Category: Community

Remarks from Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly to U.S. Naval Academy Change of Command

Admiral Richardson, Vice Admiral Carter, Vice Admiral Buck (doesn’t that sound good, Sean? ’83 what do you think?) Distinguished Guests, and most of all, the faculty and staff of this national treasure, our United States Naval Academy:

Good morning, Annapolis! Good morning, Navy!
Secretary Spencer wishes he could be here today, but as many of you may know, we have been playing a bit of musical chairs in the Pentagon over the last several weeks.

In fact, lately I have to check the paper each morning just to be sure I know what I’m supposed to be doing that day and what title I am supposed to assume, but I am pretty sure I got it right today, which is a blessing to me.

But just a quick diversion: As were thinking about all these macerations that had to happen with the acting SECDEF and so on and so forth, we had to go through all of the authorities I would assume. We went to a meeting about this and SECNAV said by the way, you could not name a CVN 81. I said, sir, I looked at all of the instructions and authorities and there’s nowhere in there, that when I’m acting SECNAV, I can’t name a ship. He looked and me and I said, I’m just kidding sir, don’t worry about it. So I went back to my office and literally five minutes later, a general counsel walked in and said, you know sir, he was really serious, and you cannot name CVN 81. So I was explaining this story to my classmate, Chris Pietrus, who is here this morning. He said, well, he said you couldn’t name it, but could you just re-designate CVN 81 to CVN 83. So right after this ceremony, I’m going to head back to the Pentagon and exercise my full authority. Actually, I wouldn’t do that to ’81 particularly on this day.

At any rate, while I know he regrets not being able to to be here to attend this ceremony, I am personally grateful that his schedule conflict, which was not planned, made it possible for me to be a part of it –as this is a really great day for the Academy.

Robyn and I could not be more honored to join you today for this historic event. It is kind of like the Olympics, or the World Cup – a very special celebration that only happens every few years, or in Ted and Lynda’s special case, five outstanding, record-breaking years at the academy.

I hope today for the two of you, it’s everything that is should be: A day of pure joy, and satisfaction, in recognition of nearly 40 years of remarkable, selfless service to our Navy and our Nation.

Four decades of service seems like a very, very long time, yet it still seems like only yesterday when many of us here today were also here as midshipman at the same time. Marching, competing, studying, laughing, stressing, and of course most memorably, particularly in July, sweating, along these shores.

It was a time long before anyone thought it might be a good idea to put air conditioning in Bancroft Hall. But we know that because of that, and no offense to anyone from the younger generation who’s here, we were probably among the last classes to have a REAL plebe summer!

When we left this place, quite happily, as I recall, we were more than ready to put our Midshipman days behind us. We were anxious and prepared to get out to the Fleet.

And here we all are, three classes in a row, represented specifically on the dais today, and in the audience – the Classes of ’81. ’82. And … of course… ’83.

I think we all look pretty much the same so it is kind of bit of a flashback for us. But, today is a bit of a flashback. It is like a flashback to our “youngster” year—particularly for our class as we look up with great envy to our upperclassmen like Ted Carter and John Richardson who have more stripes on their shoulder boards than we do and all the privileges and honors that accrue to them because of it—just like they did when we were all here together back in the 80s.

As youngsters, those privileges seemed so far away for us, but they came quickly as each class before us graduated and moved on to new adventures in which those midshipman stripes which we all envied so much were meaningless.

It is one of the great enduring elements of this institution. There are always those who came and went before us. Always those to whom some degree of reverence and respect must be paid simply because of this simple fact: you were never a “firstie” to them, but at one point in our common time here together they were “firsties” to us.

And Superintendents have an even more special connection to this place. They witness our entire passage through this institution. They understand how individual classes have unique characters and personalities of their own, and how individuals themselves can change and grow into naval leaders–leaders we have depended upon throughout our history as a nation.

Quite simply, they witness, and inspire, a very unique process of human transformation.

And we have been fortunate to have had some great Supes here over our history, leaders who made this special passage from childhood to adulthood and to principled officership possible. I am pretty certain Vice Admiral Ted Carter will go down in history as one of those great superintendents.

But only history will prove it, because Ted’s tenure is not going to be measured by the improvements he made to the infrastructure here, nor by how well he managed his budget, nor by how he improved academic performance, or athletic performance, nor will it be measured by his drive to build a new cyber center, nor by the countless hours he and Lynda put in to a nearly impossible social schedule (I thinks Lynda said it was over 300 nights a year for five years, which was remarkable), but they executed that flawlessly, as flawless spokespeople for the Academy and its mission.

Rather this Supe, just as all others before and after him, will be rightly measured by the officers that were produced under his tenure and how well they perform in the challenging world in which they are about to enter.

When I think of our classes, those from the early eighties, now over a generation ago, maybe a couple generations ago, it’s difficult not to harken to classes that proceeded us by this same time period gap of forty years.

For us it was the classes that left here and went immediately to war in the 1940s — a war that saved the world from tyranny and secured the blessings of liberty we all enjoy today.
These were the classes where “the stars fell” in each class, classes that in many ways defined and secured our national destiny through their valor on the seas and shores far from here.

Each of these classes has its own crest. Walking through this hall, Alumni Hall, we can see them quietly surveying us as we walk past them. They join so many others on these walls. Not one class crest is more prominent than any another.

They are not ranked, they are not rated, they are not evaluated and enshrined differently from each other. They are part of a continuum. They are part of the legacy of this Academy, more than one hundred of them.

The crests are something the leaders in each class designed. They designed it to illustrate how unique their personality might be, or the history of their particular time here.

The tradition of creating a class crest started back in 1869, and every class has had one since. But all those crests are connected, and subservient, to just one – the largest crest you see here in this hall, the Naval Academy crest. It was designed by Park Benjamin, class of 1867, and adopted by the Department of the Navy in 1899.

The story goes that Park saw the new University Club house being built in New York City, and realized there was no good seal for the Naval Academy. Like any good former Midshipman would, he invoked the Message to Garcia, and created one himself.

Later on, our journal of naval record, the United States Naval Institute Proceedings, published an article in 1913 that tried to capture the story of how he created that crest.

But, it seems that story was not up to his standards. So Park, enterprising once again as midshipman are, wrote a letter to correct the record, and his letter is stored in the Naval Academy archives to this day.

Park’s letter is everything we could have hoped for from a Midshipman.

It’s bold.
He said “I am rather at a loss to understand why if (the author of this article) wanted to tell the story he did not come to me for the facts before doing so.”

His letter was brash.

“I made two designs, one of the conventional type, the other the present seal. At quite a large meeting of graduates both in and out of the service, and the present seal was chosen by an overwhelming majority.”
Best of all, as a proud Annapolis man, former midshipman Park took the opportunity in his letter to attack the Army.
He wrote,
“The West Point seal has always seemed to me not to be particularly happy. The Naval Officer, like Caesar’s wife, is absolutely above suspicion in the matter of “Duty, Honor, and Country” – and doesn’t need to remind himself or his countrymen of that fact by putting it on his badge.
He continued saying,
“Besides, while that sort of motto might be well enough for the Army as a whole, or the Revenue Service, or the Patent Office for that matter – I cannot see for the life of me see how it particularly applies to a naval training school.”
Luckily for us, and thanks to Park, our school crest does apply perfectly to this great school.

And thanks to each class since, all reinforce the Naval Academy’s singular motto: Ex Scientia Tridens.

Through Knowledge, Sea Power.

That crest, and its simple motto, binds all our graduates, our Superintendents, our legacies, to every future this proud institution might hope to achieve.

Through Knowledge, Sea Power.

That is the existential purpose of this amazing place.
It is to educate.
To teach our future naval officers not what to think, but how to think.

It is to translate and convert education into sea power.

In a world that will be more and more defined by unpredictable nature of events, this is why this institution matters so much to us.

Our destiny as a nation will be determined by how well Ted’s many successors, starting with Vice Admiral Buck, continue his path of excellence in this essential mission.

During the time Superintendents are here, in this Yard, they are at the pinnacle of leadership and prestige. They are role models, they are cheerleaders, they are educators, and disciplinarians, and administrators. But it is what leaves this Yard, from under their tutelage, that matters most in the end.

What do we think when we read the roll call of names who have lived in Buchanan House? Names like Commodore George Blake, Rear Admiral Willard Brownson, or Vice Admiral Aubrey Fitch, or Rear Admiral Charles Minter?

Do we immediately recall these leaders and what they did here in Annapolis?

Or, rather do we remember their former midshipmen, who studied and trained and learned to lead under their mentorship:
Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan under Superintendent Blake;
Fleet Admirals Chester Nimitz and William “Bull” Halsey under Superintendent Brownson;
Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale under Superintendent Fitch?
Or General Charles Krulak, under Superintendent Minter?

The fact is, admittedly, we do not readily remember those who produced such great naval leaders, but perhaps we should.

For the true legacy of real, lasting, and historic leadership – is the formation of others, both men and women, who perform magnificently when called by their Nation to do so.

That will be the legacy of Ted and Lynda Carter during their record-setting tenure here in Annapolis.

It has been a race well, and faithfully, run. A legacy of endurance, excellence, class, and strength.

Also, a lot of victories against Army. I pretty sure Ted may remind of exactly how many victories against Army. I think he’s got a Fitbit App that calculates it for them because it’s always on the top of his mind. It’s probably more important than your heart rate, if you’re the superintendent of the Academy, knowing how many victories against Army.

Yet more than anything else, the only thing that matters, really – is our latest generation of Navy and Marine officers in the Fleet– five graduating classes, and their underclassmen –who today shoulder the sacred destiny of the United States of America through what we will ask of them to do in uniform.

Ted, I’ve been honored to work with you here in the last shining moments of your brilliant naval career. And I say naval career, because I know you are not done – and that other prominent leadership positions await you in your next phase of life.

You and Lynda have made this Yard sparkle with inspiration and pride, and you have made Robyn and me feel extremely welcome whenever we visit.

I can tell you, even though I have been the Under Secretary of the Navy for about 19 months now, I still get a little pit in my stomach when I walk on the Yard, or walk by the superintendent’s house, or most especially the Commandant’s house (there are a lot of people up there who know exactly what I’m talking about) but despite my lasting paranoia inside these brick walls of the Academy you have always made us feel really welcome.

In addition to welcoming us, you have gracefully opened your doors to thousands, and made Buchanan House a home for the entire country.

Sean and Joanne, we go back a long way. I know that you, of all leaders, are ready for this glorious challenge. No pressure, of course, but our class has been waiting for this day for a really long time!
It is something each of you in many ways have prepared for during your entire adult lives. We have great faith in you and know that you will pour your hearts and souls into this Academy and its mission.

I know you will continue the legacy of excellence Lynda and Ted have served so faithfully, and so well.

In closing, I would like to invoke a memory that many of us share from Plebe Summer—in the last century. It’s hard to say that, but it’s true. As I am sure you all remember, during our daily morning PEP sessions on the astroturf on Farragut Field, Coach Heinz Lentz, with his crisp Austrian accent, would encourage us to keep the pace with the following instructions:
“follow the man in the Red Corvette”.

Now at first I didn’t quite understand what that meant. At that point in history at the Naval Academy there were something on the order of 150 red corvettes parked along the seawall with first class midshipman bumper stickers. It’s a little bit of embellishment. There were a lot of corvettes here back then.

Like me, I am sure many of us wondered, which Corvette did he want us to follow and for how long? We quickly learned that the man in the red corvette was actually an extremely fit first class midshipman, donnig a red T-shirt, whose responsibility it was to set the tone and the pace of the workouts.

Vice Admiral Buck, Sean, there is no need to wonder at this time and place, 40 years later, who is the man in the red corvette. Vice Admiral Ted Carter is that man. But today, he is taking the red T-shirt off and handing it to you—but guess what? He’s not stopping to do that.

So it is your time to catch up to him, put on the shirt, and then to set your own pace. Today, the mantle of this awesome responsibility is yours. You will soon be the man in the red corvette and those who are told to follow you will set the course of our Navy and our Nation well into this century.

You are not alone, classmate, the Class of ‘83 is with you. It’s time now, however, for you to be the Supe, and more importantly, as Coach Lentz would also say to us, it’s your time now to be a “SUPER!”

Congratulations Ted and Lynda and the Class of ’81. Let’s go ’83!
Go Navy. And always and forever, Beat Army! Thank you.

Watch the video of these remarks here, beginning at 39:00.

Congratulations, CPO Selects; Now Earn This

Congratulations to all those selected for advancement to Chief Petty Officer. This is our most important milestone achievement in enlisted advancement, and you should be incredibly proud of all you have accomplished.

Chief Petty Officer Selection Results

The Navy you have grown up in will look very different to you six weeks from now — what you’ve done to demonstrate your readiness for this responsibility will be different from how you apply your skills as a member of the Chief’s Mess. Take some time to reflect on all who have had a hand in raising you to be the outstanding leaders you have become — everyone who has ever advocated for you, empowered you, trained, taught or developed you put you in this position, at the precipice of a new way of life. In moments of difficulty, someone put an arm around your shoulder and reinforced your confidence; in moments of sadness, someone consoled you; in moments of great achievement, someone celebrated with you, because no one succeeds alone – you led your team to victory. The investment in you is almost immeasurable, as it is too great to be captured in terms of dollars and cents or a simple quantification of time. Recognizing that is important, because it highlights your sacred duty to learn how the Chief’s Mess operates, how we transcend the sum of our parts to make the Navy better as a whole — to network and share, and to build winning teams so that we prevail in combat.

Over the next several weeks you will be elated, and you will be saddened and frustrated — you will experience the immense joy of success, and the desolate pain of failure.  All of these will build you, will make you stronger, and are required of our cadre of senior technical experts who make the Navy run. Chief Petty Officer Initiation is a refined syllabus of comprehensive and thoughtful events, constructed and woven together to carefully transform our top performing First Class Petty Officers into basically-trained Chief Petty Officers. You will learn to better and more thoroughly evaluate problems, make difficult decisions more easily, share difficult news and speak truth to power more readily and, most importantly, build teams ready to fight and win in combat. 

Laying the Keel 2.0

This is not the beginning of the end; it is the end of the beginning.  You will learn and grow — as you already have — for the remainder of your time in the Navy. Including my own, this is my 21st CPO Initiation, and I still learn something every day. You are not in this alone; the roughly 36,000 active duty and reserve Chief Petty Officers, supported by nearly 500,000 living veterans of the Navy who are also duly initiated members of the Mess, are all emotionally invested in bringing you into the Mess the right way. We will set the bar for you and clearly delineate the high standards required for you as a member of the Mess. I am confident that you will rise to the occasion and demonstrate to the Chiefs that you are ready, and on that day I look forward to clasping your hand and welcoming you as a brother or sister in arms.  

My charge to you is that you go into this training “all-in.” The debt you are about to incur to the Chiefs who will finish your initial training, along with all of those mentioned above that contributed to your success, is a debt that can never be repaid. You must seize this new and exciting opportunity to lead — and forever strive to “earn this.”   

Congratulations!

– MCPON Russell Smith

Becoming One Navy Team

On the 71st anniversary of President Harry S. Truman’s signing of the Executive Orders 9980 and 9981, mandating equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services and federal government regardless of race, color, religion or national origin, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson addresses the essential role diversity plays in helping the U.S. Navy remain the world’s most decisive and lethal naval force:

Team, today marks a historic day for our Navy and our military.

71 years ago, on this day in 1948, President Truman signed Executive Orders 9980 and 9981, stating for the first time that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services and federal government regardless of race, color, religion or national origin.

John Henry Turpin

71 years ago, we took a crucial step in building the strength of our Navy team. We honored, recognized, and codified the contributions of our people of color who fought for our Independence, who fought to keep our union together, who went ashore on D-Day, who fought across the Pacific with us.

Famous units like the Buffalo Soldiers, the Navajo Wind Talkers, the Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat team, and the Tuskegee Airmen. Famous people like Chief Gunner’s Mate John Henry Turpin, David Farragut, hero of the Civil War, and the Navy’s first admiral, Native American Ernest Evans, and the millions of others who served.

David Glasgow Farragut

71 years ago, we decided that what bound us together were our values as Americans. What mattered was a person’s honor, courage, and commitment to serve our nation — not the color of our skins.

Today, the Navy works hard every day to become that service. That place where you belong, if you believe what America stands for and want to defend it by living a life of integrity, accountability, initiative, and toughness. By serving something bigger than ourselves.

Ernest E. Evans

Today, we are stronger because we respect each other’s different ways to contribute to the mission, and never forget what connects and unites us.

Today, we continue to recognize the dignity and contribution of all in our Navy Team. We are ready to put our lives in each other’s’ hands.

By getting the best of us all — together — the U.S. Navy will remain the world’s most decisive and lethal naval force.

Let’s get to it.

Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly Remarks at D-Day Commemoration

Below are Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly’s remarks on the Cleveland D-Day 75th Commemoration Event at  at League Park, June 6, 2019.

Good afternoon, everyone.  Mayor Jackson, General Dziedzeski, executives of the Cleveland Indians, distinguished guests and friends, and most importantly, our heroic and cherished veterans, thank you so much for the opportunity to be here on the grounds of this historic ballpark, in this great city, to reflect on what June 6th, 1944 means to all of us.

Before I begin, I ask that you indulge me for one moment as I shamelessly give a big shout out to the ship sponsor of the USS Cleveland. You know when John F. Kennedy visited France for the first time as president in 1961 his visit was largely upstaged by Jacqueline Kennedy, whose charm, grace and style dazzled a characteristically hard to impress French citizenry.

As the trip progressed, it became obvious that Mrs. Kennedy was the real attraction, so as they said their good-byes to return the United States President Kennedy made a very famous, self-deprecating comment. He said, “I will be forever be known as the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris.”

So, on the occasion of this commemoration of one of the most daring and consequential endeavors in human history, I am very proud to say, “I am the man who accompanied Robyn Modly to Cleveland.”

As you all get to know her and the energy and grace she will put into the life of your ship, and it is your ship, I suspect you will be very glad that Secretary Spencer, my boss, in naming her the sponsor, recognized those qualities, too.

To the USS Cleveland Commissioning Committee, thanks so much for welcoming her with such open arms, but you need to understand one thing is that she really, really hates cold weather, so please consider that when you plan her visits to town. It will make a big difference. Trust me on that one.

To our World War II veterans, we don’t really know how to thank you today. We try year after year, but it is impossible for the gestures of our gratitude to meet the measure of your courage and your sacrifices. It is truly a blessing to see so many of you here today.

We can only imagine where you were 75 years ago. Some of you were in Normandy, some nearby, and some others in uniform in distant corners of the globe, in the fight, or exhausted from it, or about to get in it for the first time.

Here today can only imagine the sights from the cliffs of Normandy 75 years ago, the 1,213 naval combat ships, 4,126 landing ships and landing craft, 736 ancillary craft and 864 merchant vessels swarming the dark, cold, unforgiving blue water of the English Channel. Most significantly, as we look into your faces today, we can only imagine the faces of the 73,000 Americans who joined with you, along with another 83,000 troops from the UK and Canada, Poland and other countries in Europe, as they approached the coast of France.

We can close our eyes, but will never see how those faces changed as they witnessed the sands of Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches, littered with trucks and ammunition, awash with bodies whose souls just departed this world in advance of a noble cause.

And whether yours was one of those faces in Normandy, or in any other theatre of war from 1941 to 1945, you understand. The specifics of each of your stories are varied, and colorful, and unique, and worth documenting and sharing with every single citizen of this country who is free because of it.

But what is important about those stories is that they bind you to each other as a generation called to service at a time when the outcome was far from preordained, and to others who came after you to serve our nation in conflicts that followed — many of whom are here today as well.

You are bound to each other through your shared experience, but you are bound to us through your sacrifice, and the sacrifice of those who never returned home with you.

We think of them, and honor them today, but it is you who tie us to them.

It is you who trained with them, joked with them, smoked with them, drank with them, cried with them, fought the enemy with them, faced their fears with them, prayed to God with them, and longed for home with them.

Thirty-five years ago, Ronald Reagan spoke to an assembly of your brothers on the cliffs of Point Du Hoc in Normandy on the 40th anniversary of the D-Day.  Political analysts have used this speech to describe how brilliant it was “politically” because it tapped into a shared understanding of what Americans believed in their hearts, and their shared memories, about the sacrifices, and the reasons for the sacrifices, made by many of you, our brave Soldiers, Sailors, Coast Guardsmen, Airmen, and Marines on that day.

President Reagan spoke with the steep 100-foot cliffs framing the English Channel behind him, cliffs that Army Rangers had scaled between 7:10 and 7:40 am on the morning of June 6th. The Ranger force of 250 men used only ropes and ladders while withering machine gun fire and grenades rained down on them. After two days of fighting to secure the area in and around the Point, only 90 Rangers remained in the action — the rest were either killed or grievously wounded and taken out of the fight.

The Ranger monument that stands at the top of those cliffs served as a backdrop for the President’s speech. It is simple granite pillar that resembles a dagger driven deep into the ground at the very edge of land — a land that until those Rangers arrived had been separated from the free world of civilized nations by a despotic force with a maniacal vision for the future of mankind.

No more fitting symbol could have been constructed on those cliffs. It represents a first thrust into the heart of tyranny that had subsumed the continent of Europe — and by extension, through an Axis of enemies, throughout the entire world.

The Rangers at Point Du Hoc on D-Day 75 years ago secured the ground for this monument, but the dagger it represents was forged by all Americans, like so many in this city, who mobilized the nation’s industrial capacity and provided you with the weapons of war that were required for victory.

Cleveland’s contributions to this effort cannot be overstated. They were, in a word, pivotal, to the outcome of World War II.

Armed with the power of this nation’s industrial might, the Rangers at Point du Hoc 75 years ago today secured the cliffs and made possible this historic thrust into the cold heart of oppression.

But it was all of you, our beloved veterans, who drove that dagger into the ground with all of your might, and grit, and most importantly, your love for this country — and what is good about it.

I could never attempt to match President Reagan’s words about D-Day and the collective memories he evoked when he spoke them 35 years ago. Many have written that the speech itself was a political masterpiece that helped secure his reelection.

After watching the speech, many of his political rivals realized that the 1984 election was over — even though it was still many months away.

President Reagan’s words, however, had far more significance than their political value, and to judge them purely as such diminishes their power and authenticity.

The memory of Normandy that the President evoked was real, not fabricated. It tapped into a collective national consciousness in which moral clarity and pride in American sacrifice and achievement were unambiguous.

It is our responsibility to ensure that we never lose that shared memory as a nation, despite all the forces in the media, politics, and culture that would prefer, for their own purposes, that we focus on our historical flaws and divisions.

But we are especially blessed today here at League Park. Because our inspiration to elevate that shared memory above the noise of all that divisiveness that sometimes seems to engulf us is bright and visible. It shines through the examples of patriotism, bravery, and humility of those Veterans that are here with us.  Those for whom June 6th will always carry profound meaning — as it should for all of us.

For each of them, each of you, personifies a precious, shared memory of our country in its greatest hour.

Each of them have blessed so many families throughout the Cleveland area and this nation with the honor and dignity they brought home from distant and hostile places — places that they transformed to peaceful ones solely because they knew it was their duty to do so.

Each of them leads us back to a special place, of truly living our Founding values—a place where all of us as Americans, innately know we belong — and where we still yearn to be.

One of these great and humble heroes is on the stage with me today, Mr. Emory Crowder, whom Robyn and I had the pleasure of meeting here in Cleveland last year. Emory is 95-years young and a veteran of the Pacific theater in World War II.  He was a corpsman in the Marine Corps.

Emory stormed the beaches in Saipan and Tinian, and for his bravery and accomplishment of saving lives, he was rewarded with the opportunity to keep going and invade Okinawa. He never made it to Okinawa, as a Kamikaze pilot sank his ship and he was rescued from the cold Pacific Ocean after several hours of floating with some of shipmates in shark infested waters.

I invited Emory to join Robyn and me at the Messiah concert last year at the Naval Academy. After the concert, he was surrounded by young midshipmen who took pictures with him and thanked him for his service in the obligatory way most of us do.

In response to these midshipmen, all of whom were born well after one of the last vestiges of World War II, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, Emory just looked at them and said, “Thank you, I did it so that you could have THIS life.”

Today I ask that you all come to understand that this is what is good about this nation. This is the shared memory we should all embrace to resist the forces that seek to erode our confidence in our ideals and our principles. This is what you veterans remind us of every time we meet you.

Your service to this country, in this simple and modest way, has continued well beyond the time you served in uniform.  It has been your most precious gift to us as a citizenry.  You have shown us what is good and what is worth fighting for.  There is no greater inheritance you could have given us than this.

A few years ago, I had the chance to visit Normandy. I had never been there before and I really did not know what to expect. My family used to visit the beaches of North Carolina, and as a child, I remember looking out across the vast ocean from there standing with my father, who was born in Hungary and experienced the terror of war in Europe as Hungarians struggle to survive in the crossfire between Nazi coercion, and allied forces coming from both East and West. For my father, allied victory in the war gave him the opportunity to cross that body of water westward to the United States. It was a trip full of hope for a new future in a land unravaged by war.

For you, and so many others, the trip across the Atlantic was quite the opposite.

Standing on those Carolina beaches, amid their immense beauty, it is very hard to visualize what horrors and fears our troops, and many of you here today, must have felt as you approached the coast of France on June 6, 1944.

When I visited Normandy, I expected to see something different than what I saw.  Despite all that happened there, the tremendous loss of life, the devastation of buildings, and roads, and beaches, what survives today is simply and spectacularly beautiful. There is palpable reverence to the sacrifices made by so many in the defense of freedom, and a visible love for the United States as most homes in the small towns and villages fly French and American flags at the same height.

But the most stunningly beautiful place of all is the American Cemetery in Colleville sur Mer.

It is remarkable in its sheer size and immaculate in its condition.  No words need to be spoken when visiting. It speaks for itself.

The rows of burials are marked by white marble headstones, 9,238 of which are Latin crosses and 150 of which are stars of David. The cemetery contains the graves of 45 pairs of brothers (30 of which buried side by side), a father and his son, an uncle and his nephew, two pairs of cousins, three generals, four chaplains, four civilians, four women, 147 African Americans and 20 Native Americans.

307 unknown soldiers are buried among the other service members. Their headstones read “HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY A COMRADE IN ARMS KNOWN BUT TO GOD.”

These are your brothers and sisters in arms. No matter where you served, they served with you.

No one will ever know why God chose them to sacrifice it all on those battlefields 75 years ago — but perhaps it is because God wanted you to be ones who came home to be the gentle and humble reminders to the rest of us of what it means to be an American — and what it means to be GOOD.

CLEVELAND (June 6, 2019) Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly speaks to about 125 WWII veterans and guests during the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Foundation 75th anniversary of D-Day commemoration at the Baseball Heritage Museum. Feller is a member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame and WWII veteran. Modly, a Cleveland native, is participating community events commemorating those who made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives in defense of their nation during WWII. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Chief Brian Dietrick/Released)

 

Thank you for everything you have done so that we, to quote our friend Emory Crowder, “could live this life.” 

Emory and each of you here today remind me something my former boss Secretary Mattis said in responding to a particularly bad day in Afghanistan. On that day our troops made some targeting mistakes that led to the loss of innocent civilian lives and in response then General Mattis said, “We are not the perfect guys but we are the GOOD guys.” 

When we look at each of you here today, we know deep in our hearts that when the nation called, you believed this about yourselves, and you believed it about your country.

Now more than ever we also need to share in that same belief.

Now more than ever, we need to do everything we can to follow the example you have set to make sure, that we not only believe it, but this belief in ourselves is also the truth.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill, himself half-American, rose in the House of Commons less than two months from D-Day, and spoke in defense of the Allies’ cause. He said:

“What is this miracle, for it is nothing less, that called men from the uttermost ends of the earth, some riding twenty days before they could reach their recruiting centres, some armies having to sail fourteen thousand miles across the seas before they reached the battlefield?

“You must look very deep into the heart of man, and then you will not find the answer unless you look with the eye of the spirit. Then it is that you learn that human beings are not dominated by material things, but by ideas for which they are willing to give their lives or their life’s work.”

Today we are incredibly honored to look into the bright eyes of your spirit, deep into the hearts of each of you, and find what eternal good rests inside there for all of us to embrace, and also to have this moment to thank you for sharing it with us and with the world you saved.

God Bless you.

Thank you so much for being here, and God Bless the current generation of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, whom we send into harm’s way every day to keep us safe, and free.

Go Tribe. Go Cavs. Go Browns. Go USS Cleveland. Go Navy. Go Air Force. Go Coast Guard.

And, of course, as always, as I am obligated by tradition to say, but with love, without any offense to any of our Army brothers and sisters, BEAT ARMY!

Thank you very much.

Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly Remarks at The Patuxent Partnership

Below are Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly’s remarks at The Patuxent Partnership, May 15, 2019 in St. Mary’s City, Maryland. Thank you, Bonnie, for that kind introduction. And thanks for inviting us here tonight. What a wonderful evening and event to recognize the leadership of this community of service. Some of you may know that Robyn and I live in Annapolis, and it has much the same feel as St. Mary’s, one of neighbors and friendship and support. We raised our four children there, who are now well embarked on their careers, and we think often of the wonderful, nurturing community they grew up in; that one day we may have to leave behind, and neither of us looks forward to that day. Last Sunday was of course Mother’s Day, and I can’t help but think of all the mothers here tonight – the capacity to raise daughters and sons who want to serve a cause greater than self, whether in or out of uniform, is something very dear to our American way of life. Many of you are part of the larger family of military and naval service, something of which Robyn and I are especially proud. Robyn and I met just before my last flight in the UH-1N Huey on board USS NASSAU. So we happened to miss the deployments and long separation while serving on the ship although Robyn may have wished for one or two deployments on occasion. And after leaving NASSAU, we settled in Colorado Springs, where I took a job as an assistant professor of political science at the U.S Air Force Academy. Teaching those cadets, especially during early morning classes, I would have to resort to some pretty creative and sometimes even devious means of capturing their attention. Maybe like many of you, in the late 1980s, I would try to stay awake past 11:30 pm to watch “Late Night with David Letterman.” But almost every night before teaching class, I would make sure to catch Dave’s “Top Ten” before I went to bed. Because there were many times, in those Top Ten lists, I would find something interesting to mention in class that related to whatever we were studying at the time. So when I thought the same about addressing you here tonight – I asked myself, what would make my Top Ten list today?

What would be in the Top Ten, say, of my concerns about our Navy and Marine Corps team and where we fit in the future international security environment.

Secretary Mattis was once asked, “What keeps you up at night?” He answered, “Nothing. I keep other people up at night.” I would have to say mine would not be quite so self-confident. I would probably answer, “Nothing, I am too tired to be kept up at night.” So my challenge tonight is not just to tell you what might keep me up at night, if anything could, but rather to talk about what will keep you awake during this speech. So, I will rely on my old tried and true David Letterman technique and give you a Top Ten list. Unfortunately, my list won’t be nearly as humorous as Letterman’s lists used to be, and there may not be many surprises, either, but you never know. If you asked me to give you this list on November 16th, 2017, the day before I was confirmed by the U.S. Senate for this job, I am pretty sure the list would be different. So it has been evolving over time and I will try to capsulize each one with just one word – in case you want to take notes on your napkin. But here goes… imagine the drum roll…. The Under Secretary of the Navy’s top ten words that if things kept me up at night it would be these 10 words: Number 10: 355 Number 9:  Speed Number 8:  Information Number 7:  Cost Number 6:  Audit Number 5: Education Number 4: Warriors Number 3: Adversaries Number 2: Time And…Number 1: Memories Now I am certain this last one may sound a bit perplexing to you. Memories? Memories of what? What I am referring to is our collective memories as a nation. The common understanding of what is good about this place and what makes it so unique in the history of civilization. In 1984 Ronald Reagan captured this idea on the cliffs of Point Du Hoc in Normandy on the 40th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Europe by Allied Forces. Political analysts have used this speech to describe how brilliant it was “politically” because it tapped into a shared understanding of what Americans believed in their hearts, and their shared memories, about the sacrifices, and the reasons for the sacrifices, made by our brave soldiers, sailors and airman on that day. Reagan’s words were far more than political, however, and to judge them purely as such diminishes their power and authenticity. The memory of Normandy that President Reagan evoked was real, not fabricated, it tapped into a collective consciousness in which moral clarity and pride in American sacrifice and achievement were unambiguous.

So why is “memory” number one on the list of the things that would keep up at night if things actually kept me up at night? Because it keeps me up every waking hour with concern that we may be losing that shared memory as a nation, as powerful forces in the media, politics, academia, and nefarious foreign actors who are adept at manipulating all of these institutions, seek to create a new shared memory for Americans focused on our historical flaws, our past injustices, our cultural and racial differences, and our inability to secure an impossible utopian ideal for our society.

This year, I have the pleasure to meet Mr. Emory Crowder. Emory is a 95-year-old veteran of World War II. Emory was a corpsman in the Marine Corps. He stormed the beaches in Saipan and Tinian, and for his bravery, he was rewarded with the opportunity to invade Okinawa. He never made it, as his ship was sunk by a Kamikaze pilot and he was rescued from the cold Pacific Ocean a few hours later. I invited Emory to join Robyn and me at the Messiah concert in Annapolis this December. After the concert, he was surrounded by midshipmen who took pictures with him and thanked him for his service. In response to these midshipmen, all of whom were born well after the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, Emory simply said, “Thank you, I did it so that you could have THIS life.” This is what is GOOD about this nation. This is the shared memory we should all embrace to resist the forces that seek to erode our confidence in our ideals and our principles.

To quote Secretary Mattis again, in responding to a particularly bad day in Afghanistan where our troops made some targeting mistakes that lead to the loss of innocent civilians, Secretary Mattis said, “We are not the perfect guys, but we are the GOOD guys.”

Now more than ever we need to believe this about ourselves. Now more than ever, we need to do everything we can to make sure this is also THE TRUTH. And if you need to be reminded why this is so important, let me give you one final example. I would like to tell you, as many of you may already know, about Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent. Leaders like Senior Chief Kent, and supporters like each of you, are what keeps America safe and free. We cannot ask people to defend this nation if we don’t believe the nation is good and worth defending. In my opinion, it is immoral to do so. We need to embrace fully, and nurture the shared memories of the past that reinforce this, not blindly, but with a renewed sense of belief that we can address our problems, and strive for a more perfect union each day — a union that is worthy of the sacrifices of people like Emory Crowder and Shannon Kent, and every other soul who puts his or her life in harm’s way to keep us safe — and free. Thank you for your service, may God bless you all, and may God continue to bless this nation. Go Navy, Go NAS Pax River, and of course, as always, BEAT ARMY.

Celebrating Oklahoma City Navy Week

Sailors from across the United States are in Oklahoma City, May 27-June 2, to show the Navy to the community. Oklahoma City Navy Week’s major highlights include senior Navy leadership; Sailors from locally assigned units such as Strategic Communications Wing (STRATCOMMWING); Sailors from the oldest warship afloat, USS Constitution; Navy Band Southwest performances; and the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron “Blue Angels,” that will perform at the Star Spangled Salute Air Show at Tinker Air Force Base. There is also a virtual reality experience provided by Navy Recruiting District Dallas, and Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial.

During Oklahoma City Navy Week, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Greg Slavonic met with corporate, civic, education and government leaders in an effort to increase awareness of the Navy, its mission and the importance of the Navy to the people of Oklahoma City. He also penned the following article:

America’s Navy: The Navy our Nation Needs

Greg Slavonic

Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower & Reserve Affairs

Over the last decade, much of our attention has focused on military forces in the Middle East. America’s Navy has continued to be a global force critical to the security of our nation and our interests — no matter where they are.

Oklahoma City is the host city for “Oklahoma City Navy Week” May 27-June 2. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment made in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence. With the challenges our country faces today, the Navy’s job is continually growing.

The importance of the Navy is nothing new to Oklahomans. Like all Americans, Oklahomans have a vested interest in a strong, global U.S. Navy. On any day, the Navy and Marine Corps might be called on to attack a terrorist camp, keep watch over a potential conflict, capture a pirate vessel, or deliver emergency relief anywhere in the world.

Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt presents a Navy Week proclamation to Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Gregory J. Slavonic. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Allen Michael McNair/Released)

The Navy is ideally suited for this kind of mission because it’s fast, agile and flexible. It can go anywhere on the ocean on short notice, and do all its work from water.

Our Navy is the military branch that fights on the water in ships, under the water in submarines, and over the water in planes that take off and land on Navy aircraft carriers. This capability is vital and gives the Navy the power to protect America’s interests – anytime, anywhere.

Think 70-80-90:

  • Water covers about 70 percent of the Earth’s surface.
  • About 80 percent of the world’s population lives near the ocean.
  • About 90 percent of all international trade travels by sea.

What happens on the water is critical to American security, preservation of American jobs, and peace worldwide. It is vital to national defense and our ability to protect our interests on, under and over the water.

Navy planes fly about half the aerial combat missions in Afghanistan.

Navy SEAL teams carry out special operations worldwide. In a humanitarian crisis, the Navy can provide supplies and hospital-quality medical care.

For these missions, the Navy requires courageous, highly trained men and women. Fortunately, that’s exactly who we have. More than 1,700 sailors are at Strategic Communications Wing ONE at Tinker Air Force Base, the NROTC Unit at University of Oklahoma, several JNROTC units and 600 Marines at Ft. Sill in Lawton. We have a submarine named USS Oklahoma City, surface ship named USS Tulsa, amphibious transport ship named to honor a fellow Oklahoman LT Richard McCool (Medal of Honor recipient), and a battleship named USS Oklahoma which was attacked and sunk at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. This is a Navy state.

Oklahoma City hosts Navy Week from May 27 to June 2. Sailors come to the city to share their stories, remember the importance of a fast, flexible force provided by sea power and the Navy. This way, the Navy protects America more than ever.

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (May 30, 2019) Master Chief Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) teaches kids at Village Metro Library how to salute during Oklahoma City Navy Week Oklahoma City. Navy Weeks are designed to raise awareness about the Navy in areas that do not have a large naval presence. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Allen Michael McNair/Released)
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma (May 28, 2019) The Navy Band Southwest Brass Quintet performs during a wreath laying ceremony at the Oklahoma City National Memorial during Navy Week Oklahoma City. Navy Weeks are designed to raise awareness about the Navy in areas that do not have a large naval presence. (U.S. Navy Photo by Musician Second Class Nina Church/Released)
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (May 29, 2019) Naval Aircrewmen (Avionics) Amanda Whitworth volunteers with Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity during Oklahoma City Navy Week 2019. Navy Weeks are designed to raise awareness about the Navy in areas that do not have a large naval presence. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Allen Michael McNair/Released)

 

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (May 28, 2019) Sailors assigned to the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Oklahoma City (SSN 725) meet with Scott Volk, a patient at Oklahoma City VA Medical Center during Oklahoma City Navy Week 2019. Navy Weeks are designed to raise awareness about the Navy in areas that do not have a large naval presence. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Allen Michael McNair/Released)
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (May 28, 2019) Sailors assigned to the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723) walk along the Oklahoma City Memorial following a wreath laying ceremony during Oklahoma City Navy Week. Navy Weeks are designed to raise awareness about the Navy in areas that do not have a large naval presence. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Allen Michael McNair/Released)
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (May 27, 2019) Navy Band Southwest holds a Memorial Day concert at Saint Joseph’s Old Cathedral during Oklahoma City Navy Week 2019. Navy Weeks are designed to raise awareness about the Navy in areas that do not have a large naval presence. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Allen Michael McNair/Released)

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Happy 126th Birthday Chiefs – Chief On!

By Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Russell Smith

In the beginning there was no birthday, no Mess, no initiation process. There were only Sailors, salty with experience and a deep conviction to bridge the gap between the vision their officers had and the Sailors who executed the mission. Recognizing a seam, Chief Petty Officers were created to provide the kind of pragmatic leadership and guidance that enlisted Sailors could understand and relate to, enabling our Navy to move forward as the operating environment began to evolve beyond the simple age of sail and traditional Sailor skills.

ROTA, Spain (March 11, 2019) Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Russell Smith speaks to Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Sarah Villegas/Released)
ROTA, Spain (March 11, 2019) Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Russell Smith speaks to Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Sarah Villegas/Released)

Over the years our Mess has grown and adapted to both the operating environment of our vessels and the Sailors who choose our way of life. Over successive generations, our Sailors have become smarter, more fit and a better demographic representation of the Nation we serve. We began as the sole purveyors of experience, the ones you needed to hear from before tackling any complex deckplate evolution — the lessons of sweat and blood were “our” currency, our relevance, and we taught many a junior Sailor and many a junior Officer how to avoid the worst mistakes and safely navigate to mission success.

In turn, Chief Petty Officers have found greater opportunity, and a corresponding desire by the Navy to fold Chief Petty Officers into more complex roles of leadership and management. In 1958, the pay grades of E8 and E9 were created to specifically retain the talent and expertise that was deemed crucial to the future success of our Navy; less than a decade later, Master Chief Gunner’s Mate Del Black would become the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, signaling a level of leadership and Navy-wide involvement that just 30 years before could not possibly have been conceived of. Chief Petty Officers raised the bar, elevated the game and catapulted our Navy towards new and greater success.

Shortly before the USS Cole was attacked, she got underway for deployment with an entirely enlisted Bridge Watch Team — proving that crew’s mettle and ultimately enabling those who survived the initial attack to save their ship and their shipmates. We have enlisted performing in a myriad of ways that those “old salts” sitting around and sharing information in those famous photos from the late 1800s could never have imagined. And yet, as a Mess, our mission remains the same — bound genetically to our core responsibility within the Navy to primarily represent the equity of experience. Technical experts, knowledgeable and learned in the nuances of our trade, operators who guide both the young Sailors we are charged with preparing for combat, as well as those young Officers whose lead we will follow in combat.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 21, 2019) Senior Chief Damage Controlman Jeff Tobey, from Kittering, Maine, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), instructs Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Clayton Saving, from Carthage, Missouri, in the hangar bay during a main space fire drill. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Keypher Strombeck/Released)
PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 21, 2019) Senior Chief Damage Controlman Jeff Tobey, from Kittering, Maine, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), instructs Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Clayton Saving, from Carthage, Missouri, in the hangar bay during a main space fire drill. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Keypher Strombeck/Released)

A special faith and trust has been reposed in us as we occupy this unique and unparalleled strata of leadership — other services and other nations have senior enlisted leaders, but the United States Navy Chief Petty Officers are cut from a different cloth, raised to perform in collegial fashion to stitch the disparate parts of our Navy together, to leverage the power of our Mess to make the Navy greater than the sum of our parts.

We should take the opportunity to reflect on where this latest year of growth and development has taken us, and as a Mess decide how to best calibrate and align ourselves to the true north of our forebearers — making those who sailed before us proud of the legacy of selfless, uncelebrating service they entrusted to us. Every day we walk aboard our ship, squadron, station or unit we should feel an unabated sense of urgency to prove our value and serve our Sailors, to realize our strengths, and then humbly yet confidently wield that influence and knowledge to prepare our Sailors for combat — and lead them to victory once it begins.

At the end of today, and at the end of every day, I would ask each of you — as I ask of myself — to spend a few moments in quiet contemplation on those expectations levied upon us. To ask, as in that penultimate moment of “Saving Private Ryan” — did I “earn this?”

Happy 126th Birthday Chiefs – Chief On!

The Naval Careers of America’s Six Sailor Presidents

From Naval History and Heritage Command

From 1961 to 1993, the Navy could boast veterans in the nation’s highest office, with the exception of Army veteran Ronald Reagan’s eight-year term of 1981 to 1989. John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, James E. “Jimmy” Carter and George H.W. Bush all served their nation wearing Navy blue.

Interestingly of the presidents who served between 1961 and 1993, only Reagan held office for two full terms:

  • Ford, Carter and Bush were single-term presidents
  • Kennedy was assassinated after 1,000 days in office
  • Johnson was elected once and chose not to seek a second term after finishing Kennedy’s term for a total of five years, two months, and
  • While Nixon was elected twice, he served less than 18 months into his second term before resigning to avoid almost certain impeachment over his role in the Watergate scandal.

Of the six presidents with sea service, five have had ships named after them: Kennedy (aircraft carrier CVA-67 as well as CVN-79, Johnson (Zumwalt-class destroyer PCU DDG-1002), Ford (CVN 78), Carter (SSN 23), and Bush (CVN-77).

Nixon joins the remaining 20 presidents who have not had ships named after them. Our nation’s first president, for whom President’s Day was originally named, has a record-holding eight ships named Washington, with four between 1775 to 1776, one each in 1798 and 1814, followed by the ballistic nuclear submarine (SSBN 598), decommissioned in 1985, and aircraft carrier CVN-73 commissioned in 1992.

Abraham Lincoln pales in comparison with just three ships: a former German steamer turned transport ship (President Lincoln 1917 to 1918); one submarine (SSBN 602), decommissioned in 1981; and Nimitz-class supercarrier (CVN 72), commissioned in 1989.

The following are brief synopsis of each president’s naval career.

John F. KennedyJohn F. Kennedy (1961-1963) was appointed an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve in October 1941. Initially, he was assigned to the staff of the Office of Naval Intelligence before attending the Naval Reserve Officers Training School from July 27-Sept. 27, 1942. He then entered the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Training Center in Rhode Island. Upon his graduation Dec. 2, Lt. j.g. Kennedy was assigned to the Motor Torpedo Squadron 4 as the commanding officer of PT-101. A month later, PT-101 and four other boats were ordered to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 14 based at Panama.

Seeking combat duty, Kennedy transferred Feb. 23 as a replacement officer to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 2, which was based at Tulagi Island in the Solomons. He took command of PT-109 April 23, 1943.

It was the night of Aug. 1, 1943, when PT-109, with Kennedy at the helm, was run over by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri, cutting the torpedo boat in two. At the impact, Kennedy was thrown into the cockpit where he landed on his back, injured prior to him joining the service.

As some of the survivors clung to pieces of the ship, Kennedy swam to the remaining crew members to bring them back to the floating remnant of PT-109. Two had died during the collision. Kennedy towed one injured crew members as he and the other survivors swam five hours to cover the distance of three miles to an island.

After swimming to Nauru Island, Kennedy and his executive officer found natives. Kennedy wrote a message on a coconut: “11 alive native knows posit & reef Nauru Island Kennedy.” The survivors were rescued by PT-157 on Aug. 8. In September, Kennedy went to Tulagi where he became the skipper of PT-59. In October 1943, Kennedy was promoted to lieutenant and the squadron moved to Vella Lavella.

Due to continued problems with his back, a doctor ordered Kennedy to leave PT-59 November 18, and he returned to the United States in early January 1944. Kennedy would spend much of the rest of his Navy career getting treatment for his back injury. He was released from all active duty and retired from the U.S. Naval Reserve on physical disability in March 1945.

Lyndon B. JohnsonLyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969) had already earned his bachelor’s degree, worked as a school teacher and elected twice to Congress before being appointed as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve June 21, 1940, at age 32.

He reported for active duty Dec. 9, 1941, and was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C. After training, he proceeded to Headquarters, Twelfth Naval District, San Francisco, California, for inspection duty in the Pacific.

While stationed in New Zealand and Australia, he worked as an observer of bomber missions in the South Pacific, for which he was later awarded the Army Silver Star Medal.

After President Roosevelt ordered all members of Congress in the Armed Forces to return to their legislative duties, Johnson was released from active duty under honorable conditions June 16, 1942.

In 1949 he was promoted to commander in the Naval Reserves.

Richard M. NixonRichard M. Nixon (1969-1974) joined the Navy at the age of 29 as a lieutenant junior grade in the U.S. Naval Reserve June 15, 1942. A lawyer, he had been working as an attorney for the Office of Emergency Management in Washington, D.C.

Following his appointment, Nixon began aviation indoctrination training at the Naval Training School, Naval Air Station in Quonset Point, Rhode Island. After completing the course in October 1942, he went to the Naval Reserve Aviation Base in Ottumwa, Iowa, where he served as aide to the executive officer until May 1943.

Looking for more excitement, Nixon volunteered for sea duty and reported to Commander, Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet where he was assigned as officer in charge of the South Pacific Combat Air Transport Command at Guadalcanal in the Solomons and later at Green Island. His unit prepared manifests and flight plans for C-47 operations and supervised the loading and unloading of the cargo aircraft.

For this service, he received a Letter of Commendation from the Commander South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force for “meritorious and efficient performance of duty as Officer in Charge of the South Pacific Combat Air Transport Command…” Nixon was promoted to lieutenant Oct. 1, 1943.

From August through December 1944, Nixon was assigned to Fleet Air Wing 8 at Naval Air Station Alameda, California. Then he was transferred to the Bureau of Aeronautics in Washington, D.C, through March 1945. His next assignment as a newly-promoted lieutenant commander was as the Bureau of Aeronautics Contracting Officer for Terminations in the Office of the Bureau of Aeronautics General Representative, Eastern District, headquartered in New York City. Nixon was released from active duty on March 10, 1946. He was promoted to commander in the Naval Reserve on June 1, 1953.

Gerald R. Ford

Gerald R. Ford (1974-1976) was preparing to open his law practice at Grand Rapids with a fellow Yale Law School classmate, but the attack on Pearl Harbor changed his plans. Rather than waiting to be drafted, Ford sought to join the Navy.

At age 29 with a law degree, Ford was commissioned as an ensign April 13, 1942. His first duty-station was to attend V-5 instructor school training at Annapolis. His background as a coach and trainer made him a good candidate for instructor in the Navy’s V-5 (aviation cadet) program.

After a month of training, Ford was assigned to the Navy Preflight School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he taught elementary seamanship, ordnance, gunnery, first aid and military drill. He also coached all nine sports that were offered, but mostly in swimming, boxing and football.

By the time he was assigned to USS Monterey (CVL 26) he had been promoted to lieutenant. While onboard, Ford served as the assistant navigator, athletic officer and anti-aircraft battery officer. The carrier helped secure Makin Island in the Gilberts and participated in carrier strikes against Kavieng, New Ireland in 1943. During the spring of 1944, Monterey supported landings at Kwajalein and Eniwetok and participated in carrier strikes in the Marianas, Western Carolines and North New Guiena, as well as the Battle of Philippine Sea. Aircraft from Monterey launched strikes against Wake Island, participated in strikes in the Philippines and Ryukus and supported the landings at Leyte and Mindoro.

Monterey escaped damage by the Japanese, but Mother Nature nearly took out both the ship and future president when Adm. William “Bull” Halsey’s Task Force 38 sailed straight into Typhoon Cobra on Dec. 17-18, 1944. Three destroyers were lost along with 790 men, with another nine warships damaged and 100 planes lost either overboard or by explosion. Monterey was damaged by a fire that started when several of the ship’s aircraft tore loose from their cables and collided during the storm.

After Ford headed for his battle station on the bridge of the ship in the early morning of Dec. 18, the ship rolled 25 degrees, which caused Ford to lose his footing and slide toward the edge of the deck. The two-inch steel ridge around the edge of the carrier slowed him down enough so he could roll and twist into the catwalk below the deck. As he later stated: “I was lucky; I could have easily gone overboard.”

While Monterey underwent repairs at Bremerton, Washington, Ford was detached from the ship and sent to the Athletic Department of the Navy Pre-Flight School, St. Mary’s College, Calif., where he was assigned to the Athletic Department until April 1945. He was then assigned to the staff of the Naval Reserve Training Command, Naval Air Station, Glenview, Illinois, as the physical and military training officer, during which time he was promoted to lieutenant commander. He was released from active duty Feb. 23, 1946.

James Earle Carter

James Earle Carter (1976-1981) was the fifth consecutive president who had served in the Navy. He is the only president thus far to have graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. After completing the accelerated wartime program, he graduated June 5, 1946 with distinction and obtained his commission as ensign.

For his first duty station, Carter was stationed at Norfolk as radar and CIC officer on USS Wyoming (E-AG 17), an older battleship that had been converted into a floating laboratory for testing new electronics and gunnery equipment. After Wyoming was decommissioned, Carter became training and education officer on USS Mississippi (E-AG 128). After completing two years of surface ship duty, Carter chose to apply for submarine duty. Accepted, he began the six-month course at the U.S. Navy Submarine School, Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut, from June 14 to Dec. 17, 1948.

Upon completion of the course, Carter reported Dec. 29 to USS Pomfret (SS 391) based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. During a simulated war patrol, Carter served as communications officer, sonar officer, electronics officer, gunnery officer and supply officer. On March 9, he served as the approach officer for a simulated torpedo firing at target ships and scored a “hit.” Soon after Carter’s promotion to lieutenant junior grade on June 5, 1949, Pomfret was sent in July to San Diego where the submarine operated along the California coast.

Carter’s next assignment was as engineering officer for the precommissioning detail for USS K-1 (SSK 1), the first postwar submarine built. After K-1’s commissioning on Nov. 10, 1951, Carter served as executive officer, engineering officer, and electronics repair officer. During this tour he also qualified for command of a submarine.

When Adm. Hyman G. Rickover (then a captain) started his program to create nuclear powered submarines, Carter was interviewed and selected for the program by Rickover. Promoted to lieutenant, Carter was sent to the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission, Division of Reactor Development in Schenectady, New York. He served a four-month TDY with the Naval Reactors Branch, U. S. Atomic Energy Commission, Washington, D.C., to assist “in the design and development of nuclear propulsion plants for naval vessels.”

As Carter was preparing to become the engineering officer for the nuclear power plant to be placed in USS Seawolf (SSN 575), one of the first submarines to operate on atomic power, his father died in July 1953. Carter resigned from the Navy to return to Georgia to manage the family interests. Carter was honorably discharged on Oct. 9, 1953, at Headquarters, Third Naval District in New York City.

George H.W. BushGeorge H.W. Bush (1989-1991) wanted to join the Navy right after Pearl Harbor, but he had to wait six months to graduate high school, enlisting on his 18th birthday June 12, 1942. Ten months later, having graduated pre-flight training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Bush was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve a few days shy of his 19th birthday, making him the youngest naval aviator at the time.

After more flight training, Bush was assigned to Torpedo Squadron (VT-51) as photographic officer in September 1943. As part of Air Group 51, his squadron was based on USS San Jacinto (CVL 30) in the spring of 1944. San Jacinto was part of Task Force 58 that participated in operations against Marcus and Wake Islands in May, and then in the Marianas during June.

On June 19, the task force triumphed in one of the largest air battles of the war. During the return of his aircraft from the mission, Ens. Bush’s aircraft made a forced water landing. The crew was rescued, but the plane was lost in the explosion. On July 25, Ens. Bush and another pilot received credit for sinking a small cargo ship.

After Bush was promoted to lieutenant junior grade on Aug. 1, San Jacinto commenced operations against the Japanese in the Bonin Islands. On Sept. 2, 1944, Bush piloted one of four aircraft from VT-51 that attacked the Japanese installations on Chichi Jima. Encountering intense antiaircraft fire, Bush’s aircraft was hit and his engine caught on fire. He completed his mission and released the bombs over his target scoring several damaging hits.

With his engine on fire, Bush flew several miles from the island, where he and one other crew member on the TBM Avenger bailed out of the aircraft. However, the other man’s chute did not open and he fell to his death. While Bush anxiously waited four hours in his inflated raft, several fighters circled protectively overhead until he was rescued by submarine USS Finback (SS 230). During the month he remained on Finback, Bush participated in the rescue of other pilots. Bush returned to San Jacinto in November 1944 and participated in operations in the Philippines.

When San Jacinto returned to Guam, the squadron, which had suffered 50 percent casualties of its pilots, was replaced and sent to the United States. Throughout 1944, Bush had flown 58 combat missions for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals, and the Presidential Unit Citation awarded San Jacinto.

Because of his valuable combat experience, Bush was reassigned to Norfolk and put in a training wing for new torpedo pilots. Later, he was assigned as a naval aviator in a new torpedo squadron, VT-153. With the surrender of Japan, he was honorably discharged in September 1945 and then entered Yale University.

Editor’s note: This blog was originally published Feb. 16, 2015, on Naval History and Heritage Command’s The Sextant.

Five Things to Know: Shared Pacific Umbilical of USS Missouri and USS Michael Monsoor

By Dave Werner
U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

On Saturday, Jan. 26, the Navy will commission its newest Zumwalt-class destroyer, USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), at 1 p.m. (EST) / 10 a.m. (PST) at Naval Air Station North Island. A little further west in the Pacific, organizers are commemorating the 75th anniversary of the January 1944 launch of USS Missouri (BB 63) in the waters of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Although separated by 75 years, there is little distance between what the two ships and their crews represent to a free and open Indo-Pacific today. Here are five reasons why it matters:

BATH, Maine (Feb. 1, 2018) The Navy's next generation destroyer, the future USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), successfully completed acceptance. The U.S. Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey reviewed the ship and its crew during a series of demonstrations both pier side and underway, evaluating the ship's construction and compliance with Navy specifications. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Bath Iron Works/Released)
BATH, Maine (Feb. 1, 2018) The Navy’s next generation destroyer, the future USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), successfully completes acceptance. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Bath Iron Works/Released)

 

1. America is a maritime nation, committed to generating and sustaining combat-ready naval forces.

It’s no secret that the Navy has turned its focus again to restoring readiness, increasing lethality and building capacity. Before WWII, planning for the Iowa-class battleships, including USS Missouri, began as early as 1938 and the ships were ordered a year or two later. As Germany and Japan became increasingly belligerent, American leaders recognized that its Navy and nation needed faster ships with greater armament to keep pace with competitors.

USS Missouri, the last battleship commissioned, joined the Pacific Fleet in 1944, where it screened U.S. aircraft carriers and conducted shore bombardment. Most famously, it became the symbol of the Allies’ victory as host to the signing of Japan’s unconditional surrender in September 1945. Missouri went on to serve off Korea before being decommissioned in 1956. Reactivated in 1984, it supported Operation Earnest Will in 1988, and then Operation Desert Storm by firing 28 Tomahawk missiles and hundreds of its feared 16-inch shells to soften Iraqi defenses. Missouri was decommissioned for good in 1992. Ultimately, it was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association in Pearl Harbor in 1999, where it serves proudly today.

Even following the dawn of the aircraft carrier in WWII, the forethought and investment placed in the later battleships allowed for their reincarnations with advancing weaponry to kinetically and psychologically influence global affairs some 50 years later.

USS Michael Monsoor, too, has a weapons suite and configuration that hasn’t been fully tapped. Outfitted with a 21st century electrical plant, it can operate all of its systems and still produce enough electricity to power a small town. Its design provides extra capacity to accommodate future computing demands, weapons systems, radars and sensors. In its case, such inevitable installations should be without extensive redesign or impeding performance.

Not unlike USS Missouri, USS Michael Monsoor is a flagship for adaptive force packages – a combination of amphibious ships, littoral combat ships and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers used to promote sea control and project power ashore that extend maritime security across a range of threat environments. It can accommodate future operations with planning space and communications equipment, which allows for mission tailoring and targeting across and broad array of tasks from special operations to humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, the Zumwalt-class destroyer is capable of performing the critical maritime missions of deterrence and power projection and creating battlespace complexity for adversaries with its abilities to operate both near to shore and in the open sea.

The time-tested advantage of such investments ensures the nation is ready should it be challenged – but sustaining such forces has an even greater benefit for nations beyond the U.S.

2. A stable, prosperous Pacific favors peace without war.

As the bloody war in the Pacific wound down quickly in 1945, the question before the U.S. Navy was what ship would host the signing of unconditional surrender. USS South Dakota (BB 57), as Adm. Nimitz’ flagship, was considered deserving given its length and success of service in the Pacific. USS West Virginia (BB 48) would have been the romantic favorite. It was sunk in Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, but was repaired and returned to service, and was present in Tokyo Harbor Sept. 2, 1945. President Truman ultimately made the selection, USS Missouri.

Surrender of Japan in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives)
Surrender of Japan in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives)

 

USS Missouri was the flagship for Adm. Halsey and his Third Fleet, who served Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander, Allied Forces, Southwest Pacific Area. There was also the practical consideration that its deck provided the greatest square-footage available to accommodate the witnesses of the signature. It didn’t hurt it was the namesake ship of “Show Me” state, from which President Truman hailed. In fact, his daughter was the ship’s sponsor. There was a more compelling consideration that’s often lost in the debate.

Missouri was about the next fight. It bristled with power and capabilities, and embodied American innovation and determination. The course was set for what would become known as the American Century, and it was its ship-of-state.

The nation – and the world – had learned the price of a hot war. Led by the United States, most countries wanted a return to normalcy. A Soviet superpower, however, was rising to coerce and threaten free-minded nations, and a Cold War was underway. Peace-through-strength became foundational thinking for decades. The American investment in its military was not insignificant, but it was cheap compared to the price paid in WWII.

USS Michael Monsoor typifies the naval investment the nation needs, and employs the same proven calculus. Zumwalt-class destroyers are among the most lethal and sophisticated destroyers ever built. They provide deterrence and forward presence by bridging today’s innovation with future technology. They maximize stealth, size, power and computing capacity – providing an array of weapons systems and cutting-edge technologies to fight forces in the air, on and under the sea, and on land.

Fielding credible, ready and present capability discourages competitor nations from miscalculating.

Maintaining peace benefits prosperity and stability, and is far superior to the alternative. But…

3. If called upon, the U.S. Navy will fight and win.

If peace were to fail, at 610 feet long and 80.7 feet wide, USS Michael Monsoor provides space to execute a wider array of surface, submarine and aviation missions and integrate emerging technologies. A core crew of 148 officers and enlisted personnel, the nearly 16,000-ton ship is powered by two Rolls-Royce main turbine generators capable of speeds exceeding 30 knots.

The Zumwalt-class destroyer is capable of performing a range of deterrence, power projection, sea control, and command and control missions while allowing the Navy to evolve with new systems and missions. It does all of this while maintaining its stealth – making this visually imposing ship difficult to find whether close to the shore or far out to sea. These warships possess stealth, size, power, survivability systems and computing capacity that provide the Navy with the ability to meet maritime missions at sea now, as well as incorporate new technologies to meet emerging security environments.

That can also improve lethality through increased range, deception, systems integration and data analysis from the various platforms, and unmanned aerial, surface and subsurface systems. The blending of such capabilities – offensive and defensive, and multi-domain – will provide the Navy with the sea power to fight decisively.

SAN DIEGO (Dec. 7, 2018) The guided-missile destroyer Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) transits San Diego Bay. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jasen Moreno-Garcia/Released
SAN DIEGO (Dec. 7, 2018) The guided-missile destroyer Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) transits San Diego Bay. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jasen Moreno-Garcia/Released

 

The ship is able to operate in shallow, coastal waters, providing land-attack support to ground forces. Ability to seamlessly exchange data with other fleet assets, computing capability, customizable mission sets and rapid integration of maturing technologies, provides the force with a strategic advantage. It has ability to dominate at sea and ashore, now and – importantly – in the future.

In war, the WWII Pacific Fleet is legendary. Small units like USS Johnston (DD 557) and USS Wahoo (SS 238) punched well above their weight. Capital ships with names like Enterprise (CV 6), Hornet (CV 8) and Lexington (CV 2) demonstrated the might, creativity and commitment of a determined nation. And USS Missouri was among them.

The world’s largest fleet command encompassed 100 million square miles, from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle and from the West Coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean. The U.S. Pacific Fleet consists of approximately 200 ships/submarines, nearly 1,200 aircraft and more than 130,000 Sailors and civilians. USS Michael Monsoor is the latest in a long line of warships, and will join today’s aircraft carriers, surface combatants and attack submarines in San Diego.

The industrial base and whole-of-government effort that produced these marvels is an advantage that enemies correctly feared before attacking the United States in WWII. There is another uniquely American advantage that revealed itself in WWII, born from a national consciousness that, in its core, fosters free thinking and self-determination.

4. Toughness: Then and now.

After nearly 75 years of relative peace and prosperity in the Pacific, toughness and battle-mindedness are re-emerging. Visitors are reminded why that matters gazing at the Ford Island waterfront in Pearl Harbor. There, the USS Missouri stands watch over the USS Arizona Memorial. The memorial serves as the eternal tomb for 1,177 Sailors who lost their lives in the opening salvo of the nation’s WWII experience.

The two ships serve as the American bookends of WWII. The attack on Dec. 7 was a demoralizing gut-punch for the Pacific Fleet, and it serves as perpetual reminder of the commitment required. Sailors then proved they could take a hit, and tap all sources of strength and resilience to fight and win – even when things looked darkest. It required an innate courage.

The namesake crew of America’s newest ship embodies a more contemporary example. The ship is named for Master-at-Arms 2nd Class (SEAL) Petty Officer Michael Monsoor who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 29, 2006. He was positioned on a rooftop with his automatic heavy machine gun in the direction of the enemy’s most likely avenue of approach. Monsoor was located closest to the egress route out of the sniper hide-sight watching for enemy activity through a tactical periscope over the parapet wall.

While vigilantly watching for enemy activity, an enemy fighter hurled a hand grenade onto the roof from an unseen location. The grenade hit him in the chest and bounced onto the deck. Monsoor immediately leapt to his feet and yelled “grenade” to alert his teammates of impending danger, but they could not evacuate the sniper hide-sight in time to escape harm. Without hesitation, and showing no regard for his own life, he threw himself onto the grenade, smothering it to protect his teammates who were lying in close proximity. The grenade detonated as he came down on top of it, mortally wounding him.

The highly professional men and women serving aboard USS Michael Monsoor are typical of the Sailors on duty around the world today. The U.S. Navy is the world’s premier naval force in no small part because of the American Sailor.

5. For 75 years, America has demonstrated a credible and enduring commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

As a Pacific nation, America’s Navy has sailed and remains committed to sail wherever international law allows to preserve longstanding ideals of fairness and stability. Once the fiercest of enemies, together the U.S. Navy and Japan have been and remain the strongest of allies, and work closely today.

EAST CHINA SEA (Jan. 12, 2019) The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), left, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force amphibious transport dock ship JS Kunisaki (LST 4003), and the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20), right, transit in formation during a cooperative deployment. Wasp, flagship of Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, is operating in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker/Released)
EAST CHINA SEA (Jan. 12, 2019) The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), left, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force amphibious transport dock ship JS Kunisaki (LST 4003), and the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20), right, transit in formation during a cooperative deployment. Wasp, flagship of Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, is operating in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker/Released)

As discussed in the 2018 National Defense Strategy, and reinforced in the Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority 2.0, China and Russia are deploying all elements of their national power to achieve their global ambitions. There are competing visions for the future of the Pacific, and naval leadership is working to mitigate the risks of miscalculations.

Since the end of WWII, nations have benefited by the open and free approach that allows each to thrive. The proverbial rising tide of prosperity necessitates safeguarding and sustaining the approach. The Pacific Fleet is determined to ensure it – peacefully or otherwise.

Editor’s notes: The commissioning ceremony can be watched on the Navy Live blog. The Jan. 26 ceremony is scheduled to begin 1 p.m. (EST) / 10 a.m. (PST).

This blog was originally published Jan. 23 on the Naval History and Heritage Command’s The Sextant.

Five Things to Know: Shared Pacific Umbilical of USS Missouri and USS Michael Monsoor

By Dave Werner
U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

On Saturday, Jan. 26, the Navy will commission its newest Zumwalt-class destroyer, USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), at 1 p.m. (EST) / 10 a.m. (PST) at Naval Air Station North Island. A little further west in the Pacific, organizers are commemorating the 75th anniversary of the January 1944 launch of USS Missouri (BB 63) in the waters of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Although separated by 75 years, there is little distance between what the two ships and their crews represent to a free and open Indo-Pacific today. Here are five reasons why it matters:

BATH, Maine (Feb. 1, 2018) The Navy's next generation destroyer, the future USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), successfully completed acceptance. The U.S. Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey reviewed the ship and its crew during a series of demonstrations both pier side and underway, evaluating the ship's construction and compliance with Navy specifications. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Bath Iron Works/Released)
BATH, Maine (Feb. 1, 2018) The Navy’s next generation destroyer, the future USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), successfully completes acceptance. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Bath Iron Works/Released)

 

1. America is a maritime nation, committed to generating and sustaining combat-ready naval forces.

It’s no secret that the Navy has turned its focus again to restoring readiness, increasing lethality and building capacity. Before WWII, planning for the Iowa-class battleships, including USS Missouri, began as early as 1938 and the ships were ordered a year or two later. As Germany and Japan became increasingly belligerent, American leaders recognized that its Navy and nation needed faster ships with greater armament to keep pace with competitors.

USS Missouri, the last battleship commissioned, joined the Pacific Fleet in 1944, where it screened U.S. aircraft carriers and conducted shore bombardment. Most famously, it became the symbol of the Allies’ victory as host to the signing of Japan’s unconditional surrender in September 1945. Missouri went on to serve off Korea before being decommissioned in 1956. Reactivated in 1984, it supported Operation Earnest Will in 1988, and then Operation Desert Storm by firing 28 Tomahawk missiles and hundreds of its feared 16-inch shells to soften Iraqi defenses. Missouri was decommissioned for good in 1992. Ultimately, it was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association in Pearl Harbor in 1999, where it serves proudly today.

Even following the dawn of the aircraft carrier in WWII, the forethought and investment placed in the later battleships allowed for their reincarnations with advancing weaponry to kinetically and psychologically influence global affairs some 50 years later.

USS Michael Monsoor, too, has a weapons suite and configuration that hasn’t been fully tapped. Outfitted with a 21st century electrical plant, it can operate all of its systems and still produce enough electricity to power a small town. Its design provides extra capacity to accommodate future computing demands, weapons systems, radars and sensors. In its case, such inevitable installations should be without extensive redesign or impeding performance.

Not unlike USS Missouri, USS Michael Monsoor is a flagship for adaptive force packages – a combination of amphibious ships, littoral combat ships and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers used to promote sea control and project power ashore that extend maritime security across a range of threat environments. It can accommodate future operations with planning space and communications equipment, which allows for mission tailoring and targeting across and broad array of tasks from special operations to humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, the Zumwalt-class destroyer is capable of performing the critical maritime missions of deterrence and power projection and creating battlespace complexity for adversaries with its abilities to operate both near to shore and in the open sea.

The time-tested advantage of such investments ensures the nation is ready should it be challenged – but sustaining such forces has an even greater benefit for nations beyond the U.S.

2. A stable, prosperous Pacific favors peace without war.

As the bloody war in the Pacific wound down quickly in 1945, the question before the U.S. Navy was what ship would host the signing of unconditional surrender. USS South Dakota (BB 57), as Adm. Nimitz’ flagship, was considered deserving given its length and success of service in the Pacific. USS West Virginia (BB 48) would have been the romantic favorite. It was sunk in Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, but was repaired and returned to service, and was present in Tokyo Harbor Sept. 2, 1945. President Truman ultimately made the selection, USS Missouri.

Surrender of Japan in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives)
Surrender of Japan in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives)

 

USS Missouri was the flagship for Adm. Halsey and his Third Fleet, who served Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander, Allied Forces, Southwest Pacific Area. There was also the practical consideration that its deck provided the greatest square-footage available to accommodate the witnesses of the signature. It didn’t hurt it was the namesake ship of “Show Me” state, from which President Truman hailed. In fact, his daughter was the ship’s sponsor. There was a more compelling consideration that’s often lost in the debate.

Missouri was about the next fight. It bristled with power and capabilities, and embodied American innovation and determination. The course was set for what would become known as the American Century, and it was its ship-of-state.

The nation – and the world – had learned the price of a hot war. Led by the United States, most countries wanted a return to normalcy. A Soviet superpower, however, was rising to coerce and threaten free-minded nations, and a Cold War was underway. Peace-through-strength became foundational thinking for decades. The American investment in its military was not insignificant, but it was cheap compared to the price paid in WWII.

USS Michael Monsoor typifies the naval investment the nation needs, and employs the same proven calculus. Zumwalt-class destroyers are among the most lethal and sophisticated destroyers ever built. They provide deterrence and forward presence by bridging today’s innovation with future technology. They maximize stealth, size, power and computing capacity – providing an array of weapons systems and cutting-edge technologies to fight forces in the air, on and under the sea, and on land.

Fielding credible, ready and present capability discourages competitor nations from miscalculating.

Maintaining peace benefits prosperity and stability, and is far superior to the alternative. But…

3. If called upon, the U.S. Navy will fight and win.

If peace were to fail, at 610 feet long and 80.7 feet wide, USS Michael Monsoor provides space to execute a wider array of surface, submarine and aviation missions and integrate emerging technologies. A core crew of 148 officers and enlisted personnel, the nearly 16,000-ton ship is powered by two Rolls-Royce main turbine generators capable of speeds exceeding 30 knots.

The Zumwalt-class destroyer is capable of performing a range of deterrence, power projection, sea control, and command and control missions while allowing the Navy to evolve with new systems and missions. It does all of this while maintaining its stealth – making this visually imposing ship difficult to find whether close to the shore or far out to sea. These warships possess stealth, size, power, survivability systems and computing capacity that provide the Navy with the ability to meet maritime missions at sea now, as well as incorporate new technologies to meet emerging security environments.

That can also improve lethality through increased range, deception, systems integration and data analysis from the various platforms, and unmanned aerial, surface and subsurface systems. The blending of such capabilities – offensive and defensive, and multi-domain – will provide the Navy with the sea power to fight decisively.

SAN DIEGO (Dec. 7, 2018) The guided-missile destroyer Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) transits San Diego Bay. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jasen Moreno-Garcia/Released
SAN DIEGO (Dec. 7, 2018) The guided-missile destroyer Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) transits San Diego Bay. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jasen Moreno-Garcia/Released

 

The ship is able to operate in shallow, coastal waters, providing land-attack support to ground forces. Ability to seamlessly exchange data with other fleet assets, computing capability, customizable mission sets and rapid integration of maturing technologies, provides the force with a strategic advantage. It has ability to dominate at sea and ashore, now and – importantly – in the future.

In war, the WWII Pacific Fleet is legendary. Small units like USS Johnston (DD 557) and USS Wahoo (SS 238) punched well above their weight. Capital ships with names like Enterprise (CV 6), Hornet (CV 8) and Lexington (CV 2) demonstrated the might, creativity and commitment of a determined nation. And USS Missouri was among them.

The world’s largest fleet command encompassed 100 million square miles, from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle and from the West Coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean. The U.S. Pacific Fleet consists of approximately 200 ships/submarines, nearly 1,200 aircraft and more than 130,000 Sailors and civilians. USS Michael Monsoor is the latest in a long line of warships, and will join today’s aircraft carriers, surface combatants and attack submarines in San Diego.

The industrial base and whole-of-government effort that produced these marvels is an advantage that enemies correctly feared before attacking the United States in WWII. There is another uniquely American advantage that revealed itself in WWII, born from a national consciousness that, in its core, fosters free thinking and self-determination.

4. Toughness: Then and now.

After nearly 75 years of relative peace and prosperity in the Pacific, toughness and battle-mindedness are re-emerging. Visitors are reminded why that matters gazing at the Ford Island waterfront in Pearl Harbor. There, the USS Missouri stands watch over the USS Arizona Memorial. The memorial serves as the eternal tomb for 1,177 Sailors who lost their lives in the opening salvo of the nation’s WWII experience.

The two ships serve as the American bookends of WWII. The attack on Dec. 7 was a demoralizing gut-punch for the Pacific Fleet, and it serves as perpetual reminder of the commitment required. Sailors then proved they could take a hit, and tap all sources of strength and resilience to fight and win – even when things looked darkest. It required an innate courage.

The namesake crew of America’s newest ship embodies a more contemporary example. The ship is named for Master-at-Arms 2nd Class (SEAL) Petty Officer Michael Monsoor who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 29, 2006. He was positioned on a rooftop with his automatic heavy machine gun in the direction of the enemy’s most likely avenue of approach. Monsoor was located closest to the egress route out of the sniper hide-sight watching for enemy activity through a tactical periscope over the parapet wall.

While vigilantly watching for enemy activity, an enemy fighter hurled a hand grenade onto the roof from an unseen location. The grenade hit him in the chest and bounced onto the deck. Monsoor immediately leapt to his feet and yelled “grenade” to alert his teammates of impending danger, but they could not evacuate the sniper hide-sight in time to escape harm. Without hesitation, and showing no regard for his own life, he threw himself onto the grenade, smothering it to protect his teammates who were lying in close proximity. The grenade detonated as he came down on top of it, mortally wounding him.

The highly professional men and women serving aboard USS Michael Monsoor are typical of the Sailors on duty around the world today. The U.S. Navy is the world’s premier naval force in no small part because of the American Sailor.

5. For 75 years, America has demonstrated a credible and enduring commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

As a Pacific nation, America’s Navy has sailed and remains committed to sail wherever international law allows to preserve longstanding ideals of fairness and stability. Once the fiercest of enemies, together the U.S. Navy and Japan have been and remain the strongest of allies, and work closely today.

EAST CHINA SEA (Jan. 12, 2019) The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), left, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force amphibious transport dock ship JS Kunisaki (LST 4003), and the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20), right, transit in formation during a cooperative deployment. Wasp, flagship of Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, is operating in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker/Released)
EAST CHINA SEA (Jan. 12, 2019) The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), left, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force amphibious transport dock ship JS Kunisaki (LST 4003), and the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20), right, transit in formation during a cooperative deployment. Wasp, flagship of Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, is operating in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker/Released)

As discussed in the 2018 National Defense Strategy, and reinforced in the Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority 2.0, China and Russia are deploying all elements of their national power to achieve their global ambitions. There are competing visions for the future of the Pacific, and naval leadership is working to mitigate the risks of miscalculations.

Since the end of WWII, nations have benefited by the open and free approach that allows each to thrive. The proverbial rising tide of prosperity necessitates safeguarding and sustaining the approach. The Pacific Fleet is determined to ensure it – peacefully or otherwise.

Editor’s notes: The commissioning ceremony can be watched on the Navy Live blog. The Jan. 26 ceremony is scheduled to begin 1 p.m. (EST) / 10 a.m. (PST).

This blog was originally published Jan. 23 on the Naval History and Heritage Command’s The Sextant.