Dec 11

Angels of the Oriskany – August Moon Rescue

Tuesday, December 11, 2018 12:01 AM

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Helicopter approaches the August Moon (Courtesy of the Author)

“If you went to Hong Kong, you went right by the Pratas Reef, where I crashed the H-2 trying to rescue some Chinese crewmen from an ore carrier, the August Moon, that had run aground in a typhoon.” I sent my father’s cousin Dale Barck a postcard during a port call to Hong Kong in 1997, and this was the unexpected reply I received. Dale was a great correspondent, sending me letters filled with sea stories from his days in the Navy, including the fateful events of his deployment aboard the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany (CVA-34) in 1966. Dale Barck… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Dec 6

The Sinking of the USS Nevada (BB-36)

Thursday, December 6, 2018 12:01 AM

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Captain Charles J. Merdinger, CEC, USN (Retired)

On the morning of 7 December 1941, then-Ensign Charles Merdinger awoke to alarms and stepped through his socks in his haste to get to his battle station on board the battleship USS Nevada (BB-36) when she was bombed at Pearl Harbor. In this audio clip, Captain Merdinger gives a vivid account of the near-disastrous situation he found himself in while in the sinking Nevada‘s plotting room during the attack.   To read more about the Naval Institute Oral History Program, go to https://www.usni.org/heritage/oral-history-catalog.  

 
Dec 4

Innovation In Difficult Times

Tuesday, December 4, 2018 12:01 AM

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Japanese Bombard Wanping ca. 1937

In 1868, the Meiji Restoration in Japan began a fundamental shift in Japan’s conception of its place in the world.[i] This shift was catalyzed by the “gunboat diplomacy” of Commodore Matthew C. Perry, who demonstrated the power of the U.S. Navy to secure expanded trading rights between the United States and Japan.[ii] The Meiji Restoration was characterized by an effort to modernize and globalize Japan economically and militarily in order to ensure that Japan would not be subjugated by a foreign power.[iii] Shimazu Nariakira, a powerful feudal lord during the period, stated that “if we take the initiative, we can… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 29

The Spirit and the Fortitude of the 39th Battalion

Thursday, November 29, 2018 12:01 AM

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Members of the 39th Battalion 6 September 1942 (Australian War Memorial)

In his war commentary, Bellum Gallicum, Julius Caesar wrote, “In war great events are the results of small causes.” History is replete with examples of this dictum; stirring sagas of courage under fire; gallant stands by a handful of men against overwhelming odds; small battles that disproportionally influenced the outcome of major wars; epic chronicles that inspire us to this day. This article will address the lesser known but equally deserving Battle of the Kokoda Trail in 1942 which saved Australia and profoundly influenced the War in the Pacific. In the spring of 1942 Allied prospects were grim. Rommel was… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 28

Unadilla-Class Gunboats

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 11:59 AM

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Lithograph of the USS Unadilla (1861) underway.

Did you know that today, on the 28th of November, 1863, the USS Chippewa convoyed the Army transports Monohansett and Mayflower up Skull Creek, South Carolina, on a reconnaissance mission? I don’t imagine the majority of folks do, unless they are American Civil War buffs, but I learned that particular fact perusing through today’s events in history, looking for a subject for my blog post. While the specifics of this mission (which was successful, by the by) aren’t the subject of my blog post today, looking into this event was the catalyst for what I will be covering: Unadilla-class gunboats…. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 20

Day 7- March 23- Guam

Tuesday, November 20, 2018 12:01 AM

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(Courtesy of the Author)

Lieutenant Leroy Fadem recently revisited sites in the Pacific where he saw action in the Navy during the tumultuous years of the War in the Pacific over 70 years ago. This is a journal of that recent trip as kept by his son, Steven Fadem, who accompanied Lt. Fadem on that journey of rediscovery. The day started with a brilliant rainbow. It also started out with a potentially amazing discovery. I previously noted in our program that one of the WWII vets, Marine Frank Campisano, served in Nagasaki. I located him in the lobby this morning and was inquiring as… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 16

Scuttlebutt: Thanksgiving 1943

Friday, November 16, 2018 12:09 PM

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USS Hermitage: Scuttlebutt's Thanksgiving edition - 1943

The Naval Institute Archive was recently the recipient of a lucky find by Bill Foley of Boston who came upon some USS Hermitage (AP-54) papers left behind in an attic of a house that a friend of his purchased. Among those papers was a stack of “Scuttlebutt” newspapers, which kept the crew up to date on news around the world and included lighter pieces that were presented in an entertaining way. “Scutttlebutt” was published daily, and I’m sure it was appreciated much as our modern day sailors enjoy digital content to connect them to the world beyond their ship at sea.

 
Nov 13

USS Lakatoi – A Short, but Heroic Life

Tuesday, November 13, 2018 12:01 AM

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USS Lakatoi (Australian War Museum)

If there were a contest to find the U.S. Navy ship with the shortest career from commissioning to sinking, USS Lakatoi, with just six days, would certainly be a serious competitor. Its career was so short the ship never received a hull number. I would never have heard about the ship if not asked to find out the truth behind a “sea story.” The sea story began with an improbable premise – a U.S. Navy midshipman assigned to duty at Guadalcanal during the desperate days of 1942. After extensive research, I found two of the four officers of USS Lakatoi,… Read the rest of this entry »