Nov 9

‘It Still Takes My Breath Away’

Monday, November 9, 2015 12:01 AM


"During the war, my dad was working in southwestern South Dakota at an ordnance depot on an Army base that held a garrison of Italian prisoners of war. The Army was testing ammunition out on the prairie and storing it there. Those are my earliest memories of the military," recalled Tom Brokaw, pictured in 1944. (Courtesy of Tom Brokaw)

An Interview with Tom Brokaw     Scheduled to deliver the Third Annual Haydn Williams World War II Memorial Legacy Lecture on 10 November at the National Defense University in Washington is Tom Brokaw—certainly no stranger to the U.S. Naval Institute and Naval History magazine. Since joining NBC News in 1966, he has won every major award in broadcast journalism. The former anchor and managing editor of The NBC Nightly News met in Washington with then-Naval History Editor Fred Schultz about how and why he came to write his well-known book The Greatest Generation. Naval History: Since you’ve had no… Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 6

U.S. Navy Faced Challenges Protecting America’s New Sailor in Chief

Friday, November 6, 2015 12:01 AM



The United States Navy faced a new and very different set of challenges in protecting President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who loved the sea, spending more days afloat than any American president. It was not uncommon for America’s new sailor in chief and his crew of amateur sailors to take to the sea in a small sailboat, sometimes for days at a time. He would skillfully—and with a great deal of delight—evade his Navy and Secret Service guards, sailing his schooner, Amberjack II, into secluded coves and narrow reaches where Navy and Coast Guard vessels—FDR called them “our wagging tail”–could not… Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 5

The Atomic Buoy Experiment

Thursday, November 5, 2015 12:01 AM


The Atomic Buoy being readied for deployment. Curtis Bay, Maryland, December, 1962. USCG Photo. USNI Archives.

It’s not every day that the deployment of a navigational aid is attended by great fanfare, but that is exactly what happened on December 15th, 1961 at the Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Maryland. That afternoon, the U. S. Coast Guard launched its grand experiment for the world of tomorrow: the new Atomic Buoy. Wait–the new what? Eight years earlier, on December 8th, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower stepped to the podium in the U.N. General Assembly hall in New York City to deliver an address on a topic that had been weighing heavily on the minds of many… Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 4

Salty Talk

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 10:10 AM



Sailors, because they traveled to faraway places and mingled with many different people, probably were the first global society. These world travelers brought home to their communities words and phrases that gradually entered the native language. More than that, they developed their own lingo, and words and phrases of theirs were like-wise picked up by friends and family ashore. In this series, we’ll highlight some of this “salty talk” and discover what it meant before it came ashore. Every one of us has heard of being “in the doghouse.” It’s a favorite resting place for husbands unfortunate enough to displease… Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 3

President Roosevelt’s Gone Fishin’

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 12:01 AM


Map charting the course from San Diego, California, to Pensacola, Florida

In the summer of 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt came aboard the USS Houston (CA-30) for a fishing trip. He and his party, which included scientists from the Smithsonian Institute, boarded the cruiser on 17 July in San Diego. The scientists were invited to collect specimens from Central and South America while the President fished. The ship sailed south for the Galapagos Islands, and stopped along the way in Mexico and several islands. Before arriving at the final destination on 24 July, the Houston crossed the equator, which involved the traditional line-crossing celebration. After leaving the Galapagos, the ship turned… Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 1

On Naval History Magazine’s Scope

Sunday, November 1, 2015 12:01 PM


CDR Robert Dunn stands in front of his A-4C Skyhawk before an Operation Rolling Thunder mission. (courtesy of retired VADM Robert F. Dunn, USN)

As the Navy attack group and supporting fighters headed west over North Vietnam, small gray puffs blossomed in the clear sky—antiaircraft fire. More appeared, joined by black bursts from larger AA guns and tracers from light guns. The flak quickly thickened, engulfing and buffeting the aircraft, while far below long orange flames indicated missiles headed skyward. The scene, as observed by then-Commander Robert F. Dunn from his A-4C Skyhawk, “was a maelstrom of sights and a cacophony of noise with warnings and voice calls. It reminded me of an orchestra with, at first, a few violins and other strings, then… Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 29

Anatomy of a Tragedy: The Sinking of the USS S-4

Thursday, October 29, 2015 12:01 AM


S-4 washington

At 3:50 P.M. on the afternoon of December 17, 1927, the commandant of the Boston Navy Yard received a flash radio message from the U.S. Coast Guard Destroyer Paulding: “Rammed and sank unknown submarine off Wood End, Provincetown.” Within minutes, the worst fears of many were realized when it was confirmed that the submarine was the USS S-4. Though rescue efforts immediately began in earnest, it was too late for the 39 crewmen and a civilian observer aboard S-4. Most had already perished; six men trapped in the torpedo compartment would not be rescued in time. While the events that… Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 28

History Made in a Hellcat

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 12:01 AM


Decorated Warbird: The F6F Hellcat, flown by Commander David McCampbell during World War II, sits on display at the U.S. Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. (U.S. NAVY)

On the morning of 24 October 1944, in a pair of Hellcat fighters, Commander David McCampbell and his wingman, Ensign Roy Rushing, scrambled from the flight deck of the USS Essex CV-9) to repel a formation of 40 inbound Japanese aircraft. Rushing had a full load of fuel, but McCampbell had been forced to take off before his tanks were full. Undetected by the enemy, the two lone Hellcat pilots were able to position themselves above and behind the Japanese. As one of the enemy fighters began lagging behind the formation, McCampbell pounced like the lion who focuses its attack… Read the rest of this entry »