Sep 4

A French Double: Two dates in the Storied Partnership of America and France

Thursday, September 4, 2014 10:07 AM
Artist Benjamin West (1730-1820) painted the depiction of the signing of the treaty between America and Great Britain on Sept. 3, 1783, but was never finished because the British delegation refused to pose. Pictured are John Jay, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Laurens and William Temple Franklin. National Archives photo

Artist Benjamin West (1730-1820) painted the depiction of the signing of the treaty between America and Great Britain on Sept. 3, 1783, but was never finished because the British delegation refused to pose. Pictured are John Jay, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Laurens and William Temple Franklin. National Archives photo

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

Today we recognize two events that showed the United States’ appreciation for France’s support during the six years the young nation actively fought for independence from Great Britain. Benjamin Franklin, America’s first diplomat, was the driving force behind the warm relationship between the U.S. and France which readily agreed to recognize the 13 former British colonies as their own nation.

And so it was on Sept. 3, 1782, the United States gave as a gift to King Louis XVI a not-yet-completed 74-gun man-of-war to be named America, and a year later, it was in France where the Treaty of Paris would be negotiated and signed Sept. 3, 1873, officially giving the United States of America its freedom from Great Britain.

Neither effort by the Americans to honor their French partnership were sustained. The ship America lasted only three years sailing for the French. And less than 10 years after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, the death of King Louis XVI would end more than 1,000 years of continuous rule by French monarchy during the French Revolution. And with the Louisiana Purchase 10 years after that, the French had no territory left near their former ally.

America, the only liner built of those authorized by the first American legislation. Presented to France prior to launching, she did not commission in the Continental Navy. Oil by Blunt, 1835. Courtesy of the Marine Historical Association, Inc., Mystic, Conn.

Oil painting by John S. Blunt, 1834, depicting the warship America, 74 guns, built in Portsmouth, NH, in 1781 and presented to France. Image courtesy of Mystic Seaport.

 Not the first USS America

She had at one point two legends of the U.S. Navy assigned as her commanders. She was the largest and most powerful man-of-war built in her day, constructed in a shipyard of a fledging nation still fighting for its independence.

Yet in a twist of fate, by the time the warship to be named America was ready to leave the dock, she would instead fly under the French flag. On Sept. 3, 1782, Congress decided to give the nearly finished America to King Louis XVI of France to replace the French ship of the line Magnifique, which had run aground and was destroyed Aug. 11, 1782 while attempting to enter Boston harbor. America was to symbolize the new nation’s appreciation for France’s service to and sacrifices on behalf of the cause of American patriots during the American Revolution. It had been less than a year earlier when France’s intervention during the Battle of Yorktown Oct. 9, 1781 resulted in British Gen. Cornwallis retreating, effectively ending the war.

The Continental Congress had authorized the construction of three 74-gun ships of the line on Nov. 9, 1776. America was laid down in May 1777 in the shipyard of John Langdon on Rising Castle Island in the Piscataqua River between Portsmouth, N.H. and Kittery, Maine.

Progress on her construction was delayed by a chronic scarcity of funds and a consequent shortage of skilled craftsmen and well-seasoned timber. After dragging on for two years, the Marine Committee named Capt. John Barry as her prospective commanding officer Nov. 6, 1779. He had already kept the Marine Committee from down-grading the 74-gun man-of-war to a 54-gun frigate. He was ordered to hurry the process and get the ship finished.

But Barry could do little about getting more skilled labor and seasoned wood. On Sept. 5, 1780, he was ordered to Boston to take command of what many considered the finest ship to serve in the Continental Navy, the 36-gun frigate Alliance, which had recently arrived from Europe.

But the loss of Capt. Barry would hardly be felt since the ship’s next commanding officer was Capt. John Paul Jones, legendary already for his exploits in fighting the British earlier in the war. He arrived at Portsmouth on Aug. 31, 1781, where he threw himself into the task of getting the man-of-war to sail within a year.

But then fate would change the ship’s journey, and effectively ended Capt. Jones’ career in a post-Revolutionary War navy. When the French ship Magnifique was destroyed entering Boston Harbor, Congress took the opportunity to play a bit of politics by giving the not-yet-completed ship to King Louis XVI on Sept. 3, 1782.

Greatly disappointed, Jones remained in Portsmouth striving to finish the new ship of the line. On Nov. 5, 1782, Jones watched as the America, partially held back by a series of ropes calculated to break in sequence to check the vessel’s acceleration, slipped gracefully into the waters of the Piscataqua.

After she was rigged and fitted out, the ship, the former commander of Magnifique, M. le Chevalier de Macarty Martinge, departed Portsmouth on June 24, 1783 and reached Brest, France, on July 16, six years after her keel was laid.

As her wake dissipated, so, too, was Jones’ career in the United States. With no ship to command, there simply was no position for Jones. He returned to Europe in 1783 to collect prize money due his crew. By 1787, he was a rear admiral in the Russian Navy. Five years later, while still pleading for a position within the U.S. Navy, he would die in France.

Alas, America’s service with the French was fleeting. Three years after receiving America as a gift, dry rot would do her in. A survey committee determined the dry rot, probably caused by her wartime construction from green timber, was beyond economical repair. She was scrapped and a new French warship bearing the same name was built in 1788. That Temeraire-class America was captured by the British during the Battle of Glorius First of June in 1794. Renamed HMS Impetuex, the ship served in the Royal Navy until she was broken up in 1813. But she became the prototype for the Royal Navy’s own America-class ships of line.

 Signing the preliminary Treaty of Peace at Paris. John Jay and Benjamin Franklin are standing at the left. The scene depicted took place on Nov. 30, 1782, one of many treaty signings between Great Britain, the United States and other European countries. This is a print of a painting by German artist Carl Wilhelm Anton Se8iler (1846-1921). Photo courtesy of U.S. Diplomacy Center

Signing the preliminary Treaty of Peace at Paris. John Jay and Benjamin Franklin are standing at the left. The scene depicted took place on Nov. 30, 1782, one of many treaty signings between Great Britain, the United States and other European countries. This is a print of a painting by German artist Carl Wilhelm Anton Se8iler (1846-1921). Photo courtesy of U.S. Diplomacy Center

 

 

 Diplomatic Dream Team

That the Treaty of Paris was developed where it was would come as no surprise to those who knew Benjamin Franklin. A distinguished scientific and literary scholar, French aristocrats and intellectuals alike embraced Franklin as a perfect example of New World Enlightenment. (We’ll forgive Franklin his preference of the turkey for our national bird). He had the popularity of a rock star in France, where ladies would fashion their hair in a style that imitated the balding diplomat’s fur cap he wore instead of a wig.

After Britain’s defeat at Yorktown in Oct. 1781, America’s dream team of diplomats – Franklin, John Adams and John Jay – began hammering out a treaty. Franklin started by asking for Canada, knowing the British government would never accept that offer. But asking for the moon allowed Franklin to gain fishing rights off the Newfoundland coast, plus expanded the young nation west to the Mississippi River, to the Florida border (then owned by Spain) to the south and to the Canadian border to the north. The formal treaty was signed by Great Britain on Sept. 3, 1783, although it wasn’t ratified by the United States Congress until the following year. The treaty also included a promise to give back to British Loyalists their land confiscated during the American Revolution. Some states did, others not so much.

Ironically, France’s appreciation for enlightened thinkers like Franklin and Jefferson, and the creation of a constitution that emphasized reason and individualism rather than tradition, would play a large part in the bloody French Revolution. Less than 10 years later, King Louis XVI, who had ruled for nearly 20 years, would be overthrown and guillotined in January 1793.

An offer he couldn’t refuse

Just another decade later, former Treaty of Paris dream team negotiator and now president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, would pull off the April 11, 1803 Louisiana Purchase from the French at a time when Napoleon needed money more than land to fight the British. Prepared to purchase just the city of New Orleans for $10 million, Jefferson quickly accepted Napoleon’s offer to purchase all of the Louisiana Territory for $15 million, which doubled the size of the United States to the Rocky Mountains on the west and completely boot their former ally out of owning any territory near America’s borders.

 
Sep 2

Destroyers for Bases: Roosevelt finds loophole in Neutrality Act to help Great Britain

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 3:07 PM
"Red Lead Row," San Diego Destroyer Base, Calif., with at least 65 destroyers tied up there. Of those destroyers, 15 of them would go to Great Britain for the "Destroyers for Bases" agreement. Photographed at the end of 1922. Photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command

“Red Lead Row,” San Diego Destroyer Base, Calif., with at least 65 destroyers tied up there. Of those destroyers, 15 of them would go to Great Britain for the “Destroyers for Bases” agreement. Photographed at the end of 1922. For a complete listing of ships’ names in this photo, please click here. Photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command

By Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

In September 1940, Americans were still recovering from World War I two decades earlier with terrible loss of life. So deep were the wounds of the war, that Congress passed the first of four Neutrality Acts in 1935 banning the shipment or sale of arms from the U.S. to any combatant nation. Isolationism was popular among the citizenry, but as Germany continued to invade and take control of one country after another, President Franklin D. Roosevelt knew the time would come when the U.S. would be drawn into the war.

Still, he faced a conundrum: He was sympathetic to the needs of Great Britain and the need to stop the Axis powers of Germany, Japan and Italy, but in July he had accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for a third term as president of the United States which counted among the planks of its platform a pledge that “We will not participate in foreign wars, and we will not send our army, naval or air forces to fight in foreign lands outside of the Americas, except in the case of attack.”

Lucky for Roosevelt that said nothing about sending ships.

And so it was, 74 years ago today, that Roosevelt proposed a solution that would help the embattled Britain and strengthen the United States’ defenses against any future threats: the Sept. 2, 1940 Destroyers for Bases Agreement.

When Germany began its invasion of France in May 1940, and marched into Paris a little more than a month later, it forced the British to evacuate thousands of French and British soldiers from Dunkirk. The evacuation came at a terrible cost: 68,000 men either dead, wounded, missing or captured, the loss of 222 ships including at least six destroyers plus another 19 heavily damaged, and the loss of more than 950 Royal Air Force aircraft.

“What General Weygard has called the Battle of France is over…the Battle of Britain is about to begin,” Winston Churchill delivered in a House of Commons speech in late June. He knew Britain, standing alone, was about to face her darkest hour and the only hope for help was an isolationist America.

Great Britain's Prime Minister Winston Churchill, left, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt onboard USS Augusta off the coast of Newfoundland during the Atlantic Charter Conference in Aug. 1941. NHHC photo

Great Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill, left, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt onboard USS Augusta off the coast of Newfoundland during the Atlantic Charter Conference in Aug. 1941. NHHC photo

Churchill reached out to Roosevelt in July as German bombers began raids of Great Britain. The two world leaders had developed a close working relationship earlier in the year while Churchill was still the first lord of the admiralty. At the time, Churchill had urged the United States to take more of an anti-Axis position, pointing out that if Great Britain were to fall to the enemy, there would suddenly be a number of German colonies very close to America’s shores.

Bound by the Neutrality Acts, Roosevelt suggested a trade: air and naval bases within Great Britain’s colonies for 50 of the Navy’s over-aged destroyers. He could justify the swap because outlying bases would keep invaders from reaching America’s shores.

An agreement was quickly accepted on Sept. 2, 1940. The lease was guaranteed for 99 years “free from all rent and charges other than such compensation to be mutually agreed on to be paid by the United States.” Bases would be established in the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad, Antigua and British Guiana. Separately, bases in Newfoundland and Bermuda were “gifts generously given and gladly received,” Roosevelt said.

Roosevelt covered his bases, no pun intended, by reaching out first to Attorney General Robert H. Jackson to make sure the president had the power to enter into such an agreement without bringing it first to Congress. Jackson said he did. Jackson believed the Constitution gave the president the power under his title as Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy whose power is not defined or limited.

Roosevelt explained his actions to Congress on Sept. 3.

“This is not inconsistent in any sense with our status of peace,” Roosevelt assured Congress. “Still less is it a threat against any nation. It is an epochal and far-reaching act of preparation for continental defense in the face of grave danger.

“Preparation for defense is an inalienable prerogative of a sovereign state. Under present circumstances this exercise of sovereign right is essential to the maintenance of our peace and safety… The value to the Western Hemisphere of these outposts of security is beyond calculation. Their need has long been recognized by our country, and especially by those primarily charged with the duty of charting and organizing our own naval and military defense… For these reasons I have taken advantage of the present opportunity to acquire them.”

The destroyers for bases agreement was just one of several the United States would employ in order to help give Great Britain what help it could. After winning an unprecedented third term in office, Roosevelt tried to bring Congress closer to understanding America’s continued neutrality could not stand much longer.

During a fireside chat on Dec. 29, 1940, Roosevelt explained the message wasn’t about going to war, but instead “a talk on national security.” It was when he urged America to become “the great arsenal of democracy.”

Shortly afterward, he proposed the “Lend-Lease” program that allowed cash-strapped countries to purchase armament and equipment and deferring their payments.

In the meantime, just weeks after winning an unprecedented third-term in office, Roosevelt reached out to Churchill by sending his personal emissary, his former Republican opponent Wendell Willkie, to London with a message that included a few lines by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, probably most famous for his poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” about America’s quest for independence from Great Britain.

But the stanza from “The Building of A Ship” included a personal note from Roosevelt, stating it applied to the British people:

Sail on, O Ship of State!

Sail on, O Union, strong and great!

Humanity with all its fears,

With all the hopes of future years,

Is hanging breathless on thy fate!

The lines resonated with the prime minister. As Congress wrangled with the decision to pass the “Lend-Lease” Act, Churchill responded to Roosevelt’s note during a Feb. 9, 1941 BBC radio speech to his citizenry:

“Here is the answer which I will give to President Roosevelt: Put your confidence in us. Give us your faith and your blessing, and, under Providence, all will be well. “We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle, nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.”

The Lend-Lease Act was passed just weeks later. This act, along with the Destroyers for Bases Agreement, would help turn the tide against Germany in Europe. Churchill would later call the initiatives as “the most unsordid act” one nation had ever done for another.

Although both agreements created goodwill between the nations, it was the United States that probably benefited the most. With its defense industry ramping up, the U.S. would be prepared to join the fight when the time came on Dec. 7, 1941.

 
Aug 29

#PeopleMatter – Claud A. Jones lived our Navy’s core values and became a hero

Friday, August 29, 2014 10:12 AM
 Claud A. Jones, Medal of Honor recipient; retired Rear Admiral; photo is U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph #NH 48727

Claud A. Jones, Medal of Honor recipient; retired Rear Admiral; photo is U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph #NH 48727

For a West Virginia guy, Rear Adm. Claud A. Jones sure spent a lot of time on ships named Tennessee or for a city in the Volunteer state.

Jones served as the engineer officer for the battleship Tennessee, and before that, spent a year onboard the armored cruiser Tennessee before she was renamed Memphis.

It was that ship that would make a lasting impression on Jones, and earn him a Medal of Honor 98 years ago today.

Born in Fire Creek, W. Va., on Dec. 7, 1884, Jones was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1903 and graduated in 1906 at the age of 21.

After graduation from the Naval Academy, Jones served aboard the battleships Indiana and New Jersey for the next two years and received his commission in 1908.

As a newly minted ensign, Jones reported for duty aboard USS Severn and the armored cruiser USS North Carolina and from there, received post-graduate engineering education at the Naval Academy and Harvard University. After his education was complete, he served onboard the battleships Ohio, New York, and ended with the North Dakota in 1915 and the rank of lieutenant.

Lt. Jones reported for duty as the Engineer Officer aboard the armored cruiser Tennessee late in 1915, which was renamed Memphis in May of 1916.

Almost a year after Jones reported for duty aboard the Memphis, the fickle winds of fate would have devastating effects for Jones and some of his shipmates.

Memphis was anchored off Santo Domingo City, located on the island of Hispaniola’s south coast to the Caribbean Sea. On Aug. 29, 1916, a hurricane was approaching and Lt. Jones was tasked with getting the engines and boilers ready for the ship to head out of the hurricane’s path.

Time being of the essence, Jones did all he could to get Memphis out of the way but the storm was much faster than he could work. The storm forced the boilers and steam pipes to burst, and as a direct result, clouds of scalding steam burned Jones and some of his fellow crewmembers. When the boilers exploded, Lt. Jones, accompanied by two of his shipmates, rushed into the steam-filled engineering spaces and drove the remaining men out, dragging some and carrying others to areas where there was air to breathe instead of scalding steam.

After recovering from his severe injuries, Jones served ashore in industrial positions until after the end of World War I.

By 1920-1921, now Cmdr. Jones was the Engineer Officer of the new battleship Tennessee. For almost 11 years he served two Navy Department tours with the Bureau of Engineering and in Europe as an Assistant Naval Attache and the senior engineering officer with the Battle Fleet.

During this time, the heroism that Cmdr. Jones had displayed 16 years ago aboard the cruiser Tennessee had earned him a trip to Washington, D.C. for a ceremony at the White House to receive the Medal of Honor from President Herbert Hoover on Aug. 1, 1932. Why it took so long for Jones to receive this honor and how it reached the president’s attention is unknown.

Cmdr. Claud A. Jones receives the Medal of Honor from President Hoover, 1932

Cmdr. Claud A. Jones receives the Medal of Honor from President Hoover, 1932

He was promoted to captain a year later in 1933, and now was the assistant chief of the Engineering Bureau and served for almost a decade.

Promoted to rear admiral in 1941, Jones served in the Bureau of Ships throughout World War II, working in the shipbuilding program, and as an assistant chief of the bureau. For his exceptionally meritorious service he was awarded the Legion of Merit.

From September 1944 until the end of 1945, Rear Adm. Jones was the Director of the Naval Experiment Station at Annapolis, Md.

He retired in June of 1946, and died in his home state of West Virginia two years later in August of 1948 leaving behind his wife Margaret, and their only son.

The destroyer escort ship Claud Jones (DE 1033) was commissioned in 1959 and named in honor of Rear Adm. Jones. She was struck in 1974.

 
Aug 22

You Are There: Burning of the Washington Navy Yard

Friday, August 22, 2014 12:05 PM
WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2014) -- Justin Chambers, Exhibit Specialist for the National Museum of the United States Navy (NMUSN), positions a swivel gun as part of the museum's new War of 1812 exhibit, "1814: From Defeat to Victory," at the NMUSN on the Washington Navy Yard. The exhibit's grand opening is set for Aug. 24, the 200th anniversary of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Washington Navy Yard, and showcases battles and armaments of the U.S. and British Army and Navy during the victories and defeats of 1814. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)

WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2014) — Justin Chambers, Exhibit Specialist for the National Museum of the United States Navy (NMUSN), positions a swivel gun as part of the museum’s new War of 1812 exhibit, “1814: From Defeat to Victory,” at the NMUSN on the Washington Navy Yard. The exhibit’s grand opening is set for Aug. 24, the 200th anniversary of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Washington Navy Yard, and showcases battles and armaments of the U.S. and British Army and Navy during the victories and defeats of 1814. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)

By Naval History and Heritage Command, Communications and Outreach Division

It was bad enough the men of the Washington Navy Yard were ordered to set fire to the compound as the British broke through American army lines into Washington, D.C.

 But what likely burned the backside of the Yard’s commander, Commodore Thomas Tingey, even more was the discovery upon his return Aug. 26 that his house on the compound (known then as Quarters A, and known today as Tingey House, home of the Chief of Naval Operations) had been thoroughly looted and stripped of all hardware as well as doors and windows… not by the invading Brits, but rather by his D.C. neighbors outside the then short, wooden fence that marked and obviously inadequately protected the base’s perimeter.

 Shortly thereafter Tingey ordered the fence around the Navy Yard to be fortified and increased in height to 10 feet.

 Saturday is the 200th anniversary of the burning of the Washington Navy Yard. It was the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 24, 1814 when Tingey, the Yard’s superintendent, was told by the Secretary of the Navy to burn the yard and the three ships in various stages of completion, including two that were within a couple of weeks of launching, to prevent them from falling into enemy hands.

 Your visit to the Navy Yard will include a look at where those ships would have been berthed, some remnants from the ships and other artifacts of the time. Dr. Ed Furgol, historian, will also tell you about:

Quarters A, or more commonly referred to as the Tingey House, survived the burning of the Washington Navy Yard 200 years ago in 1814 only to be plundered by the neighbors. It is now the home of the Chief of Naval Operations. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood

Quarters A, or more commonly referred to as the Tingey House, survived the burning of the Washington Navy Yard 200 years ago in 1814 only to be plundered by the neighbors. It is now the home of the Chief of Naval Operations. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood

  • Commandant Thomas Tingey — Imagine putting your heart and soul into building a shipyard from its inception, guiding it along each step of the way for 14 years as the yard produced or overhauled one ship after another, where the then-15-year-old frigate USS Constitution was refitted for battle in the War of 1812. Still he had his orders directly from the Secretary of the Navy, and Tingey was a man of duty. As the longest-serving Superintendent of the Yard, Tingey’s decisions are still visible today, from the placement of Quarters A, to deciding right after its burning to increase the height of the wall surrounding the yard to 10 feet.
Quarters B also survived the fire. The wall behind the building, which had been the eastern-most perimeter of the Washington Navy Yard, was increased to 10 feet after the fire. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood

Quarters B also survived the fire. The wall behind the building, which had been the eastern-most perimeter of the Washington Navy Yard, was increased to 10 feet after the fire. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood

  •  Quarters A & B — It’s called the Tingey House by those at the Navy Yard, in honor of the man who lived in it the longest, but since 1978 it’s been the home of the Chief of Naval Operations. Quarters B was the home of the second in charge, which incorporated Washington, D.C.’s oldest structure when it was built with the wall as the yard’s eastern perimeter. The buildings, both on the National Register for Historic Homes, survived the fires set by the Americans, but were never under threat by the invaders. While the British were eager to burn down state houses that represented the upstart government, they were polite blokes in their plundering — they didn’t feel the need to burn what clearly were private residences. Tingey returned to the Yard the following morning, apparently minutes after the British left the premises. He was relieved to see his home standing, along with Quarters B. After squirreling away his personal belongings to trusted neighbors, Tingey was urged to leave the area because the British were still roaming the district. When he returned Friday morning, Tingey discovered both his home and Quarters B had been looted by nearby neighbors. Ironically, these were the same neighbors who had begged Tingey to not set the yard ablaze earlier Wednesday afternoon because the southwesterly wind most certainly would have pushed the fire into their neighborhood. Tingey held off as long as he could, waiting until he had confirmation the British had broken through the defense. The winds had died down, so at 8:20 p.m., Tingey gave the order to burn the yard.
The Latrobe Gate in 1814 was a much more modest masonry structure but it survived the burning of the Navy Yard by both Americans and the British. The second story was added in the 1880s. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood

The Latrobe Gate in 1814 was a much more modest masonry structure but it survived the burning of the Navy Yard by both Americans and the British. The second story was added in the 1880s. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood

  • Latrobe Gate — This historical gate warrants a close look for any visitor to the Washington Navy Yard. Built by Benjamin H. Latrobe, the architect of public buildings for Washington, D.C., it was a masonry structure at the time of the fire. “The design of the main gate of entrance to the navy-yard has been made with a view to the greatest economy compatible with permanence and appearance worthy of the situation. This gate will fall exactly into the range of the Georgia Avenue as well as of the Eighth Street east of the Capitol, one of the principal streets of this part of the city,” stated an 1804-05 report to the Secretary of the Navy. After the fire, increasing the height of the gate’s fencing to 10 feet was the first item on Tingey’s “to-do” list. Alterations in 1880 and 1881 added two stories across the gate and three stories on either side of it, to improve housing for the Marines who continue to man the gate today.

 

The Tripoli Monument, originally known as the Naval Monument, was at the entrance of the Washington Navy Yard during its burning in 1814. After the fire, gilded bronze items on the monument went missing. The monument now resides at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. (Photo Courtesy of the United States Naval Academy)

The Tripoli Monument, originally known as the Naval Monument, was at the entrance of the Washington Navy Yard during its burning in 1814. After the fire, gilded bronze items on the monument went missing. The monument now resides at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. (Photo Courtesy of the United States Naval Academy)

Tripoli Monument — Commissioned by Commodore David Porter and paid for personally by navy sailors and officers, the Naval Monument was originally erected at the Navy Yard in 1808. The nation’s oldest military monument is a tribute to the six naval officers who died in the Barbary War, including Lt. James Decatur, brother of famed naval officer Adm. Stephen Decatur. The infamously anti-British Adm. David Porter blamed the Brits for the monument’s mutilation during their brief occupation of the Washington Navy Yard. But others have suggested the “mutilations” could more accurately be described as pilfering. What went missing were the gilded bronze objects held by the marble figures: a pen held by the figurine History; a palm held by Fame; the standard emblem of Commerce described as a winged staff entwined by two serpents, and the forefinger and thumb of the scantily-clad Native American figurine representing America. Just the items someone might grab if they were, oh, taking hardware out of a nearby house or two. The monument was relocated to the Capitol grounds in 1831 and then permanently moved to the Naval Academy campus a few years later. The items that were stolen from the monument were never replaced. The monument was featured in the series “A History of the Navy in 100 Objects:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJK1YeZiMYo

 

A Google map of the Washington Navy Yard. The red overlay signifies the layout of the yard in 1814. Illustration by Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford

A Google map of the Washington Navy Yard. The red overlay signifies the layout of the yard in 1814. Illustration by Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford

  • Water, water everywhere…..Back in 1814, most of the Navy Yard as it is today was underwater. At the time, the west border ended along Adm. Leutze Park. Take an opportunity to follow the slope (old ramp) from the Naval History and Heritage Command headquarters (Building 57), down to where Building 36 now sits. All of that would have been the timber pond at the WNY in 1814. Furgol will discuss how the waterfront has changed and how the Anacostia River eventually forced the once-thriving shipyard to change directions to become the place to go for weapons and ordnance experimentation and now as the location for headquarters of dozens of commands.

 

The charred remains of the frigate Columbia, which was within days of completion, was a casualty of the burning of the Washington Navy Yard Aug. 24, 1814...by those who built her, not the invading British. It is part of a new exhibit "Defeat to Victory" at the National Museum of the United States Navy.

The frigate Columbia, which was within days of completion, was a casualty of the burning of the Washington Navy Yard Aug. 24, 1814…by those who built her, not the invading British. Her charred remains are part of a new exhibit “Defeat to Victory” at the National Museum of the United States Navy.

  • BONUS! Of the three ships left to burn in the Navy Yard, only one survived both the Americans and the British, the nearly completed schooner Lynx. Other ships not so lucky: the 74-gun frigate Columbia was within a few weeks of being launched, while gunboat Argus was in the final stages. One of the artifacts held by NHHC’s Collection Management Division is a piece of Columbia. This is on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy. The frigate was one of four 74-gun warships and six 44-gun frigates the shipyard had been tasked to build. Another artifact that survived the burning of the yard was a little French 4-pound gun taken during the Quasi War by Capt. Stephen Decatur. It was on display at the Navy Yard in some Tripoli gunboats Decatur had taken during the Barbary Wars. Speculation has the British weren’t interested in taking it because the French typically used 4-8 pound balls, while the British used 3-6 pound shot.
WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2014) – A map of showing the battles during 1814, a depiction of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Flag of the United States in 1814 greet visitors to the National Museum of the United States Navy as the museum's new War of 1812 exhibit, "1814: From Defeat to Victory," prepares to open at the NMUSN on the Washington Navy Yard. The exhibit's grand opening is set for Aug. 24, the anniversary of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Washington Navy Yard, and showcases battles and armaments of the U.S. and British Army and Navy during the victories and defeats of 1814. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)

WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2014) – A map of showing the battles during 1814, a depiction of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Flag of the United States in 1814 greet visitors to the National Museum of the United States Navy as the museum’s new War of 1812 exhibit, “1814: From Defeat to Victory,” prepares to open at the NMUSN on the Washington Navy Yard. The exhibit’s grand opening is set for Aug. 24, the anniversary of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Washington Navy Yard, and showcases battles and armaments of the U.S. and British Army and Navy during the victories and defeats of 1814. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)

 

–NHHC–

 

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

 

 
Aug 21

#PeopleMatter: Naval Aviator Earns First #MOH for Rescue of Downed Pilot

Thursday, August 21, 2014 8:00 AM
Hammann and Ludlow

Lt. George H. Ludlow in his seaplane, who was rescued after his plane was disabled by enemy fire on Aug. 21, 1918, by Ensign Charles H. Hammann, inset. NH Photo #49249

By Naval History and Heritage Command, Communications and Outreach Division

 A mission of dropping propaganda pamphlets might sound pretty tame these days. But in 1918, just months after the U.S. joined most of Europe in fighting the Germans, Austria-Hungarians, Ottoman Empire and Bavaria, it was a vital and often dangerous effort to turn the citizens against their oppressors. And in Austria, those caught dropping such leaflets were executed.

And so it was, 96 years ago today, a leaflet-dropping mission began with five fighters and two bombers – all Americans pilots – flying Italian planes from Porto Corsini, Italy to Pola, Austria. Porto Corsini is located just 65 miles from Austria’s largest naval port, where the occupying Germans and Austro-Hungarians were launching submarines and battleships into the Mediterranean campaign from the heavily defended port with 18 forts and 114 anti-aircraft guns.

That Americans were part of this mission was a remarkable partnership between Italy and the United States. Italian instructors trained American pilots how to fly their Macchi flying boat planes: the M.8 2-seater equipped with a machine gun and capable of carrying four 24-pound bombs and the single seat M.5 fighters with two machine guns and the ability to carry a couple of light bombs. Although using Italian planes with Italian mechanics, the base would be operated by the United States, and so it was July 24, 1918, when the American flag was first raised over U.S. Naval Air Station Porto Corsini, Italy.

The Austrians welcomed the American pilots the next day by bombing the new naval air station.

Back to Aug. 21, 1918, and the seven-plane leaflet flight on its first bombing mission. Within 15 minutes of take-off, a fighter and a bomber turned back due to motor problems, leaving four fighters flown by Ensigns George Ludlow, E. H. Parker, Dudley Vorhees and Baltimore-born Charles Halverstine Hammann. They were flying at 12,000 feet as they approached Pola, but the bomber couldn’t get higher than 8,000 feet. As the leaflets were dropped, Austrians responded with anti-aircraft fire. Five Albatross fighters took flight and within five minutes, the dogfight was on at 8,000 feet.

Ludlow attacked the lead plane, forcing him into a dive. But Parker and Vorhees struggled with machine guns that jammed, eventually forcing them to leave the fight along with the bomber. That left Ludlow up against three planes and Hammann facing two. Ludlow fired on one fighter until it was smoking, taking hits in his plane’s propeller and engine. With oil streaming behind, the plane burst into flames. Ludlow put his crippled fighter into a spin, knocking out the fire, and then pulled it up to make a water landing five miles off the harbor entrance of Pola.

Ensign Charles H. Hammann

Ensign Charles H. Hammann

Hammann saw Ludlow’s plane go down and once he realized the pilot was not injured, he pulled out of his fight to rescue his fellow aviator. If captured, he faced execution as a spy. Despite damage to his own fighter, Hammann landed on choppy water in 20 mile-per-hour wind. Ludlow wasted no time scrambling over to Hammann’s single-seat plane, perched behind the pilot’s seat and under the motor, hanging onto the struts to keep from being pulled into the propeller or swept to sea. Ludlow had already punched holes in the wings to help the plane sink, so once Hammann’s Macchi was airborne, he fired the rest of his ammunition into the crippled craft. As it slipped under the waves, Hammann headed back for the 60-mile trip to base. The Austrians, perhaps admiring Hammann’s daring rescue, made no effort to pursue what would have been an easy target.

But the danger to Hammann and Ludlow was far from over. Hammann still needed to land the plane in the always tricky 100-foot wide canal often hit with crosswinds. While the landing was good, water pouring through the bow caused the plane to flip, destroying it. The pilots suffered bumps and bruises, but both were back on duty a few days later.

For his effort, Hammann would receive the Medal of Honor, the first aviator to earn the honor. “Although his machine was not designed for the double load to which it was subjected, and although there was danger of attack by Austrian planes, he made his way to Porto Corsini,” the citation stated.

Ludlow earned the Navy Cross and the Italians honored Hammann and Ludlow with its Silver and Bronze Medals of Valor, respectively.

The Air Station itself was recognized as having “the distinction of being the most heavily engaged unit of the 78 U.S. Naval Forces in Europe,” as stated by Adm. Henry Thomas Mayo, Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, during a Nov. 10, 1918 inspection of the base.

Less than a year later, on June 14, 1919, Ensign Hammann was killed in an air accident while piloting a Macchi flying boat at the fledging Langley Field in Hampton, Va. He was but 27.

The Navy has named two ships after Hammann: USS Hammann (DD 412), which was sunk during the Battle of Midway in June 1942, and a destroyer-escort, USS Hammann (DE 131) that was commissioned in 1943 and decommissioned in 1974.

As for the rescued Ludlow, he would survive World War I, being discharged at age 29 as a lieutenant junior grade in 1926. But after the United States entered World War II, the 45-year-old Ludlow returned to his Navy in 1942 and served until retiring as a commander in 1953.

 

 
Aug 20

#PeopleMatter: Naval Observatory Residence Honors Fleet Admiral Leahy

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 12:36 PM
WASHINGTON (Jul. 17, 2014) — The Leahy House in Washington, D.C. During World War 2, Fleet Adm. William Leahy was the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Zlotin)

WASHINGTON (Jul. 17, 2014) — The Leahy House in Washington, D.C. During World War 2, Fleet Adm. William Leahy was the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Zlotin)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood

What used to be known as “Quarters BB” at the Old Naval Observatory was recently renamed “Leahy House” in honor of Fleet Adm. William D. Leahy, who served during the Spanish-American War through to the Cold War.

But why Leahy?

Fleet Adm. William D. Leahy, circa 1945

Fleet Adm. William D. Leahy, circa 1945

The home’s current resident, Vice Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, believes Leahy does not share as prominent a place in history’s spotlight as some of his contemporaries.

“When you ask people to name all the five-star naval officers, they get [Chester] Nimitz, they get [Ernest] King, they get Bull Halsey,” said Tidd. “Almost nobody thinks about Fleet Adm. Leahy.”

Leahy started his long career as a Midshipman at the Naval Academy in 1897. He originally wanted to follow his father’s path as an Army officer, but West Point wasn’t offering any appointments, so he chose the Navy instead.

At that time in the Navy, by law, candidates for commission had to serve two years at sea before becoming officers. Leahy’s first two years were spent on the battleship Oregon, getting his first experience in conflict as the ship participated in the Battle of Santiago during the Spanish American War on July 3, 1898. Leahy donned his well-deserved ensign rank almost a year later on July 1, 1899.

During the Philippine Insurrection and the Boxer Rebellion in China, Leahy was there, serving on gunboat Castine, stores ship Glacier, and Mariveles, a gunship he commanded, between his commissioning date of Jul. 1, 1899 and 1902. During the American occupation of Nicaragua in 1912 he served as Chief of Staff to the Commander, Naval Forces in the country.

When Leahy took command of the dispatch gunboat Dolphin in 1915, he developed a close friendship with then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). It was a friendship that would influence his career profoundly later in life.

Leahy saw a lot of action on-ship and off during his career before WWII. He was a part of transporting troops to France in 1918 during WWI and sailing Turkish waters during the Greco-Turkish war in 1921. This was followed by auspicious assignments as Director of Officer Personnel in the Bureau of Navigation and eventually becoming the Chief of Naval Operations in 1936.

WASHIGNTON (Jul. 17, 2014) — A model of the guided missile destroyer USS Leahy (DLG 16) sits in a glass case at the Leahy House. During World War 2, Fleet Adm. William Leahy was the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Zlotin)

WASHINGTON (Jul. 17, 2014) — A model of the guided missile destroyer USS Leahy (DLG 16) sits in a glass case at the Leahy House. During World War 2, Fleet Adm. William Leahy was the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Zlotin)

As war clouds were forming over Europe, one month shy of the invasion of Poland, Leahy retired. If that was the end of his story, he would have been able to tell the story of a long and honorable career. But almost as premonition, an old sailing buddy of his that had become the President of the United States, FDR told him on the occasion of his retirement, “Bill, if we have a war, you’re going to be right back here, helping me run it.”

War there was. Germany invaded Poland in September 1939 and Europe started towards another “Great War,” WWII. Before U.S Involvement, Leahy acted as Governor of Puerto Rico, and as the U.S. Ambassador to Vichy France until recalled in May 1942.

Franklin fulfilled his latent promise two months later, recalling Leahy to active duty as the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. In this position, he presided over the Joint Chiefs, and also the combined Chiefs when the U.S. was host. His duties were extraordinarily diverse, and it is to his credit and an attestation of his work ethic that his job is now separated into three different government positions: the chief of staff of the White House, the National Security Advisor and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Leahy was the first promoted to the highest rank achievable, Fleet Admiral in 1944, and it was at this rank that he retired permanently in 1949.

Leahy continued to serve the Navy even after retiring a second time, in the office of the Secretary of the Navy and as the president of the Naval Historical Foundation. He died July 20, 1959.

So why Leahy? The reasons are numerous, including being the first five-star admiral of World War II, a diplomat and confidante of presidents, a strategist, a veteran of three wars and living nearly his whole life in service to his Navy and his country. His remarkable career can serve as both an icon and a lesson for its steadiness of the Sailor’s spirit through the gamut of adversity — during times of prosperity, depression, war and peace. One thing is for certain, as Tidd intended it, when we see the house named for Leahy, we’ll remember and appreciate the man who gave so much in service to the nation that repeatedly called on him during her darkest hours.

WASHINGTON (Jul. 17, 2014) — Members of the Leahy family pose for a photo beside a painting of Fleet Adm. William Leahy, Jul. 17. During World War 2, Fleet Adm. William Leahy was the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Zlotin)

WASHINGTON (Jul. 17, 2014) — Members of the Leahy family pose for a photo beside a painting of Fleet Adm. William Leahy, Jul. 17. During World War 2, Fleet Adm. William Leahy was the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Zlotin)

 
Aug 14

#PartiesMattered: At Japanese Surrender, Truman Authorizes Two-Day Celebration for War-Weary Nation

Thursday, August 14, 2014 1:38 PM
President Harry S. Truman announces the surrender of Japan at the White House Aug. 14, 1945. Accession number: 64-24

President Harry S. Truman announces the surrender of Japan at the White House Aug. 14, 1945.
Accession number: 64-24

 

By Naval History and Heritage Command, Communications and Outreach Division

 Our historical celebration for today is about, well, celebration! It was 69 years ago today, at 7 p.m. Aug. 14, 1945, when President Harry S. Truman told the world the Japanese had surrendered.

“This is the day we have been waiting for since Pearl Harbor,” Truman said that evening from the White House. “This is the day when Fascism finally dies, as we always knew it would.”

To mark the occasion, Truman announced a two-day holiday for Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 15-16, 1945, holidays shared by the allied nations of United Kingdom and Australia.

Why two days? “The reason we are making it two days is because we didn’t get to celebrate for the other,” Truman said, referring to the May 8 Victory in Europe Day.

Truman spoke directly to Federal employees on the need for a two-day holiday: “One of the hardest working groups of war workers during the past four years – and perhaps the least appreciated by the public – has been the Federal employees in Washington and throughout the country. They have carried the day-to-day operations of the government which are essential to the support of our fighting men and to the carrying out the war. On behalf of the nation, I formally express thanks to them.”

He requested all heads of departments, agencies and bureaus throughout government to excuse their employees for Wednesday and Thursday, operating with only skeleton staff.

“I hope all of the employees of government will enjoy this well-deserved – though inadequate – holiday,” Truman said in Press Statement 102.

Truman was quick to make sure all workers – federal, state and private — would get their pay during the 2-day celebration. That evening, he amended Executive Order No. 9240 on the overtime wage compensation regulations to temporarily add V-J Day to the list of time and a half holidays.

Crowd outside the White House after the announcement of the Japanese surrender on Aug. 14, 1945. Accession number: 73-2022

Crowd outside the White House after the announcement of the Japanese surrender on Aug. 14, 1945.
Accession number: 73-2022

And celebrate the nation did. The U.S. had endured four years of food and gasoline rations, recycling home appliances to produce more steel for more ships to be built and sending hundreds of thousands of young men into battle while women went to work in droves to take their place.

So across the country there was much rejoicing, revelry and even riotous behavior as inhibitions dropped with increased imbibing of alcohol. Bands played patriotic songs for impromptu parades, church bells were rung and people danced in the streets. In the garment district of New York, seamstresses threw out bits of fabric and ticker tape that piled up to five inches on the streets below. Women jumped naked into fountains in San Francisco, and crowds surged onto the White House lawn.

It was that evening at Times Square in New York City that Life Magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt snapped the iconic picture of a sailor planting a kiss on a very surprised dental nurse. A Navy photographer snapped this similar picture from a different angle.

US Navy photographer Victor Jorgensen captured a different view of infamous Times Square V-J Day kiss. His photo was published in the New York Times.

US Navy photographer Victor Jorgensen captured a different view of infamous Times Square V-J Day kiss. His photo was published in the New York Times.

Another reason to celebrate was Truman’s approval to reduce inductions of young men into the Armed Forces from 80,000 per month to 50,000 and for only those aged 26 and younger. The draft couldn’t end completely, he explained, since the war department would still need people to cover those who would get relief of long-service men overseas.

“In justice to the millions of men who have given long and faithful service under the difficult and hazardous conditions of the Pacific War and elsewhere overseas a constant flow of replacements to the occupational forces is thought to be imperative,” Truman noted. “Mathematically and morally, no other course of action appears acceptable.”

After two days of near riotous behavior, Truman had another announcement to give to members of the press during an Aug. 16 briefing.

“I have issued a proclamation setting aside Sunday as a day of prayer. After the two days celebration I think we will need the prayer,” Truman said to the laughter of the room.

The proclamation declared “This day is a new beginning in the history of freedom on this earth. Our global victory has come from the courage and stamina and spirit of free men and women united in determination to fight. It has come from millions of peaceful citizens all over the world turned soldiers almost overnight who showed a ruthless enemy that they were not afraid to fight and to die, and that they knew how to win.”

Calling upon the people “of all faiths,” Truman asked his “countrymen to dedicate this day of prayer to the memory of those who have given their lives to make possible our victory.”

Truman warned during an Aug. 16 press briefing there wouldn’t be an official V-J Day until Japan — with more than two million fully armed — formally signed the surrender document. Sadly, he was correct. As Americans were celebrating the end of the war, some members of the Japanese Imperial Army went against Emperor Hirohito’s announcement to put down arms. After surviving years in prisoner of war camps, hundreds of POWs were killed in the days following the Aug. 14 announcement.

Did the president envision V-J Day as a national holiday, the press questioned? Ever pragmatic, Truman said no. “I think they have had their holidays,” he said, referring to the 2-days of celebration. “There is too much to do to declare too many holidays.”

Truman finally got his V-J Day on Sept. 2, 1945 when Japanese officials signed the surrender documents onboard USS Missouri, which was used as the backdrop as a tip to Truman’s home state.

Sixty-nine years later, only one state celebrates what had been V-J Day. Rhode Island recognizes the second Monday in August as the end of World War II, although it is now called Victory Day.

 
Aug 13

#PeopleMatter: Hospitalman John Kilmer Showed Dedication to Marines Until Death

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 2:12 PM

By the Naval History and Heritage Command, Communications and Outreach Division

Today we remember Medal of Honor recipient John Edward Kilmer, a hospital corpsman with the Third Battalion, Seventh Marines during the battle of Bunker Hill in the Korean War.

John Kilmer

A native of Highland Park, Ill., Kilmer was born Aug. 15, 1930, just the beginning of a slew of August dates that would define Kilmer’s life.

By the time Kilmer was in high school, he was living in San Antonio, Texas. The day after turning 17 on Aug. 16, 1947, Kilmer dropped out of high school to join the service at the Navy Recruiting Station in Houston. The Apprentice Seaman, who went by the nickname of Jackie, entered the Hospital Corps School in San Diego, Calif., graduating in 1948 as a Hospital Apprentice. By Sept. 1, 1950, he had been promoted to Hospitalman.

When the Korean War began, Kilmer was stationed on USS Repose nearing the end of his four-year enlistment. Hoping to put his medical expertise to use in the war, he re-enlisted in the Navy in Aug. 1951.

In his picture, he is wearing a dark uniform and a white “dixie cup” cover. His face shows the beginnings of a mustache, grown perhaps to appear older. He stares straight and unsmiling into the camera with just a glint of a challenge in his brown eyes, which might explain why he dropped out of school to join the Navy and then a few years later, after a dispute with a superior officer, asked for a transfer to the Fleet Marine Force.

We will never know the cause of that dispute. But we certainly know its outcome.

Kilmer completed the Field Medical School at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and was transferred to the Third Battalion of the Seventh Marines, deploying with that unit to Korea.

On Aug. 12, 1952, Kilmer’s unit was pinned down under heavy mortar fire while dug into defensive positions well ahead of the main line of resistance. As stated at the Marine Corps History Division website, Kilmer “moved from position to position in the defense works through artillery, mortar, and sniper fire, administered aid to the wounded, and oversaw their evacuation. He was wounded by shrapnel from an exploding mortar round while en route to aid another wounded soldier, but continued on. Kilmer slowly inched his way to the Marine, but once he began to treat the soldier’s wounds, another heavy barrage of mortar fire began. The two men were unprotected from the explosions, and Kilmer unhesitatingly shielded the wounded man from shrapnel with his own body. Kilmer was mortally wounded during the shelling, but thanks to his heroic self-sacrifice, the wounded man lived.”

Kilmer died the following day, Aug. 13, just two days shy of his 22nd birthday. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. According to the citation: Hospitalman John E. Kilmer, “by his great personal valor and gallant spirit of self-sacrifice in saving the life of a comrade, served to inspire all who observed him. His unyielding devotion to duty in the face of heavy odds reflects the highest credit upon himself and enhances the finest traditions of the United States naval service. He gallantly gave his life for another.”

His mother, Lois Kilmer, accepted the Medal on his behalf June 18, 1953, from Secretary of the Navy Robert B. Anderson. Kilmer was also awarded the Purple Heart, Korean Service Medal and the United Nations Service Medal.

He is buried in San Jose Burial Park in San Antonio, Texas. The Navy Inn at Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington, Tenn., was named Kilmer Hall in his honor in January 2003.