Some who read this will be old enough to remember at least a little about the days of Prohibition and the audacious activities of rum runners. Did you ever wonder why the men who distributed and sold illegal spirits were called “bootleggers?” Well, me hearties, we must hark back to the days of pirates bold for the answer to this intoxicating question. In the 16th and early 17th centuries, men’s and women’s fashions went to ridiculous extremes: wigs were enormously tall, skirts voluminous, cuffs on coat sleeves gigantic, all in colors that would put a peacock to shame. Among the… Read the rest of this entry »
U.S. victories were few and far between during the early months of the Pacific war, especially for the hard-pressed and understrength U.S. Asiatic Fleet, which along with other Allied forces was attempting to stem Japan’s conquest of the Dutch East Indies. Nevertheless, four Asiatic Fleet CLEMSON-class destroyers share the honor of winning the first surface action of the Pacific contest, a tactical victory that was of little strategic importance. In the early hours of 24 January 1942, the flush-deck four-pipers attacked a dozen Japanese transports assembled off Balikpapan, Borneo, prior to the invasion of the oil center, sinking four of… Read the rest of this entry »
Twenty-five years. It’s hard to believe Operation Desert Storm was so long ago. Perhaps that’s because the United States seemingly has been at war in that part of the world ever since. Or maybe because images of the conflict’s high-tech U.S. weapons in action were so indelible. Like many of you, I clearly recall being glued to the TV for much of the conflict. Otto Kreisher, on the other hand, witnessed the war firsthand as a journalist accompanying the U.S. Marines into Kuwait. A former enlisted Leatherneck, Kreisher is the author of the January/February Naval History cover story about the… Read the rest of this entry »
The rectangular frame-like object seemingly fastened above the pilothouse of the USS New York (BB-34), above, wasn’t an oversized mattress spring or an early-model solar panel. It was the antenna for the XAF, the first radar set installed on board a major U.S. warship. Successful tests of the new device—including three months of 20-hour-a-day operation for aircraft detection, navigation, and gunnery practice—convinced the Navy that radar would be a godsend. The awkward-looking, 17-foot-square antenna could reliably detect aircraft as far as 100 nautical miles out and spot surface ships 15 miles away. And it could track projectiles and falling shot… Read the rest of this entry »
While reading through Captain Collins Oral History, many stories stuck out to me. Her induction into the WAVES, becoming regular Navy, dealing with a Navy not prepared for women, but out of all those wonderful stories, the excerpt below is perhaps on the funniest I read. She explains to Paul Stillwell from USNI how she was introduced to Admiral Halsey while stationed in Hawaii during World War II. A multimillionaire businessman from Denver gave the women officers a beautiful home at Kailua. It’s across the Pali from Pearl Harbor and right on the beach. It was a gorgeous place…. Read the rest of this entry »
“Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished. . . .” —… Read the rest of this entry »
The Lockheed Neptune was the first U.S. aircraft designed from the outset for the land-based maritime patrol role, and it was the first U.S. Navy aircraft that could carry a nuclear weapon. All previous U.S. land-based maritime patrol aircraft were adapted from bomber or transport designs. Among them were Lockheed’s highly successful PBO-1 Hudson and PV-series Harpoon and Ventura aircraft. Those planes— flown by Navy and Marine Corps pilots—made major contributions to Allied victory in the Atlantic and Pacific during World War II. The Neptune was a natural progression from the twin-engine PV series.
The Confederacy has been much in the news—or at least its symbols have, with many Americans wishing to erase those symbols from sight and mind. Thus it may not be the best time to publish a book titled A Confederate Biography. Nevertheless, I was drawn to the subject as a great sea story, and through the course of my research, I discovered that it was much more than that: it is a real American tale, a significant slice of Civil War history, and a wonderful navy narrative—the Confederate navy, our other navy. The idea of biography was suggested by Admiral… Read the rest of this entry »