane, which burst into flames, killing Talbot. Below is an excerpt from Darden’s Oral History conducted by Dr. John T. Mason in… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 4

Thomas Mandigo: From Slave to Seaman

Thursday, February 4, 2016 12:01 AM

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The gravestone of Thomas Mandigo, Sandy Hill A. M. E. Cemetery, Chester County, PA. Author's photo.

Tucked in the woods in the rolling foothills of Pennsylvania’s Welsh Mountains sits the tiny and largely forgotten Sandy Hill African Methodist Episcopal cemetery. A visitor to the rural graveyard is likely to be greeted first by the sound of clopping horses pulling Amish buggies along the rural highway. Taking a closer look, one will see several American flags marking the graves of veterans buried there. From there, one may see the stone of a sailor propped against a tree. It reads, THOMAS MANDIGO AGED 70 YEARS OF U. S. WAR SHIP LADOWNA The story of how Mandigo came to… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 28

The Marine Corps Goes Geodesic

Thursday, January 28, 2016 12:01 AM

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A Marine HRS-1 Helicopter flies away with its own hangar. Quantico, VA, August 3, 1954. Naval Institute Photo Archives.

By the time R. Buckminster Fuller received his patent in June 1954 for a “geodesic, hemispherical structure for enclosing space,” he had already formed a mutually beneficial relationship with a very important client for his new designs: the U.S. Marine Corps. His patent [.pdf]—the geodesic dome—was an ingenious use of engineering to produce a complex yet strong structure out of easy-to-assemble parts. The dome, with a framework of simple materials such as aluminum alloy or paperboard, could be easily erected with little advance training. And most important, it could be done quickly. The Korean War and the importance of mobility… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 22

So You Want to Interview a Kamikaze

Friday, January 22, 2016 12:01 AM

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Kaoru Hasegawa. Naval Institute photo archives.

The call came to our headquarters at the Naval Academy’s Preble Hall in mid-1995. It was retired Navy Captain Bill Horn, asking whether I’d be interested in an interview with a Japanese kamikaze from World War II. Without logically pondering the idea, I blurted out “Of course!” Then it slowly began to sink in. Bill Horn is an intelligent and knowledgeable guy, but I wondered whether somehow he simply had been tricked by a crank caller. If this person were indeed a kamikaze, I wondered, how could he be alive to tell the tale? Captain Horn had the answer. At… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 20

‘Bobbi’

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 12:37 PM

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Bobbi Hovis served as a Navy nurse in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

In August 1963, Lieutenant Commander Vila Hovis received orders to Saigon, Vietnam. The orders were not a surprise because she was the first Navy nurse to volunteer for service in that far-off corner of the world. Her orders directed her current command to “ENSURE THAT SHE IS ORIENTED IN CODE OF CONDUCT . . . AND DANGERS OF COMMUNISM.” It was apparent that Commander Hovis was headed for a war zone, though not for the first time, since she had been a flight nurse in Korea more than a decade before. But these were the early days in a new… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 18

‘A Very Disagreeable Affair’

Monday, January 18, 2016 12:01 AM

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In Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island colonists head for shore after setting HMS GASPEE ablaze. (Heroic Deeds of American Sailors)

When we reflect back at the early period of our naval history, Americans tends to look for battles out on the blue water to mark the beginning of our sea services. John Paul Jones and his battles against HMS Serapis and Drake capture the imagination because of the quotable exclamations of the captain, as well as because of a caricatured Mahanian view of the centrality of big decisive sea battles. Lost in that search for the Midway or Jutland of the distant past is the fact that many of the most important naval fights of the Revolutionary era occurred instead… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 15

Defusing a Crisis

Friday, January 15, 2016 12:01 AM

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After playing a key role during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Elmo Zumwalt Jr., at age 49, became the youngest four-star admiral in U. S. naval history. He passed away in 2000. (U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE PHOTO ARCHIVE)

Probably the closest this nation has come to engaging in nuclear war was during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. After U.S. reconnaissance planes spotted Soviet nuclear missiles being set up in Cuba—not far from our shores—the stage was set for a tense international confrontation. The public face of the situation in the United States was President John F. Kennedy, who addressed the nation on television to lay out the plan for a naval quarantine—in effect, a blockade to prevent further missile shipments into Cuba. One of the actors behind the scenes during those dramatic days was Captain Elmo… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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