Hornet’s initial strike group of fifteen VS-8 and VB-8 SBD dive bombers, led by Lieutenant Commander William J. “Gus” Widhelm, had been in the air about a hour and fifteen minutes on the morning of 26 October 1942, searching for the Japanese carrier task force, when Widhelm turned the group north to avoid several Japanese Zeros he could see attacking Hornet’s escorting fighters. Five minutes later, after passing through a cloud bank, he spotted some ship wakes and billowing smoke to his left, about twenty-five miles off. He had sighted the Japanese carrier Shōkaku and its still-burning companion, the light… Read the rest of this entry »
Archive for October, 2010
At first light on 25 October 1944, huge geysers of water shot up near the destroyer Johnston. That ship and half a dozen other American destroyers were escorting half a dozen jeep carriers off Samar. A shaky voice on Johnston’s talk between ships radio reported “a major portion” of the Japanese fleet fifteen miles astern. Commander Ernest Evans, the skipper, burst out of his sea cabin, barking out orders: All hands general quarters! Light off all boilers for maximum speed! Make smoke! Ernest Evans had come up the hard way, harder than most. His white paternal grandfather had married a… Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s a snippet of history from Navy TV – a 1959 newsreel about Navy Frogmen, that demonstrates a long-endurance dive by Underwater Demolition Team “frogmen” who stayed underwater for a record 48 hours. Yes, dated and funny! And another one -about the UDTs (the precursor to the Seals) this is supposed to be a recruiting film – makes you think twice!! Hell Week, the Tower – the whole 1957 Underwater Demolition Team training. Dated, but exhausting.
“In the fall of 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union came as close as they ever would to global war.” So begins the monograph published by the Naval History & Heritage Command “Cordon of Steel, The U.S. Navy and the Cuban Missile Crisis” by Curtis A. Utz. First printed in 1993, this booklet was a yearlong effort by Utz to chronicle the Navy’s role in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Because this historic event was a dramatic example of how the U.S. Navy enabled the nation to protect its interests in one of the most serous confrontations… Read the rest of this entry »
The Rear Admiral Ernest M. Eller Prize in Naval History for the best article on the history of the United States Navy published in a scholarly journal in 2009 has been awarded to Trent Hone for his article “U.S. Navy Surface Battle Doctrine and Victory in the Pacific,” published in the Winter 2009 issue of the Naval War College Review. The prize is sponsored jointly by the Naval History and Heritage Command and the Naval Historical Foundation and includes a monetary award. Congrats again to Trent Hone!
“Navy admits Negroes into the WAVES:” so read the headlines following the Navy Department’s October 19, 1944, press release announcing this change. This was indeed good news to the civic, religious, and civil rights organizations, the Afro-American sororities, Mary McLeod Bethune and others who had urged the Navy to have an integrated female reserve program since its inception. Captain Mildred McAfee, the director of the WAVES program, also advocated for their inclusion. The White House received petitions and numerous letters from whites and blacks a like arguing that not allowing blacks in the WAVES was discriminatory and inconsistent with America’s… Read the rest of this entry »
This 2009 Navy documentary chronicles the compelling stories recalled by Navy Medical Department personnel – physicians, dentists, nurses, and hospital corpsmen during the final year of World War II. Part 1 begins with the invasion of Okinawa, and includes an interview with Hospital Apprentice First Class Robert Bush, awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry on Okinawa. Part 2 includes emotional interviews with Navy veterans who survived kamikaze attacks while serving on board ships stationed off Okinawa . In Part 3, former American POW’s recall hearing the news of Japanese surrender while being held in prison camps, and the… Read the rest of this entry »