Author Archive

Apr 30

Disaster at Honda Point: The U.S. Navy's Largest Peacetime Loss of Ships

Thursday, April 30, 2020 12:26 PM

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Honda Point, also known as Point Pedernales, is located just north of the entrance to the Santa Barbara Channel in Santa Barbara County, California. The area has been known to be hazardous as far back as the 16th century, when Spanish explorers coined the area the “Devil’s Jaw” due to its treacherous and plentiful rocky outcroppings. Local mariners have long known to avoid the area at all costs, and the sailors involved on the 8 September 1923 incident were no exception. However, a perfect storm of radio and navigational errors, irregular currents, and poor visibility all came together at just… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 27

Pearl Harbor's Second, Secret Disaster

Thursday, February 27, 2020 11:30 AM

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The attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 was not the only fiery tragedy that befell the bustling Hawaiian hub throughout the duration of the Second World War. Some 3 and a half years following the deadly Japanese-led strike, Pearl Harbor found itself in the midst of another deadly inferno that tore through the previously untouched West Loch, destroying six LSTs, killing 163 personnel, and injuring a further 396. Despite the large loss of life, knowledge of this explosive catastrophe was and continues to be limited, as an immediate press blackout surrounding the incident was… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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 »

 
Dec 2

The Mysterious Disappearance of Flight 19

Monday, December 2, 2019 11:08 AM

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At 1410 hours on 5 December 1945, a group of five TBM Avenger torpedo bombers took off from the U.S. Naval Air Station, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for a routine overwater navigational training flight. The flight leader in charge of the unit, dubbed “Flight 19,” was U.S. Navy Lieutenant Charles Carroll Taylor, who had amassed some 2,500 flying hours in addition to the completion of a combat tour in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Taylor and his crew of 13 airmen, some trainee pilots, were to execute “navigation problem No. 1,” described by the Naval History and Heritage Command… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 31

This Day In History: The Sinking of the USS Reuben James (DD-245)

Thursday, October 31, 2019 11:45 AM

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Most of us tend to associate the start of America’s involvement in World War II with the tragedy that struck Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. Technically, we aren’t wrong. The United States did in fact make the decision to officially enter the war following the events of that terrible day. However, the Attack on Pearl Harbor was not the first deadly attack against U.S. forces during the overall duration of the war, nor was it the first time a U.S. warship was ravaged by the Axis.   The story I am about to tell you may sound familiar to… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Sep 26

Origins of Valor: The History of the Navy Medal of Honor

Thursday, September 26, 2019 11:47 AM

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By the end of the Civil War, the Union’s Armed Forces lot some 365,000 men, with more than double that in total casualties suffered during the four year-long “War Between the States.” With such widespread violence plaguing the divided country, acts of heroism and bravery on the part of fighting men were becoming more and more commonplace. However, this same violence caused concern in the ranks of the Navy very early on in the war. Would enough men be willing to enlist for service, put their lives on the line for their country? Various awards for distinguished service in the… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Aug 30

A Little Bird Named Enza

Friday, August 30, 2019 11:39 AM

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I had a little bird, And its name was Enza. I opened the window And in-flu-enza. – A children’s jumprope rhyme Imagine your daily routine. Mine? I wake up far later than I should, usually around 10 minutes before I have to be out the door and in my car to head over to the Naval Institute for work. If possible, I like to grab an iced coffee on my way in, just to make sure that I am suited for human interaction. I come in around 8 AM and settle in for a day of work, stopping for lunch… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jul 30

Racism, Mutiny, and Exoneration-The Port Chicago Disaster

Tuesday, July 30, 2019 11:53 AM

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The date is 17 July 1944. It’s nearing half past 10 PM, and the 24-hour cycle of munitions and cargo loading at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine, California is in full swing. Two merchant ships, the SS Quinault Victory and the SS E.A. Bryan, sit at the pier. The SS Quinault Victory is empty, the SS E.A. Bryan holds over 4,000 tons of ammunition, and sixteen railcars sitting on the pier contain 429 tons of ammunition. Hundreds of cargo handlers, munitions handlers, crewmen, and officers swarm the area, working tirelessly to load the two vessels with explosives, bombs, depth charges,… Read the rest of this entry »