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Category Archives: WWII

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.

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.

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.