Author Archive

Apr 20

A Brief Illustrated History of Navy Victory Markings

Monday, April 20, 2020 1:56 AM

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The taking of trophies and the building of memorials to mark military victories has been common throughout the history of warfare. The English word “trophy” is derived from the ancient Greek tropaion, which was a display of captured weapons, armor and standards commemorating the defeat of an enemy. Warriors took great pride in the trophies representing their unit’s triumphs in battle but many also wanted to record their individual victories over a foe. Headhunting and scalping were perhaps the most gruesome means for exhibiting defeated enemies. A less grisly practice in some cultures was to get special tattoos after vanquishing… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 21

The Evolution of Naval Wargames

Friday, February 21, 2020 2:05 PM

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  Naumachiae: Sea Battles in the Colosseum The Romans always enjoyed a good game, especially if it was extravagant and resulted in multiple gruesome deaths. Historical accounts from the reign of Emperor Titus detail spectacles known as naumachiae (Latin for “naval combat”) in which arenas such as the Coliseum were flooded and prisoners were then forced to reenact famous sea battles by fighting from scale-model ships. The easily bored Romans occasionally spiced up the games by added specially trained bulls that could fight in water. The Fred Jane Naval War Game In the 19th century, several games were produced for… 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 »

 
Jun 3

USOs Not UFOs Have Been the Greatest Threat to the Navy

Monday, June 3, 2019 3:21 AM

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The United States Navy created a bit of a buzz when it revealed new guidelines for pilots who wanted to report encounters with unexplained aerial phenomena. The guidelines were created in response to a rash of unusual sightings over the past several years. Many media outlets equated unexplained aerial phenomena to unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, which in turn was interpreted by a lot of people as meaning “spacecraft flown by aliens.” To the disappointment of believers, most reported phenomena are probably due to something a bit more mundane than extraterrestrials taking a joy ride through our atmosphere. In addition… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 25

The Strange Navy That Shipped Millions of Japanese Home

Thursday, April 25, 2019 9:50 PM

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When Japan formally surrendered on board the USS Missouri (BB-63) in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945, there still were seven million Japanese soldiers and civilians scattered throughout the Pacific and Asia with no way of returning home. The Allies had so devastated Japanese shipping during the war that few transports remained. There were some grumblings among U.S. officials who thought that it was Japan’s problem to rectify, but it was quickly recognized that after suffering under Japanese occupation for years, countries such as China and the Philippines should be relieved of the burden of stranded Japanese troops. There was… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 23

The ‘Other’ Flag-Raising Photos from the War in the Pacific

Saturday, February 23, 2019 6:10 AM

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When photographer Joe Rosenthal pointed his camera at a group of men atop of Mount Suribachi and quickly snapped a shot, he did not think he captured anything special. It was not until the film was developed at a lab on Guam that a photo editor noted that the image was “one for all time.” Within a day of the photo being taken, Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima was distributed over the wire to hundreds of newspapers and became an immediate sensation. The image earned the Pulitzer Prize for Photography and has become one of the most reproduced and parodied… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 1

From Vindictive to Dainty: The Extremes of Royal Navy Ship Names

Friday, February 1, 2019 12:39 PM

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The British Royal Navy is steeped in tradition and history. Its mighty fleets were the envy of the world and enabled Great Britain to run a global empire for centuries. Its ships sailed the oceans with striking names that projected qualities to inspire crews and intimidate enemies—names such as HMS Vengeance, Fearless, Vindictive, Repulse, and Spiteful. What young sailor would not be proud to serve on ships named HMS Battleaxe or Gladiator? The revolutionary HMS Dreadnought had a bold name that was so effective it was used to refer to all similar battleships that were modeled after her. Royal Navy… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 5

The Death of the Lone Ranger, USMC

Friday, October 5, 2018 8:01 PM

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In 1933, during the depths of the Great Depression, the “March of the Swiss Soldiers” finale from the William Tell overture came blaring over the airwaves from radio station WXYZ in Detroit to announce the arrival of a new American hero. Station owner George Trendle wanted a show about a mysterious cowboy, so writer Fran Striker developed a character who was the sole survivor of a group of Texas Rangers ambushed by a gang. After being found near death and nursed back to health by the Indian Tonto, the Lone Ranger dons a mask and sets out on his horse… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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