Aug 2

Frogmen

Wednesday, August 2, 2017 12:20 PM

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Frogmen

My dad wanted to be a Frogman when he grew up. Seeing how I thought his ambition growing up was to be Superman, I was puzzled. Then my dad explained. During the late 1950s and early ’60s, when I was 5 to 9 years old, there was a TV show called Sea Hunt, starring Lloyd Bridges. The main character was a scuba diver (and I think a former Navy frogman/member of an underwater demolition team (UDT)). Most of the action took place underwater.  It was one of my favorite shows. I liked it so much, I “played” Sea Hunt in… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jun 23

The Original Arnold Horshack

Friday, June 23, 2017 10:20 AM

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Swift boats head up the Giant Thanh River along the South Vietnam–Cambodia border toward night ambush spots.

The following is adapted from Swift Boats at War in Vietnam (Stackpole, 2017), edited by Guy Gugliotta, John Yeoman, and Neva Sullaway. Swift Boats (patrol boat fast, or PCFs) at the beginning of 1970 appeared to be in reasonable control of their war. Operation SEALORDS had cleared large swatches of the Lower Mekong Delta, forcing the enemy to withdraw to strongholds deep in the forest. Firefights and ambushes had declined, and civilians could move about the region with relative ease. SeaFloat, the Navy’s floating base in the Cua Lon Estuary, was a resounding success, fostering the growth of a substantial… Read the rest of this entry »

 
May 30

The Story He Never Told

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 12:01 AM

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9781612518480

The year following my grandfather’s death in 1975, I found myself in a mystifying place: the NAS Patuxent River airfield dedication in his honor. The ceremony touched on highlights from Vice Admiral Frederick “Trap” Trapnell’s long career in naval aviation, which, even to my untrained ear, sounded consequential: getting the Hellcat into WWII, salvaging the development of the Corsair, first Navy pilot to fly a jet, guiding the Navy through the complex transition to jets, establishing the Test Pilot School at PAX River. Why else would they name the airfield after him? Yet, standing there on the rain-soaked tarmac of… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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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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 »