Archive for January, 2020

Jan 31

World War II's 13-Year-Old "Baby Veteran"

Friday, January 31, 2020 1:31 PM

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On the night of 14-15 November 1942, sailors aboard the USS South Dakota (BB-57) found themselves in the midst of one of World War II’s most legendary naval battles: The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. The South Dakota was no stranger to enemy action. Her gun crews had already earned themselves a reputation of being “wild-eyed and quick to shoot” (Smithsonian), and her captain, Captain Thomas L. Gatch, already had his jugular severed and arms permanently damaged in a prior attack less than a month before. (Yes, he did in fact return to his ship that quickly). By the time the… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 28

The Incredulous Adventure of Ensign George William Denby, USNR

Tuesday, January 28, 2020 10:07 AM

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Every once and a blue moon, a piece of history crosses my desk that immediately drives me to tell its story to everyone and anyone who will listen. Which is what I did this Fall, when I told my fellow archivists, the photo historian upstairs, and my friends about this story from World War II. This story has still stuck in my brain, however, which is why I’m going to share it with you all right now. Here is the strange but true story of Ensign George William Denby, USNR:   Ensign George William Denby, USNR (of Van Nuys, California)… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 24

How the Navy Got a Hit Recruiting Video From Van Halen

Friday, January 24, 2020 5:06 AM

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In 1986, the band Van Halen was in transition. After scoring a major commercial success with the album 1984 that included their first #1 single “Jump.” the antics and overbearing personality of lead singer David Lee Roth had become too much for the rest of the band and they decided to part ways. Critics questioned if Van Halen could continue without the charismatic Roth serving as the frontman. The announcement that the “Red Rocker”—Sammy Hagar—would be Roth’s replacement was met with mixed reactions from fans. So it was a surprise to many when 5150, Van Halen’s first album recorded with… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 21

The Heroic James Barron

Tuesday, January 21, 2020 12:01 AM

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Before the animosity between Commodores James Barron and Stephen Decatur culminated in their fatal (for Decatur) duel, the two served together on board one of the U.S. Navy’s first warships, the frigate United States. The nation almost lost the frigate during the Quasi-War with France (1798–1800), and with her, a young wardroom and midshipmen mess that would define the U.S. Navy for the next half century. Barron would take Decatur’s life in 1820, but first he saved him and others of the pantheon of early American naval heroes. Captain John Barry commanded the United States during the Quasi-War. The conflict… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 16

The Life & Service of a World War 2 Mine Warfare Sailor. Part 6 Sea Stories Part 1

Thursday, January 16, 2020 12:01 AM

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This blog begins with my grandfather, Seaman Thomas Schreck, shortly after joining his ship the USS Sway (AM-120) an Auk class mine sweeper. He arrived in Bizerte Tunisia at the Karouba Air and Sea base a few days earlier. The Sway spent the first nine days of June undergoing refitting before returning to Italy where it continued to serve as part of the ongoing operations there. My grandfather stopped writing upon joining the ship as per orders from his Commanding Officer. This blog and future blogs will use a combination of the ship’s war journal, a few entries he did make, an… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 14

Flying Beer Trucks

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 10:04 AM

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In October 1944, I was with Marine Scout Bomber Squadron (VMSB) 142 stationed on Emirau Island, 1 degree south of the equator, in the northern Solomons. We were part of the force keeping the Japanese bases of Kavieng and Rabaul isolated. Training flights in our Douglas SBD Dauntlesses plus an occasional strike was the order of the day, as we waited for the Philippine liberation campaign to begin. I had noticed a small growth on the sole of my left foot that made it painful to walk on, and also painful to put pressure on the rudder pedal of the… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 9

An Old Naval Tradition – First Watch

Thursday, January 9, 2020 10:22 AM

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January has rolled around again. No one knows how the tradition of writing the log in rhyme on the New Year’s midwatch began, or when it began. Perhaps the OOD was simply entertaining himself while the rest of the crew was out celebrating. According to Naval Ceremonies, Customs, and Traditions by Royal W. Connell and William P. Mack: “Regardless of rhyme, Navy Regulations and OpNav Instructions require that certain information be reported. Those requirements, plus the awkward names of some of the ships present, the lack of euphony in many nautical expressions, and the need to comply with “the poetic… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 7

Dispelling a USS Liberty Theory

Tuesday, January 7, 2020 12:01 AM

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The role of the diesel electric submarine USS Amberjack (SS-522) during the June 1967 Six-Day War–and specifically at the time of the Israeli attack on the spy ship USS Liberty (AGTR-5) on 8 June–has elicited considerable interest from many quarters. There have been controversial interpretations of events associated with the Amberjack’s movements, but what actually happened is significant because, in some cases, theoretical misrepresentations of events have stained the honor of a U.S. submarine. In 1967, U.S. national strategic interests drove the approach by President Lyndon B. Johnson and his key cabinet members and national security advisers to the growing… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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