Sep 21

Knox Lifetime Achievement Awards Honor Naval Institute Authors

Monday, September 21, 2015 1:55 PM

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Cutler2

ANNAPOLIS, MD (September 18, 2015) USNI Author Thomas J. Cutler accepts the Commodore Dudley W. Knox Lifetime Achievement in Naval History Award and medal from Naval Historical Foundation Chairman Admiral Bruce DeMars, USN (Ret.) at a banquet held in Annapolis on 18 September. The banquet marked the final event of the two-day McMullen Naval History Symposium at the United States Naval Academy. Alongside colleagues Dr. Dean C. Allard and Dr. Kenneth J. Hagan, the banquet honored Cutler and his lifelong achievements in the writing and teaching of naval history. Several former Knox Award winners were in attendance at the banquet. (Photo credit Matthew Eng/NHF/Released)

Naval historians from around the world mustered last week in Annapolis for the U.S. Naval Academy’s biennial two-day, deep-immersion McMullen Naval History Symposium. During a banquet at the DoubleTree Annapolis Hotel on Friday night, 18 September, attendees heralded the latest authors to receive the Commodore Dudley W. Knox Naval History Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the U.S. Naval Historical Foundation.

As in years past, the names of all three honorees in 2015, along with the namesake of the award himself, are familiar to readers of U.S. Naval Institute publications.

Commodore Knox, a veteran of the Spanish-American War—in the waters of both Cuba and the Philippines—the Boxer Rebellion, and the historic cruise of “The Great White Fleet,” played several shipboard roles throughout his career. His legacy of history stewardship, however, included serving on the faculty of the Naval War College, as officer in charge of the Office of Naval Records and Library, Navy Department Curator, and Deputy Director of Naval History. By our count, Knox was the author of 43 Proceedings articles, comments, and book reviews over his Navy career and in retirement. Among other works, he wrote the classic A History of the United States Navy in 1936, a revision of which was released in 1948. Neither, inexplicably, was published by the Naval Institute Press.

On completing three years of his service commitment in the Navy after NROTC training at Dartmouth College, Dean C. Allard joined Rear Admiral Ernest J. Eller’s staff at what was then the Naval Historical Center. After active duty, he began a 30-year stretch heading up the center’s Operational Archives Branch, which later led to his appointment as senior historian and ultimately as Director of Naval History. Retired Admiral Bruce DeMars, Chairman of the Naval Historical Foundation, paid what he referred to as a “house call” to Dr. Allard—broadcast to all in attendance by video—to present him the Knox award. Dr. Allard’s contributions to naval literature are substantial, but his article in the September 1987 Proceedings was arguably his most prescient. In “To the North Pole!” he paid tribute to Navy Lieutenant Edwin DeHaven, leader of the 1850 First Grinnell Expedition to determine the fate of a British naval expedition led by Sir John Franklin last seen in 1845 near Lancaster Sound in northern Canada. DeHaven’s effort, Dr. Allard pointed out, directed critical attention to the Arctic as a viable waterway, a notion being embraced even more today, worldwide. You can read all about the latest developments there in Proceedings.

ANNAPOLIS, MD (September 18, 2015) Dr. Kenneth J. Hagan accepts the Commodore Dudley W. Knox Lifetime Achievement in Naval History Award and medal from Naval Historical Foundation Chairman Admiral Bruce DeMars, USN (Ret.) at a banquet held in Annapolis on 18 September. The banquet, sponsored by NHF, marked the final event of the two-day McMullen Naval History Symposium at the United States Naval Academy. Alongside colleagues Dr. Dean C. Allard and Dr. Kenneth J. Hagan, the banquet honored Cutler and his lifelong achievements in the writing and teaching of naval history. (Photo credit Matthew Eng/NHF/Released)

Dr. Kenneth J. Hagan accepts the Commodore Dudley W. Knox Lifetime Achievement in Naval History Award and medal from Naval Historical Foundation Chairman Admiral Bruce DeMars, USN (Ret.) at the banquet held in Annapolis on 18 September. (Photo credit Matthew Eng/NHF/Released)

According to his Naval Historical Foundation bio, Dr. Kenneth J. Hagan “has spent 33 of his 45 years of teaching as a professor of history and strategy at the U.S. Naval Academy, Naval Postgraduate School, and the Naval War College.” Notwithstanding this distinctive contribution to the education of naval and military officers over nearly half a century, Dr. Hagan will always be best known as the author of This People’s Navy: The Making of American Sea Power (1991), what former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman labeled as “easily the best one-volume history of the Navy yet written.” He has contributed extensively to Naval History (including his incisive reports on sharply focused seminars conducted by the Naval Institute in partnership with the McCormick Tribune Foundation in the 1990s) and for Proceedings. His most recent contribution was “His Remarks Reverberated from Berlin to Washington,” a December 2010 article written with Michael T. McMaster that assessed the impact of controversial remarks made by “a mid-grade U.S. Navy officer” named W. S. Sims.

Dr. Hagan’s dry wit shone through during his remarks at the award ceremony, but perhaps his best admonition came in the Q&A following the formal program. When asked what advice he would give to aspiring historians, he said, “Choose a dispassionate topic, one that you know little about. That way, you can approach it objectively.”

Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler is one of the most prolific members of the Naval Institute team. His contributions to the literature of naval history and the role he has played in the education of midshipmen and naval officers are well known. Anyone on the Naval Institute staff will tell you, “He’s one of us.” But Tom is “us.” His words of wisdom to the crowd gathered that night were simple. “We’re always told how much material we should ‘cover.’ My goal has always been to inspire the students to ‘cover’ it and see what great things happen.” He also recalled his childhood in inner city Baltimore, where he and his pals would play cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, and war. For that last one, the other boys always wanted to be sergeants or captains. Lieutenant Commander Cutler always wanted to be, well, a lieutenant commander. He closed that thought with “I wonder what would have happened if I wanted to be an admiral?”