Archive for March, 2012

The following article is cross-posted from an article originally written by Rob Almeida over at gCaptain.

On board USS Antietam, Pusan, South Korea, March 2003

It’s been almost 6.5 years since I resigned my commission in the US Navy where I served 2 tours at sea on board west coast-based warships followed by an instructor tour at the US Naval Academy. Since leaving the service, “civilian-life” has kept me pretty busy. I’ve traveled the world, met thousands of people, and even worked for a year on a drilling rig floor! It’s really been an incredible learning experience and I certainly have a much greater sense of self than I ever did before.

It’s also given me an extraordinary perspective on my time in the US Navy, and how completely backwards and inefficient the US Navy operates at times.

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We are spending millions of dollars chasing numbers for the sake of numbers. What if we – the Naval service – knew that the ability to change the racial and ethnic numbers coming in to aviation was totally outside our control? What if we also knew that the data being entered was full of errors, inaccurate, and not related to the larger desired outcome?

What if we knew that – but – decided that we were not only going to continue to try to control the uncontrollable, but to try to create accurate metrics from inaccurate data?

Well – that is what we are doing – and we’re even saying it.

The Naval Audit Service put out a report in OCT of 2011 titled, “Naval Pilot and Naval Flight Officer Diversity” that was released in a redacted version via a FOIA. You can get your own copy of it here. There is a lot of good in the report, and it deserves a full read.

The problem as some see it is outlined early.

The Naval Pilot/Flight Officer communities, a significant portion of the Navy’s commissioned officers, are not on track to reflect the diversity of the nation. In his 2011Diversity Policy, The Chief of Naval Operations states that we “must…build a Navy that always reflects our Country’s make up.” Low enrollment, high attrition, low preference,and low selection at commissioning sources for certain minority groups, and low performance in flight training, are contributing to the lack of diversity.

If this trend continues, future senior leadership in the aviation community will not reflect the diversity of the nation.

That identifies the “what” and “so what.” Is the solution inside the lifelines of the Navy to correct? As real barriers were removed well over half a century ago – then, “what next?”

The reasons for the delta are now socio-cultural in the nation at large. Just one of the core entering arguments:

We know it is beyond our control too.

A review of the “reasons why” certain groups enroll at low rates, or have higher attrition, may identify issues beyond or outside Navy control.

This is good. This is a modern, mature, and logic based approach to a tough problem; sadly we don’t flesh it out much in the report – but it is a start.

Objective standards are fair, but do not guarantee equal outcomes when, on average, the indicators for success differ at the start.

Student Naval Pilots/Flight Officers’ performance is measured using a Navy standard score. To be eligible for the jet training pipeline, a student Naval Pilot must receive a score of 50 or above. We reviewed the flight training performance standards and found that they appeared objective.

However, we determined that African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Hispanic students’ average Navy standard scores were lower than Caucasians. These lower scores negatively affected the number from each minority group entering the jet pipeline.

Is that the Navy’s fault? No – that simply reflects the educational and socio-cultural challenges the broader nation has.

In the past, the Navy has got itself in trouble by pushing good people with good intentions to start to do bad things. This is where the bad comes in.

Establish metrics to monitor and track progress of enrollment, graduation, preference, selection, and performance …

We all know what metrics mean. From measures of effectiveness to “goal achievement.” If you cannot move the needle due to factors outside your control and only have objective criteria based on indicators for success under your control … what can you do to move the needle that the metrics demand? The answer isn’t good for anyone.

Even if we could chase numbers – are the numbers accurate?

It should be noted that race and ethnicity was self-reported by the students, and they could self-report as a different race or ethnicity when asked at different times.

Well, there we go. It is good to see in print what we have all seen in the Fleet. Fraud, folly, or foolishness; it is there when it comes to checking the block, and it increases the margin of error for all these numbers.

To our credit, the Navy has not lost faith in its objectivity, but knows there is pressure to move away from that objectivity. More than most warfare specialties perhaps, aviation is exceptionally sensitive to standards due to the minimal margin for error in that line of work. You can feel that undercurrent in this report – the professionals trying to push past the retrograde zeitgeist.

We concluded that the Multi-Service Pilot Training System, used by Chief of Naval Air Training to measure student performance, appeared objective. To account for potential differences in scoring across training squadrons, student scores are normalized over the last 60 students that graduated from the same squadron to create the Navy standard score.According to Chief of Naval Air Training officials, the Multi-Service Pilot Training System is a legally defensible and objective system.

Towards the end, the authors touch on a survey that was a lost opportunity. What would have been the results if “non-diverse” and male students were asked the same questions about themselves? Just to compare results, it would be interesting.

We also reviewed the “Naval Aviation Student Training Attrition Report,” a summary of exit surveys administered to student Naval Pilot/Flight Officers after they resign from or complete major phases in flight training. When asked whether diverse students were discriminated against, 0.08 percent (4 of 4,996) of respondents indicated that this occurred, and 0.39 percent (3 of 766) of diverse respondents indicated that this occurred. When asked whether female students were discriminated against, 0.46 percent (23 of 4,996) of respondents indicated that this occurred, and 2.67 percent (12 of 450) of female respondents indicated that this occurred.

In any event – those are incredibly small numbers and considering the human condition – numbers to be proud of. You will never find 100% of people who think they are being treated fairly – but 99.92% to 97.32% ? Even by Soviet election standards — that is exceptional.

This whole exercise is sad in another, broader sense. This is the second decade of the 21st Century. Many of those entering flight training are 22-23 years old. They were born in 1990-91. So much of the training, ideology and talking points about diversity seem stuck in the 1970s. It simply is not reflective of today’s generation of young people; why are we forcing division down their throats?

Unlike those of earlier generations who are making these decisions, today’s young men and women live diversity every day. It is a natural part of their lives, and to force such a multi-racial and mixed-race generation to divide themselves by something as meaningless yet divisive as race (my family can pick a minimum of three if they want) is, at best, counter productive.

At worse? Review history – your answers are there.



Today Captain Carroll “Lex” LeFon’s life was celebrated and honored on the sacred grounds of old Fort Rosecrans in Point Loma, California. The events transcended what is a typical mortal ceremony to honor our fallen; today’s ceremony was a deeply powerful afternoon reflective of such a deeply fine man. And Lex was cut from the sort of life-fabric most of us have only read about in our favorite works of adventure-fiction…he was a man full of passion, gusto, emotion, courage, intellect and love and he lived a life complete. He was a devout father, warrior, naval aviator, countryman, and writer. The tragedy of his passing is not made any easier by these truths. And yet there was, today, a certain majesty of the landscape, a certain power of the moment and crispness of the air and righteousness of ceremony that made that sadness not more powerful in despair but more more powerful in redemption: that this man lived as he did. I was in tears from the moment I had my place on the grass among the hundreds that came today to pay their respects. And so was everyone else there to honor this giant of a man.

As I drove away I thought this: how lucky we were to have had a man such as this in this world, brief though his time on station was. And I thought of a short poem often read to me when I was a child that I had thought was long forgotten but wasn’t and said to myself out-loud as I descended from Point Loma’s hills…

CHARTLESS.

I never saw a moor,

I never saw the sea;

Yet know I how the heather looks,

And what a wave must be.

 

I never spoke with God,

Nor visited in Heaven;

Yet certain am I of the spot

As if the chart were given.

-E.D.

 

Rest easy now Lex. We have the watch.



Posted by Alexander Martin in Navy | 3 Comments

Today at 1300 PDT, Captain Carroll “Lex” LeFon, United States Navy, Retired, will be laid to rest in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, CA.

non omnis moriar

– Horace



Explorer- filmmaker James Cameron became the first person to dive solo into the Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench, the deepest place on Earth. He completed the dive the night of 25 March, Eastern Daylight Time, off Guam. In light of his feat, we thought it appropriate to post an interview done for Naval History magazine in 2000 with Dr. Don Walsh, one of the two men who beat Cameron to it more than 52 years ago.

Fred L. Schultz

 

From Naval History Magazine, April 2000

In January 1960, he and Swiss copilot Jacques Piccard navigated the U.S. Navy’s bathyscaphe Trieste into the Challenger Deep, the deepest spot in the World Ocean. At nearly seven miles, the record still stands. Retired U.S. Navy Captain Walsh also was a member of Operation Deep Freeze in 1971, spending more than a month on the ice in Antarctica and earning recognition for his contributions there by having an Antarctic mountain ridge named for him. Today, Captain Walsh is president of International Maritime, Inc., an Oregon-based consulting company that has completed projects in 20 nations. He is one of 20 living Honorary Members of the Explorers Club, an Honorary Life Member of the Adventurers Club, and a Fellow of England’s Royal Geographic Society. Captain Walsh is a 1954 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and earned Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Oceanography from Texas A&M University and a second Master’s degree from California State University in San Diego. A technical advisor for such films as Gray Lady Down, Raise the Titanic, The Hunt for Red October, and The Abyss, Captain Walsh is scheduled to lead an expedition in April 2000 to HMS Breadalbane, the world’s northernmost shipwreck, 350 feet beneath the ice off Beechey Island in the Canadian Arctic. He spoke recently about a variety of topics to Naval History Editor Fred L. Schultz.

 

Naval History: In a Naval History interview a few years ago, Jean-Michel Cousteau referred to you as the Buzz Aldrin of the ocean. What do you think he meant by that?

Captain Walsh: I’ve known the Cousteau family for many years. I know Jean-Michel well. I’ve been a guest in the Cousteau home. We go way back, so I believe that was a compliment and not a complaint.

 

Naval History: We thought he might have meant that Jacques Piccard received more of the credit for your expedition to the Challenger Deep, comparing you to Aldrin and Piccard to Neil Armstrong.

Captain Walsh: Well, it’s a tad nationalistic. Europeans tend to favor the European, and Americans tend to favor the American. I think that’s just human nature. The Piccards, of course, are a dynasty. I don’t think any family in the history of exploration has had three generations who, essentially, all established world records. Auguste, of course, was a great balloonist. He was basically a physicist, but he set the world altitude record in the early 1930s in a balloon. And, of course, his son Jacques was with me in the Trieste. And now Jacques’s son Bertrand is the first man to fly a balloon around the world.

So they’re a dynasty of explorers and scientists in Europe, and, understandably, the press treatment would probably favor them. I don’t think it’s any kind of a deliberate spin; it’s just the way people see the news and report it. It doesn’t trouble me.

 

Naval History: What was it like competing against the space program at the time?

Captain Walsh: It was pretty tough, because the advent of the space program came at just about the time we brought the Trieste to the United States. We and this inner spaceship we had didn’t even enjoy a year of primacy. NASA already was off and running. The Navy’s entire undersea program has lived in the shadow of the space program. Of course, our project seemed to be under wraps from the beginning.

I remember presenting the program to Admiral Arleigh Burke. Of course, the Navy doesn’t require lieutenants to go the Chief of Naval Operations to get approval for programs, but nobody wanted to make the decision. I kept getting handed up the chain until one day I ended up in front of Admiral Burke.

So I briefed him on the program. And he said, “How many of you are in this thing?”

And I replied, “It’s just myself and Piccard.”

Then he said, “Are there any other Navy people associated?”

And I said, “There’s Lieutenant Larry Shumaker, who’s the assistant officer in charge. He’ll be in charge of the topside aspects.”

The Admiral then said, “Well, if this thing doesn’t come back up, you tell Shumaker that you’re the lucky one, because I’m going to have his lower appendages.” Arleigh Burke said what he meant and meant what he said. So I got the approval from him, but he put a condition on it. He said, “There’ll be no publicity, none at all.” I looked at him in surprise, because if we were successful, this was going to be quite a coup for the Navy.

“The science guys and the research and development engineers in the Navy,” he said, “have been promising me spectacular things. We were going to put up the first earth-orbiting satellite.” They had lit off a rocket at Cape Canaveral, and it shot into the ocean rather than into space. So Admiral Burke said that he didn’t want any more of these promised science spectaculars that turn out to fizzle. “If you do it successfully,” he said, “then we’ll have the publicity. But until then, just keep your mouth shut and go do it.”

So we didn’t really have a ramp-up to this great event. There was no general knowledge of what we were doing. Although Life, National Geographic, and improbably, The London Daily Mail got a whiff of it, the Navy’s Chief of Information bought their silence by saying they could go on the trip but they couldn’t tell anybody. And they didn’t. Does Macy’s tell Gimball’s? They were inside, and the door was shut. They essentially had scoops. And so, off we went to Guam. That was good coverage.

The London Daily Mail had a wonderful foreign correspondent, Noel Barber. He was out of the trench coat-Lowell Thomas school. When the Dalai Lama came out, Barber hired horses and rode a hundred miles into Tibet to greet him and get the scoop. He was a wonderful raconteur. During the evenings in Guam, when we’d all go out for dinner, we didn’t talk about the Trieste, we sat around and listened to the reporters tell stories about their adventures. It was great fun.

 

Naval History: Were you at all trepidatious before your dive in the Marianas Trench to the Challenger Deep?

Captain Walsh: No. People say, “Well, you’re just being modest.” And my wife says I’ve got a lot to be modest about. But the fact is, the whole strategy of the testing of the Bathyscaph, over nearly a year, was to make increasingly deeper test dives. When we got it, it was configured for only 20,000-foot diving depths. We had to reengineer it, enlarge it, and buy a new cabin for it, to be able to go to 36,000 feet. And so we did a few test dives in San Diego, then shipped the whole thing to Guam.

At Guam, we started out at 400 feet in the harbor and worked our way offshore, in increasingly deeper water. And we actually brought the world’s depth record home to the United States in November of 1959, when we made a dive to 18,000 feet. The previous record, of course, was held by the French Navy, at 12,500 feet, which actually is the average depth of the ocean. That was set in 1954. So we captured the record again in 1958, and by early January 1960 we dove to 24,000 feet. Then 12 days later we made the deep dive. It was all incremental.

So I say it was just a longer day at the office, and people think I’m trying to be clever. But that’s the truth. All the manipulations we did to make it dive were the same whether we were diving 1,000 feet or 36,000 feet. And we got to know it intimately. I’d put on a boiler suit, scrape rust inside that tank, and help paint it. Everybody turned to. We were a small team—only 14 people. And we worked seven days a week, dawn to dusk, at Guam. You build a certain confidence in your equipment.

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Join us at 5 pm (Eastern U.S.) for Episode 116 The Irregular History of Warfare 03/25 on Midrats at Blog Talk Radio:

There is an echo that regular listeners to Midrats are very familiar with; the critical importance of an understanding of history in the profession of arms.

More than almost any other field, there is nothing new under the sun. The tools may change, but the play of power, economics, intellect, and drive which makes the difference in war and therefor human history remain the same.

A professional must reach back to Sun Tsu and Alexander the Great … but he must also look closer.

To discuss for the full hour will be returning guest LCDR Benjamin “BJ” Armstrong. He recently returned from deployment as the Officer-In-Charge of an MH-60S Armed Helo Detachment which conducted operations with the BATAAN ARG and 22D MEU in support of Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR in the 6th Fleet AOR and maritime security/counter-piracy operations in the 5th Fleet AOR.

When BJ isn’t off playing helicopter pilot, he is an occasional naval historian. His research extends over the subjects of naval history and irregular warfare. He is the author of numerous articles including “The Most Daring Act of the Age: Principles for Naval Irregular Warfare” in The Naval War College Review, and “Nothing Like a Good Maritime Raid” in USNI’s Proceedings.

His article “Immediate Redress: The USS Potomac and the Pirates of Quallah Batoo” is forthcoming in the May issue of Small Wars and Insurgencies.

You can listen live by clicking on this link, or download the show later from the same link or on iTunes.



Another Flightdeck Friday and sadly, another memorial – this time for another pillar of the E-2C Community, CAPT Edward C. Geiger, USN, ret. (“Ned”). Ned passed away suddenly earlier this week just as he was beginning to enjoy a well deserved retirement having wrapped up his post-Navy career. Services are tentatively slated for Saturday, 31 March 2012 in Norfolk; time and location TBA.
UPDATE:

Memorial Service in Honor and Memory of Ned Geiger: Saturday, March 31, 2012 at 4:00 pm; Royster Memorial Presbyterian Church, 6901 Newport Avenue, Norfolk, Virginia 23505

In lieu of flowers donations may be made in his memory to either of the following organizations.

  • The Baldwin Fund of The Williams School,419 Colonial Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23507 (757)627-1383
  • VAW/VRC Memorial Scholarship Fund, Post Office Box 15322, Norfolk, VA 23511-0322

It has been said here and elsewhere that all the advanced technology in the world isn’t worth squat if you don’t have the people to go with it. How many bright ideas and technological wonders have ended up on the rocks of time, rusting and forgotten because the human element was absent? Perhaps no area is this more noticeable than in naval warfare, especially the Naval aviation side thereof. When you look at the life of carrier aircraft, the successful ones have had people of all stripes come along at key points in their life to give direction, purpose and advocacy. Sometimes they are in highly visible positions — VADM Tom Connolly (DCNO-Air) whose famous (or infamous, depending on which side of the table you were on) spike in the heart of the TFX (“There isn’t enough thrust in Christendom to fix this plane”) was key in getting the F-14 off the ground. But for all the FOs, high level SESs or heavy-hitting industry program managers, for all the slick brochures and eye-popping PPT presentations, unless you have skilled aircrew who can raise others in the stead, who have both an affinity for the mission, a vision of where the community needs to go and leadership skills in the plane and on the deckplates to reinforce and grow the aircrew and maintainers, the aircraft will ultimately fail and be relegated to a footnote. In the early 1970’s, the VAW community was faltering despite the growing needs of a Navy pushing ever farther in to the digital revolution. The E-2B, an improvement over the hapless E-2A, was nonetheless beset with material problems and had fallen far short of expectations. The leap in capabilities over the WF/E-1B that were expected of it had yet to fully materialize – and many outside of the community openly doubted it ever would. Mission assignment often came as an after thought and the very idea of putting the E-2B in a critical role for a particular mission just wasn’t considered.

The entry of the E-2C came via muted applause – and much skepticism outside the community. It would take the concerted efforts of a group of tactically astute visionary aircrew – and especially NFO’s (recall we are still less than a decade from the creation of the NFO out of the NAO community) to work within the community to build NFOs who would be technically and tactically adept with the new technology the E-2C was fielding, and at the same time, advocates outside the community and within the airwing to raise awareness and relevance of the new Hawkeye. As has been the case since the beginning of US Naval aviation, the core of the effort was centered on a group of “senior” JOs who brought experience and hard lessons to bear in the Fleet and in the RAG (Fleet Replacement Squadron for you young pups).

Ned was not only one of those folks, he stood head and shoulders above the pack.

Ned brought his considerable skills to bear with the VAW-122 Steeljaws in the mid-70’s as they not only transitioned to the E-2C, but became one of the two East Coast squadrons to end up with a West Coast airwing and all the challenges that ensued with a continent between them. As the squadron NFO NATOPS officer, and later, head of NFO Training (aka “Mayor of Mole City” at RVAW-120), the standards and expectations that Ned set would have far ranging effects on those who would later go on to other squadrons and positions within the VAW community and elsewhere. Among those were an expectation of a level of knowledge about the system and how it worked that was at once detailed and integrated — not only would, for example, you have to be able to understand how a radar return was processed in the (then) new digital processing system the E-2C (and later E-2C ARPS), you had to combine it with what the IFF system and main computer and display processing system was doing with it to eventually display it on the scope. But it also wasn’t enough to be radar or system geeks — Ned was also one of the forward thinking VAW tacticians who looked to expand the mission beyond mere radar-based early warning and in the process, grow the capabilities of the CVW as a whole. And to do so, you had to get out of the hangar or VAW Ready Room and into the fighter, attack and others’ home turf. Face-to-face debriefs were emphasized, early participation in mission planning and always, an aggressive, assertive approach that sought to push back the residue of the E-2B years and show what we could do. The Ensigns, LTJGs and LTs that emerged from the RAG and squadrons in the late 70’s/early 80’s epitomized this new approach and formed the nucleus that pushed for continued advancements in the weapons system and standing in the airwing. And again, Ned’s fingerprints were all over them. The crews that flew over Bosnia and in OIF and OEF had links, directly or indirectly to Ned’s efforts. The fact that we are pusing the envelope even further today with the advent of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye can be directly traced back, in no small part, to his body of work.

To a young NFO just entering the community in 1979, Ned was central in shaping and directing my focus as a Hawkeye NFO, both in RVAW-120 and later, when he joined us in VAW-121 as one of our department heads. We learned much from Ned — even as a standout squadron on the seawall, Ned was the sort that prompted you to raise your personal and organizational bars and push out even more. Flying with Ned was always great – whether it was watching him handle a covey of fighters or deftly influencing Alpha Bravo towards a particular course of action on the AAW net, no matter how much time you had in the aircraft, you always took away something from flying with him. On the ground, Ned was a leader without peer as a DH and later, as many will attest to, as CO of VAW-126. As VAW/VRC placement officer, he played a vital role in guiding and slotting up- and coming talent in the community – not an especially easy thing as CO’s from time to time have their own interests in mind and their own desires which may not always mesh with the individual’s or community’s best needs. And later as Chief of Staff for the Eisenhower Battle Group, he brought those abilities to further fruit. In fact, now that I think of it, Ned’s ability to convince someone of a particular COA without them actually being aware of how they were being influenced brings to mind another master of the skills of persuasion – except he wasn’t fictional…

Ned will be greatly missed by a large and geographically dispersed community and his family are certainly in our prayers.. He was a pioneer for the Hawkeye community, a consummate Naval officer and aviator, a leader, mentor, husband, father and a friend. A fitting epithet when one thinks about it. Godspeed and rest in peace.

(crossposted at steeljawscribe.com)



Posted by SteelJaw in Navy | 6 Comments
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Naval Academy graduate and Marine Officer Brian Stann is one hell of a fighter-leader. In a culture that worships professional athletes that excel at playing children’s games for millions of dollars, here’s a real life hero-professional sportsman we can all look up to…Semper fi Captain Stann. Keep attacking.



 

Headstone of Commo. Arthur Sinclair, captured by his descendant Lt.j.g. Lloyd "Link" Mustin.

Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) Lloyd “Link” Mustin grew up hearing many tales of his family’s long history of service in the U.S. Navy. As the seventh successive generation to serve, Lieutenant Mustin can trace his lineage directly back to the first in his family to serve – his fifth great-grandfather Commo. Arthur Sinclair. Family lore abounded about Commodore Sinclair, but no one in the family knew where he was buried.

Stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, aboard USS Stout (DDG-55) as the Fire Control Officer, Lieutenant Mustin’s naval career has been inspired by his family’s long dedication to service in the U.S. Navy and, as his grandfather, Vice Adm. Henry “Hank” Mustin, says, he “has taken on the mantle of family history.” So, over the Christmas holidays 2011, with a bit of vacation time on his hands, Lieutenant Mustin began his quest to find the Sinclair burial plot.

Commodore Sinclair’s legendary feats in the Great Lakes campaign of the War of 1812 are well documented, but his career spanned many early American conflicts. He began his apprenticeship at the age of 12 under the tutelage of Commo. Thomas Truxtun aboard the USS Constellation during the quasi-war with France. It was during that time that he was involved in an engagement with the French frigate Insurgent. He also served under Capt. William Bainbridge and participated in the war with Tripoli. While in command of his second ship, USS Argus, in October 1812, he captured several British “prize” ships and crews, earning him a legendary reputation for his battle acumen against the British.

But he solidified his place in history through his actions against the British in the Great Lakes. As Lieutenant Mustin’s great grandfather, Vice Adm. Lloyd Mustin, recounted in a 1972 Naval Institute oral history, “He succeeded rather dramatically in his assignment up there, which was to rid the Great Lakes north and west of Detroit of the British naval presence. He destroyed their navy completely in some fairly stirring actions and left them with nothing but canoes and rowboats and the like.” After the war, Congress presented Commodore Sinclair a silver plate with an inscription that cited his victories. Lieutenant Mustin’s great uncle Tom Mustin, who also served as a naval officer, has the tray in his home.

The family knew that Commodore Sinclair finished his career as the commander of the Norfolk Naval Yard – which was called Gosport during that time, and that he established a nautical school there that was the predecessor to the Naval Academy. The family also knew that Sinclair had established a family home in the city and died there in 1831. Lieutenant Mustin surmised that Sinclair must be buried somewhere in Norfolk. So he followed his hunch.

“It’s amazing what you can find on Google,” Mustin said. “I started searching for ‘Arthur Sinclair’ and ‘Norfolk’ and found many interesting results. As I combed through them for awhile, I came across the Cedar Grove Cemetery web site and contacted them. I was pleased to find that they did in fact have a Commodore Arthur Sinclair buried there.” And it was five minutes from his apartment!

Lieutenant Mustin grabbed his fiancé and jumped in his car. Following the map emailed to him by the cemetery, he quickly found the family plot and headstone. The Commodore is surrounded by his contemporaries, including Commos. William Jamesson, Samuel Barron, and William Skinner, and Capts. Benjamin Bissell and Lewis Warrington. “It was obvious the Sinclair plot was very old and many of the graves had settled.” Indeed, Sinclair’s headstone was cracked in the middle, but the etched names of the Sinclair family members buried with Commodore Sinclair were still legible.

Lieutenant Mustin was astonished at his find. “I was overwhelmed to be standing over the grave of Commodore Arthur Sinclair,” he said.

Later, he went back to the cemetery by himself just to view once more the grave site of this “near-mythical man about whom I had heard stories my entire life.” He revealed that learning more about his ancestors and their accomplishments has given him a context for how to understand the world and his place in it. “It filled me with a tremendous sense of purpose!”

There are several resources to research your family’s 1812 ancestors, including the Naval History & Heritage Command; the Society of the War of 1812; and Fold3, a company that is digitizing all War of 1812 pension files stored in the National Archives. 

For more information on the events planned to commemorate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, go to www.ourflagwasstillthere.org

 



Let’s get this list going.

As an observation and a nod, not a criticism (of course) of our Vice President Joe Biden – who observed that, “You can go back 500 years. You cannot find a more audacious plan. Never knowing for certain. We never had more than a 48 percent probability that he was there.”

Because this will be a list, compiled into one blog post, whatever you put in the comments (respectfully and to the point of the post) we will incorporate into the post – then delete. Please submit your comments to us here or via blog@usni.org or give us your submissions via Twitter  or Facebook . And when the first 500 hits it, [UPDATE]: WE WILL MAKE A BRACKET COMPETITION.

Give us your best of the best who were audacious – winners or losers – those who dared. We will update the list daily, no repeats – so dig deep when your favorite has already been mentioned.

Listed in order of submission and raw commentary (and without attribution and to protect the innocent):

500. SEAL mission per Vice President Joe Biden: Audacious on the part of our Commander in Chief, President Obama.

499. Japanese attack on Pearl was an Orange/Blue war-gamer exercise 6 or 7 years before 1941.

498. Entebbe, anyone? Or one might even argue that the raid on Bin Laden’s compound would not have been possible without the lessons learned from the even more audacious (if ultimately unsuccessful) plan of Operation Eagle Claw.

497. Lets start early. 1519 Hernan Cortez landed 600 Spaniards and about a dozen horses at Cozumel. He BURNED HIS SHIPS so there was no way to escape, and he and his men had to fight to the death. He led his men to destroy the entire Aztec Empire something that no invader had done in over 6 centuries. In the process he actually convinced the Aztecs that he was THEIR GOD.

496. Henry V at Agincourt – Nope, too early. 

496. (Do-over) ‎”Kedging“- How USS Constitution Sailors evaded 170 guns of HMS Africa, Shannon, Belvidera & Aeolus!

495.

Dare I say George Washington before the Battle of Trenton? Christmas Day 1776.

George Washington Crosses the Delaware in the dark of night to attack the British in Trenton.

For me there is one and only one #1. Without it an army driffs away, an idea dies, a piece of paper signed at the greatest personal risk becomes meaningless. General George Washington’s decision to attack Trenton on the morning after Christmas 1776 with a night march of impossible proportions couples not only audaciousness, but the greatest risk. For me it is the single most important moment without even a close second in American history, and for the idea of freedom as the world knows it today, possibly. My own telling here: http://blog.projectwhitehorse.com/2010/12/christmas-1776-the-crossing/

494, Eben Emael and the raid to free Mussolini

493. CDR “Red” Ramage, USS Parche, Pacific, 1944: as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Parche http://www.homeofheroes.com/moh/citations_1940_wwii/ramage.html

492. Col Robin Olds, Operation BOLO Mig Sweep, North Vietnam, 1967 http://user.icx.net/~arlisk/bolo.html

491. Doolittle Raid Doolittle Raid, 1942…(while a japanese radio broadcast stated, almost to the moment of the attack, how Japan would never be attacked, with air raid sirens suddenly going off-a “baghdad bob” moment)…which in turn, caused grave consternation, and thus triggered rash action by the Imperial Japanese Navy, resulting in catastrophic loss at Midway, with which they would lose their offensive initiative for the remainder of the war…despite efforts to regain it at Guadalcanal and others.

490. Admiral David Farragut leads his ships into Mobile Bay, 1864. Approaching the mine field laid by the Confederates the USS Tecumseh (first in the battle line) hit a mine and exploded, shocking the entire fleet. The USS Brooklyn stopped dead in the water, and the Captain asked the Admiral for instructions. Farragut ordered his ship, the Hartford, to steam around the Brooklyn and take the lead, signaling his forces “Damn the Torpedoes…Full speed ahead!” The entire column of 14 ships passed safely through the mine field and took Mobile.

489. April 22, 1778. At 11 p.m. on this day in 1778, Commander John Paul Jones leads a small detachment of two boats from his ship, the USS Ranger, to raid the shallow port at Whitehaven, England, where, by his own account, 400 British merchant ships are anchored.

488. Captain Charles Stewart of USS Constitution taking on two warships simultaneously in February 1815.

487. Though unsuccessful, Desert One was audacious.

486. How USS Constitution Sailors evaded 170 guns of HMS Africa, Shannon, Belvidera & Aeolus!

485. Berlin Airlift

484. Mikawa at Savo

482. Market Garden (for a not-so-successful example)

481.Camp Century Greenland, 1959-1966.http://gombessa.tripod.com/scienceleadstheway/id9.html. A nuclear powered, under-the-ice-camp of about 200 men doing Arctic military research and testing the feasibility of siting ICBMs in the Greenland icecap. Project Iceworm was the code name for a US Army Top Secret proposal during the Cold War (a study was started in 1958), to build a major network of mobile nuclear missile launch sites under the Greenland ice sheet. The ultimate objective of placing medium-range missiles under the ice – close enough to Moscow to strike targets within the Soviet Union – was kept secret from the Danish government.

480. Manstein Plan, France 1940 (replaced the original von Schlieffen plan), bait the allies into the low countries, cut them in half, and take the entire region in 6 weeks.

479. 1588, english channel, England vs Spain. English ships, more maneuverable, chipped away at the snds of the Spanish Armada’s ships (arranged in an arcing format) instead of taking them head-on. Forced the Spanish ships into disorder, and over a few days, whittled them down to near-insignificance…forced the Spaniards into a roundabout route around Scotland back home…but were destroyed in a storm before they could make it back, save 50…out of 130.
Audacious to say the least.

478. 1970, USAF and Army Special operations crash land an HH-3 helicopter in the middle of the Son Tay prison complex in North Vietnam in an attempt to rescue 65 American POWs. The operation is carried out perfectly, but the prisoners were moved a few months earlier to different accommodations.

477. Operation Dynamo, the “miracle of Dunkirk” in WW2

476. Battle of the River Plate, 1939. One of the greatest psyche-outs in naval annals. Spee literally pulverized UK’s Ajax, Achillies(NZ), and Exeter. One’s fire control was out, another’s main gunnery was out, the third was mauled but intact. GS was also damaged, and thinking the UKs 3 were still coming after him (most would’ve broke off by then), he made for Montevideo…where he was told to leave within 72hours. GS was relatively intact, despite some damage, and could have re-engaged. Thinking there were more heavies coming (via the radio traffic of the 3, who remained, even though they would have been cut to pieces had the GS came out to face them), Capt Langsdorf scuttled the Graf Spee without a battle. 3 days later he shot himself. Sheer audacity, and well executed…using nothing but guile.(the truly genius strategist finds ways to war without battle-Sun Tzu)

475. The bayonet charge of Joshua Chamberlain on July 2, 1863 at Little Round Top during the Gettysburg battle.

474. Bridge at Dong Ha

473. ‎1918 Battle of Belleau Wood

472. June 1995 rescue of Scott O’Grady

471. Battle of the Bulge, with the Germans scraping up enough armor, soldiers and fuel to give the US and Allied Armies a real good scare

470. USS ENGLAND taking the bull by the horns, and sinking 6 Japanese subs in less than 2 weeks.

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