Author Archive

Jul 6

A ‘Rough-House’

Wednesday, July 6, 2016 4:27 PM

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In the 1908 Lucky Bag, the college yearbook of U.S. Naval Academy graduates, one of the midshipmen was described by his classmates as “a black-eyed, rosy-cheeked, noisy Irishman who loves a rough-house.” This “noisy Irishman” was Thomas Cassin Kinkaid, who in coming to Annapolis was following in his father’s footsteps. His seagoing career began with Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet” as it made the historic voyage around the world, showing the American flag and proclaiming U.S. naval power in the new century. As befitting a genuine “rough-houser,” Kinkaid spent most of his subsequent career in naval gunnery, with sea tours… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 21

‘Subdue, Seize, and Take . . .’

Thursday, April 21, 2016 2:59 PM

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On 9 February 1799, the U.S. frigate CONSTELLATION was cruising in Caribbean waters when a lookout reported an unidentified ship just over the horizon. Captain Thomas Truxtun ordered his ship to come about, then went below to record in his log: “At noon saw a sail standing to westward, gave chase. I take her for a ship of war.” The pursuit continued for about an hour with the CONSTELLATION gradually gaining. Drawing closer, it became apparent that the other ship was a heavily armed frigate. A lesser captain with a lesser crew might have decided to look for an easier… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 17

Remember the MAINE

Thursday, March 17, 2016 3:38 PM

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Apprentice First Class Ambrose Ham was signal boy of the watch when the USS MAINE arrived at the Spanish-owned island of Cuba on 25 January 1898. Tensions were high in the battleship as she slowly steamed into Havana Harbor, and though Ham remembered that “every-thing looked peaceful,” he heard another sailor tell two friends, “We’ll never get out of here alive.” Cuban revolutionaries had long been trying to overthrow their Spanish masters, and the MAINE had been sent to protect American citizens then in Havana. Because of the high state of tension, the crew was not allowed to go ashore,… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 10

Extraordinary American

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 3:50 PM

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In many ways, John J. “Jack” Schiff typified that once very large and now rapidly dwindling group of extraordinary Americans that Tom Brokaw so aptly characterized as “the greatest generation.” Like so many of those brave souls in those troubled times when Nazis and Fascists and other monsters roamed the earth, Jack left a promising business in Cincinnati to don his nation’s uniform in March 1942. Because it was not in Jack Schiff’s character to tell others of his achievements, we cannot know the full extent of his contributions to the war effort and can only piece together his service… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 20

‘Bobbi’

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 12:37 PM

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In August 1963, Lieutenant Commander Vila Hovis received orders to Saigon, Vietnam. The orders were not a surprise because she was the first Navy nurse to volunteer for service in that far-off corner of the world. Her orders directed her current command to “ENSURE THAT SHE IS ORIENTED IN CODE OF CONDUCT . . . AND DANGERS OF COMMUNISM.” It was apparent that Commander Hovis was headed for a war zone, though not for the first time, since she had been a flight nurse in Korea more than a decade before. But these were the early days in a new… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Dec 5

‘Marquee Title’

Saturday, December 5, 2015 12:01 AM

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I require all Marines to read and discuss . . . — LTGEN Brute Krulak’s FIRST TO FIGHT: AN INSIDE VIEW OF THE U.S. MARINE CORPS These words appeared some years back in an “ALMAR” message sent to the entire U.S. Marine Corps by its then-Commandant, General James Conway, in which he described the importance of a Marine Corps reading program and designated FIRST TO FIGHT as the “Marquee Title” of that program. Because the Marine Corps values its heritage so highly, it is likely that many Marines readily knew why he chose this book from the thousands that have… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 11

Ripley at the Bridge

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 12:01 AM

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As a young man I was fascinated by a tale from ancient Roman history that told of a warrior whose courage was beyond all reason, yet was inspirational as an ideal worth trying to live up to. It is a story, often recounted by Roman authors and later preserved for English literature in a poem by Lord Macaulay that tells us of an Etruscan army marching on Rome, headed for a bridge across the Tiber River that, unless destroyed, would give the enemy access to the capital city itself. Their van will be upon us Before the bridge goes down;… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 28

History Made in a Hellcat

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 12:01 AM

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On the morning of 24 October 1944, in a pair of Hellcat fighters, Commander David McCampbell and his wingman, Ensign Roy Rushing, scrambled from the flight deck of the USS Essex CV-9) to repel a formation of 40 inbound Japanese aircraft. Rushing had a full load of fuel, but McCampbell had been forced to take off before his tanks were full. Undetected by the enemy, the two lone Hellcat pilots were able to position themselves above and behind the Japanese. As one of the enemy fighters began lagging behind the formation, McCampbell pounced like the lion who focuses its attack… Read the rest of this entry »