Author Archive

I agree with Cdr. Salamander about not speaking more of the dead so I will let the Jack Murtha speak for himself about how bribes work in this YouTube video.

Posted by Jim Dolbow in Navy | 25 Comments

USS New Mexico SSN-779 at a chilly pier 14 of the Norfolk Naval Station. She is the second ship named after the Land of Enchantment. Photo by Jim Dolbow

Posted by Jim Dolbow in Navy | 6 Comments

Afire and listing after she was hit by a Japanese air attack while operating off the coast of Japan, 19 March 1945. Photographed from USS Santa Fe (CL-60), which was alongside assisting with firefighting and rescue work. Official U.S. Navy Photograph.

65 years ago today:

Before dawn on 19 March 1945 the U.S.S. Franklin, who had maneuvered closer to the Japanese mainland than had any other U.S. carrier during the war, launched a fighter sweep against Honshu and later a strike against shipping in Kobe Harbor.

Suddenly, a single enemy plane pierced the cloud cover and made a low level run on the gallant ship to drop two semi-armor piercing bombs. One struck the flight deck centerline, penetrating to the hangar deck, effecting destruction and igniting fires through the second and third decks, and knocking out the combat information center and airplot.

The second hit aft, tearing through two decks and fanning fires, which triggered ammunition, bombs and rockets. The Franklin, within 50 miles of the Japanese mainland, lay dead in the water, took a 13° starboard list, lost all radio communications, and broiled under the heat from enveloping fires. Many of the crew were blown overboard, driven off by fire, killed or wounded, but the 106 officers and 604 enlisted who voluntarily remained saved their ship through sheer valor and tenacity. The casualties totaled 724 killed and 265 wounded, and would have far exceeded this number except for the heroic work of many survivors.

Among these were Medal of Honor winners, Lieutenant Commander Joseph T. O’Callahan, S. J., USNR, the ship’s chaplain, who administered the last rites, organized and directed firefighting and rescue parties, and led men below to wet down magazines that threatened to explode, and Lieutenant (junior grade) Donald Gary who discovered 300 men trapped in a blackened mess compartment, and finding an exit, returned repeatedly to lead groups to safety. The U.S.S. Santa Fe (CL-60) similarly rendered vital assistance in rescuing crewmen from the sea and closing the Franklin to take off the numerous wounded.

The Franklin was taken in tow by the U.S.S. Pittsburgh until she managed to churn up speed to 14 knots and proceed to Pearl Harbor where a cleanup job permitted her to sail under her own power to Brooklyn, N.Y., arriving on 28 April.

The crew of the USS Franklin are having their reunion this week in Branson, MO. Please feel free to leave them a note in the comments section.

For more images of that fateful day, click here.

Posted by Jim Dolbow in History, Navy | 4 Comments

Team Rubicon is an amazing group of U.S. citizens that answered the call to duty immediately following the 12 January 2010 Haiti earthquake. According to their website,

We are the new face of disaster response. We bridge the gap between catastrophe and large-scale response, utilizing flat command structures, social networking technology, and simple decision making processes. We don’t wait for ideal situations to develop, we make dysfunctional situations ideal.

We are men and women not satisfied with standing on the sidelines. We believe that inaction is not an option; that our skills are needed, and that Team Rubicon is a model for delivering them. We are 21st century “Medical Minutemen.”

We are capable of doing MORE with LESS. We are self-sustaining, self-reliant and self-deploying. We bring only what we need, deploying rapidly to where we are needed. We arrive on-site, identify problems, create solutions and GET THE JOB DONE.

We are Team Rubicon.


To learn more about Team Rubicon, click on their website here.

To join me in sending them a gift so they can continue their good work, click here.

Dr. Kongdan Oh was another person that pulled double duty at last week’s USNI AFCEA West 2010 conference in San Diego. As noted earlier by URR, Dr. Oh participated in a panel entitled “What to do with North Korea.

Great book. I highly recommend it. The book’s only error was that it was not published by the Naval Institute Press.

Readers of this blog know that I had previously “e-interviewed” Vincent O’ Hara about two of his three books: Struggle for the Middle Sea: The Great Navies at War in the Mediterranean Theater, 1940-1945 and The U.S. Navy Against the Axis: Surface Combat 1941-1945. So it was a real honor to meet him in person at last week’s USNI AFCEA West 2010 conference in San Diego.

Enjoy the interview!

Posted by Jim Dolbow in Books, History, Navy | No Comments

Dr. Thomas Hone pulled double duty at USNI AFCEA West 2010 as both a panelist and one of the authors at Wednesday’s book signing. Dr. Hone co-authored along with his son Trent of Battle Line: The United States Navy 1919-1939.

Thomas Hone and Trent Hone describe how a Navy desperately short of funds and men nevertheless pioneered carrier aviation, shipboard electronics, code-breaking, and (with the Marines) amphibious warfare-elements that made America’s later victory in the Pacific possible.

Posted by Jim Dolbow in Books, History, Navy | 3 Comments

One of my favorite events at USNI conferences are the book signings. I had the opportunity to interview several Naval Institute Press authors this year at USNI AFCEA West 2010. Here’s my interview with Kit Lavell, author of Flying Black Ponies: The Navy’s Close Air Support Squadron in Vietnam. Talk about history with a purpose as lessons learned from the Navy’s close air support in Vietnam has saved many lives in Iraq today.

Posted by Jim Dolbow in Books, History, Navy | 5 Comments
The MERCY last deployed with COMFORT during the 1991 Gulf War. The time is now for them to serve together off of Haiti. official U.S. Navy photo.

The MERCY last deployed with COMFORT during the 1991 Gulf War. The time is now for them to serve together off of Haiti. official U.S. Navy photo.

Situation is critical on COMFORT according to the Baltimore Sun’s Robert Little. His article today entitled “Comfort’s Ability to Help Stretched to Limit: Too many need attention for ship to take them all” is a must read. Excerpts include:

…The largest and most capable hospital in Haiti today, the Comfort is reaching its breaking point…

The ship’s space and supplies are overtaxed, forcing the crew to contemplate declining new admissions. The injuries are so abundant and severe that an otherwise acceptable caseload is unmanageable, forcing providers to choose between declining care and forgoing rest and food…

…”Even if every day we could have a critical-care flight of 20 patients out of here, we wouldn’t be able to keep up,” said Capt. Andrew Johnson, the ship’s director of medical operations.

That reality, Johnson said, is forcing the medical staff to consider declining care to some critically injured patients, if only to free up room and resources that could be used to save more people.

…Already the ship is caring for more burn patients and premature infants, for instance, than it can handle. It has run out of breathing ventilators, and incubators for sick babies. The operating rooms are on a 24-hour schedule…

…Capt. Jim Ware, commander of the ship’s medical facility, said the Comfort has cared for more patients in the last five days than it did during all of the two wars in Iraq. With a patient population of more than 400 and a staff and crew of more than 1,000, it has been transformed, in less than a week, from a dormant hospital floating in Baltimore into one of the busiest U.S. Department of Defense medical facilities in the world.

Full article here.

Yes, I know about the tyranny of distance from San Diego to Port-au-Prince. According to, it would be a 5,281 mile voyage taking some 11 days.

Yes, I know the MERCY is presently at a shipyard in San Francisco through the beginning of March.

Yes, I know that it is manpower intensive. Call-up reservists and guardsmen. You know how to reach me. (I would make a great blogger/social media guru aboard MERCY).

Have Project Hope recruit more volunteers! Recruit personnel from across the inter-agency. Get our coalition partners involved. Hire contractors.

Yes, I know it would require a backfill in the Pacific.

Yes, I know it is expensive. Hold another tele-a-thon.

Yes, it would require lots of supplies.

I was hoping I would never have to write this post.

Just as the Haiti earthquake confirmed my calls for a larger fleet of hospital ships, Little’s article left me with no choice to urge the activation of the USNS Mercy.

God Speed MERCY!

Thought this might be of interest since some of you have expressed interesting in volunteering your medical expertise. From Mercyships’ Blog:

Haiti: Volunteer

Thank you so much for your interest in helping with the relief efforts in Haiti. Like you, we have been watching the news and devastation following the tragic earthquake trying to wrap our minds around the reports of thousands dead and many missing in the aftermath of Haiti’s crisis and wanting to help in the best way we can.

Mercy Ships is not a first response agency, we are better suited to be involved in the reconstruction and redevelopment which takes place two weeks to two years after a disaster. With this in mind, Mercy Ships is in contact with our partners on the ground in Port-au-Prince to determine what their needs are and once we know that and are confident that logistics are in place to accommodate teams, we will be looking to send in teams to help.

In the meantime we are collecting names and contact information of potential volunteers. Once we get your contact information, we will send you an application. Please take time to complete this as soon as possible and we will be in touch regarding the next step.

To sign up as a volunteer, click here.

Thanks again for your help.

Let’s continue to pray for Haiti.

Good luck and God Speed.

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