Apr 7

NAVY TV – All Hands!

Thursday, April 7, 2011 1:24 PM

The April All Hands TV is up for viewing! The Naval Media Center creates rich and enduring films about the Navy as part of All Hands Television. These segments document the most interesting facets of our sea services. All Hands Television releases these short documentaries on a monthly basis. Come back each month to find something new!

Chapter One – There is a lot going on around the world right now, so Chapter 1 is taking a look at some of our sailors’ missions, followed by this month’s “News You Can Use,” touching on top headlines for this month.

Chapter Two (this will make all the kids happy!) Chapter 2 shows the story of a bottlenose dolphin named Theresa, who is a Navy Veteran that continues to serve, and takes a look at the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys.

 
Apr 6

The Navy and the Declaration of War in 1917

Wednesday, April 6, 2011 12:01 AM

6 April is the anniversary of the entry of the United States into World War I. How that declaration was transmitted throughout the Navy is an interesting story. Ordinarily when a President signs an important measure, the signing is attended by members of Congress who shepherded the measure through the legislative process and members of the press who are there to record the event. Not so on 6 April 1917.

The declaration of war, already signed by the Vice President in his role as President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, arrived at the desk of President Woodrow Wilson while the President was eating lunch with only his wife and a handful of staffers present. In fact, Wilson borrowed his wife’s pen to sign the resolution.

Immediately after Wilson inked the declaration, the White House usher, I.H. Hoover, buzzed the Presidential Naval Aide, Lt. Cmdr. Byron McCandless, who, by prearrangement, was waiting in an outer office. McCandless, eschewing the telephone, rushed outside and used signal flags to wigwag a message that the resolution of war had been signed to the Navy Department, the offices of which then were located across the street from the White House.

The message was received by Lt. Cmdr. Royal Ingersoll who literally ran down the corridors to the Communications office and ordered the operators to draft an ALLNAV dispatch. Five minutes later the message was being broadcast by radio from towers in Alexandria, Va. Within a few hours and by radio, telegraph, and cable, naval commands throughout the world were notified that the country was now at war with Germany. 

In the fleet, the news was almost anti-climatic. In his diary, Cmdr. Joseph K. Taussig wrote that the fleet had been “on a war footing, more or less,” since diplomatic relations had been severed with Germany the previous February.

Fleet Commander Henry T. Mayo later informed Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels: “I did not have to give a signal of any kind or description to pass the Fleet from a peace to a war basis. The Navy was ready and on its toes.”

It may have been a case of much ado about very little, but that urgent semaphore message signaled dramatic and profound changes for the Navy and the nation.

 
Apr 5

Action on the Cai Tau River, Republic of Vietnam, 5 April 1965

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 12:01 AM

USN Advisors to the River Assault Groups (RAG) of the Navy of the Republic of Vietnam in the spring of 1965 often found themselves in the thick of the fighting, in situations that required them to “depart from the quiet counsel of the Vietnamese commanders to an actual co-leadership status.” Being a RAG advisor carried with it “the real responsibility of command, while demanding the utmost in diplomacy, tact, leadership, and dedication.”

The personable 27-year old Lt. William M. Barschow had researched the people, the history, and the religions of Vietnam. He had established an excellent rapport with his opposite numbers, and, indeed, all Vietnamese with whom he came in contact. Constantly urging more operations, he had often accompanied his counterpart on visits to the district chief’s headquarters to familiarize them with the capabilities of the RAGs and to encourage their use.

During his tour that had begun in May 1964, Barschow had lived almost constantly in the field, with RAG-25 and RAG-26 until October 1964, when he was relieved as advisor to the latter unit. In March 1965, upon the death of the senior advisor with RAG-26, he resumed duty advising that unit, in addition to RAG-25. On 5 April 1965, Barschow, a veteran of 52 combat operations, embarked on board Commandament 1005. He provided advice to Lt. Comdr. Nam, the RAG-26’s commander, as elements of Nam’s command proceeded along the Cai Tau along with eight Civil Guard LCVPs, transporting the 31st Regiment (Army of the Republic of Vietnam, or ARVN) and escorting a dozen civilian junks laden with building materials, ammunition, and gasoline from Vi Thanh to Kien Long, in Chuong Thien province.

Desultory small arms fire enlivened their passage until 1615, when a VC 75-millimeter recoilless rifle opened fire as the lead element rounded a bend in the river, holing the lead LCVP as it swept ahead for mines. As the craft began to sink, its engine room open to the river, the RAG 26 commandament sped up to close and provide fire support. At that instant, the Viet Cong stepped up their fire from both banks; returned with all available weapons by all of the naval craft.

Barschow, Lt. Comdr. Nam, and CEM George E. Dunning took up positions at the starboard center window of the commandament’s bridge as it approached the ambush area and came under increasingly heavy fire from automatic weapons that felled many crewmen and temporarily silenced guns. Armor-piercing rounds penetrated the plating, scythed through the windows, and peppered the bulkheads. Capt. Clyde E. Meyer, USA, senior advisor with Advisory Team 58, on board the commandament working with his ARVN counterpart, “could hear rounds hitting the outside of the steel bulkhead and coming through the windows to the inside of the control room.” Barschow remained alongside Nam, offering “advice to improve the tactical situation.”

While Nam stepped over to the radio to direct the movements of the boats of his RAG, Barschow picked up his carbine and began firing at a VC machine gun position on the right bank of the Cai Tau that was raking the commandament. Chief Dunning expended his ammunition and then dropped down to replenish. At that instant, Barschow turned toward Capt. Meyer, and the latter could see that he had suffered a head wound. Dunning then looked around and saw the lieutenant lying on the deck, mortally wounded; Barschow, hit in the head by a VC bullet, died shortly thereafter.

Barschow’s courage, however, inspired the Vietnamese when the situation called for “immediate, accurate, and intense counterfire.” His bravery contributed to RAG-26’s breaking through the ambush; a post-battle estimate tallied 250 Viet Cong killed. For his heroism, Barschow was awarded a posthumous Silver Star. “We have gained and lost not only a friend,” Capt. William H. Hardcastle, Jr., Chief of the Naval Advisory Group, wrote to Barschow’s grieving parents in Bay Village, Ohio, “but an outstanding officer.” Gen. William C. Westmoreland, USA, commander of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, stood among those who attended the “impressive and dignified joint memorial service” at the Tan Son Nhut chapel on the morning of 7 April. Lt. Clyde A. Smith, the intelligence advisor in the Fourth Naval Zone, who had worked with Barschow on numerous occasions, considered him to be “simply stated, the most outstanding junior officer” he had ever met.

 
Apr 4

Thirty One Knot Burke

Monday, April 4, 2011 11:03 AM

Admiral Arleigh Burke, former Chief of Naval Operations, is the subject of this portion of the U.S Navy Heritage Mini-Series. This video examines his dynamic leadership and revolutionary tactics against the Japanese during World War II. The series was produced by Empire Media Group, in conjunction with the Naval History and Heritage Command and the Naval Historical Foundation.

 
Apr 1

The Insular Force: Adapting to Local Conditions

Friday, April 1, 2011 12:01 AM

During the Philippine Insurrection, the U.S. Navy employed dozens of gunboats in “brown water” operations in and around the Philippine archipelago. The boats conducted maritime patrols, inspected coastal shipping, delivered mail and supplies to Army garrisons and assisted local government officials in bringing the rule of law to the provinces. Beginning quite early, gunboat commanders sought local assistance to complete these missions, hiring coastal pilots and other guides to work their way through hazardous waters as well as dangerous cultural barriers. Filipinos also served as mess attendants, musicians and in engine rooms. This local adaptation led to long term changes for the Navy, and for Filipinos.

On 5 April 1901, President William McKinley formalized the ad hoc arrangement by creating the Insular Force of the U.S. Navy, authorizing the Secretary of the Navy to enlist up to 500 natives of Guam and the Philippines. The force was unique, in that the men enlisted to serve only in their home areas, “to which they were particularly adapted or suited.” They served on ships to be sure, but only when they were assigned to that local command area. The force grew slowly, in part owing to the drawdown of forces after the insurrection ended, but by 1906 there were 285 Filipinos and 28 Chamorros from Guam in the Insular Force.

The regular Navy, meanwhile, saw the Philippines as a source for mess attendants, as “long-established tradition” held that Asians made the best officer servants. As the Pacific insular possessions were an exception to the 1907 citizenship rule for enlistment, Filipinos soon joined the Navy as messmen, with about 6,000 in the ranks at the end of World War I. At the same time, the Insular Force remained a better though numerically limited option, as recruits were trained as machinists, radiomen, storekeepers, yeomen and hospitalmen – all rates prohibited to Filipinos in the regular Navy. This proved especially true in the 1930s, when Congressional legislation temporarily curtailed all regular Filipino enlistment.

The last class of the Insular Force joined the Navy in 1941, with the future of the force in doubt after Imperial Japan conquered the Philippines in mid-1942. True, wartime opportunities abounded, and under the pressure of war expansion Filipinos became gunner’s mates, pharmacists and boatswains in the regular Navy, shucking off the limits and restraints of the messmen rate. It was not an easy life, over 1,000 died in naval service, but they played their role in full to liberate the Philippines from Japanese occupation.

Following the establishment of an independent Philippines after the war, a 1954 agreement allowed the Navy to recruit up to 2,000 Filipinos a year into the Navy. Initially eligible only for mess ratings, it was not until 1971 that they regained their wartime opportunities, now eligible to fill up to 30 rates. Surprisingly, during these same decades, the Insular Force struggled on, with those Filipinos who survived the war remaining on duty in the Philippines. In the late 1960s some 30 sailors – radiomen, boatswains, musicians and yeoman – remained in service, mostly out of Sangley Point. As Chief Yeoman Restituto Pugeda told Navy Times “I can think of a lot of people that have come and gone, but I intend to stay around just as long as the Navy likes me.”

The Insular Force veterans finally retired in the 1970s and the regular Navy stopped the special recruitment of Filipinos in 1992, ending a 91-year era that saw over 35,000 Filipino nationals serve the colors. Opportunities to join the Navy did not end there, however, as the service remains wide open to immigrants and naturalized citizens, who make up almost 5% of the armed forces. Standing on the shoulders of the immigrants who served before them, these future citizens play a crucial role in today’s wartime Navy.

“The Insular Force” Adapting to local conditions During the Philippine Insurrection, the U.S. Navy employed dozens of gunboats in “brown water” operations in and around the Philippine archipelago. The boats conducted maritime patrols, inspected coastal shipping, delivered mail and supplies to Army garrisons and assisted local government officials in bringing the rule of law to the provinces. Beginning quite early, gunboat commanders sought local assistance to complete these missions, hiring coastal pilots and other guides to work their way through hazardous waters as well as dangerous cultural barriers. Filipinos also served as mess attendants, musicians and in engine rooms. This local adaptation led to long term changes for the Navy, and for Filipinos. On 5 April 1901, President William McKinley formalized the ad hoc arrangement by creating the Insular Force of the U.S. Navy, authorizing the Secretary of the Navy to enlist up to 500 natives of Guam and the Philippines. The force was unique, in that the men enlisted to serve only in their home areas, “to which they were particularly adapted or suited.” They served on ships to be sure, but only when they were assigned to that local command area. The force grew slowly, in part owing to the drawdown of forces after the insurrection ended, but by 1906 there were 285 Filipinos and 28 Chamorros from Guam in the Insular Force. The regular Navy, meanwhile, saw the Philippines as a source for mess attendants, as “long-established tradition” held that Asians made the best officer servants. As the Pacific insular possessions were an exception to the 1907 citizenship rule for enlistment, Filipinos soon joined the Navy as messmen, with about 6,000 in the ranks at the end of World War I. At the same time, the Insular Force remained a better though numerically limited option, as recruits were trained as machinists, radiomen, storekeepers, yeomen and hospitalmen – all rates prohibited to Filipinos in the regular Navy. This proved especially true in the 1930s, when Congressional legislation temporarily curtailed all regular Filipino enlistment. The last class of the Insular Force joined the Navy in 1941, with the future of the force in doubt after Imperial Japan conquered the Philippines in mid-1942. True, wartime opportunities abounded, and under the pressure of war expansion Filipinos became gunner’s mates, pharmacists and boatswains in the regular Navy, shucking off the limits and restraints of the messmen rate. It was not an easy life, over 1,000 died in naval service, but they played their role in full to liberate the Philippines from Japanese occupation. Following the establishment of an independent Philippines after the war, a 1954 agreement allowed the Navy to recruit up to 2,000 Filipinos a year into the Navy. Initially eligible only for mess ratings, it was not until 1971 that they regained their wartime opportunities, now eligible to fill up to 30 rates. Surprisingly, during these same decades, the Insular Force struggled on, with those Filipinos who survived the war remaining on duty in the Philippines. In the late 1960s some 30 sailors – radiomen, boatswains, musicians and yeoman – remained in service, mostly out of Sangley Point. As Chief Yeoman Restituto Pugeda told Navy Times “I can think of a lot of people that have come and gone, but I intend to stay around just as long as the Navy likes me.” The Insular Force veterans finally retired in the 1970s and the regular Navy stopped the special recruitment of Filipinos in 1992, ending a 91-year era that saw over 35,000 Filipino nationals serve the colors. Opportunities to join the Navy did not end there, however, as the service remains wide open to immigrants and naturalized citizens, who make up almost 5% of the armed forces. Standing on the shoulders of the immigrants who served before them, these future citizens play a crucial role in today’s wartime Navy.

 
Mar 31

NAVY TV – GI Film Festival

Thursday, March 31, 2011 10:29 AM

The GI Film Festival is the first film festival in the nation to exclusively celebrate the successes and sacrifices of the service member through the medium of film. The 2011 Festival will be held May 9-15 at the Navy Memorial and will include the D.C. premiere of “Ironclad,” starring James Purefoy, Kate Mara, Brian Cox and Paul Giamatti.

Watch a highlights reel from the 2010 Festival on NavyTV.

For tickets and Festival information, go to www.gifilmfestival.com.

 
Mar 30

Carrier Aircraft Lay First Mines, 30 March 1944

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 12:01 AM

On 30 March 1944 a strong Fifth Fleet force, built around 11 carriers of Task Force 58, launched a series of attacks on Japanese shipping, airfields, and installations on and near Palau, Ulithi, Woleai, and Yap in the western Caroline Islands. Designed to eliminate Japanese opposition to the upcoming amphibious landing at Hollandia, New Guinea, the strikes concluded on 1 April, with the planes of Task Force 58 having destroyed 157 enemy aircraft and sunk 42 enemy ships.

During these raids TBF-1C and TBM-1C Avengers from Torpedo Squadrons 2, 8, and 16, embarked on board Bunker Hill (CV 19), Hornet (CV 12), and Lexington (CV 16), sowed extensive minefields in and around the channels and approaches to the Palaus. This was the first large-scale daylight tactical use of mines laid by carrier aircraft.

 
Mar 29

OBSERVATION ISLAND (EAG-154) and the Polaris Fleet Ballistic Missile Program

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 12:01 AM

On 29 March, 1960, OBSERVATION ISLAND launched the first fully-guided Polaris Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM). During July, she gathered optical and electronic data and served as a communications relay ship in support of the first successful launch of a Polaris FBM from a submerged vessel by the fleet ballistic missile submarine GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN-598) on the 20th. After the historic launch the Commanding Officer of GEORGE WASHINGTON sent the message to President Eisenhower: “Polaris—from out of the deep to target. Perfect.”

Prior to being commissioned a Navy ship on 5 December 1958, OBSERVATION ISLAND was launched as a cargo ship named EMPIRE STATE MARINER in 1953. The ship served briefly with the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS), the precursor to Military Sealift Command (MSC), until she entered the National Defense Reserve Fleet on 9 November 1954.

In 1956, the Navy began development of Polaris as a replacement for the Regulus Cruise Missile. As a result, the EMPIRE STATE MARINER transferred to Navy custody on 10 September 1956 and received a fully integrated FBM system at Norfolk Naval Shipyard that would allow her to serve as an at-sea test platform for the Navy.

Operating out of her homeport of Port Canaveral, Florida, OBSERVATION ISLAND conducted the first at-sea launching of a Polaris missile on 27 August 1959 at the Atlantic Missile Range. For the vessels critical contributions to the Polaris program during 1959 through the submerged firing from GEORGE WASHIGNTON on July 20, 1960, the Navy awarded her the Navy Unit Commendation.

As the number of Navy fleet ballistic missile submarine grew, OBSERVATION ISLAND continued to serve as a test platform, including the launch of the A-2 version Polaris in March 1961 and the A-3 version in June 1963. On 16 November 1963, less than a week before his assassination, President John F. Kennedy visited OBSERVATION ISLAND to witness a Polaris launching from ANDREW JACKSON (SSBN-619).

On 1 April 1968, the ship was redesignated AG-154 and in June of that year, she entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard to begin a conversion to ready her for testing of the Poseidon missile. The Navy decommissioned OBSERVATION ISLAND on 1 January 1972 and she currently serves as a missile range instrumentation ship, T-AGM-23, with MSC.