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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.

SECNAV International Women’s Day Forum

March 5, 2020

Welcome to the official blog of the International Women’s Day Forum, hosted by Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly at the Army-Navy Club in Washington, D.C. The event features a panel of women speakers moderated by Courtney Kube of NBC News, as well as a panel discussion from government and military officials, along with remarks from Sec. Modly.

Revisit this blog regularly for the livestream of the event, as well as photos and other content.

Event Background

The global observance of International Women’s Day (March 8) provides an opportunity to reflect on progress made, to advocate for continued change, and to celebrate acts of courage, determination and achievement by women who contribute to their communities, countries and international society.

Official observance of International Women’s Day by the Department of the Navy provides an opportunity during Women’s History Month to acknowledge, celebrate and promote the role of women in defense and national security (to include our Navy-Marine Corps-Civilian team), as well as the U.S. strategy to grow women’s participation in national security.

The Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017, signed into law by President Trump on October 6, 2017, recognizes the critical link between women’s participation and peace, and mandated the creation of a government-wide strategy to increase the participation of women in security processes. Reflecting a growing global movement to advance women’s inclusion in the security sector, observance of International Women’s Day provides an invaluable platform to demonstrate the achievements and importance of women’s contributions in this regard, and give voice and inspiration to generations of men and women on the value of inclusivity and diversity of thought and participation.

USS Doris Miller (CVN 81) Naming Ceremony

On Jan. 20, 2020 —the holiday marking the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.— the U.S. Navy officially names its newest aircraft carrier, the future USS Doris Miller (CVN 81).

Doris “Dorie” Miller saved the lives of his shipmates and then valiantly fought attacking Japanese forces during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, bravery for which he was awarded the Navy Cross—the first African American to receive this honor. Almost two years after his valor at Pearl Harbor, Miller gave his life for his country when his ship was sunk during battle.

USS Doris Miller (CVN 81) will be the first aircraft carrier named for an enlisted Sailor and the first named for an African American.

Join the Navy in celebrating the future USS Doris Miller and the life of this Navy hero. Below you will find:

  • A biographical video feature honoring Miller’s life and legacy
  • Interviews with a Navy historian about Dorie Miller’s actions, legacy and contributions to civil rights for all
  • An infographic of Miller’s life and other content

“Naming CVN 81 for Dorie Miller casts long overdue recognition to a true American hero and icon. It also honors the contributions of African Americans and enlisted Sailors for the first time in the history of American aircraft carriers. The Sailors who will put the USS Doris Miller to sea will be the fortunate ones, as heirs to the mightiest of Navy legends who epitomized the kind of fighting Sailor we need today.” –Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith

The Life of Doris “Dorie” Miller

Doris Miller, known as “Dorie” to shipmates and friends, was a U.S. Navy Sailor recognized for his bravery during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was the first African American recipient of the Navy Cross.

Miller grew up on his family’s farm in Waco, Texas, and played football in high school before enlisting as a ship’s mess attendant in the U.S. Navy in 1939. In 1940, Miller was transferred to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and reported for duty onboard USS West Virginia (BB 48), where he became the ship’s heavyweight boxing champion.

Miller was below decks December 7, 1941, when the first Japanese torpedo struck USS West Virginia (BB 48). His battle station in the magazine damaged, Miller was ordered to the bridge, where he helped carry the ship’s mortally wounded captain to safety. Miller then loaded and fired an anti-aircraft machine gun—a weapon that, as an African American in a segregated military, he had not been trained to operate. Miller stayed behind once the order to abandon ship was passed to help evacuate shipmates and save the lives of Sailors in the burning water.

For his extraordinary courage, Miller was the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross. Newspapers around the country cited his example as an argument for civil rights and equality.

“This marks the first time in this conflict that such high tribute has been made in the Pacific Fleet to a member of his race, and I’m sure that the future will see others similarly honored for brave acts.” — Admiral Chester Nimitz

200117-N-NO101-151 WASHINGTON (Jan. 17, 2020) In this file photo taken May 27, 1942, Adm. Chester Nimitz awards the Navy Cross medal to Mess Attendant 2nd Class Doris Miller for his actions aboard the battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48) during the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The award was presented to Miller aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) during a ceremony in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Miller died in 1943 when a torpedo sank USS Liscome Bay (CVE 56) off Butaritari Atoll in the Gilbert Islands. On June 30, 1973, the U.S. Navy commissioned USS Miller (FF 1091) in his honor.

Today, we are proud to continue honoring Miller’s heroic legacy by naming the U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier Doris Miller (CVN 81). Read more about the life of Doris Miller here.

Historical Perspective

Learn more about Doris Miller from historian Dr. Virginia Akers of Naval History and Heritage Command, in the following interviews.

Actions During Attack of Dec. 7, 1941:

Social Context, Award of Navy Cross:

Initial Reception by African American Community:

Symbol of Hope, Legacy for All:

News Articles

Navy Will Name Future Ford Class Aircraft Carrier After WWII Hero Doris Miller

WASHINGTON (NNS) — Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly will name a future Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier in honor of World War II hero Ship’s Cook Third Class Doris Miller during a ceremony in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Jan. 20.  Read More

Best Job I’ve Ever Had

(New Year’s Day 2020 Deck Log Entry)

By Quartermaster 3rd Class Sara Nevison,
Deployed at Sea on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72)

NOTE: The New Year’s Day deck log is a longstanding U.S. Navy tradition, in which a Sailor on watch pens his or her reflections in verse, which the watch stander on duty at midnight then enters into the deck log. For more on this tradition, see this article from Naval History and Heritage Command.

As another year comes to an end,
Sailors reflect on the past
And how it all began.

COMPTUEX was the first chapter
Of our long extended adventure.
Countless Surprise GQs and neverending
EMCON conditions
Were the ship’s main ambition.

But together through it all
All the Sailors stood tall
With acceptance of the fate
The ship was soon going to face.

‘Twas the night before deployment,
And all through the base,
Every Lincoln Sailor packing
Their sea bags and suitcase.
Saying goodbye to families
Because it’s the last day.

6th Fleet was our first stop.
Palma De Mallorca, Spain,
Made our mouths drop.
Such a beautiful place to see—
We wondered what the next port would be.

Duqm 1, Duqm 2, Duqm 3,
Arabian Sea.
Swim call, swim call—
Happy birthday, USS Abraham Lincoln!
The water is welcome to all.

Six short blasts are sounded:
Man overboard man overboard!
The chem light bandit still isn’t found yet.
Extensions upon extensions—
The ship was very much needed.
Missing holidays with family
Everyone felt defeated.

Good morning, Lincoln Nation!
We finally got some information.
We are headed to 7th Fleet,
But first we to clean
Your filthy pollywog feet.

We crossed the equator
And to become a shellback was in favor.
Covered in green slime
And drenched in saltwater of course,
We were accepted into King Neptune’s Court.

As we start off a new year,
Lincoln Sailors are in joy and glee
To what we leave behind in 2019.
Lots of memories and lots of fun,
But what comes next in 2020 has begun.

200101-N-ME568-1001 PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 1, 2020) Quartermaster 3rd Class Ryan Gouger, from Newberg, Ore., enters the ship’s coordinates in the ship’s position log while standing Quartermaster of the Watch on the bridge of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. With Abraham Lincoln as the flagship, deployed strike group assets include staffs and aircraft of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2 and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dan Snow/Released)
200101-N-ME568-1003 PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 1, 2020) Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Kayla Whitcomb, from Springfield, Ill., rings in the new year with 16 bells while standing Boatswain’s Mate of the Watch on the bridge of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. With Abraham Lincoln as the flagship, deployed strike group assets include staffs and aircraft of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2 and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dan Snow/Released)

Best Job I’ve Ever Had

(New Year’s Day 2020 Deck Log Entry)

By Quartermaster 3rd Class Sara Nevison,
Deployed at Sea on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72)

NOTE: The New Year’s Day deck log is a longstanding U.S. Navy tradition, in which a Sailor on watch pens his or her reflections in verse, which the watch stander on duty at midnight then enters into the deck log. For more on this tradition, see this article from Naval History and Heritage Command.

As another year comes to an end,
Sailors reflect on the past
And how it all began.

COMPTUEX was the first chapter
Of our long extended adventure.
Countless Surprise GQs and neverending
EMCON conditions
Were the ship’s main ambition.

But together through it all
All the Sailors stood tall
With acceptance of the fate
The ship was soon going to face.

‘Twas the night before deployment,
And all through the base,
Every Lincoln Sailor packing
Their sea bags and suitcase.
Saying goodbye to families
Because it’s the last day.

6th Fleet was our first stop.
Palma De Mallorca, Spain,
Made our mouths drop.
Such a beautiful place to see—
We wondered what the next port would be.

Duqm 1, Duqm 2, Duqm 3,
Arabian Sea.
Swim call, swim call—
Happy birthday, USS Abraham Lincoln!
The water is welcome to all.

Six short blasts are sounded:
Man overboard man overboard!
The chem light bandit still isn’t found yet.
Extensions upon extensions—
The ship was very much needed.
Missing holidays with family
Everyone felt defeated.

Good morning, Lincoln Nation!
We finally got some information.
We are headed to 7th Fleet,
But first we to clean
Your filthy pollywog feet.

We crossed the equator
And to become a shellback was in favor.
Covered in green slime
And drenched in saltwater of course,
We were accepted into King Neptune’s Court.

As we start off a new year,
Lincoln Sailors are in joy and glee
To what we leave behind in 2019.
Lots of memories and lots of fun,
But what comes next in 2020 has begun.

200101-N-ME568-1001 PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 1, 2020) Quartermaster 3rd Class Ryan Gouger, from Newberg, Ore., enters the ship’s coordinates in the ship’s position log while standing Quartermaster of the Watch on the bridge of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. With Abraham Lincoln as the flagship, deployed strike group assets include staffs and aircraft of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2 and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dan Snow/Released)
200101-N-ME568-1003 PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 1, 2020) Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Kayla Whitcomb, from Springfield, Ill., rings in the new year with 16 bells while standing Boatswain’s Mate of the Watch on the bridge of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. With Abraham Lincoln as the flagship, deployed strike group assets include staffs and aircraft of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2 and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dan Snow/Released)

Then and Now: Midway and Submarine Force

By Rear Adm. Blake Converse, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet

“When I assumed command of the Pacific Fleet on 31 December 1941, our submarines were already operating against the enemy, the only units of the fleet that could come to grips with the Japanese for months to come. It was to the submarine force that I looked to carry the load. It is to the everlasting honor and glory of our submarine personnel that they never failed us in our days of great peril.” — Adm. Chester Nimitz, Commander, U.S. Pacific

Midway, a feature-length film scheduled for release on November 8, tells the story of the Sailors who fought so bravely in June 1942 to thwart the Japanese attack at Midway.  This retelling comes at a critical time for our Navy and our nation. Seeing the Battle of Midway on the big screen serves as a reminder of the critical importance of a strong and combat ready Navy to the security of our Nation. 

As you walk the historic submarine piers of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, you see visceral reminders of the beginning of the war and its conclusion – the memorial to USS Arizona (BB-39), which was sunk in the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the battleship USS Missouri (BB-61), on which the peace agreement was signed in Tokyo Harbor to end the war. Adm. Nimitz also walked on these piers during WWII and witnessed both the devastation of the Pearl Harbor attack and the unparalleled industriousness of our Navy and civilian work force as they recovered from that attack, rebuilt our Navy, and set sail to take the fight to the enemy at the Battle of Midway.   

In May 1942, the submarine USS Nautilus (SS 168), under the command of Lt. Cmdr. William Brockman Jr., departed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, for her first war patrol. Her mission was to search for the Japanese fleet sailing for Midway, and she succeeded.  USS Nautilus assisted in leading U.S. aircraft directly to the Japanese carrier Hiryu and harassing the enemy while our aircraft ravaged the Japanese Fleet. USS Nautilus survived 42 depth charges, several of her torpedoes failed to detonate, and Japanese aircraft and ships spotted her multiple times, forcing Nautilus to dive and evade multiple times. Yet, despite these challenges, the crew’s efforts were critical to the success of the battle and resulted in Brockman receiving the Navy Cross for the Battle of Midway.  

USS Nautilus (SS-168) underway, March 1933. (U.S. National Archives photo.)

U.S. submarines would go on to take the fight to the Japanese across the Pacific, wreaking havoc on the critical maritime supply routes that supported their industry, and ravaging their warships. Although submarines only made up only 2% of our entire Navy during WWII, they sank 30% of Japanese warships and 55% of Japanese merchant ships.  

But this wartime effort was not without significant sacrifice. The U.S. submarine force experienced some of the highest casualty rates of any force in WWII. A foundational part of our training as submariners is the study of this legacy of sacrifice and commitment in the face of the enemy. In this training, we make it a point to ensure that today’s submariners recognize that even though we eventually achieved victory, we were not ready for unrestricted submarine warfare when we entered the fight after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Our weapons were erratic, our tactics unrefined, and our training inadequate to the task. Yes, we eventually overcame each of these obstacles to halt the Japanese advance and set the conditions for victory in the Pacific, but there is no guarantee that the pace of future combat operations will forgive such a lack of foresight and preparation. We have to be ready to deploy and sustain high-end combat operations with little or no warning – and today we exercise that every single day in our Submarine Force. 

USS Tang (SS 306) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, Dec.2, 1943. (Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.)

Last month, we celebrated the return of USS Olympia (SSN 717), our oldest Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine, from her final deployment. Olympia completed a circumnavigation of the earth, transiting both the Panama Canal and Suez Canal, and conducting operations in the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean. Shortly after USS Olympia’s successful return, we welcomed home one of our newest Virginia class fast attack submarines, USS Illinois (SSN 786), who returned to Pearl Harbor from her first deployment. She was the first Block II Virginia-class submarine to ever deploy to the Indo-Pacific region, during which, the crew completed a full spectrum of operations to support the highest priority tasking.

USS Illinois (SSN 786) departs Groton, Connecticut to conduct sea trials. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of General Dynamics Electric Boat.)

We are in an era of great power competition. Utilizing the strength, determination, and lessons learned from those brave submariners before us, we will continue to be first to the fight, just like at Midway. We are trained, equipped, and ready to fight tonight because we have not forgotten our past.  

Editor’s Note: The four-part “Then and Now” NavyLive blog series is presented so interested audience members have an idea of what’s changed, and what has not, since the famed Battle of Midway. As the nation faces the Great Power Competition, “Midway” is an authentic representation of the Pacific in the opening months of WWII and can help people understand the value we provide today, and honors the toughness, initiative, integrity and accountability that are Sailors’ core attributes. The movie reflects the extraordinary determination and courage of those who fought in WWII, and showcases how the Navy team worked together then, as we do today.

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)

Remembering the Battle of Midway

By Rear Adm. Roy Kelley

Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic

If time travel were possible, it would be interesting to go back and watch the Battle of Midway unfold. Sitting in the radio room, I could listen to pilots give updates on the position of the Japanese fleet. Then I would make my way to the flight deck and stand in awe watching Navy Avengers and Wildcats launch and recover. How amazing it would be to see and hear firsthand the actions of brave Sailors who literally reshaped history and the world as we know it today.

As a member of the Naval Air Force Atlantic team, the Battle of Midway is especially close to my heart because of the incredible impact it had on the Navy, Naval aviation and the evolution of how we conduct war from the sea.

Battle of Midway, June 1942. Torpedo Squadron Six (VT-6) TBD-1 aircraft are prepared for launching on USS Enterprise (CV-6) at about 0730-0740 , June 4, 1942.Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

From 1942 to 2019, over the course of 77 years, many aspects of naval warfare have evolvedbut some things remain resolute. During World War II, the aircraft carrier and its embarked air wing replaced the battleship as the most powerful naval offensive weapons system; that tide has not shifted.

It is amazing to see aircraft carriers are just as strategically vital to our nation’s defense now as then. While the concept of launching and recovering aircraft at sea has remained the same, the capability and lethality of our flattops has changed enormously.

The carriers at Midway were 820 feet long and dependent on oilers for fuel. Modern carriers are nearly 1,100 feet long and run on nuclear power. They can remain at sea for 25 years before needing to refuel.

As for our aircraft, the evolution is striking. Modern jets and helicopters have an increased lethality and can conduct a much wider range of missions, to include anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, search and rescue, precision strike, offensive and defensive counter-air and many others.

One area where you would find little difference, however, is the quality of our men and women serving in uniform. From the Revolutionary War through the Battle of Midway to our ships deployed around the world today, our Sailors transcend time, passing pride, patriotism and professionalism from one generation to the next.

Those serving today are a direct reflection of the Sailors that stood on the bridge, worked on the flight decks and sat in the cockpit of aircraft taking off from USS Yorktown, USS Enterprise and USS Hornet in June 1942. I have no doubt that just like their predecessors, these dedicated and extremely bright men and women will lead the next “greatest generation.”

In 1942, our Navy was the only thing standing between freedom and tyranny. And ironically, today we are facing similar global threats around the world.

 

GULF OF ALASKA (May 25, 2019) The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) transits the Gulf of Alaska. Theodore Roosevelt is conducting routine operations in the Eastern Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erick A. Parsons/Released)

Our fleet of 11 aircraft carriers have traveled millions of miles across the world’s oceans to fight our adversaries, deter aggression and ensure international waters remain free. Our current adversaries may be flying a different flag than those in 1942, but their intent to restrict access and intimidate other nations on the high seas is something we have seen before.

The aircraft carrier proved its worth at Midway. And today and for decades to come, our Nimitz- and Ford-class carriers will remain the backbone of the fleet.

Three U.S. Navy aircraft carriers at Midway turned the tide of the war in the Pacific. Today, at this moment, we have four carriers at sea: Lincoln, Reagan, Truman and Eisenhower. Each is manned by our nation’s best, prepared to take the fight to our enemies and ensure tyranny remains far from our shores.

For those who served at the Battle of Midway, we thank you for stepping forward to defend our great nation. For those who gave their lives during this historic engagement, your sacrifice was not in vain and will forever be rememberedespecially by your shipmates in Naval aviation.

The Union Jack is Back

 

“Today across the Navy, at morning colors, ships are hoisting the traditional Union Jack. A version of this Jack that flew in ports throughout the Pacific as the Navy island hopped its way across that vast ocean and in the Atlantic as it supported operations to liberate the European continent. It’s deeply connected to our maritime heritage and our rise as a global nation and our continued role as a global superpower.” – CNO ADMIRAL JOHN M. RICHARDSON at the Battle of Midway Sea of White Commemoration – June 4th, 2019

 

Stories:

Navy Returns to Flying Union Jack  2/21/2019 – Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs

 

Photos from Around the Fleet 

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NORFOLK, Va. (June 4, 2019) Airman Khaila Williams, from Jacksonville Fla., left, and Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Aaron Fox, from Greenbrier, Ark., hoist the Union Jack on the flag staff aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Ike is currently in the basic phase of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Brianna Thompson)

 

Electronics Technician (Radio) 3rd Class Ronald Champion, from Los Angeles, unfurls the Union Jack during morning colors aboard USS Chicago (SSN 721) June 4, 2019. Nearly all ships and craft throughout the U.S. Navy displayed the Union Jack in lieu of the First Navy Jack in commemoration of the greatest naval battle in history, the Battle of Midway, which began this day in 1942. The change re-establishes the custom in which the commissioned ship in active status having the longest total period of active status, other than USS Constitution will display the First Navy Jack until decommissioned or transferred to inactive status. Home ported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Chicago is the 34th Los Angels-class nuclear powered attack submarine and was commissioned on September 27, 1986. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Patrick Dille)

 

190604-GZ947-0134 PEARL HARBOR (June 4, 2019) Quartermaster Seaman Apprentice Jacob Wenzel, from Saginaw, Mich., walks away after raising the union jack aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93). The union jack hasn’t been flown on U.S. ships since May 31, 2002 but was reintroduced in coordination with the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Midway. The union jack, comprising the national ensign’s blue field and white stars, was first adopted on June 14, 1777. At this time, the jack’s blue field only displayed the 13 stars representing the union of the original 13 American colonies. The number of stars on the jack was periodically updated as the United States expanded. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Rodriguez Santiago/Released)

 

190604-GZ947-0097 PEARL HARBOR (June 4, 2019) Quartermaster Seaman Apprentice Jacob Wenzel, from Saginaw, Mich., raises the union jack aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93). The union jack hasn’t been flown on U.S. ships since May 31, 2002, but was reintroduced in coordination with the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Midway. The union jack, comprising the national ensign’s blue field and white stars, was first adopted on June 14, 1777. At this time, the jack’s blue field only displayed the 13 stars representing the union of the original 13 American colonies. The number of stars on the jack was periodically updated as the United States expanded. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Rodriguez Santiago/Released)
190604-N-RQ450-0020 NORFOLK (Jun. 4, 2019) Quartermaster Seaman Trevor Gilchrist prepares to unfold the Union Jack during morning colors on the flight deck aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Harry S. Truman is currently moored at Naval Station Norfolk conducting targeted maintenance and trainings, and remains operationally ready. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Victoria Sutton/Released)

 

BOSTON (June 4, 2019) The union jack flies on USS Constitution’s jack staff. Navy ships and craft resumed flying the union jack June 4, 2019 to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, and will continue to fly the flag to recommit to the core attributes of integrity, accountability, initiative and toughness during this new era of competition

 

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BOSTON (June 4, 2019) The union jack flies on USS Constitution’s jack staff. Navy ships and craft resumed flying the union jack June 4, 2019 to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, and will continue to fly the flag to recommit to the core attributes of integrity, accountability, initiative and toughness during this new era of competition. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Casey Scoular/Released)

 

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NORFOLK, Va. (June 4, 2019) Airman Khaila Williams, from Jacksonville Fla., left, and Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Aaron Fox, from Greenbrier, Ark., prepare to hoist the Union Jack on the flag staff aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Ike is currently in the basic phase of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Brianna Thompson)

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The_Jack_is_Back.mp4

In case you missed it: “Today across the Navy, at morning colors, ships are hoisting the traditional Union Jack … it’s deeply connected to our maritime heritage and our rise as a global nation and our continued role as a global superpower.” – Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson

Posted by U.S. Navy on Wednesday, June 5, 2019

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.