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.

 

 
Aug 2

#PeopleMatter – PT 59: The PT Boat You Didn’t Know About

Saturday, August 2, 2014 12:28 PM

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communications and Outreach Division

PT 59 and her crew, photographed in an unspecified location near VellaLavella and Choiseul, played a key role in the diversionary mission at Choiseul Island in early November 1943.

PT 59 and her crew, photographed in an unspecified location near VellaLavella and Choiseul, played a key role in the diversionary mission at Choiseul Island in early November 1943.

It may have looked like a speedboat, but beware anything that might threaten its mission. Loaded with two twin .50 cal. M2 Browning machine guns, two 40 mm guns (fore and aft) and four single .30 and .50 cal. machine guns, the water craft had the power to destroy any obstacle that got in its way.

That was the power of PT-59. A former Motor Boat Submarine Chaser that was converted into a motor gunboat, PT-59 was about 77 feet long and able to get up to speeds of 45-47 bone jarring miles per hour. Although the craft and crew were capable, its rough ride was a challenge for PT-59’s commanding officer who silently felt every jar after suffering a serious injury on his previous assignment. Despite injuries that could have sent him home, he insisted on staying in the fight and was assigned command of PT-59 in the Solomon Islands.

The commanding officer and crew of PT-59 were put to the test when they were ordered to help evacuate more than 40 Marines of the 1st Parachute Battalion, 1st Marine Parachute Regiment on Nov. 2, 1943, who had been surrounded by Japanese forces on Choiseul Island. Some of these Marines were wounded and one of them died in the skipper’s bunk aboard PT-59 that night.

On the night of Nov. 5-6, PT-59 led three PT boats to Moli Point and Choiseul Bay, where they attacked Japanese barges. During the next week and a half, PT-59 prowled off Choiseul Bay looking for barges. The final action of PT-59’s commanding officer was on the night of November 16–17, when he took PT-59 on what turned out to be an uneventful patrol.

It wasn’t until a doctor directed him to leave PT-59 in mid-November due to numerous health reasons that he gave up command, returned to the U.S. in January of 1944 and underwent a year of physical therapy to overcome his injuries which were likely exacerbated by his service on PT-59. Despite a strong desire to continue to serve, his injuries made that impossible. He resigned from the Navy in 1945 to begin a political career.

The skipper of PT-59 was in fact Lt. John F. Kennedy. We’ve all heard about Kennedy’s first command PT-109, the infamous patrol which was struck by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri on this date, Aug. 2, 71 years ago in 1943 near Kolombangara Island. The collision cut his craft in two, killing two crew members. Kennedy rescued another crew member who was badly injured, despite his own crippling back injury – the injury that finally ended his Naval career and plagued him for the rest of his life.

March 28, 1944; Pacific Ocean; JOHN F. KENNEDY Navy portrait circa World War II. Kennedy and his surviving crew swam to an island a few miles away, and with the help of some local natives and a Coastwatcher, they returned to Rendova PT base in early August of 1943. And from there, Kennedy, the future president of the United States, took command of PT 59.

March 28, 1944; Pacific Ocean; JOHN F. KENNEDY Navy portrait circa World War II.
Kennedy and his surviving crew swam to an island a few miles away, and with the help of some local natives and a Coastwatcher, they returned to Rendova PT base in early August of 1943.
And from there, Kennedy, the future president of the United States, took command of PT 59.

 
Aug 1

#PartnershipsMatter: Planning, Fostering, and Encouraging Seven Decades’ Worth of Science and Technology

Friday, August 1, 2014 11:02 AM
One of the first Office of Naval Research funded projects was Whirlwind I, development of large-scale high-speed computers as part of a research project to design a universal flight trainer that would simulate flight (the Aircraft Stability and Control Analyzer project). The project began at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Servomechanisms Laboratory. Eventually the focus of the grant, a flight simulator (using an analog computer), changed to the development of a high-speed digital computer. While building the computer, Jay W. Forrester invented random-access, coincident-current magnetic storage, which became the standard memory device for digital computers, replacing electrostatic tubes. The change to magnetic core memory provided high levels of speed and reliability. In the photo, Stephen Dodd, Jay Forrester, Robert Everett, and Ramona Ferenz perform test control at Whirlwind I in 1950.

One of the first Office of Naval Research funded projects was Whirlwind I, development of large-scale high-speed computers as part of a research project to design a universal flight trainer that would simulate flight (the Aircraft Stability and Control Analyzer project). The project began at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Servomechanisms Laboratory. Eventually the focus of the grant, a flight simulator (using an analog computer), changed to the development of a high-speed digital computer. While building the computer, Jay W. Forrester invented random-access, coincident-current magnetic storage, which became the standard memory device for digital computers, replacing electrostatic tubes. The change to magnetic core memory provided high levels of speed and reliability. In the photo, Stephen Dodd, Jay Forrester, Robert Everett, and Ramona Ferenz perform test control at Whirlwind I in 1950.

By Walter F. Jones, Ph.D

 August 1, 1946, is an important day in U.S. Navy and Marine Corps history for reasons that have little to do with battles, the speeches of admirals or generals, or even ships. On that day, President Harry S. Truman signed Public Law 588, an act establishing the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Born in the aftermath of war, a child of history’s most science-dominated conflict, ONR would in time help give birth to a host of progeny that together would redefine how American science is conducted in peacetime.

Dr. Walter Jones, Executive Director, Office of Naval Research. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mr. John F. Williams)

Dr. Walter Jones, Executive Director, Office of Naval Research. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mr. John F. Williams)

 ONR was founded with the mission “to plan, foster, and encourage scientific research in recognition of its paramount importance as related to the maintenance of future naval power, and the preservation of national security.” Congress placed an official stamp on ONR’s model for research with these words, but the model had already been developed during the war by a group of young naval officers known to us today as the “Bird Dogs.” These ensigns and lieutenants saw that traditional naval-led research and development could be enhanced by partnerships with civilian researchers. Collaboration at every level of the research process became the centerpiece of the ONR approach.

 It did not take long to see how influential the new organization could be. By 1949, ONR contracts (the power to provide grants came later) accounted for nearly 40 percent of the country’s total basic science spending, turning the upstart agency into what historian Harvey Sapolsky has called the “Office of National Research.” ONR’s share of that research has declined in relative terms over the decades as other organizations founded on similar principles have arisen—such as the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Army Research Office—but ONR’s importance to the nation and the Navy and Marine Corps remains stronger than ever.

 Despite changes in attitude toward government brought about by FDR’s New Deal in the 1930s and the massive federal support of science during World War II, creating a public organization that funds basic research in peacetime was still a novel idea in 1946. The military services had been conducting their own research for decades—but ONR was created to support civilian scientists whose research, in practice, only needed the potential to help the Navy and Marine Corps. The hallmark of ONR’s funding of science has always been its dual commitment to providing Sailors and Marines with innovative technologies while giving researchers the support they need even when outcomes don’t produce immediate results.

One of two electromagnetic railgun prototypes on display aboard joint high speed vessel USS Millinocket (JHSV 3) in port at Naval Base San Diego in July 2014. The railguns are being displayed in San Diego as part of the Electromagnetic Launch Symposium, which brought together representatives from the U.S. and allied navies, industry and academia to discuss directed energy technologies. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Kirsop/Released)

One of two electromagnetic railgun prototypes on display aboard joint high speed vessel USS Millinocket (JHSV 3) in port at Naval Base San Diego in July 2014. The railguns are being displayed in San Diego as part of the Electromagnetic Launch Symposium, which brought together representatives from the U.S. and allied navies, industry and academia to discuss directed energy technologies. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Kirsop/Released)

 This novel approach to funding science was a decisive break from the past. And it has proved decisive over the last seven decades in making ONR and its peer organizations relevant not only to helping warfighters do their jobs better, but also to making the United States the leader in science and technology that it is today.

 In those nearly 70 years, ONR has had a hand in the discovery, invention, and transition of things you might naturally associate with naval science, such as lighter and stronger steel for ships, longer range sonar for submarines, more efficient wing designs for aircraft, and the introduction of rail guns and lasers on naval vessels. But ONR also provided some of the earliest funding for research in artificial intelligence, modern computers, and the first programming languages. It supported basic research in solid-state electronics that eventually led to the first LED televisions. And it has long supported research that has brought us the first manned descent to the deepest depths of the sea and greatly improved our understanding of the global ocean environment. The list of things we depend on and that matter to all of us is long.

 Sixty-eight years and counting, the Office of Naval Research continues to support and develop today’s Navy and Marine Corps and the fleet and force of the future.

 Dr. Jones is the Executive Director of the Office of Naval Research.

 
Jul 31

Timeline to Justice – the quest to restore honor to the Captain and Crew of the USS Indianapolis

Thursday, July 31, 2014 4:00 PM

 

 

The following article was printed in the July/August 1998 issue of Naval History magazine. It was written by 12-year old Hunter Scott in his quest to restore honor to the Captain and Crew of the USS Indianapolis:

Survivors of the USS Indianapolis aboard the USS Hollandia

Survivors of the USS Indianapolis aboard the USS Hollandia

 

With perhaps greater reverence than many of my 12-year-old peers, I appreciate this opportunity to write about what has grown from a school history project into a mission. My quest has allowed me to be associated with individuals who fought so that all Americans could live in the greatest democracy the world has ever known. Throughout this journey, I have learned the great price of freedom, the meaning of honor, valor, and supreme sacrifice in the line of duty, and the fact that democracy is a treasure so valued that men and women are willing to give their lives in its pursuit.

 

For that reason, I have urged the introduction of a bill before Congress (H.R. 3710) to correct an injustice done 53 years ago. I pray that the men and women who gave their lives are looking down on what I am doing, knowing their sacrifice was not in vain. I am proud and honored to bring to the attention of Naval History readers again the case of Captain Charles B. McVay III and the crew of the USS Indianapolis (CA-35).

 

President Abraham Lincoln once said: “The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” I began such a “struggle” when I was 11 years old, for the “just cause” of restoring honor to Captain McVay and gaining a Presidential Unit Citation for the Indianapolis and her crew.

 

My dad tells me that, “the true test of your character is what it takes to make you quit.” The men of the Indianapolis and their captain did not quit in their quest to bring a hasty end to World War II. After making a record-setting run to the island of Tinian for delivery of components for the first atomic bomb, the ship was torpedoed, sinking in just 12 minutes. Of her 1,196 men, 850 to 950 made it off the ship and into the water, where they spent five nights and four days surrounded by sharks and death, while those responsible for their safety did not notice that the ship was missing. An accidental spotting of the survivors saved the lives of 316 crew members, 150 of whom are still with us today. Now, more than a half-century after this tragedy, we must not forget these men, and we must not quit in our effort to set the historical record straight.

Based on my research, the following timeline tells the story of the final days of the Indianapolis.

 

  • 16 July 1945—Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves choose to load components for the first atomic bomb on board the Indianapolis. Captain McVay receives orders to proceed “with all possible haste” to Tinian.

 

  • 21 July—The USS Underhill (DD-682) is sunk by a Japanese submarine in the same area where the Indianapolis will go down. Captain McVay never is given this information nor any notification that the Japanese submarines I-58 and I-367 are operating in the area. A directive from the Chief of Naval Operations, Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, prevents Captain McVay from receiving this intelligence.

 

  • 26 July—The Indianapolis arrives in Tinian; atomic bomb components with the USS Idaho (BB-42) on 2 August. The Idaho receives a garbled message about the arrival of the Indianapolis. No request is made for retransmission. The Idaho is unaware that the Indianapolis is en route. (This is the first in a series of blunders that led the Indianapolis to cruise into a bureaucratic void.)

 

  • 28 July—In Guam, Captain McVay is denied requests for an escort. His orders give him discretion concerning whether or not to zigzag while under way. The Indianapolis makes the trip from Guam to Leyte unescorted—the first heavy warship to do so during the war—without capabilities to detect enemy submarines.

 

  • 31 July—At sunset, Captain McVay comes on the bridge to discuss weather conditions. The night is overcast and cloudy. He believes he is cruising in waters free of enemy submarines, because of intelligence given to him prior to his departure from Guam. The Indianapolis is doing 17 knots, and Captain McVay gives orders to cease zigzagging because of poor visibility. He gives orders to be awakened if weather changes occur.

 

  • 1 August—At 0004, the ship is struck by two of six torpedoes fired by the 1-58. The first torpedo takes off 60 feet of her bow, andthe second hits amidships, igniting the powder magazine and shutting off most electrical power. Chief Radio Electrician L. T. Woods, observed by Radio Technician 2nd Class Herbert J. Minor, sends SOS and position of the Indianapolis on 500 kilocycles from Radio Room II, which maintains power. According to Minor, at least three signals are transmitted. Former Yeoman 2nd Class Clair B. Young stated in a letter received by Commander T. E. Quillman, Jr., “while stationed at U.S. Navy 3964 Naval Shore Facilities Tacloban, Philippine Islands, that he personally delivered the SOS message to Commodore Jacob H. Jacobson, U.S. Navy.”

 

Young awakens Commodore Jacobson and notices a strong odor of alcohol in the room. Commodore Jacobson reads the message, which identifies the ship, her location, and her condition. Mr. Young asks Commodore Jacobson: “Do you have a reply, sir?” The answer comes: “No reply at this time. If any further messages are received, notify me at once.” The SOS is received and ignored. Meanwhile, Commander Hashimoto of the 1-58 radios Japan and indicates that he has just sunk a battleship and gives the location. The message is decoded by the U.S. Navy. Still, no one checks on the whereabouts of the Indianapolis.

 

  • 2 August—The Indianapolis is due to arrive in Leyte that morning. Upon non-arrival, the ship is taken off the plotting board, and no effort is made to determine where she is. Admiral King had standing orders that combatant ships’ arrivals in port were not to be reported, which implied that non-arrivals also were not to be reported.
  • 3 August—Lieutenant Wilbur Gwinn, flying a Ventura bomber, accidentally spots Indianapolis survivors and radios Palau for rescue operations to commence. Lieutenant Adrian Marks lands a PBY in heavy seas and picks up 56 survivors. Tom Brophy defies orders and tries to swim to the plane; he does not survive.

    This is the PBY and her crew that set down at sea and rescued 56 men of the USS Indianapolis. The pilot, LT Marks, is 4th from the right. The plane was badly damaged by frantic men climbing aboard but stayed afloat through the night until rescue ships arrived.

    This is the PBY and her crew that set down at sea and rescued 56 men of the USS Indianapolis. The pilot, LT Marks, is 4th from the right. The plane was badly damaged by frantic men climbing aboard but stayed afloat through the night until rescue ships arrived.

 

  • 4 August—Rescue operations start in a 50-mile radius.

 

  • 6 August—First atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima.

 

  • 15 August—Japan surrenders. Navy releases information about the sinking of the Indianapolis. The press begins to ask the Navy why the ship was never missed.

 

Note: The father of the aforementioned Tom Brophy goes to Washington after the war to arrange a meeting with Captain McVay. According to Mr. D. J. Blum, Brophy tries to call on Captain McVay the day he arrives in Washington and is told to arrange the meeting for the following week because of Captain McVay’s prior commitments.

Brophy follows Captain McVay, who attends a party. Furious, Brophy meets with his friend, President Harry S. Truman, and convinces him to court-martial Captain McVay. President Truman pressures Admiral King to convene a court-martial. Admiral King himself appoints the members of the court, who know Admiral King wants Captain McVay found guilty and who also are depending upon Admiral King for promotions.

 

  • 3 December—Court-martial begins. Captain McVay requests Lieutenant Commander Donald Van Koughnet, Chief Legal Officer of the U.S. Navy Military Government for the Marianas Islands, to represent him. Admiral King denies the request. The charges are “failure to follow a zigzag course” and “failure to sound an abandon ship.”

 

Note: Since 1991, several Navy documents have been declassified, showing that Captain McVay was not given intelligence that could have prevented this disaster (see “Ultra and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis,” a paper given to the Eleventh Naval History Symposium, 1993). This same information—which could have been useful in Captain McVay’s defense, showing that the “super technical” charges were unfounded—was considered Top Secret in 1945 and was not used in the court-martial. The question as to why the men of the Indianapolis spent five nights and four days in the water without anyone noticing that the ship was missing was not considered in the trial.

 

  • 13 December—Admiral King brings in Hashimoto, commander of the 1-58 to testify against Captain McVay. Hashimoto states that zigzagging would have made no difference, that he would have sunk the Indianapolis anyway. The 1-58 had several kaiten on board, had the six-torpedo spread missed its target. The Indianapolis was doomed.

 

  • 19 December—Captain McVay found guilty of failure to follow a zigzag course, therefore hazarding his ship. His sentence, loss of 100 promotion numbers, is later remitted. His conviction is not. The guilty verdict stands to this day. Out of more than 700 ships lost in World War II, the Indianapolis is the only one to have her captain court-martialed.

 

  • 6 November 1968—Captain McVay commits suicide.

 

NOTE: In a 10 August 1990 letter to Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), Captain Russell E. Sullivan stated that he was on board the USS General R. L. Howze (AP-134), which traveled the same course as the Indianapolis and cruised through her wreckage. Bodies and debris were observed. Captain Sullivan stated: “We had not received orders to zigzag. We had 4,000 troops on board. We had not been notified that an enemy submarine was in the area. The foregoing can be confirmed by referring to the official log of the USS General R. L. Howze for August of 1945.”

 

In a letter dated 10 February 1998, Dr. Lewis Haynes, the chief medical officer on board the Indianapolis, stated that, as he was treating Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz at the Chelsea Naval Hospital, Admiral Nimitz told him that Captain McVay “should not have been court-martialed.”

 

Conclusion:

After two years of research and interviews with almost all remaining Indianapolis survivors, I have amassed what one naval historian has called “the greatest collection of information on the USS Indianapolis in the world.” On 22 April 1998, accompanied by Congressman Joe Scarborough (R-FL), Congresswoman Julia Carson (D-IL), and 11 Indianapolis survivors, I personally dropped H.R. 3710 into the hopper on the floor of Congress. This bill will erase all mention of the court-martial and conviction from the record of Captain Charles B. McVay III and award a Presidential Unit Citation to the USS Indianapolis and her crew.

 

In 1806, Thomas Jefferson wrote: “Political interest can never be separated in the long run from the moral right.” Now, 53 years after the politically motivated court-martial of an innocent ship captain, we are in the “long run,” and we have the opportunity to do what is “morally right.” I write this near the beginning of my life, making a request for many men who are toward the end of theirs. Please do not forget about the captain and crew of the Indianapolis for the second time in 53 years. Write to your congressmen and senators, asking them to support H.R. 3710.

 
Jul 31

#PeopleMatter: On the Surface, Conspicuous Gallantry and Intrepidity were the Hallmarks of a WWII Submariner

Thursday, July 31, 2014 1:15 PM
Vice Adm. Lawson P. "Red" Ramage, a Medal of Honor recipient for his actions July 31, 1944 as commanding officer of USS Pache (SS-384). NHHC photo

Vice Adm. Lawson P. “Red” Ramage, a Medal of Honor recipient for his actions July 31, 1944 as commanding officer of USS Parche (SS-384).
NHHC photo

 

Vice Adm. Lawson Paterson "Red" Ramage, the first C.O. of the Parche (SS-384) with the new Parche (SSN-683) conning tower, to his left, circa mid 1970's. US Navy photo

Vice Adm. Lawson Paterson “Red” Ramage, the first C.O. of the Parche (SS-384) with the new Parche (SSN-683) conning tower, to his left, circa mid 1970’s. US Navy photo

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communications and Outreach Division

Eight submariners have received the Medal of Honor, but only one earned his during combat on the surface rather than under the water.

On July 31, 1944, Cmdr. Lawson P. “Red” Ramage was commanding officer of the new Balao-class USS Parche (SS 384). A 1931 Naval Academy graduate and a 13-year veteran of the Navy, Ramage spent his early career on surface ships like destroyers and cruisers before attending the Submarine School and a two-year tour on USS S-29 (SS 134).

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Ramage was a staff member of Commander, Submarines, Pacific.

By early January 1942, Ramage was on his first war patrol as a navigator on USS Grenadier (SS 210). Six months later, as commanding officer of USS Trout (SS 202), the sub scored several hits on the Japanese light carrier Taiyo near Turk, the first damage inflicted by a U.S. sub on a Japanese carrier. By the end of his tour on Trout, Ramage’s crew had sunk three ships during four war patrols.

The national ensign blows in the breeze as the Parche (SS-384) is launched at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine, July 24, 1943. US Navy photo

The national ensign blows in the breeze as the Parche (SS-384) is launched at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine, July 24, 1943.
US Navy photo

Ramage returned to the U.S. in 1943 to commission the newly-minted USS Parche as her commanding officer and was back in the Pacific by 1944.

Comdr. L. P. Ramage reads Parche's (SS-384) commissioning orders on Nov. 20, 1943 at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine. U.S. Navy photo

Comdr. L. P. Ramage reads Parche’s (SS-384) commissioning orders on Nov. 20, 1943 at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine.
U.S. Navy photo

Parche’s second war patrol had the submarine teamed with USS Steelhead (SS 280) and USS Hammerhead (SS-364) for a “wolf pack” patrol in the Luzon Strait in June-July 1944.

On the night of July 29, Parche sighted and began to stalk a convoy, along with Steelhead. Finding the convoy had changed direction, Ramage was determined to close the 30-40 mile gap using his faster surface speed (World War II subs had more narrow bows to allow them to go faster on the surface than underneath).

During the early morning hours of July 31, Ramage was on his bridge with the war patrol commander when he spotted three escorts.

“I decided there was no point trying to go in around these escorts, so I made a reverse spinner, turned outboard, and then came around and under all of them to get inside the escorts,” Ramage told John T. Mason Jr. for his book Pacific War Remembered: An Oral History Collection, published by the Naval Institute Press in 2013.

But when Parche changed direction, so did the convoy, 90 degrees to the southwest.

“Now we were dead ahead of them and closing fast, so fast that we hadn’t really had time to get a set up on them. One of the ships was right on us. Before we could do anything we were alongside and going by at 20 knots at about 100 yards.”

After firing off a couple of torpedoes on the fly, none hit. About this time, Ramage sighted what appeared to be two carriers off to the west. He ordered everyone below, including the war patrol commander, with the exception of one quartermaster manning the sub’s gun on the bridge.

Parche bore down and took aim on the lead ship, firing off four torpedoes. Every one hit.

Cmdr. Lawson P. "Red" Ramage, the first commanding officer of the Parche (SS-384) , remained on the sub's bridge, along with a lone quartermaster, to fire on a 9-ship Japanese convoy off Formosa July 31, 1944. After 46 minutes, Parche had sunk four ships and damaged a fifth. Drawing by Lt. Cmdr. Fred Freemen, Courtesy of Theodore Roscoe, from his book "U.S. Submarine Operations of WW II", published by USNI.

Cmdr. Lawson P. “Red” Ramage, the first commanding officer of the Parche (SS-384) , remained on the sub’s bridge, along with a lone quartermaster, to fire on a 9-ship Japanese convoy off Formosa July 31, 1944. After 46 minutes, Parche had sunk four ships and damaged a fifth. Drawing by Lt. Cmdr. Fred Freemen, Courtesy of Theodore Roscoe, from his book “U.S. Submarine Operations of WW II”, published by USNI.

“We were firing now to kill with every shot, we weren’t firing spread. The ship turned out to be a tanker and she went straight on down.”

Parche swung around to get a bead on the second ship, also a tanker, while loading up the stern tubes expertly using the new rapid reloading technique devised by Parche’s torpedo officer, Lt. Frank Allcorn. Three torpedoes later, the tanker went down by the bow and there was a small fire, Ramage recalled.

Reloading on the fly, when Parche saw a transport dead ahead they fired two torpedoes and with hits on the bow and beam, she, too, went down.

With three ships down and one sinking, Ramage decided to go back and finish off the stricken tanker by reloading the aft torpedo tubes. Parche slid by the tanker just feet away.

“As we came under the stern of the tanker we cut as close as we could to keep out of the way of her depth gun. She couldn’t train it down on us; she was well down by the bow and the gun was practically pointing straight into the air. We came tight under and cross her stern.”

Just as Parche sighted another good-sized ship, the tanker crew began shooting.

“The whole place was alight with gunfire. Everyone was shooting at every body and anything but we were invisible, I felt, except for the rooster tail we were laying out as our boat went through the convoy at 20 knots. When the tanker began shooting right down our wake it began to get a little bit hot. So we decided we had best put her out of her misery,” Ramage said.

As soon as Parche was within range at about 700 yards, she fired three torpedoes out of the stern, sinking the tanker. “Now we had two tankers and a transport down and a hit on the first ship,” Ramage said.

But the convoy wasn’t rolling over yet.

“Just as we got to this point we saw one of the escorts trying to ram us. We called for all the speed we could from the engine room and got across her bow. Then I turned right to come parallel with her and throw our stern out from under her way. We passed each other at about 50 or 100 feet, close enough so that we could have shouted at one another,” Ramage recalled.

Dodging and weaving among the ships, Ramage guided the submarine as the stunned Japanese crew tried to adjust their guns down into the water, often shooting up their own ships.

“There was another escort just beyond. I didn’t want to run into her, but she was closing fast. As soon as we cleared her we saw another big transport dead ahead. They reported from below that torpedoes had been loaded again, two forward. So I said, ‘Give this fellow (the transport) one right down the throat.’ ”

Parche fired off two torpedoes, hitting the ship with one. After getting a better bearing, a third torpedo was released. With two hits, the ship began to go down at the bow.

As Parche passed that ship, another came into view.

“We fired down the throat of this ship and got her down by the bow and then continued to the left to bring our stern to bear on her starboard side. Then we let one more go and that hit her directly amidships. It put her down,” Ramage said.

By dawn, Parche, which hadn’t taken a single hit, had sunk four ships and damaged one out of a 9-ship convoy. As the sky lightened, Ramage decided it was time for Parche to take a dive.

“We couldn’t see any other ships that were of consequence. There were mostly escorts now, just charging around and firing flares and shooting whatever small arms they had. … We needed to get some distance between them and where we were going to dive. As we maneuvered we saw them signaling to each other and trying to make a reading of what had happened. One of the quartermasters said, “I guess they have a lot of reports to fill out, too.”

Ramage’s rampage didn’t go unnoticed. After arriving at port, Ramage recalled Adm. Charles Lockwood coming down to greet them.

“He was very pleased and congratulated all of us. But in due time the patrol report was reviewed. Then the chief of staff usually wrote a little note to the commanding officer and summed the whole thing up – whether it was good, bad, or indifferent. Commodore Merrill Comstock wrote a note to me and said, “This was foolhardy, very dangerous and an undue risk. But he added, ‘I guess it’s okay as long as it came out all right. You got away with it but don’t do it again. That isn’t exactly what we expected you to do.’ “

If only Commodore Comstock knew the whole story. For you see, back in 1935, when Ramage requested submarine training, he failed the vision test due to a wrestling injury he received at the Naval Academy that weakened the vision in his right eye, according to a Submarine Force Museum blog posted Jan. 16, 2014.

Undaunted and determined, Ramage memorized the eye chart for one exam, and for another, when the examiner asked him to move the card to cover his left eye, in the darkness he didn’t notice Ramage was reading the chart again with his left eye. He passed the exam and was cleared for sub school.

Who would know years later – especially during the early morning hours of July 31, 1944 – that eye injury would give Ramage an advantage.

“I didn’t have to fool around with the focus knob on the periscope. Before I raised it, I turned the knob all the way to the stop (extreme focus). When the scope came up, I put my bad eye to the periscope and could see perfectly.”

On Jan. 12, 1945, Cmdr. Lawson P. “Red” Ramage received the Medal of Honor from President Franklin D. Roosevelt for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of this life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the USS Parche.”

Not to mention the hutzpah that got him driving a submarine between enemy surface ships while shooting them down at their own level.

 
Jul 26

#PeopleMatter: Truman Ends Segregation in Armed Forces

Saturday, July 26, 2014 8:00 AM

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communications and Outreach Division

It didn’t have the branding power of the Emancipation Proclamation that was issued 86 years prior, but President Harry S. Truman’s Executive Order 9981 would give the military services the guidance they needed to fully integrate their service members for years to come.

At just a little more than 400 words, Executive Order 9981, when it was issued July 26, 1948, established there shall be “equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”

Bespectacled as a youth and awkward around boys and girls his age, a young Harry Truman spent his leisure time reading and playing the piano, entertaining the thought of becoming a concert pianist. He also dreamed of being a solider.

In 1917, with the United States on the verge of entering World War I, Truman joined his National Guard unit, where he blossomed as a leader, rising through the ranks to captain. Truman and the 129th Artillery Regiment were sent to France in 1918, where they served until the end of the war.

This photo shows Harry S. Truman, the future U.S. President, in his Missouri National Guard Uniform, in 1912. This photo is from the National Archives, and is from Collection HST-AVC: Audiovisual Collection, 1957 - 2006. ARC Identifier 199750

This photo shows Harry S. Truman, the future U.S. President, in his Missouri National Guard Uniform, in 1912. This photo is from the National Archives, and is from Collection HST-AVC: Audiovisual Collection, 1957 – 2006. ARC Identifier 199750

At that time, African-Americans were allowed to serve in any capacity in the armed services, as ordered by the Emancipation Proclamation: “that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.”

But after World War I, the Navy in particular chose to limit black Sailors to the steward and mess- man rates, and further eliminated chances of attaining a higher rank by not offering petty officer status to stewards and messmen.

John Henry ("Dick") Turpin, Chief Gunner's Mate, USN (retired) (1876-1962) One of the first African-American Chief Petty Officers in the U.S. Navy. This photograph appears to have been taken during or after World War II. Turpin enlisted in the Navy in 1896. A survivor of the explosions on USS Maine (1898) and USS Bennington (1905), he became a Chief Gunner's Mate in 1917. Transferred to the Fleet Reserve in 1919, CGM Turpin retired in 1925. Qualified as a Master Diver, he was also employed as a Master Rigger at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, and, during the World War II era, made inspirational visits to Navy Training Centers and defense plants. U.S. NHHC Photograph.

John Henry (“Dick”) Turpin,
Chief Gunner’s Mate, one of the first African-American Chief Petty Officers in the U.S. Navy whose active-duty service from 1896-1919 was with a more segregated Navy. That changed after World War I. NHHC Photograph.

 

 

 

Decades later, Truman’s leadership skills brought him to the White House for the final months of World War II after the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt just 82 days into his fourth term.

After the war, Truman struggled to fix a fractured Democratic party that splintered over Truman’s advocacy of civil rights through his 1947 report “To Secure These Rights” aimed at reforms in voting and employment. The party was throwing its support to avowed “Dixiecrat” and segregationist Strom Thurmond.

If there was one event that might serve as the flash point for Truman’s civil rights advocacy, it would most likely come from the case of U.S. Army Sgt. Isaac Woodard Jr.

Woodard, a World War II veteran who had served in the Pacific Theater, was taking a bus from Augusta, Ga., to his family in North Carolina. The 27-year-old was still wearing his uniform after receiving his discharge papers just hours before on Feb. 12, 1946…President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

During one of the stops, Woodard asked the driver for the time to go to the bathroom. The driver reluctantly agreed after an exchange of words, and Woodard returned to his seat without incident.

When the bus stopped in Batesburg, S.C., the driver called the police. After showing the officers his discharge papers, Woodard was accused of disorderly conduct and then beaten with nightsticks. He was jailed and beaten further, with the nightsticks being jabbed repeatedly in his eyes. The next morning, with both his eyes ruptured and suffering from partial amnesia, Woodard was fined $50.

After his family found him at a hospital weeks later that provided inadequate care, nothing could be done to save his eyesight. Despite publicity demanding South Carolina officials investigate the incident, nothing happened.

NAACP Executive Secretary Walter Francis White brought the case before Truman during a meeting Sept. 19, 1946. Truman was outraged, and a week later, he directed the Justice Department to investigate the case.

It mattered little in the outcome for Woodard. The trial was a travesty, the all-white jury found the police chief not-guilty, even though he admitted to blinding him with the nightstick. Woodard moved to New York after the trial, dying at age 73 at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in the Bronx in 1992. He was buried with military honors at nearby Calverton National Cemetery.

The case spurred Truman to be the first American president to speak at a meeting of the NAACP on June 29, 1947, as they met on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It was there he proclaimed civil rights as a “moral priority.”

Abbie Rowe, 1905-1967, Photographer (NARA record: 8451352) Title President Truman addresses the closing session of the 38th annual conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C. In this photo, President Truman is leaving the podium area, accompanied by Walter White, President of the NAACP (to Mr. Truman's left) and Fred Vinson (between them). Gen. Harry Vaughan is to the right of President Truman. Record creator National Archives and Records Administration. Office of Presidential Libraries. Harry S. Truman Library. (04/01/1985 - ) Date 29 June 1947

Abbie Rowe, 1905-1967, Photographer (NARA record: 8451352)
Title President Truman addresses the closing session of the 38th annual conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C. In this photo, President Truman is leaving the podium area, accompanied by Walter White, President of the NAACP (to Mr. Truman’s left) and Fred Vinson (between them). Gen. Harry Vaughan is to the right of President Truman.
Record creator National Archives and Records Administration. Office of Presidential Libraries. Harry S. Truman Library. (04/01/1985 – )
Date 29 June 1947

Riding his civil liberties platform, as he headed into the November 1948 election against New York Republican Thomas Dewey, Truman issued Executive Order 9981 on July 26, stating: “It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.” A sister act, Executive Order 9980, declared equality for those in the federal government.

The order also established the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services.

The Committee did its homework over the next two years, making field investigations of eight Navy ships and stations, seven Air Force bases and 10 Army posts, held more than 40 meetings and heard testimony from 67 witnesses, according to its 1,025-page report to the president given May 22, 1950.

The Navy was the most compliant, following through with a directive June 7, 1949, from Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal, with all jobs and ratings in the naval general service open to all enlisted men, and berthing as well. “Negroes are currently serving in every job classification and in general service.”

Blacks who had been serving as stewards could transfer into the general service as well.

All technical courses were open, with “Negroes attending the most advanced technical schools and are serving in their ratings both in the fleet and at shore installations.”

Sailors in general service were integrated, with whites and African-Americans from basic training, technical schools, on the job, in messes and sleeping quarters, both ashore and afloat.

But most importantly, the steward rate added third, second, first and chief petty officer to its promotion levels, like other rates in the Navy.

Flying high now: African-Americans have the complete choice of rates in the Navy after President Harry S. Truman's desegrated the Armed Services on July 26, 1946. Navy astronaut Capt. Winston E. Scott goes for a "walk" during a space shuttle mission in 1997. NHHC photograph

Flying high now: African-Americans have the complete choice of rates in the Navy after President Harry S. Truman’s desegrated the Armed Services on July 26, 1946. Navy astronaut Capt. Winston E. Scott goes for a “walk” during a space shuttle mission in 1997. NHHC photograph

The success of the Navy incorporating African-Americans into the Navy was recently illustrated in a blog about Vice Adm. Samuel L. Gravely Jr., who took advantage of the Navy’s V-12 College Training program and became the first African-American admiral.

“The thing that most impressed the Committee about the Navy’s experience was that in the relatively short space of five years the Navy had moved from a policy of complete exclusion of Negroes from general service to a policy of complete integration in general service,” the Committee report concluded. “In this about face, the Navy had not been primarily motivated by moral considerations or by a desire to equalize treatment and opportunity. Undoubtedly public opinion had been a factor in this reversal of policy, but chiefly the Navy had been influenced by considerations of military efficiency and the need to economize human resources. Equality of treatment and opportunity, the Navy had discovered, was a necessary and inevitable condition and byproduct of a sound policy of manpower utilization.”

 
Jul 23

#PeopleMatter: Remembering the Honor, Courage and Commitment of Lt. John W. Finn

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 2:18 PM

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From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communications and Outreach Division

Like the man for whom the ship is named, USS John Finn (DDG 113) will be built to fight, durable and ready to go the moment her crew brings her to life.

That is when the 63rd Arleigh Burke-class destroyer joins the fleet in 2016.

So we’ll talk instead about the ship’s namesake on the occasion of his birthday, July 23, 1909.

Chief Aviation Ordnanceman John William Finn, USN Who was awarded the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service during the 7 December 1941 Japanese air attack on Naval Air Station Kanoehe Bay, Oahu, T.H. He is wearing the medal in this photograph.

Chief Aviation Ordnanceman John William Finn, USN
Who was awarded the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service during the 7 December 1941 Japanese air attack on Naval Air Station Kanoehe Bay, Oahu, T.H. He is wearing the medal in this photograph.

John William Finn was born in Compton, Calif. He dropped out of school in the seventh grade and joined the Navy at age 17 upon obtaining his mother’s permission.

He apparently was pleasantly surprised about the food he received at the Naval Training Center in San Diego. After reading the recruitment brochure that the food would be “plain but wholesome,” Finn was prepared for boiled potatoes and rice, which he hated, according to an interview posted on QuarterDeck.org. “Definitely the finest Navy chow I ever ate,” he recalled of the roast beef, watermelon and fruit served there.

Finn didn’t allow his lack of a high school degree to keep him from working through the enlisted ranks, becoming an Aviation Ordnanceman and being promoted to chief petty officer in just nine years.

“Everyone thought I was a boy wonder,” recalled Finn in a June 17, 1994 Hoist article. “I was just in the right place at the right time.”

During his career, Finn served with aircraft squadrons on USS Houston (CA 30), USS Saratoga (CV 3), USS Cincinnati (CL 6) and USS Hancock (CV 19).

By December 1941, Finn was stationed at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay where he was the chief aviation ordnanceman with a PBY Catalina flying boat squadron. Then 32, Finn was with his wife, Alice, at their apartment about a mile from the hangar on the island of Oahu in Hawaii when he heard gunfire that Sunday morning, Dec. 7. A neighbor pounded on his door, “They want you down at the squadron right away,” she exclaimed.

Finn at first wasn’t sure it was anything but a drill, even observing the base’s 20 mph speed limit. Then “I heard a plane come roaring in from astern of me,” he recalled later in an interview with Larry Smith for “Beyond Glory,” an oral history of Medal of Honor recipients.

“As I glanced up, the guy made a wing-over, and I saw that big old red meatball, the rising sun insignia, on the underside of the wing. Well, I threw it into second and it’s a wonder I didn’t run over every sailor in the air station.”

By the time he arrived at the hangar, most of the PBYs were on fire.

Finn, who managed the 20-member crew in his squadron, was quick to take a .50-caliber machine gun being used by the squad’s painter. “I knew I had more experience firing a machine gun than a painter,” Finn is quoted as saying in his Los Angeles Times obituary in 2010.

While under fire, Finn mounted his gun to a moveable tripod platform used for training that had him exposed to enemy machine gun strafing fire.

“We had ordnance gun crews, but no stationary gun mounts,” he explained in a 2009 interview with the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) at the Washington Navy Yard. “We could have done a better job if we had had those mounts. Every man was determined to find a machine gun to fight back and we did what we could to fight and turn them away.”

He fired on Japanese planes for the next two hours. When it was over, his left arm hung useless after a shoulder injury, a bullet fractured his foot and his body was bleeding from a multitude of shrapnel wounds.

“I got shot in the left arm and shot in the left foot, broke the bone. I had shrapnel blows in my chest and belly and right elbow and right thumb. Some were just scratches. My scalp got cut, and everybody thought I was dying….I had 28, 29 holes in me that were bleeding,” he recalled for Beyond Glory.

In a 2009 interview, Finn said the Japanese planes were so close “I could see their (pilot’s) faces.”

After getting just rudimentary treatment for his injuries and still limping from pain, Finn insisted on returning to the hangar to arm American planes that survived and wait for a second attack from the Japanese. He didn’t seek treatment at a hospital until the next morning.

“A lot of men were shot during this time…I was angry,” Finn said in the NHHC interview. At Kaneohe Bay, 19 men were shot, while at Pearl Harbor, more than 2,000 would die.

On Sept. 15, 1942, Finn received the first Medal of Honor for World War II, the only combat Medal of Honor out of the 15 Medal recipients from the Pearl Harbor attack. The rest were for rescue attempts. Of the 15, 10 received their Medals posthumously.

Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet, during the ceremony on USS Enterprise (CV 6), remarked on Finn’s “magnificent courage in the face of almost certain death helped repel the Japanese attack…His complete disregard for his own life, in staying with his machine gun, although many times wounded, is the kind of American fighting spirit necessary to victory,” according to coverage by the Honolulu Advertiser.

But the day would bring mixed memories for Finn. “It was not a very happy occasion,” he recalled in 2009. “It was a tragic day for my family. My baby brother died on the exact same day I was awarded the Medal.”

After Finn recovered from his injuries in Pearl Harbor, he returned stateside and received a Limited Duty Officer commission in 1942, becoming a lieutenant in 1943. As an officer, he served with Bombing Squadron 102 and at several stateside training facilities and onboard the aircraft carrier Hancock (CV 19). Following his transfer to the Fleet Reserve in March 1947, he reverted to the enlisted rate of Chief Aviation Ordnanceman, although in 1956 when he retired, it was at the rank of lieutenant.

Finn and his wife moved to a cattle ranch in Pine Valley, Calif., where they raised animals and became foster parents to Native American children. Alice died in 1998, after 66 years of marriage.

Finn attended many Pearl Harbor commemorations in his final years as the oldest living recipient of the Medal of Honor from World War II. In 1999, he was invited as a guest for the premier of the movie “Pearl Harbor,” commenting to a New York Times reporter “I liked it especially because I got to kiss all those pretty little movie actresses.”

U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Aviation Ordnancemen stationed at Naval Support Activity Bahrain render a hand salute to the U.S. flag June 21, 2009, as it is raised in tribute to Medal of Honor recipient Lt. John Finn. Finn, an Aviation Ordnance Chief at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, is the only Aviation Ordnanceman to receive a Medal of Honor, the first service member to receive the Medal of Honor during World War II, and the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient. The flag was given to Finn on his 100th birthday. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class D. Keith Simmons/Released) 090621-N-8053S-045

U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Aviation Ordnancemen stationed at Naval Support Activity Bahrain render a hand salute to the U.S. flag June 21, 2009, as it is raised in tribute to Medal of Honor recipient Lt. John Finn. Finn, an Aviation Ordnance Chief at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, is the only Aviation Ordnanceman to receive a Medal of Honor, the first service member to receive the Medal of Honor during World War II, and the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient. The flag was given to Finn on his 100th birthday. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class D. Keith Simmons/Released)
090621-N-8053S-045

In 2009, upon the celebration of his 100th birthday on July 23, 2009, Sailors across the world participated in an effort to fly an American flag over all of the 11 aircraft carriers in the Navy’s fleet, as well as Naval Support Activity Bahrain, which was given to Finn.

The flag’s journey started on Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) in Seattle, then to San Diego aboard Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and Nimitz (CVN 68), the namesake of the legendary admiral who presented the Medal of Honor to Finn in 1942. Then it went to Yokosuka, Japan for George Washington (CVN 73) and to Pearl Harbor, where it was taken by helicopter to John C. Stennis (CVN 74) at sea.

From there, it went to Bahrain to be flown on Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) in the Persian Gulf. The flag was then taken back to the United States, where it flew over the fleet at Naval Station Norfolk: Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) and Enterprise (CVN 65).

Retired Lt. John W. Finn takes a ride Dec. 6, 2009, on the USS Arizona Memorial White Boat John W. Finn, named for him. Finn, the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Robert Stirrup/Released)

Retired Lt. John W. Finn takes a ride Dec. 6, 2009, on the USS Arizona Memorial White Boat John W. Finn, named for him. Finn, the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Robert Stirrup/Released)

Besides the destroyer that will soon bear his name, there are other places that recognize the service given by this Medal of Honor recipient.

The headquarters building for Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet at Marine Corps Base Hawaii Kaneohe was named in Finn’s honor, and in 2009, a bio-diesel ferry used to bring visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial was also named after him. Three buildings in the former Naval Training Center San Diego were named the John and Alice Finn Plaza.

Finn died May 27, 2010 at the age of 100, just two months shy of his 101st birthday. At the time, he remained the only aviation ordnanceman to receive the Medal of Honor, a source of pride to others who shared his rate.

“I recall some 21-years ago as a young Sailor on the deck plate hearing stories about the heroism of John Finn, and heard his story a couple hundred times as a kid,” said then-Lt. Marcus Creighton, in a June 21, 2009 Navy.mil story. At the time Creighton was serving as the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) Force weapons officer, and he too an aviation ordnanceman who became a limited duty officer. “We are a proud profession and Lt. Finn is a great source of that pride. Everybody needs their hero and Lt. Finn is the hero of the aviation ordnance community.”

Chief petty officer selectees assigned to commander of Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Campo, Calif. on Aug. 23, 2013, recite the Sailor's Creed at the grave of Navy Lt. John William Finn, a Sailor in the U.S. Navy who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II. As a chief aviation ordnanceman stationed at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Finn earned the medal by manning a machine gun from an exposed position throughout the attack, despite being repeatedly wounded. At the time of his death in May 2010, Finn was the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient and the last living recipient from the attack on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Donnie Ryan/Released)

Chief petty officer selectees assigned to commander of Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Campo, Calif. on Aug. 23, 2013, recite the Sailor’s Creed at the grave of Navy Lt. John William Finn, a Sailor in the U.S. Navy who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II. As a chief aviation ordnanceman stationed at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Finn earned the medal by manning a machine gun from an exposed position throughout the attack, despite being repeatedly wounded. At the time of his death in May 2010, Finn was the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient and the last living recipient from the attack on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Donnie Ryan/Released)

 
Jul 22

Navy Submarines Inspire 2014 STEM-H Teacher Fellows

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 1:37 PM
Michelle Mokrzewski discusses student learning and testing with Congressman Courtney as teachers Caitlin Kennedy, Robert Mayne, Anthony Quatroche and Nautilus Officer-In-Charge Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Amdur observe.

Michelle Mokrzewski discusses student learning and testing with Congressman Courtney as teachers Caitlin Kennedy, Robert Mayne, Anthony Quatroche and Nautilus Officer-In-Charge Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Amdur observe.

School may be out for the summer for most, but six Connecticut public school teachers are still learning, trading their Smartboards for the inside of a submarine.

The teachers study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects, base them on past real world events or scenarios and throw a bit of history in for the week-long Naval Historical Foundation’s STEM-H (History) fellowship. Through Friday, the teachers are getting a crash course in Naval History and undersea systems as they experience the Submarine Force Library and Museum and visit the Historic Ship Nautilus in Groton, Conn.

Through the fellowship, teachers learn to use the exhibits of the Submarine Force Museum and Nautilus to develop lesson plans for their students based on the STEM and history inherent in the exhibits.

Submarine School and Nautilus crew volunteers are helping the teachers understand the particulars of Nautilus and submarines in general, covering subjects such as propulsion, periscopes, sonar, ship control, torpedoes, fire control, navigation, communications, atmosphere control and sharing with them knowledge of life aboard all types of modern U.S. submarines.

Tours of the systems in the attack center, ship control, submarine escape, and bridge trainers, by Submarine School trainers, helped to reinforce the teachers’ immersion experience. This allowed them to see firsthand how the systems work and brings to life the science and mathematics involved in the museum exhibits.

This week, the teachers are being treated to tours of the Electric Boat Shipyard’s Model Room and will be joining Conn. Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor on a tour of a 21st Century nuclear-powered submarine.

During the last day the teachers will present their own lesson plans to their fellow teachers on to complete their fellowship. Shortly afterward, the plans will be shared nationwide on the museum website www.ussnautilus.org. 2013’s STEM-H teacher fellowship work can be found at www.ussnautilus.org/education/index.shtml.

If you are interested in teaching your children STEM concepts and are near the Submarine Force Library and Museum and Nautilus, you can look at the complete lesson plans from 2011 and 2012, at www.usnavymuseum.org/Education.asp. And if you don’t happen to have a Navy Museum in your backyard, you can still teach the concepts. Just take a look at www.navystemfortheclassroom.com by Discovery Education.

For more news from Naval History and Heritage Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/navhist/.

 
 
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