Archive for the 'From our Archive' Category

In case you didn’t know, yesterday was our Birthday!

Read what Rear Admiral Bradley A. Fiske had to say about the Naval Institute in Proceedings, Vol. 45 No. 192, February 1919:

Without some such stimulus as the Institute, the navy would be less like a pro­fession and more like a trade; we would be less like artists, and more like artisans; we would become too practical and narrow; we would have no broad vision of the navy as a whole.

Each one of us would regard his own special task as the only thing that concerned him, and would lose that sympathetic touch with his brother officers which all of us now enjoy.

The Naval Institute is a club at once social and professional, which is not restricted to any club-house on any avenue in any city, but which spreads over all the oceans to all of our ships and stations, down even into the depths of the sea where our submarines lie, and ten thousand feet into the air where our aeroplanes fly. It is the embodiment of the thought of the navy. It is the unofficial custodian of the navy’s professional hopes and fears. It looks ahead into the future, and back into the past, and keeps track of the happenings of the present. More at our sister blog

From Our Archive: You know what’s weird?

What’s weird is that an Iwo Jima veteran…once more…an Iwo Jima veteran, dies with little notice. I love this man, GEN Fred Haynes and I love his wife Bonnie. Hell, his nephew is famous too, Butthole Surfers and all that..and in some inexplicable way, I think his nephew’s song Pepper, is a great tribute to his Uncle’s life line.

You never know how you look through other people’s eyes.
You never know just how to look through other people’s eyes.

So. Awesome.

Gen Haynes

So. Awesome.


Funeral Services in Arlington on July 22nd, family would appreciate a show of support.

Marines may not believe they have a bone in the fight to save the ex-USS Olympia (C-6). But they do–the vessel’s experience in the closing days of World War I helped push the Navy to think harder about expeditionary logistics:

In May 1918, two months after Russia withdrew from the war, 55 Americans from the cruiser Olympia (CA-15) joined British forces in occupying Murmansk and Archangel to guard stockpiles of arms and ammunition shipped there for the czarist army. For most of their time in northern Russia, Olympia crewmen lived on reduced rations of “two little slices of bread, . . . one spoon of stew, and one cup of coffee” per day. Despite the almost monthly arrival of supply ships, soldiers of the North Russian Expeditionary Force who reinforced men of the Olympia resorted at times to stealing food from British troops, who were far better supplied-perhaps because Britain had a long history of expeditionary warfare and thus developed the infrastructure needed to sustain it.

The experience of the Olympia’s Marines, coupled with the equally rough time the Brooklyn (CA-3) Marine detachment had in Vladivostok, helped put expeditionary logistics on the Navy’s radar screen.

At a time when the DOD is contemplating a major shift in the Marine Corps’ expeditionary capabilities, it might be wise to start remembering the teething pains America’s Marines endured back in the days when the nation didn’t appreciate the nuances of expeditionary warfare.

(Quote is taken from James C. Bradford’s Feb 2006 Naval History article, “The missing link: Expeditionary logistics.)


Radioman 3rd Class Harry Ferrier discusses his role in the Battle of Midway, Torpedo Squadron 8 as the turning point in his life

Remembering Midway:

Remembering the Battle of Midway is a four-part series spanning from the Doolittle Raid, to the significance of the Battle of Coral Sea and ending with the Battle of Midway. In each segment of this four-part series, you will hear from the historical and pivotal participants from this time period, such as Gen. James Doolittle and other memorable figures, and present-day historians who will examine the significance of these three events in naval, army and air force history. From U.S. Naval Institute Oral History Program.
Listen Here or below:

Listen to internet radio with Remembering Midway on Blog Talk Radio

Captain Jack Fellowes, USN (Ret.) passed away this week in Annapolis, MD. The Naval Institute had an opportunity to hear Fellowes describe his experience as a POW as a part of our Americans at War Series.

Fellowes also did his Oral History in 1975. Fellowes, pilot in squadron VA-65, was shot down in August 1966 while flying an A-6A Intruder on a bombing mission from the aircraft carrier Constellation (CVA-64). His target was Vinh in the panhandle area of North Vietnam. Fellowes’s back was broken by the time he was captured on the ground by militiamen. His bombardier-navigator, George Coker, was also captured. The oral history describes Fellowes’s six-and-one-half-year ordeal in North Vietnamese hands, recounting incidents concerning many of his fellow prisoners. He particularly cited the leadership qualities of POWs James Stockdale, Jeremiah Denton, and Robinson Risner.

Included is discussion of such issues as the quality of military survival training and the importance of moral development; interrogation and torture; minimum medical treatment; meager food rations; usefulness of cigarettes; physical fitness exercise; camp policies; deaths of other prisoners; communication procedures; entertainment the POWs devised for each other;

visits to North Vietnam by war protesters such as Jane Fonda; being paraded in public in Hanoi; the futile Son Tay raid of 1970; B-52 raids on Hanoi; concerns about his family members back home and limited correspondence with them. Fellowes was released from captivity in early 1973. The oral history tells of his return, a description supplemented by his article “Operation Homecoming,” which appeared in the December 1976 issue of Proceedings.

Aloft in solitudes of space,
Uphold them with Thy saving grace.
Thou Who supports with tender might
The balanced birds in all their flight.
Lord, if the tempered winds be near,
That, having Thee, they know no fear.
— Mary C. D. Hamilton (1915)
God Bless this hero and his family.

Update: From the Annapolis Capital

From the photo album of Private Samuel C. Thomas (USMC 1932-36)

See the companion piece, “The Marine” on our Sister Blog

In 2007, we had the privilege of interviewing MAJ Norman T Hatch, USMC (Ret.), veteran and Academy Award winner of film shot on Tarawa

Image how disappointing it was for him to find out about this image used at Langley High School:

Thank you Sir for your thoughtful letter to the principal:

Dear Mr. Ragone, it has recently come to my attention that one of your teachers has committed a terrible error in using the iconic Iwo Jima flag raising picture that took place on the fourth day, of a vicious month long battle in the Pacific during WW II. She super imposed a McDonalds advertising logo over the flag and showing it to her class as a supposed example of the nation fighting the war for commercial purposes.

I have more than just a personal interest in this matter as I am a retired Marine major who was on Iwo Jima, as the Photographic Officer of the 5th Marine Division. I had three photographers on the top of Mt. Suribachi that day and one of them S/Sgt William H. Genaust filmed the flag raising in motion pictures that have been seen around the world. Unfortunately he was killed eight days later and never had the chance to see the effect his film had on the public.

To think that a teacher, at the high school level, would stoop to the level of spin and rhetoric and confuse her pupils about the reason and history of our efforts at Iwo Jima where over 6000 Marines, Navy and Army died and over 16,000 were wounded is unconscionable. All died in a battle against the Japanese Imperial Forces that had first attacked us at Pearl Harbor.

I am unaware of what administrative measures you have to correct such ignorance but I implore you to take immediate action to see that such things do not happen again. History should not be prostituted to prove a point. I am a strong believer in the First Amendment but I think this particular action crosses the line, especially in a school of learning!


Norman T. Hatch Major USMCR (Ret)

Semper Fi

From the USNI archives:

Carrier landings are some of the most difficult and technical tasks for naval aviators. This was certainly the case in WWII. In July 1942, early in the campaign against the Japanese empire, a young pilot was forced to make an emergency landing after running to enemy fighters during a desperate attack on a key military installation. The pilot, Jek Tono Porkins, was the commander of Red Squadron for only a short time before crashing into the deck. He suffered substantial injuries but survived to take part in an attack on a similar installation two movies later. A photographer snapped just one picture of the crash:

National Reading Week. What books on the Sea Services would you recommend? Give us your ideas and we’ll put up a fan’s recommended reading list.

We’re taking your recommendations on our Facebook page, so comment there or here. We’ll reproduce the list in both places.

nhcoverNext…really excited about this one…

HBO’s release of The Pacific is augmented by our partnership…all kinds of articles in our March/April issue of Naval History Magazine and a The Pacific Page on our website to follow the series with attention to the historical record of what happened with maps, slideshows interviews and more… Follow all of the articles we will release throughout the series and exclusive article written in Proceedings Magazine in WWII

For example:

An Overdue Pacific War Perspective

By Richard B. Frank
Don’t Forget: National Reading Week…what are you reading?

SCULPINBack in a February 2008 issue of Naval History, a piece by Admiral Charles R. Larson (Retired), Captain Clinton Wright (Retired) and Paul Stilwell caught my eye. The article, “The Sculpin’s Lost Mission: A Nuclear Submarine in the Vietnam War”, details a forgotten patrol by the USS Sculpin (SSN-590). It is an article that deserves a second–if not a third–glance.

Why? Well, many of the challenges encountered during the Sculpin’s little-noted 2300- mile romp through the littorals remain relevant today.

For the Sculpin, this was a tough little tasking. During the 1972 patrol detailed in Navy History, the Sculpin tracked gun-running vessels from their Chinese point-of-origin to waters off South Vietnam. It’s an exciting COIN-esqe story–a story that should have gotten more play (in open fora) than it did. Today, as America struggles with Maritime Domain Awareness, littoral operations and clandestine use of merchant vessels, we’re having to re-learn the challenges the Sculpin grappled with back in 1972!

It’s no secret that shallow waters offer an operational challenge to certain sensors. But the Sculpin story could have been a good starting point to discuss the challenge of littoral undersea warfare–because the boat had issues:

“The active sonar in the Skipjack-class submarines wouldn’t have been reliable because of the reverberations in shallow water…”

As the USS San Francisco’s (SSN-711) 2005 interaction with a sea-mount sadly revealed, we still have issues with seafloor awareness. The Sculpin tale, if it had only been told, might have helped promote better mapping–and better navigational practices within the sub fleet. The Sculpin was effectively blind:

“One more challenge was that the trawler was heading south, right through the “dangerous ground.” On charts of the South China Sea, an area of about 180 nautical miles wide and 300 miles long is simply labeled dangerous ground. Our charts had one track of soundings through that area—taken in 1885..”

Complicating the matter of safe passage, the boat encountered rogue oil wells. The industrial infrastructure used to exploit seafloor resources poses an even greater operational challenge today. And the Sculpin, again, offered a glimpse of that future:

“We found a large number of oil-drilling platforms near the coast of Borneo. We first became aware of this hazard through the prolonged tracking of a diesel contact, which prompted the CO, Commander Harry Mathis, to go up to periscope depth for a look. We spotted an uncharted platform. If rigs were operating, that was no problem; we could plot the location of their noisy diesel engines. We found some charted, some not, some operating and others not. Our concern, of course, was about those uncharted and not running…”

How many times in recent years have subs hit tankers (or, um, fellow warships) in crowded shipping channels? The Sculpin experience in the South China Sea was–to say the least–instructive:

“The density of the large shipping traffic in this lane was incredible. Crossing it was like running across a busy freeway.”

The crowded littorals are even more crowded today. The Sculpin’s experience might have allowed foresighted naval strategists to “steal a march” and start grappling with the littorals far earlier:

“The surface was a dead calm mirror with fishing buoys and nets everywhere, not to mention small fishing boats of every description..”

With the Sculpin authorized to operate in waters as shallow as six fathoms, the boat discovered the littorals may be a pretty stressful place for fast-moving, large undersea boats:

 “We were trying to visualize what the Sculpin looked like on the surface, running at twenty knots, with maybe only 40 feet from the top of the sail to the surface. We visualized a hump—the water displaced above the boat’s hull—roaring through the South China Sea like a mini tidal wave, with observers wondering what it was…”

Why wasn’t the Sculpin’s mission used as a means to inform sailors–and modern policymakers–on the challenge of littoral operations? 

That’s an easy question to answer. All official records of this mission were destroyed. And now, as the littorals of the South China Sea have evolved to become a region of intense interest for the U.S. Navy, future submariners have little more than a bare-bones article in USNI’s Navy History Magazine to help inform their endeavors.

Instead of the usual submariner routine of “don’t ask, ’cause I won’t tell,” a little foresight–along with a little openness–might have been a real boon to those who, today, grapple with this sort of challenge. America’s Navy should maintain operational records–and do a far better job of telling these “odd lot” stories. You never know when they might prove useful…


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