Archive for the 'Heritage' Category

Feb 12

A Step Forward

Tuesday, February 12, 2019 12:01 AM

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Less than two years after becoming the first African American commissioned as a regular officer in the Navy, Ensign John W. Lee stands at his battle station on board the aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge, his wish to serve in a large combatant ship granted. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

On 15 March 1947, one month to the day before Jackie Robinson became the first black player in baseball’s major leagues, John Wesley Lee Jr. became the first African American to be commissioned as a regular officer in the Navy, that is, no longer a reservist. Many citizens of this country made it clear that they did not welcome Robinson’s arrival in baseball. He received numerous death threats and other pieces of hate mail. John Lee achieved his milestone without encountering hostility, and that was at least in part the result of how the Navy arranged things for him. After… 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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HMS Dainty

The Royal Navy is steeped in tradition and history. Its mighty fleets were the envy of the world and enabled the British to run a global empire for centuries. Their 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… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Dec 13

Good Cheer Bag

Thursday, December 13, 2018 9:01 AM

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Good Cheer Bag (Smithsonian National Museum of American History)

Lt Commander Theodorus Bailey Myers Mason, best known as the founder of the Office of Naval Intelligence, no doubt led a fascinating life. He was born to a prominent 5th Avenue family in New York City, where his childhood was spent riding a small white pony daily. He decided by the age of 16 he would join the Navy, and impressed his father by saving up the money for a commission himself. He called upon the Secretary of the Navy at 16 to ask him personally to secure a commission. The plan worked, and he entered the Naval Academy in… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 31

Naval Superstitions – A Sailor’s Antiquated Guide to Avoiding Bad Luck

Wednesday, October 31, 2018 9:55 AM

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An eerie glow winks out from diving helmets aboard the USS Escape (ARS-6), serving as Jack-O'-Lanterns for the ship.

It’s that time of year once again! Where children and adults alike dress up, go to fun parties, and probably eat far too much candy. It’s also a time of spooky stories and superstitions, which is what I decided to research for my dive into naval history this month. Growing up in Wisconsin, sailors and maritime life was not something familiar to me. Most of my impressions of sailors came from movies, television, and books, and one theme always stuck out more than any other: they were just a little bit spooky! There always seemed to be an air of… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 16

ACTION REPORT: HMAS Australia off Luzon

Tuesday, October 16, 2018 10:38 AM

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The heavy cruiser HMAS Australia in late August 1942. (Naval History and Heritage Command)

In October 1944 near the Philippine island of Leyte, Japan unleashed a powerful, unforeseen weapon against enemy warships—the kamikaze. During the next few months, the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia, received more than her share of attention from the deadly suicide planes. According to Australian sources, the cruiser became the first Allied ship hit by a kamikaze when on 21 October a D3A “Val” bomber struck her foremast, killing 7 officers—including her commanding officer—and 23 sailors. (Other sources deny the attack was a preplanned suicide attack.) That was just a taste of what was in store for the Australia during the January 1945 operation… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Aug 21

Day 3- March 17/18 Honolulu to Saipan, via Guam

Tuesday, August 21, 2018 12:01 AM

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IMG_3615

Lieutenant Leroy Fadem recently revisited sites in the Pacific where he saw action in the Navy during the tumultuous years of the War in the Pacific over 70 years ago. This is a journal of that recent trip as kept by his son, Steven Fadem, who accompanied Lt. Fadem on that journey of rediscovery. Back in 1944 when Dad traveled from Honolulu to Guam on the Stevens it took over a week at sea. Today we made the journey in a little over eight hours, with two meals, some wine, a movie and air conditioning. The juxtaposition is stunning. The world… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Aug 10

Past as Prologue in US-Mexican Relations

Friday, August 10, 2018 12:01 AM

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Gen Scott's grand entry into the city of Mexico, Sept. 14th, 1847

U.S. national security relations with Mexico stretch back to the 1840s and the presidency of James K. Polk, when the United States wanted to expand the country’s size. Polk was explicit about his policy goals, one of which was the annexation of California,[1] and he viewed his election as a mandate to annex that territory, as well as others if the opportunity arose. That opportunity materialized when Mexico tried to retake Texas[2]. Polk, without hesitation, convinced Congress to declare war on Mexico. President Polk accomplished more than what his constituents expected. Today, the United States shares an open border with… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Aug 7

Commencing the Attack on Guadalcanal

Tuesday, August 7, 2018 2:00 PM

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Marine forces training for an amphibious landing prior to the beginning of the Guadalcanal campaign.  (Photo: USNI Archive)

On 7 August 1942 the Allied forces began their first major counter-offensive against the Japanese at Guadalcanal. Since Pearl Harbor the U.S. had spent most their time recovering from the attack and re-building the badly damaged Pacific fleet. One high-poin, however, were the highly successful attacks known as “Doolittle’s Raids.” This “lull” in activity ended with the invasion of Guadalcanal. Code-named “Operation Watchtower,” Marines conducted a surprise raid of their primary target, the airfield, and quickly established a presence that allowed troops to arrive on the island. The initial invasion was such a surprise that the first Marines encountered little resistance…. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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