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The KIDD Connection

By Cmdr. Matt Noland
Executive Officer
USS KIDD (DDG 100)

This month, viewers everywhere will have the opportunity to see the latest Hollywood treatment of America’s Greatest Generation: Greyhound. Tom Hanks plays a U.S. Navy destroyer’s commanding officer charged with protecting a convoy of Allied ships from a wolfpack of German U-boats as they transit the Atlantic Ocean.

Kidd (DD 661) underway off Roi Island, Kwajalein, enroute to the Saipan invasion, June 12, 1944. Anchored in left background is Tennessee (BB-43), with a destroyer alongside and an escort carrier beyond. Photographed from New Mexico (BB-40). National Archives photograph, 80-G-253680.

During the Battle of the Atlantic, between 1939 and 1945, 3,500 Allied merchant ships and 175 Allied warships were sunk, and 72,200 Allied naval and merchant seamen were killed. The Germans lost 783 U-boats and approximately 30,000 sailors.

As executive officer deployed on patrol onboard a modern destroyer, the gravity of what they faced is not lost on me or our crew. Especially today, as our nation finds itself in the Great Power competition with nations including China and Russia – each with its own capable undersea force.
 
I personally have another tie to this movie. In researching and shooting the movie, Hanks and his team frequented the WWII Fletcher-class USS KIDD (DD 661), which serves as the main attraction of the USS KIDD Veterans Museum in Louisiana. Growing up in Baton Rouge, I, too, visited the museum ship. 
 
As a Boy Scout, I spent a night aboard the World War II-era USS KIDD. I can assure you life aboard today’s USS KIDD is considerably more hospitable then it was on the WWII namesake.
 
The original USS KIDD (DD 661) was commissioned April 23, 1943, and named for Rear Adm. Isaac C. Kidd, killed in action aboard USS Arizona (BB 39) during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Kidd was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the attack.

Photographed on the deck of his ship, circa 1939. Capt. Kidd has inscribed the original print: ‘To my able gunnery officer and friend Commander Abercrombie. Sincerely, Isaac Campbell Kidd.’ Lt. Cmdr. Laurence A. Abercrombie was assigned to Arizona during the latter part of Kidd’s tour as the ship’s commanding officer. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

USS KIDD earned 12 battle stars during her career: Eight for service in World War II and four for service in Korea.

Japanese kamikaze plane about to crash into the ship, off Okinawa, April 11, 1945. The plane hit KIDD’s side, killing 38 of the crew. Photographed from the KIDD. Note escorting destroyer in the background. Courtesy Lewis B. Jenkins, Jr., Beltsville, Maryland, 1972.

I’m humbled to serve on today’s namesake. Our USS KIDD (DDG 100) was commissioned June 9, 2007, in Galveston, Texas, and is currently conducting counter-drug operations in U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility.

PACIFIC OCEAN (June 30, 2020) Crewmembers of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) deploy a rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) to assist a distressed vessel, June 30, 2020. Kidd is deployed to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean Sea and eastern Pacific Ocean. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy/Released)

The parallels between the old and new ship are important to me. Now aboard USS KIDD (DDG 100), underway on deployment, you can bet the crew and I will watch the new movie Greyhound. In today’s Navy, we build and train combat-ready ships and battle-minded crews, and I’m personally inspired by the legacy of American heroism at sea in World War II. Plus, it’s always exciting to see a film about the surface Navy.

Serving as executive officer of the USS KIDD is a special assignment to me. There are fewer than 300 ships in the Navy, and for me to be placed on the USS KIDD seems like a dream.

While growing up in Baton Rouge, I visited the USS KIDD Veterans Museum in the downtown area often and even got to know the museum’s original director, Maury Drummond, quite well. I spent lots of time talking to him about ship models he had built, and if you spend any time at the museum, you will notice a lot of beautiful model warships on display. Some of the most exquisite ones were built by Mr. Drummond himself. It definitely sparked my fascination with ships and with the Navy.

When I joined the US Navy in 2002, I had no idea that it would become a way of life for me, that I would be selected for command of a warship, or get a chance to serve on USS KIDD. Not many of us are afforded the honor of command at sea, and that is very exciting to me. I started seriously considering a naval career back in high school, so it’s been a lifelong aspiration, and it’s coming true for me. It’s incredible.

With service in the Navy, there’s never a guarantee of a Hollywood ending. There’s challenge. There’s reward and satisfaction. And there are lifelong relationships and experiences you won’t find anywhere else.

I truly hope watching Greyhound is the closest our crew and I get taking on another blue-water navy at war. But I have every confidence that if called, we’d fight with tenacity, determination and lethality. Like our ships’ namesake, and those on the original KIDD crew, we live the core values of honor, courage and commitment.

You might say this is art, imitating life, imitating art.  And KIDD and remains the picture of readiness.

200428-N-SB299-1397 SAN DIEGO (April 28, 2020) The guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) arrives in San Diego April 28 as part of the Navy’s aggressive response to the COVID-19 outbreak on board the ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alex Millar/ Released)

Noland, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, graduated from Louisiana State University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a Master’s in Strategy from the U.S. Naval War College. He is an Anti-Submarine and Anti-Surface Warfare Tactics Instructor.

Note: USS KIDD (DDG 100) departed San Diego June 10, continuing its scheduled deployment, conducting enhanced counternarcotics operations in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. Last week her crew assisted a fishing vessel in distress, where USS KIDD took the vessel under tow for about 200 nautical miles until additional assistance from the ship’s parent company was able to support.

https://navylive.dodlive.mil/2020/07/08/the-kidd-connection/ U.S. Navy

USS Constitution Marks 10 Years as America’s Ship of State

By Mass Comm. Spec. 2nd Class Casey Scoular, USS Constitution Public Affairs

This year marks USS Constitution’s 222nd birthday—the big triple-two. Our ship was launched into Boston Harbor on Oct. 21, 1797, making her the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. 

This year also marks another big milestone: October heralds the 10th anniversary of Constitution’s designation as America’s Ship of State.

On Oct. 28, 2009, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act; section 1022 designates USS Constitution as America’s Ship of State.

BOSTON (July 1, 2019) Sailors assigned to USS Constitution furl the mizzen topsail during weekly sail training. Constitution’s crew members conduct weekly training to learn and retain sailing information. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Casey Scoular/Released)

But why? With so many titles and accomplishments, ranging from “Old Ironsides” to “the Eagle of the Seas” to “Boston’s only undefeated team” (33-0), why add “America’s Ship of State” to the mix? What exactly does a ship of state do?

Before we get into that, let’s look at how USS Constitution earned her awesome reputation.

At the start of her national service, USS Constitution protected America’s merchants during the Quasi War with France and had a few at-sea Ws under her belt by the time she finished mopping up corsairs during the first Barbary War.

Her record at this time is 17-0; however, her greatest test was still to come: the powerful British royal navy.

The British were fighting Napoleonic France at sea and needed men for their navy. So they decided to start taking our Navy Sailors and forcibly drafting them into the Royal Navy. Not cool! The United States was fed up with this practice and the trade restrictions imposed against neutrals, so we declared war on Britain. So began the War of 1812.

“Constitution vs. Guerierre.” George Ropes, Jr. 1813 Oil on Panel, USS Constitution Museum Collection

At the outset of the war, we were looking at David-and-Goliath odds. The American people feared they would be back under British rule again because Britain had the best navy in the world. After the British naval victories over the French, Spanish, and Dutch navies during the Napoleonic Wars, the royal navy was seen as invincible.

But Isaac Hull and the crew of USS Constitution changed that. 

USS Constitution faced HMS Guerriere in August of 1812 and defeated her in our Navy’s first frigate-to-frigate battle at sea. She earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” during that fight, when cannonballs were seen bouncing harmlessly off the side of her tough live-oak hull. Huzzah!

The American people welcomed Capt. Isaac Hull and his crew back to Boston as heroes.

Constitution’s victory had given the American people the hope they so desperately needed and proved that the royal navy could be beaten.

Constitution delivered more victories, defeating another British frigate, HMS Java.

The royal navy’s confidence was shaken, and the British admiralty commanded captains to not engage American frigates unless in squadron force (two or more against one).

USS Constitution answered the challenge, simultaneously defeating both HMS Cyane and HMS Levant in the last phase of the war.

In 1815, the National Intelligencer, a famous newspaper of the day, hailed Constitution as a symbol of the up-and-coming United States:

“Let us keep Old Ironsides at home, she has literally become the nation’s ship and should thus be preserved in honorable pomp, as a glorious monument of her own and our other naval victories.”

Constitution became a symbol of the American people and our ability to triumph over seemingly unbeatable odds. 

War of 1812 Constitution Anniversary Stamp USS Constitution, attributed to Michele Felice Corne, 1803. USS Constitution Museum Collection, U.S. Navy Loan

In the late 1820s, Constitution was awaiting repairs. Incorrectly believing the ship was destined for the scrapyard, physician-poet Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (father of the eventual Supreme Court justice) wrote a poem in 1830 that implored the government not to destroy this symbol of the United States.

His poem, titled “Old Ironsides” motivated the citizens of Boston as well as the nation to demand Constitution’s immediate repair.

Aye tear her tattered ensign down

Long has it waved on high,

And many an eye has danced to see

That banner in the sky;

Beneath it rung the battle shout,

And burst the cannon’s roar;—

The meteor of the ocean air

Shall sweep the clouds no more.

Constitution was repaired and put back into service. Her 1844-46 world cruise exhibited the American flag around the world.

Now claiming the title of 32-0, she would claim one last victory at sea. On Nov. 3, 1853, while combating the slave trade, she captured an American slaving vessel, H.N. Gambrill, cementing her score at 33-0.

In 1860, USS Constitution evacuated the midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis to Newport, Rhode Island, in fear that the Confederates would capture the city and the beloved ship.

She served as a training ship from the 1860s until the 1880s, when she was taken off the active duty roster and resigned to service in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Detail of the only known photograph of USS Constitution under sail, taken by Army Private Hendrickson, summer 1881, Hampton Roads, Virginia. [Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]

In 1896, President Kennedy’s grandfather, Rep. John Fitzgerald, successfully campaigned to have Constitution moved back to Boston for her 100th birthday.

Again, the citizens of Boston and the United States wanted Constitution to be honored and revered for her service.

During the early portion of the 20th century, Old Ironsides was in Boston and began falling into disrepair. The Navy said it would restore her, but it could not fund the full extent of the work needed.

Unsurprisingly, there was a huge outpouring of support, and people from all over the United States contributed funds to the restoration. School children from across the country even donated their pennies to see Constitution restored.

The “Pennies Campaign” was a huge success, and from 1931-1934, Constitution traveled around the country on a national cruise to thank the citizens of the nation for their donations.

As far away from Boston as Bellingham, Washington, huge crowds of people came to see her. In the Puget Sound area alone, she attracted a crowd of more than 500,000 people.

She even served during WWII, as a receiving barracks for troops transitioning between duty stations.

In 1976, during bicentennial celebrations, she hosted Queen Elizabeth II while on her tour around the country. By now, of course, our two countries had long been close allies.

Constitution represents the United States, from our ingenuity and fierce fighting spirit to our warm hospitality and friendship.

She has done so much for our country and the people of our country have expressed so many times how much they love ‘Old Ironsides’.

So to the question of why call her our Ship of State, I think the better question is: What took us so long?

But if you’re still wondering what exactly a Ship of State does, here’s what the aforementioned Defense Authorization Act states on the matter:

“It is the sense of Congress that the President, Vice President, executive branch officials, and members of Congress should use the USS Constitution for the conducting of pertinent matters of state, such as hosting visiting heads of state, signing legislation relating to the Armed Forces, and signing maritime related treaties.”

USS Constitution is tugged through Boston Harbor during Constitution’s birthday cruise. Constitution got underway to celebrate the ship’s 222nd. birthday and the Navy’s 244th birthday. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Alec Kramer/Released)

https://navylive.dodlive.mil/2019/10/28/uss-constitution-marks-10-years-as-americas-ship-of-state/ jbell