Mar 14

Million-Man Training

Monday, March 14, 2011 12:01 AM


On 14 March 1943 the Fleet Operational Training Command, Atlantic Fleet was formally established, with Rear Admiral Donald B. Beary in command. Beary, known as “Red” to his fellow Naval Academy graduates of the Class of 1910, came to the new assignment from a seventh-month stint as Commandant of the Naval Operating Base in Iceland. He was the perfect choice for this exacting job. A member of the Navy’s Gun Club who had earned a PG degree in electrical engineering at Columbia, he had been known since his Midshipman days as a man who possessed drive above all else.

During the year-and-a-half he served as COTCLANT, Beary successfully administered the creation and operation of a wide variety of training facilities along the U.S. East Coast, in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and on Culebra Island, Puerto Rico. These included such esoteric facilities as Anti-Aircraft Training Centers and the Anti-Aircraft Training Afloat program on board U.S.S. Wyoming, the Combat Information Center, Group Training Center in Norfolk, the Anti-Submarine Warfare Unit in Norfolk, the Fleet Sonar School in Key West, and the Minecraft Training Center in Little Creek, Virginia. In all during his time in command, Admiral Beary directed the training of more than 1,000,000 officers and men of the United States Fleet and supervised the shakedown or refresher training of some 5,000 vessels.

It is not surprising, therefore, that in the citation for the Distinguished Service Medal he was awarded in February 1945 for his accomplishments, he was singled out as a “resourceful and aggressive administrator” who was responsible for “the high state of battle proficiency and readiness for action maintained by the vessels under his command.”