May 19

Admiral Kimmel and the Attack

Friday, May 19, 2017 2:59 PM

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Pacific Fleet Commander-in-Chief Admiral Husband Kimmel (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

  Beginning in December 2016, I began writing a series of monthly (approximately) “H-Grams” that go to all active-duty and retired Navy flag officers, and the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, with the expectation that they would be disseminated further to fleet Sailors, and with the acceptance that they would make their way “into the wild.” I did this with the approval of the Chief of Naval Operations and Director, Navy Staff to support the Navy’s “Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority” which includes a sub-task to “Know Our History.” My intent is to write them in a way… Read the rest of this entry »

 
May 2

Cameraman Norm Hatch: In His Own Words

Tuesday, May 2, 2017 12:01 AM

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Hatch

Amid the whirlwind of the Battle of Tarawa, Japanese soldiers dash for cover as nearby Marines open fire. A cameraman, then–Staff Sergeant Norman Hatch, captured the gripping scene—the only instance that U.S. servicemen and enemy forces appeared in the same World War II combat images. But the footage was only a fraction of what Hatch filmed on Tarawa’s Betio Atoll, the highlights of which appeared in a short documentary, With the Marines at Tarawa. The historic film brought the grim realities of Pacific island fighting to the American home front and earned the 1945 Academy Award for best short-subject documentary. Retired… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 27

Death on the River

Thursday, April 27, 2017 4:48 PM

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Sultana at Helena, Arkansas, on April 26, 1865, a day before her destruction. She was cowded with about 2,222 people, a number that included 100 paying passengers (men, women, and children), a crew of 85, and 22 guards.

Today marks the 152nd anniversary of the explosion and sinking of the steamboat Sultana on the Mississippi River that claimed the lives of more than 1,800 recently-freed Union POWs packed on her decks for the voyage home — more than the number killed when the RMS Titanic sank in 1912. An excerpt from Noah Andre Trudeau’s 2009 Naval History article about the disaster is reprinted below. The full article may be viewed here.

 
Apr 7

50 Years Ago: A Rolling Thunder True Story

Friday, April 7, 2017 11:48 AM

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An A-6A Intruder of Attack Squadron (VA) 35 heads for its North Vietnam target. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

Date: 7 April 1967 Squadron: VA-35 Black Panthers, USS Enterprise (CVAN-65), Yankee Station Aircraft: A-6A Intruder Target: Night attack on the sprawling Thainguyen, North Vietnam, steel complex Pilot: LCDR Everett “Hoot” Foote; Bombardier/Navigator: LT John Griffith The flight proceeded as briefed to the coastal entry. LCDR Foote utilized the A-6 Intruder’s terrain-avoidance radar augmented by LT Griffith’s search-radar observations to establish their minimum terrain avoidance altitude under night instrument flight conditions. The low altitude at which they flew over the mountainous terrain greatly complicated the radar navigation challenge. LT Griffith never-the-less hit each checkpoint on time, inserting updated position data into his navigation and weapons system… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 20

Reflecting on the Jutland Centennial

Monday, March 20, 2017 11:10 AM

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Layout 1

The Battle of Jutland—where my grandfather, Sir John Jellicoe, commanded the British Grand Fleet on 31 May, 1916—was, and has remained, one of the most controversial battles of all time. Britain’s expectations of a second Trafalgar were hopelessly unrealistic but fed by a very active press. Britain’s navy had basked in its glory for more than one hundred years, thought and acted as if it were invincible and received a rude shock on the day. When an easy-to-understand victory, ready packaged for the national media to exploit was not achieved, the search for scapegoats began. My grandfather became the scapegoat…. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Dec 7

A Taranto–Pearl Harbor Connection?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 11:39 AM

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Fairey Swordfish bombers from HMS Illustrious head toward an inferno of antiaircraft fire and burning ships in Robert Taylor's depiction of the raid on the Italian harbor of Taranto. (The Military Gallery, www.militarygallery.com)

On the night of 11 November 1940, Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm aircraft attacked Italian battleships at anchor in the port of Taranto, Italy. On the morning of 7 December 1941, aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s carrier strike force attacked the battleships and other assets of the U.S. Navy at anchor in Pearl Harbor. Is there a connection between the two attacks?

 
Nov 29

The Hudson River Chain

Tuesday, November 29, 2016 12:27 PM

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Tom Martin (My Dad) 1971

  We sometimes forget our parents were not born adults. They were children and teenagers first, who did silly things. When it comes to my dad, Tom Martin, the man who must follow the arrows in a parking lot, it is hard to imagine him pulling a prank, especially during his U.S. Coast Guard Academy years. Each year at the Coast Guard Academy, the fourth-class (freshman) cadets pull pranks the night before the first home football game. So during my dad’s fourth-class year in 1971, he and some classmates set their sights high. The Coast Guard Academy is home to… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 10

The Corps’ Parris Island Museum

Thursday, November 10, 2016 1:31 PM

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Exhibits at the Parris Island Museum include uniforms, weapons, maps, and memorabilia that reveal the Corps' distinguished history from the beginning of the 19th century to the present. (U.S. Marine Corps)

Men who enlist in the Marine Corps east of the Mississippi River and all women joining the Corps must first report to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina, for four hellish months of physical training and conditioning. If they make it through, they emerge as Marines. An important teaching tool there is the Parris Island Museum, where raw recruits—and visiting civilians—can learn about the service’s heritage and the rich history of the island where Marines leave behind civilian life and become warriors. The museum is located in a circa-1951 building that once housed an enlisted recreation… Read the rest of this entry »