1942

CAPT John W. Crawford, Jr. '42, USN (Ret.) Shares a Sea Story (YouTube) 
The Great Gray Ships of '98
A Tale of Two USNA 1942 Class Rings
A Seaman's Essay: Gene Farrell on Jim Osborn
One Marine, One Ship Postscript
Don't Give Up the Ship
USS Silversides' Great Eighth
Missing the Tide
A Just-in-Time Rescue at Sea
The Strike that Ended the Viet Nam War
Pearl Harbor Revisited
Fighting World War II In A World War I Submarine
For Those In Peril On The Sea
Sea Story - Rear Admiral "Whitey" Feightner
34 Hours of Old Shakey
Prisoners On Board a Submarine During World War II
Lack Of Air Support For The Brown Water Navy And Civilian Authority Over The Military
Seagoing Surprise
A Defining Moment
Distorting Intelligence "The Missile Gap"
Submarine Vs. Submarine
One-Shot Dutchman
Admiral Arleigh Burke And Me
South China Sea Episode
Rickover In Print
MacArthur and Me
Befriending The Enemy
Sinking A Special Submarine
Don't Give Up The Ship
An Unsung '42 Hero
The Parson's Bible
A "Cool" Fighter Pilot
Naval Gunfire Support In Vietnam
Six Loaded Guns
Dog Days at Ko-Roc

 

The Great Gray Ships of '98 

(And the Men Who Made them Great)

By Rear Admiral Eugene Farrell, USN (Ret.)

The twilight of the 19th century highlighted the dawn of America as a world power, a remarkable resurgence within the span of one generation, following the devastation of a brutal Civil War. To reach that lofty status, the United States owed its good fortune to the timely convergence of several factors, not the least of which were the bountiful energy, inventiveness and ingenuity of a generation of American industrialists and the vision of the young nation’s leaders. At the forefront of the latter were a bold and decisive Acting Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and five prominent, reform-oriented Navy officers. The vigorous application of their outstanding leadership, intellectual capital and professional expertise in the arts of strategy, diplomacy and warfare, and in the specialties of steam engineering, ordnance and ship design, transformed their moribund Service from a state of postwar decadence to a war fighting machine on a par with the navies of the Great Powers. Those five renowned officers, Isherwood, Luce, Dewey, Mahan and Sampson, stood above and beyond their peers, concentrating their potential into a common synergism to forge a maritime superiority that virtually overnight changed America from an insular republic into a fledging empire. All but one were Naval Academy graduates. Following are brief resumes of who they were and what they did to promote American sea power and create for the Navy a fleet heralded by a contemporary American poet as “The Great Gray Ships”.

Rear Admiral Benjamin F. Isherwood, founder of the Bureau of Steam Engineering, was the forceful advocate of ship propulsion by steam, vice sail, in the Navy’s transition from wooden sailing ships to faster steam powered propeller driven iron ships capable of mounting the evolving batteries of large caliber rifled guns. In 1859, his exhaustive thermodynamic experiments culminated in the important discovery of enthalpy, a measure of latent energy in a closed steam cycle. To exploit this discovery, Isherwood designed steam machinery to extract more of that energy, thus enhancing the efficiency and horsepower of ship propulsion systems. He published the results of his experiments in the two-volume Engineering Precedents for Steam Machinery. By then, having already published 55 technical and scientific articles in the prestigious Journal of the Franklin Institute, Isherwood was America’s most prolific technical writer. During the Civil War, as Engineer-in-Chief of the Navy, he conducted the design and manufacture of steam machinery necessary to grow the Navy’s fleet of steamships from 28 to 600. At the same time, he ran afoul of Admiral David Dixon Porter for leading a campaign to increase the rank and influence of engineering officers in the Navy. Porter banished him to the Mare Island Navy Yard. There, despite his diminished stature, Isherwood continued to produce technical innovations. During the early 1870s, he conducted experiments resulting in the design of a propeller used by the Navy for the remainder of the 19th century. (Wikipedia Encyclopedia).

The active duty career of Rear Admiral Stephen Bleecker Luce (USNA-1847) spanned 41 years. His most enduring legacy was his inspiring leadership during the “doldrums years” following the Civil War when he was to see the Navy decline from a state of high supremacy to one of marked insignificance. With uncommon vision and matchless zeal he rescued the officers and sailors from the slippery slope of inactivity and discouragement by implementing spirited programs of training and education throughout the Fleet. Luce was a teacher and a doer who excelled at both, thus elevating the tradition of seamanship higher than ever before. He was a master at judging character and professional potential among those he mentored, and enlisting them as disciples in his tireless campaign. Arguably, the greatest achievement of his life was the founding of the Naval War College on October 6, 1884, the first institution of its kind anywhere in the world. (Makers of Naval Tradition – Carroll and Earle).

Alfred Thayer Mahan, (USNA 1859), was considered rather ordinary among his peers until 1885 when Rear Admiral Luce, first president of the Naval War College, arranged to have him ordered from command of the USS Wachusett (then at Callao, seaport of Lima, Peru) to New York for studies at the Astor Library and the New York Public Library in preparation for his lectures at the Naval War College commencing in September 1886. This detailing heralded an astonishing escalade in Mahan’s otherwise unremarkable career. However, it should be noted that he was no dummy. His academic savvy was outstanding. With uncommon ease, he passed the Naval Academy entrance examination for Third Classmen, skipping Plebe Year entirely, and graduating in three years. He joined an officer corps still steeped in the traditions and tactics of sail. His Civil War assignments offered scant opportunity for heroism or fame. Indeed, blockade duty off Charleston, SC, and later Sabine Pass, TX, gave him time to reflect on the constitution of a postwar Navy and its strategic role in international relations. The quality and analytic depth of his future writings, his world view of naval strategy, and his advocacy of steam powered warships to implement it were fruits of a penetrating mind, prodigious study of history and plain old-fashioned thought, much of which he owed to the guidance and mentoring of Luce, twelve years his senior. Upon Mahan’s arrival in New York, Luce informed him that his assignment to the War College was to work in two areas, fleet battle tactics and history. This work became his lectures. Five years later, it resulted in his world-famous book, The Influence of Sea Power on History 1660-1783. After eight years at the Naval War College, Mahan was detached for sea duty in command of the new cruiser, USS CHICAGO. He retired in 1896, but two years later when the Spanish-American War began he was recalled to active duty in Washington to serve briefly on the Naval War Board. Then, for fourteen more years, he completed other assignments in Washington, at the Naval War College and the Hague Peace Conference. In retrospect, Mahan’s influence on naval and national affairs was substantial and enduring. Besides his advocacy for a rejuvenated navy of modern, steam powered warships, he was a diplomat and the most prolific Navy author of his age. If Luce taught the Navy to think, Mahan taught it to study and write. (1.Ibid; 2.Sailors and Scholars - Hattendorf, Simpson & Wadleigh)).

Admiral George Dewey (USNA 1858), a disciple and protégé of Admiral David Farragut, was the foremost battle-hardened warrior of his generation. In a fortuitous decision, Acting Secretary of the Navy, Franklin Roosevelt, appointed him Commander of the Far Eastern Squadron with the rank of Commodore in the autumn of 1897, a time when two contradictable international situations confronted the United States. They were the growing tension with Spain over her brutal repression of Cuban colonists, and the American policy of isolation from world affairs. Roosevelt, with uncommon prescience, cabled Dewey these instructions on February 25, 1898: “Keep full of coal. In event of declaration of war (with) Spain, your duty will be to see that Spanish squadron does not leave the Asiatic coast, and then offensive operations in the Philippine Islands.” On April 25th after the Congress authorized the President to begin hostilities, Roosevelt cabled Dewey: “Proceed at once to Philippine Islands. Commence operations particularly against the Spanish fleet. You must capture vessels or destroy. Use utmost endeavor.” Being in the right place at the right time, Dewey struck the first blow of the war. With his force of two gunboats and four cruisers, the best of them his fast and heavily armed flagship, USS OLYMPIA, he entered Manila Bay at dawn, May 1st, and opened fire on Admiral Montojo’s flotilla and its covering shore batteries on Cavite. By noon, the latter were silenced and every Spanish ship sunk, burned or abandoned. The only American casualties were 7 men slightly wounded. When word of Dewey’s spectacular victory reached American shores, the “Hero of Manila Bay” became an instant celebrity and was glorified like no other naval officer of his time. Very soon, he was promoted to the grade of rear admiral and, in March 1899, to admiral, the third officer in our Navy’s history, after David Dixon Porter and David Glasgow Farragut, to wear four stars. (A History of Sea Power - Stevens & Westcott).

Rear Admiral William Thomas Sampson inherited a brilliant an eminently scientific mind. Graduating first in his USNA Class of 1861, he earned a special commendation for his proficiency in physics and engineering. In the decades that followed, He excelled in two diverse professions: outstanding scientist and equally outstanding line officer. Few officers in the history of our Navy have possessed that rare gift to the extent that Sampson did. After completing successive assignments ashore and afloat, he was detailed as Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance, where he had much to do with the general design of the new battleships and cruisers being constructed for the Navy’s revival. Additionally, he had absolute responsibility for the gun batteries, ammunition, armor, turrets and barbettes of these ships. The magnitude of this daunting challenge can only be appreciated when it is understood that naval ordnance had slept for 20 years following the Civil War era of smoothbore muzzle loading cannons and black powder. As a scientist, Sampson’s mastery of physics, chemistry and metallurgy empowered him to lead the big leap to breech loading rifled guns, smokeless powder and armor-piercing projectiles. The year 1897 found him still a captain and in command of the battleship USS IOWA assigned to the North Atlantic Squadron, based at Key West. In his senior years, Sampson’s resume is so interwoven with the Spanish-American War of 1898 that neither can be viewed separately. Accordingly, the remainder of this essay is focused on that brief conflict, its world-changing consequences, and the role Sampson and a new generation of warships played in the conflict.

The arrival of 1898 coincided with four sequential events that inverted to this day the isolationist, non-intervention policy of the United States and profoundly impacted Sampson’s career. First, on February 15th an explosion of unknown origin blew up the American battleship MAINE in Havana harbor, killing 266 of her crew and igniting a tsunami of indignation that swept over the entire U.S. Second, on April 11th President McKinley asked the Congress for the right to intervene in the Cuban rebellion of 1895 and received its enthusiastic consent in the form of a resolution declaring Cuba free and independent, asserting the right of the United States to demand that Spain relinquish the island. Third, when word of the resolution reached Madrid on April 24th, Spain declared war on the United States. Fourth, on April 25th the United States resolved that a state of war had existed with Spain since April 21st.

In the midst of those momentous events Rear Admiral Montgomery Sicard, Commander of the North Atlantic Squadron, was diagnosed with a disability that required his imminent retirement. Although the Navy’s flag roster listed several rear admirals qualified to command the squadron, Navy Secretary Long passed over them, selected and frocked Captain Simpson to relieve Sicard as a rear admiral.

Hardly had Sampson broken his two-star flag in the armored cruiser, USS NEW YORK, flagship of the North Atlantic Squadron, when Mr. Long directed him to blockade Cuba to deny the landing of Spanish garrison reinforcements, munitions and supplies from the mother country. By April 22nd, Sampson had placed his forces off Havana and established a close blockade over 100 miles of Cuba’s north coast. His chief concern was the whereabouts and destination of Spanish Admiral Pascual Cervera’s squadron of warships somewhere in the Atlantic enroute to the Caribbean. The wily Cervera eluded the blockade and on May 15th sailed unchallenged into Santiago Bay, a harbor on Cuba’s southern coast one thousand miles from Sampson’s forces.

Sampson reasoned, correctly, that once the Spanish squadron was drawn into battle and defeated, the war with Spain would be over. He brought his squadron to Santiago on June 1st and instituted a close blockade, deploying his major units under steam and oriented toward the entrance in a carefully planned disposition to intercept and engage any ships of the Spanish squadron daring to elude the blockade. A comparison of the opposing forces is instructive.

A paper scrutiny of the war fighting resources of the opposing navies revealed no decisive superiority of either, leading even competent critics like British Admiral Colomb to prophesy that the Spanish fleet of one battleship, five armored cruisers and numerous destroyers would hold Sampson’s squadron to a stalemate. What the Admiral and other foreign observers ignored was the difference between the offensive capabilities, training and war readiness of the combatants. To prosecute its declaration of war against the United States, Spain could muster only four cruisers and two destroyers for deployment to the Caribbean. All were in a poor state of material readiness and none was manned by a full complement of well-trained crew. Furthermore, Cervera had no plan for the campaign. His urgent requests to his Minister of Marine evoked this pitiful response, “In these moments of international crisis no definite plans can be formulated.” (1. A History of Sea Power – Stevens and Wescott; 2. Makers of Naval Tradition – Alden and Earle).

By contrast, Sampson had a plan and enjoyed competent support and guidance from his government. His ships were battle-ready and their crews superbly trained. Cervera’s puny squadron was no match against the two armored cruisers BROOKLYN and NEW YORK and the five new battleships, IOWA, INDIANA, MASSACHUSETTS, TEXAS and OREGON, which had just arrived in time for battle following her epic voyage of 14,700 nautical miles around the Horn from Puget Sound. (Ibid.)

The Battle of Santiago was precipitated July 3, 1898, by a preemptive order to Cervera from Spanish Governor General Blanco in Havana to put to sea at once. Like a good soldier the Admiral dutifully obeyed, knowing full well that he was leading his fleet out to certain slaughter. Nevertheless, he sortied at 0930 in his flagship, Maria Teresa, followed by the other three cruisers Vizcaya, Cristobal Colon, Oquendo and the destroyers Furor and Pluton, each turning westward at flank speed. None escaped the deadly concentration of fire from the American battle line. Less than four hours later every Spanish ship was sunk, grounded or scuttled. There is hardly a record in naval history of such complete destruction. Of 2300 Spanish officers and crewmen, 1813 were rescued by the Americans, 350 died in battle and the rest escaped. The American casualties were one man killed and another wounded on the BROOKLYN. (Ibid.)

As Sampson had predicted, the Battle of Santiago ended the war. The military forces in Santiago capitulated thirteen days later and, on 12 August, a protocol of peace was signed in Paris. By its terms Puerto Rico, Guam and (for $20 million) the Philippine Islands were ceded to the United States. Cuba was granted independence under the protection of the United States. Rarely has an officer been so thoroughly identified with defeat of a sovereign nation as was Sampson with the surrender of Spain. One writer expressed his view of Sampson’s victory in this tenor, “Santiago was the logical fruition of plans which his own genius had devised and set in motion; that is, it was won by officers whom he had drilled, on ships that he had constructed and armored, equipped with arms he had built.” (Makers of Naval Tradition – Alden and Earle).

In addition to transforming the United States from an insular nation to a world power with sovereign interests far beyond its domestic borders, The Spanish American War infused a spirit of unity and healing in a population lately divided by a brutal civil war. To the southern states in particular, it was a catharsis for the humiliating defeat and postwar occupation, enforced by the Union Army during the Reconstruction era. With the nation threatened by a common foe for the first time since 1812, regional resentments born of the Civil War were overshadowed by patriotism, inspiring southerners and “yankees” alike to stand shoulder to shoulder to defeat the enemy as they have in every war since 1898.

After winning the Battle of Santiago, the North Atlantic Squadron steamed in impressive column to New York City on August 20, 1898, hailed by the jubilant applause of an estimated 1 million animated spectators lining the east bank of the Hudson from Battery Point to Grant’s Tomb. Standing among them was Guy Witmore Carryl, a contemporary American humorist and poet. Mr. Carryl was so inspired by the sight and sounds of the cheering multitudes, the majestic ships and the victory they had won that he composed the stirring verses of this poem.

When the Great Gray Ships Come In

Ah, in the sweet hereafter Columbia still shall show
The sons of these who swept the seas
How she bade them rise and go....
How, when the stirring summons smote her children’s ear,
South and North at the call stood forth,
And the whole land answered, “Here!”

Yes, it is good to battle, and good to be strong and free,
To carry the hearts of a people to the uttermost ends of the sea.
And the people wait at the haven’s gate
To greet the men who win!
Thank God for peace! Thank God for peace,
When the great gray ships come in.

 

A Tale of Two USNA 1942 Class Rings

By Rear Admiral Eugene Farrell, USN (Ret.) '42

I have often declared that, besides being born, the best thing in this life that ever happened to me was to be admitted to, and graduated from, the United States Naval Academy. As a Midshipman, I adored the venerable institution, marveled at the architectural splendor of its magnificent buildings, enjoyed marching daily to and from classes through the beautiful yard, and on Worden Field for Wednesday’s dress parades. Throughout seven decades from Second Class Year to December 10, 2010, my class ring served as a reminder of my good fortune and a fitting symbol of the pride instilled in my soul by the “Annapolis Experience”. 

The beloved ring almost cost me a finger in 1967 while I was mooring my ship, the USS NORTHAMPTON, to Pier 6, NOB Norfolk. As I stepped down from the conning station on the flying bridge, the ring caught on the rail, suspending the full weight of my body on the ring finger, ripping the under finger flesh from the palm of my left hand  to the finger knuckle, exposing the tendons and finger-to-palm bone joint. My Exec, Commander Zimmerman, ordered the ship’s surgeon to report to the bridge on the double with four HMs and a stretcher. Overkill. I still had work to do. Gripping a wadded handkerchief tightly in my left hand to staunch the bleeding, I finished mooring the ship then walked to the sickbay where the doctor examined the injury and tried unsuccessfully to remove the ring. Then he announced that he would have to cut the ring to get it off.  I vetoed that option and with a little help from liquid soap, removed it myself. The doctor then ordered an ambulance to convey me to Portsmouth Naval Hospital. More overkill, I thought, but he knew better. The hospital surgeons gave me a tetanus shot, cleaned up the wound, sutured it, and bound the finger in a rigid stint to immobilize it until it healed.  After that, the finger regained 90% of its original dexterity, but the traumatized knuckle never returned to is original size sufficiently to accommodate the ring. 

Six months later, during a port visit to New York City, my enterprising Supply Officer, LCDR Ronald Michael Del Duca, USNA ’57, a varsity Navy footballer who had contacts at Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue, took the ring to its original source to be resized. Tiffany’s did more than resize it. They melted it down, recast it in the original die and added a new setting. Sadly, on December 10, 2010, the ring, still looking new, was stolen. Detectives contacted every pawn shop and jeweler in La Jolla, where I live, and in the greater San Diego area, all to no avail. Tiffany’s, I learned, no longer had the die. Bailey Banks & Biddle had the 1942 miniature ring die as late as 1998, but never the die for the class ring itself. I gave up the quest and relinquished all hope of replacing the ring. I felt downhearted as if a part of me were gone forever. The lingering sadness persisted for months until early May, 2011, when Travis Tabor IV, son of our late classmate Captain Travis Tabor III, provided our ’42 Class President, Ken Simmons, the sad news of the passing of Sue Tabor, his mother and widow of Travis  III.

Captain Simmons dutifully notified the ‘42 Class Family and e-mailed Sue’s obituary, which Travis IV had furnished him, to all of us.   After considerable soul-searching, I tactfully inquired of Travis IV what disposition had been made of his father’s class ring when he passed away in 1964. I explained that my inquiry was prompted by the theft of my ring and that my options for replacing it had diminished to the possibility that a ’42 widow, or other family survivors who may have inherited a deceased classmate’s ring, might be willing to consider selling it to another classmate for market price.  Secretly, I prayed that Travis would not be offended by my inquiry. He wasn’t. The gist of his prompt reply was that his mother had given him the ring long ago, and that he had never considered having it enlarged to fit his finger. Furthermore, he added that he believed in his heart that his Dad would love someone from the Class of ’42 to have the ring he cherished for so many years.

On June 6, 2011, I became the proud and happy steward of the ring, thanks to the caring thoughtfulness of a beloved classmate’s son. I immediately took it to an expert craftsman at Leo Hamil Jewelry who did a masterful job of resizing and restoration of the ring to its original beauty and elegance.

At this juncture, it is appropriate to quote, in part, Travis Tabor IV’s eloquent letter enclosed with the ring when he shipped it to me:

“I can’t begin to express the pride I felt that my father’s precious Naval Academy Ring for 1942 will find the finger of one of his classmates, and (be) worn again with the same dignity that he always showed for the Navy.”

I owe Trav my enduring gratitude. He is a true Southern gentleman, and a distinct credit to his distinguished father and all his Tabor ancestors.

A Seaman's Essay: Gene Farrell on Jim Osborn

By Rear Admiral Eugene Farrell, USN (Ret.) '42

Jim Osborn's Rite de Passage to Command of a Boomer

James Butler Osborn (Oz) was, in Midshipmen jargon, a savoir (read "savvy") in the Class of 1942 USNA, a fact I discovered early on as one of a dozen classmates in Oz's differential calculus section. After marching to our assigned classroom, the routine was for the prof to offer a few pedagogical explanations about the day's lesson assignment, then order "Gentlemen, draw slips and man the boards." A bowl on the prof's desk contained a variety of different slips, each dictating a problem or equation to be solved. Once you had your slip, you went to a vacant blackboard, chalked your name and section number thereon, solved the problem to the best of your ability, then faced inboard and stood at parade rest until the prof checked the solution and dismissed you to return to your seat.

I customarily read the slip first, then mentally planned the solution while writing my name and section number on the board. Invariably, by the time I had done that, my peripheral vision revealed Oz facing inboard at parade rest, having solved his problem before anyone else.

Following our December 19, 1941, graduation Oz and I pursued separate career paths, he in submarines, I in battleships, cruisers and destroyers. As Commanders in 1957, we came together again, students in the Senior Naval Warfare Course at the Naval War College in Newport, RI. His first term thesis, a brilliant plan for a retaliatory nuclear strike on the Soviet Union, was chosen by the superintendent, a vice admiral aviator, and faculty of senior captains as one of the three best theses submitted by the class of fifty-two students hand picked from the four Military Services and the Foreign Service.

By the spring of 1958 all students knew their slatings for the next duty assignment before receiving their orders. All, that is, except Oz.

It was a weekly routine in those days for BuPers to promulgate a message announcing the most recent change of duty orders issued to senior grade officers, Commanders and above. In April, one such message displayed on the War College bulletin board caught my particular attention because three of the twelve names in the message were those of well-known Class of 1942 officers, Commanders Hal Shear, Jim Osborn and "Pappy" Sims. The orders for them were identical: Report to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) for one day of temporary additional duty on 26 April, 1958, a Saturday.

To me, the significance of those orders was clear. Construction of the first three ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), Patrick Henry, Theodore Roosevelt and George Washington was nearing completion. Osborn, Sims and Shear would be their plank owner skippers, I speculated, provided they could pass muster with Admiral Rickover's staff and the man himself.

Recalling Jim's enviable record of command at sea, I had scant doubt Jim would survive the process. It was he who commanded TUNNY when she successfully conducted the first at-sea launch of REGULUS and POLARIS missiles, rendering him the ideal candidate to command a boomer. No matter, I concluded, whatever faults the critical Rickover might find, even he would be bound to give decisive weight to Jim's undeniable qualifications to clear the lofty bar set by the AEC.

I  hurried to Jim's committee room to congratulate him, and found him deeply submerged in a stack of books, papers, speeches and press releases, the majority of which was written or spoken by Admiral Rickover.

Obviously Jim was salting away in his prolific brain all the information he could glean about the controversial Admiral, and would use it to his advantage in the forthcoming interview.

"Jim", I said, "Suffer me a prediction. You are on the fast track to be among the first Flag Officers of the Class of 1942."

"Ah no, Gene. You don't know the picky ol' Admiral. If there's a way to shoot me down, he'll find it."

Another classmate at the War College was naval aviator Grif Stokes who, like me, already had orders to the Pentagon. Grif and a fellow aviator had reserved a Beechcraft SNB at Quonset Point Naval Air Station for an April 25-27 weekend house-hunting flight to Washington. Jim and I hitched a ride on the flight.

During Sunday's return flight from Anacostia back to Quonset Point, Jim was his usual cheery, loquacious self.. indication that the interview with Admiral Rickover had gone well. I queried him about it. He conveyed the opposite impression.

"Gene, you know me. I tend to go into detail and talk a lot. The staff warned me that if I couldn't answer all the Admiral's questions in fifteen minutes, he would boot me out of his office. I was doing my best to give him the information he asked of me, not watching the clock, when he pounded his fist on the table and exploded.

"Godammit, young man, you have wasted thirty minutes of my time and haven't answered a single question I asked. Get the hell out of here!"

Sequel

Based on subsequent events, it is a safe conclusion that, in this instance, Admiral Rickover's bark exceeded his bite. There can be little doubt that on reflection he saw in Jim all the vital qualifications essential to command the awesome power of a nuclear ballistic missile submarine and, most likely, his own intellectual equal. Jim went on to commission and command George Washington, and deploy her as the first boomer in U.S. Navy history to counter the fearful threat of a Soviet Union nuclear strike on the United States.  Likewise, Jim's submariner peers, Hal Shear and Pappy Sims breezed through the rigid selection process to command Patrick Henry and Theodore Roosevelt respectively, remarkable achievements that did the Class of 1942 USNA proud.

One Marine, One Ship Postscript

By Bob Gibson '42

I recently read a great story (“One Marine, One Ship”) about Colonel Mitchell Paige, US Marine Corp (Ret.) of how the outcome of the war in the Pacific was decisively influenced by a small band of well-trained and dogged Marines and Sailors. It brought back many memories, and I feel impelled to add a postscript.  

I was unfortunate to be one of the officers on the USS Preston, and very fortunate to have survived.  While a great many of our class had combat experiences, and survived, my experience had a few twists that might be of interest.

As a young officer 10 months out of the Academy, I had just made jg, and had also been promoted to Gunnery Officer, because of officer turnover. Since I was so young to be a department head, I felt a lot of responsibility.

I had just taken over the job when we were part of the carrier task force that fought in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands and were attacked by Japanese planes. We became instant veterans.

The next engagement was on November 15, 1942, one of the battles off Guadalcanal in the vicinity of Savo Island.  This action has been described in history books and in your email. The Preston was one of four destroyers escorting the battleships Washington and South Dakota.

Early in the engagement, the Preston was hit amidships by either torpedoes or 8”shells, there still is some disagreement on this point. The ordnance, whatever it was, hit us in the area of the engine and fire rooms and produced a large fireball which rose above the highest point of the mast. The ship rolled over to starboard and sank within minutes.  I was in the gun director, which was open to the skies.  I was briefly trapped as the ship rolled over, but struggled free of the director and started swimming away from the ship to get away from possible depth charge explosions as the ship sank. 

A few minutes later the Washington came plowing through the area, with guns blazing.  It looked like the Empire State building moving at 25 knots. I was dead ahead of the battleship and swam like crazy to keep from being hit.  I figure that I set a new world’s record for swimming in a life vest with a holstered pistol at my waist.

Much to my surprise-and relief- I came upon a life raft which a few other survivors had found.  For years I have wondered who on the Washington had, in all that chaos, the great presence of mind to release their rafts.  Your report identified that person as the executive officer, and finally I know whom to thank when we meet in the afterlife.

The rafts were critical in keeping many of the severely wounded alive. The surviving officers, and I think chief petty officers, had morphine kits, so we could put the wounded in the rafts, administer morphine, and help them as much as we could.  The rafts were also very important in keeping us in groups which made rescue less difficult.  Those of us in reasonably good shape just hung on to the ropes around the rafts and, when fatigued, could get out of the water and sit on the edges.

About 12 to 13 hours after the Preston sank, we were picked by a destroyer that had been sent to the area to look for survivors. We were completely covered with bunker oil from the sunken ships.  As we came aboard, the ship’s crew cut off our clothes and hosed us off with fire hoses.  We spent the next few hours wandering around in our oil-soaked skivvies.  I managed to keep my 45 pistol with me! We were taken to Tulagi Island north-east of Guadalcanal where the US had a small base.  The wounded were immediately taken to the hospital tents for treatment. The rest of us were further cleaned up, fed, issued clean clothes, and housed in tents until we started on the journey back to the States.

Now for the unusual part.A number of our officers were either killed or severely wounded, and one was traumatized.  As a very junior officer, I ended up as the Senior Surviving Officer and was assigned the responsibility of looking after our survivors.  This included determining who had made it and who hadn’t, and in general being the officer in charge.  In addition, a few days later one of Admiral Lee’s staff officers found me and gave me the job of writing the Battle Report of the Preston.  I put together what I could get from the eye witnesses and ended up with a narrative which probably didn’t meet any format requirements of Navy Regs or Orders.

A couple of days after the report was sent to Admiral Lee, I received a message that he wanted to see me about my report.  I was more petrified by the idea of meeting with a real live Admiral than by being shot at.  But I didn’t need to worry; Admiral Lee congratulated me on the report and expressed considerable wonder at how young we all were.

In looking back on this episode, I realized that the training and discipline of the Academy, and the expectation that we all were going to do our best really paid off in unusual times.

Post postscript:   After I retired, Betty (my bride of 67 years of marriage) and I moved to the Palm Springs area.  One day some years ago we got a call from Bob Lim, who was in Los Angeles, who asked if he and Max Munk could come to visit.  The answer, of course, was a resounding affirmative.  They came to our home and, while swapping stories about our war experiences, Max and I realized we were both there during that night action of November 15.  I think he was on the Gwin, and his comment was “When I saw the Preston blow up, I thought no one could have survived."

To say the least, I’m glad he was wrong.

Don't Give Up the Ship

By Buck Catlin '42

I was an enlisted man on a battleship striving to make the top 100 who would receive Fleet appointments to the Naval Academy as midshipmen.  I had enlisted too late to be assigned to the Naval Academy Preparatory Class (NAPC) for the course of instruction that started in the fall of 1937.

Since an applicant was required to have a year of sea duty prior to entry to that Class, I was ineligible.

As a consequence, I decided to try and qualify for assignment directly from the ship to the Academy, bypassing the Prep Class.  In order to pass the Academy entrance exams, I was studying hard in the crew's mess while being a Sixth Division "deck ape" on the USS Nevada.  Gene Farrell, in the Fire Control Division of the ship was my mentor.  He suggested that I try to get an alternate Congressional appointment somewhere that would qualify me for late entry to the NAPC.  A few months of formal classroom study at the Class was what I needed to pass the entrance exam. If I didn't make the Class of 1942, I would have been too old the following year to enter the Naval Academy.

I applied for and took a civil service-run competitive exam from a Florida congressman's district.  Wonder of wonders, I received a first alternate appointment, which entitled me to be assigned to the Prep Class. (My classmate Bill Houser was the principal appointee).

"Not possible at this time," was the Division Officer's response to my request for transfer. (The ship was about to go into anti-aircraft gunnery battle practice.  I was his director talker. He would not release me for the new assignment). Gene told me to talk to the ship's Personnel Yeoman, who agreed to draft a letter for me, addressed directly to the Bureau of Navigation (called the Bureau of Personnel today).  When I signed the letter I remember the yeoman saying, "If it gets back to the ship that you have sent a request directly to the Bureau instead of through the chain of command, your ass will be in the soup!"

A couple of weeks later I received a letter directly from the Bureau, approving my request and authorizing the ship to transfer me to the Preparatory Class. It was signed "BY DIRECTION C. W. NIMITZ, CAPTAIN USN."

I didn't know who this dude NIMITZ was, but two days later I was on my way to the Prep Class and eventually to the Naval Academy - thanks to Gene Farrell, an understanding ship's yeoman and a future five star Navy icon.

This experience taught me always to look beyond bureaucratic structures and procedures in order to get something done. Protocols and procedures, however efficient, often stand in the way. The decision maker must identify the issue first, and then tailor the use of procedures accordingly.  I was fortunate indeed that three such individuals were able to define the issue in my case and then take the actions needed to enable me to enter the Naval Academy.

### USNA 42 Sea Story #18

USS Silversides' Great Eighth

By Gene Mallone '42 

On 4 December 1943 Silversides departed Pearl Harbor for her eighth, and, my second patrol in her. We were proceeding by way of Midway and Wake Islands to our patrol area off Palau. I was exuberant since those were all new to me; and, even more than that, the Yard at Pearl had installed a new high power transmitter for our SJ radar. They had also integrated the first of the expedited delivery of a Plan Position Indicator into our radar system.This would give us the first opportunity to experience the profound impact this instrument was to have on submarine warfare, freeing our boats from the constraints of the depths for high speed, surface night attacks.

My youthful, 23 years, excitement with the PPI dated back a few months. Then, while still in the old USS-31 (SS136), my radar crew and I had made a successful moonlight requisition of a crated PPI on the dock at Noumea, New Caledonia. We cut the device into pieces that would go though the hatch, reassembled and installed it. It worked. We had for the first time installed a PPI in a submarine. It was to change the course of submarine warfare. But that is another story.

After refueling at Midway, sightseeing submerged at Wake, we arrived off Palau in the middle of the night on 21 December. The first contact that afternoon, was a fishing boat too small to torpedo and too close to land to shoot. Several more fishing sampans turned up on into the next day. The locals had to eat. Then just after dawn on the 23rd, smoke and masts of a real ship were sighted. We closed, submerged. Turned out to be a properly marked hospital ship.

Not a very exciting war, so far. But mid afternoon there were smoke and masts and a convoy of 4 or 5 ships headed out the main pass. We were in perfect position to intercept an Empire bound group. The convoy turned the other way and headed south. A couple of other small ships came out and moved quickly along the reef, small and out of range. This patrolling submerged is not a very profitable way to fight. Lots of plotting but no shooting. And so, quietly passed Christmas 1943.

The next day mid-morning the Hospital Ship reappeared from the south and entered the harbor. A couple of hours later I sighted a freighter leaving the dock about 5 miles off. We started a high speed submerged approach to maybe be able to shoot. The best we could close was to 3300 yards. Got off four fish, heard four explosions but were forced to go deep to evade very much aroused patrol boats. Later discovered that we had sunk a 5500 ton freighter. Things seemed much better of a sudden.

The next night while we were surfaced, charging the batteries, the sonar gear picked up propellor noise, nothing on radar nor in sight so turned away from potential midget submarine. The noise came up again, nothing there except suspicion, later verified.


Later, mid-morning, submerged, we picked up a four ship convoy headed away. Sort of another dull day. Then that evening the skipper decided to move offshore on the Palau- Empire line and conduct a surface patrol, if for no other reason than to shut up his nagging radar PPI  puppy.

The next day, surface patrolling was a total nothing. However, just after midnight the radar picked up a large convoy some 15 miles distant heading our way. PPI displayed six ships and three escorts. Silversides went to Battle Stations Night Surface then and there and began surface approach.
This was getting something more like it.

The convoy was arranged in two, three ship columns, with the biggest at the head of the starboard group. Silversides headed in to come in on his bow to get him first. The surface approach took about and hour. The bridge was rapidly getting the pragmatic rationale for installing the plan position indicator. However, the conversion was not quite complete.

The convoy zigged to its right, and there we were dead ahead of the starboard column. A few moments later an escort passed to our starboard at 1500 yards without seeing Silversides. It was very dark and raining topside.
Suddenly the convoy turned toward again, and there we were, number two  in the starboard column, PPI looking like a bullseye with ships all over the place. Then the convoy noticed us, and all hell broke loose with them. Range to nearest ship was less than 700 yards, furthest 2500. Skipper decided to maneuver to a better firing position and shoot to kill.

There were lights blinking, whistles blowing and convoy scattering.
Silversides was also clearing  to get better control of the problem. Fired two torpedos at the closest ship, under-ran target, hit ship in line of ships trying to get away. It was comforting to watch the escort PPI pips converge there and depth charge mightily that chunk of ocean. Looked like one freighter, mistaking us for an escort was following astern, Shot two fish at him, but hit another in the overlapping far bunch.

The starboard column had now fanned out letting us make a more studied approach on the biggest ship, a tanker. Fired three fish, heard three torpedo explosions and watched PPI pip disappear. Started approach on another target. Fired three fish. Saw and heard three torpedo hits. Target slowed down, stopped, appeared to be lower in water, but did not sink. Got another perfect setup and fired another two fish just in time for the target to sink. Two torpedoes wasted. We now had one fish forward, four aft.

Next target had opened by now to five miles. Skipper decided, since dawn was near, to use the forward torpedo. Closed, shot, hit target midships and saw it break in half and disappear from my PPI.

There were now no ships within ten miles. It had been a busy night; fired 16 torpedoes in three hours. Had the sun not been on schedule we would have had more time and the Japanese would have had more ships to mourn.

The next two days were reasonably quiet with several aircraft and anti-submarine ships covering our area. No targets until afternoon the day after New Years, 1944. Silversides became the target. Successfully evaded Japanese submarine torpedoes, and fought our maneuvering room fire. But that's another story.

Two days later picked up two targets at fifteen miles. Identified them as two large tankers and one escort. Tracked and closed, praying that the seas would be calm to give the electric drive torpedoes aft at least some chance. Just past midnight we had reached a nice position with the tankers overlapping. As convoy closed to good firing range, fired all four after tubes. Heard four torpedo explosions; Bridge saw and heard at least one in first ship; seconds later three more sounded like hits. PPI reported the size of the second tanker decreasing, but not disappearing. The escort ran off in the wrong direction dropping depth charges like mad. Silversides opened out to a comfortable distance, weaponless, but still surface tracking. The tankers were still there

We tracked them for six days, 1400 miles from Palau to Truk, sending frantic messages to SubPac trying to get another boat to bring some torpedoes and use them on these ships, then they disappeared into Truk lagoon.

Silversides headed north to Midway. Our most assuredly superb and steel nerved C.O., John S. Coye, USNA 1933, and our great crew had been converted to the necessity for the Plan Position Indicator radar tool. The theft by S-31 from ADM Halsey's flagship, early forgiven, was now vindicated.

I have these many years thanked my guardian spirits that the skipper of USS
S-31 (SS136), Robert F. (Mike) Sellars, USNA 1935, had earlier been Halsey's football coach in Saratoga. Mike's leadership, his vision, wisdom and influence had changed the nature of submarine warfare.

Missing the Tide

by Captain John "Jack" W. Crawford, Jr., USN (Ret.) '42
 
As all seamen know, missing the tide can have dire consequences. And Shakespeare gave poetic expression to the fact that there are tides in the affairs of men, which can lead to good fortune or ill. This story is about a tide, which was missed, and missed very badly.

In the early 1950s things were going very well in the naval nuclear propulsion program. Conducted as a joint program of the Navy and the U.S.Atomic Energy Commission, it was headed in both agencies by RADM H.G.Rickover, USN. The Commission was responsible for all nuclear reactor development funded by the government, both civilian and military. It assigned responsibility for both to a Division of Reactor Development headed by Dr.Lawrence Hafstad. Rickover was Assistant Director, Naval Reactors.

In late 1954 Hafstad resigned to return to General Motors. Rickover's outstanding accomplishments made him the logical choice to succeed Hafstad. But only one of the four serving Commissioners recommended that he be appointed. He was Thomas E.Murray, an engineer, manufacturer, and financier of large reputation. The other three declined to approve the recommendation. Led by Chairman Lewis Strauss, vigorous efforts were made to find someone to take the position --- anyone but Rickover. I know this because I was Murray's assistant at the time and thus privy to all correspondence among the Commissioners on the subject.

There were reasons for the impasse. Murray and Rickover, both engineers with manufacturing experience, had already established direct working relationships on Commission activities. For example, in 1953, following Eisenhower's election, the Secretary of Defense, "Engine Charlie" Wilson withdrew support for the AEC's modest CVR project for an aircraft carrier reactor. Working closely with Rickover, Murray convinced the Commissioners to turn the CVR project into one for the first civilian nuclear power plant. And against Congressional objection he saw to it that Rickover retained responsibility for the project. Meanwhile, the military requirement for a nuclear powered aircraft carrier was developed. Thus, while losing CVR, Rickover acquired two projects, Shippingport for civilian application and AIW for carrier application. Since both were to be so-called pressurized water reactors, their development programs were mutually supporting.

Many were not pleased with this evident consolidation of military and civilian power reactor development Thus, in announcing Shippingport Murray assured the public that the only thing military that Rickover would bring to the project was his title. Others objected because Rickover was widely known to be overly demanding and determined to have his own way. These qualities contributed to the high standards of excellence, which were the hallmarks of the naval nuclear propulsion program. But, when stridently and abrasively applied, they engendered intense dislike among many in the business. And this, in turn, sometimes led to failure to accept the standards themselves.

But Murray was convinced that Rickover was the man for the job. He continued to urge that Rickover be appointed while also retaining responsibility for naval reactors. After a long delay the Chairman called an Executive Session of the Commissioners alone to take final action. When Murray returned from the meeting, he told me that Rickover had been turned down. He also told me that the Chairman had said that a leading electrical manufacturer was unalterably opposed to Rickover for the job.

Over the next decade the civilian nuclear power programs of both the AEC and the utility industry went their own respective ways. But the plants built by industry were encountering massive cost overruns and not performing with anything like the reliability of naval plants. And the AEC's civilian program was in serious disarray. Eventually reforms were effected. But the nation had lost 10 crucially important years during which its civilian nuclear power program would have been placed on the same secure basis of safety and reliabity that characterized the naval nuclear propulsion program.

We will never know how costly the failure to pick Rickover as head of all reactor development will turn out to be. But we do know that the U.S. has not built a civilian nuclear power plant for 30 years, that Toshiba now owns the immense capability that once carried the name Westinghouse, and that the U.S. has long since lost the position of world leader in this domain of ever increasing importance.

###

USNA 42 Sea Story #C12

 

A Just-in-Time Rescue at Sea

By Rear Admiral Eugene H. Farrell, USN (Ret.)  '42

Preface

The following is a true account of the rescue of the captain and crew of the Panamanian freighter, FALCON, in the North Atlantic by the USS NORTHAMPTON (CC-1) at 0130, February 16, 1968. They had abandoned their sinking ship in heavy seas on a moonless night and were adrift in a leaky lifeboat, battling a 25 knots NW wind in 21 degrees F. weather, shipping sea water faster than they could bail it . The rescue was accomplished “just in time” before their lifeboat sank and anyone succumbed to hypothermia.

When the above incident occurred, the NORTHAMPTON, a National Emergency Command Ship, was at sea ready to receive the President, his key cabinet officers and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and provide them the command control and communications to execute a retaliatory nuclear strike in response to one launched on the United States by a hostile nuclear power.
 
At 2205, 15 February 1968, the watch in NORTHAMPTON’s Combat Information Center (CIC) tensed. Overheard on the maritime distress frequency was a frantic S.O.S transmission from a ship, identifying herself as SS FALCON, to the Cape May, NJ, Coast Guard Station, reporting the ship sinking in Latitude 38 degrees, 10 minutes N., Longitude 73 degrees, 30 minutes W. (a position about 60 nautical miles SSE of Cape May, and 50 n. m. NNE of NORTHAMPTON’s position).  The CIC watch officer flashed the word to me, the captain, on the bridge and to the XO, Commander Bill Zimmerman. I gave three orders, and only three. The recipients did the rest while I sat in the captain’s bridge chair and monitored the succeeding actions. (1) -I told the OOD, Lieutenant Walt Lineberger, the brilliant son of an Assistant Secretary of Defense, to conn the ship  at best speed to the scene; (2) - the Chief Engineer to light off the other two boilers and notify the OOD when he had steam for full power, 34 knots: (3) -  the XO to take charge of CIC, assume the  function of Search and Rescue (SAR) coordinator and notify the Coast Guard of NORTHAMPTON’s assumption of SAR Coordinator and her ETA at the scene.

Parenthetically, I should mention that NORTHAMPTON had the best officers and crew of any ship I ever served in, and for good reason. Because of the ship’s important and very sensitive mission, she was granted the Navy’s top priority for personnel, material and services, Code BRICKBAT ONE-ALFA. It was a pleasure to watch how my people responded to the emergency.

Commander Zimmerman requested the Coast Guard to launch a C-130 aircraft from the nearest SAR station, Elizabeth City, NC.  When the aircraft appeared on his radar screen, Zimmerman gave the pilot a “steer” and turned on the ship’s twin red truck lights to distinguish NORTHAMPTON from other ships in visual range from the aircraft. Once the C-130 arrived overhead, Zimmerman took control and vectored it to the objective.  Cape May Coast Guard, overhearing Zimmerman’s instructions to the C-130, chimed in with this unhelpful comment, “We know that ship. Her navigation is notoriously bad. You’ll be lucky to find her survivors anywhere near her reported sinking position.”

Zimmerman persisted.  When the C-130s radar blip coincided with the reported position, he radioed “Mark! On top!”

A few seconds later the pilot replied, “I see a light and what looks like a lifeboat with people in it. I’ll drop flares and a life raft and orbit the spot until you arrive.” The time was 0012, February 16, 1968. Coincidentally at that precise moment the Chief Engineer called the bridge on the squawk box from Main Control that he had four boilers on the line, ready to answer all bells. OOD Lineberger, motivated by the excitement and challenge of his duties, had declined to turn over the mid-watch to his successor.  He rang up turns for 34 knots, and ordered his Boatswain’s Mate of the Watch to pipe the word for all departments to prepare to recover shipwrecked survivors. Doctors, pharmacist’s mates, ship’s cooks,   deck force…..all were aroused and moved smartly to their stations.

Less than half an hour later, the ship’s sharp-eyed lookouts spotted flares, a battery powered lantern and the dim outline of a lifeboat bobbing one point on the starboard bow between 7-ft. white-caps. With the lifeboat now illuminated by the signalmen, Lineberger maneuvered the ship smartly to port of it and, at the proper moment, ordered “All engines back full”, stopping the ship just to windward of the lifeboat as propeller wash created a smooth slick to leeward. Oarsmen in the boat, now in calm waters, quickly rowed to the ship and secured the bow line to a cargo net the deck force had rigged over the starboard side from the gunwale to the waterline  Two of the survivors were too exhausted and numb to grasp the cargo net or climb to safety on board. The Chief Boatswain’s Mate had prepared for that contingency by rigging a “horse collar” safety line through a snatch block shackled to a boat davit. Stout seamen quickly hoisted the two chilled men aboard and helped them into the hands and stretchers of waiting Pharmacist Mates, who bore them to sick bay where the ship’s Dr. Rhea prescribed a generous ration of medicinal alcohol and a hot shower. The identical “first aid” was administered to and welcomed by the four remaining survivors, among them the FALCON’s master, Captain Lelon Breton, a Colombian. To my everlasting relief, Captain Breton reported that he and the other five men rescued were the only people on board when they abandoned ship.

Dr. Rhea reported, “All survivors in good condition; no injuries, suffering only from moderate exposure”. Hot-showered, brandied, fed and bedded down, they slept soundly ‘til reveille….weary, grateful men. They awoke to find their soggy, salt-laden clothing freshly laundered, dried and warm.

In the meantime, the embarked National Emergency Command Team comprised of 35 hand-picked O-4 to 0-6 grade officers from the four Military Services, used the ship’s unique command and control facilities, a system engineered to convene by voice the nation’s eight Unified Commanders in 30 seconds, to flash the word of the rescue up through the joint chain of command, triggering, in time, appreciative messages from the likes of Admiral E.P. Holmes, CincLantFlt, and Admiral Waesche, Commandant of the Coast Guard.

After sunrise, a rested and relaxed Captain Breton and his First Mate accepted my invitation to breakfast in the sea cabin. They revealed the cause of  FALCON’s loss.  Forces of wind and sea opened a seam just below the waterline of the aging ship’s hull, flooding the engineering spaces and shorting out the main generator. Without an auxiliary generator, to power the bilge pumps, and no means of confining the flooding to the engineering spaces, the ship was doomed. Fifteen minutes after embarking in the lifeboat, the Captain and crew of FALCON saw their ship sink bow first.

As we finished breakfast, Commander Zimmerman appeared with a priority message from Rear Admiral A.J. Carpenter, USCG, Commander Eastern Area, that answered the question of how to get our guests ashore. The weather was too severe for helicopter operations, and it would be two weeks before the NORTHAMPTON’s release from alert duty. Admiral Carpenter’s message was filled with glowing rhetoric about the rescue…”highly commendable alertness and readiness in keeping with the highest traditions of the sea…etc….etc.” then it got down to the business of the day: Could the NORTHAMPTON  close  Cape May’s leeward shore where the fetch was short and seas mild, enabling a small Coast Guard cutter to rendezvous and pickup the survivors?

I told Zimmerman to send Admiral Carpenter an affirmative reply and give him our ETA. By noon we were there in gentle seas. The waiting cutter came alongside as planned and our grateful passengers departed.

###
 
USNA 42 Sea Story #C11

 

The Strike that Ended the Viet Nam War

By Rear Admiral Eugene H. Farrell, USN (Ret.)  '42

In late 1972, following weeks of exhaustive negotiations in Paris by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger with North Viet Nam’s Minister, Thieu Duc To, over terms of the draft protocol by which hostilities between the U.S. and NVN, which had been ongoing since August of 1964, would cease and both sides would withdraw, the intransigent Mr.To delivered a vituperative denouncement of the U.S. proposal and stormed out of the talks. His egregious behavior left the U.S. no maneuvering room to terminate the war with a shred of honor. Mr. Kissinger reported the situation to President Nixon, who ordered him to pack up and return to Washington. The date was December 18, 1972, eight years and four months since the war was precipitated by NVN torpedo boats attacking U.S. Navy destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin.

At about 3:00 p.m., December 18, 1972, in the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) restricted area of the Pentagon the red phones connecting dedicated “hotlines” from the Chairman to his six principal Directors of the Joint Staff rang their unique commanding “ding-dong”.  The Chairman of the JCS was Admiral Thomas Hinman Moorer of Eufala, Alabama, the senior military officer of the United States.

“J-6”, I responded as I picked the red receiver/transmitter. I recognized the voices of the other five “J’s” as they answered in turn. The caller was Captain Harry Train, the Chairman’s Aide.

Train announced tactfully, “The Chairman wishes to see the J’s in his office now.”

Briefly, to put in perspective what followed, I should explain the Joint Staff functional structure, our nation’s highest military office as it existed then. It consisted of about 100 senior officers of the four Military Services, allocated according to experience and expertise, to six major divisions, each of which was presided over by a General or Admiral, whose title was “Director of (Function).” For example, the six incumbent Directors answering Captain Train’s call  were: Vice Admiral (VADM) Vince dePoix, USN, Director of Intelligence (J-2); VADM,  Jerry King, USN, Director of Operations (J-3); Lieutenant General (LTGEN) Walt Woolwein, USA, Director of Logistics (J-4); LTGEN Larry Seith, USAF, Director of Plans (J-5); and Rear Admiral (RADM)  Gene Farrell, USN,  Director of Communications-Electronics (J-6).

Within two minutes the six of us converged on the Chairman’s spacious E-Ring office with its beautiful view of the Potomac River and the Washington Monument. The courtly Admiral invited us to sit down.

“Gentlemen, I have to leave for the White House in ten minutes. The President is very upset because the NVN Rep. to the Paris protocol has broken off negotiations and Henry Kissinger is coming back without an agreement to end the war. I need some critical information before I go. J-3, What’s the status of the B-26s at Anderson (the SAC base in the Marianas)?”

J-3 - “All fully operational and ready, sir.”

CHMN – “How many big decks (Fleet Aircraft Battle Groups) in the South China Sea?”

J-3 – “Three, sir.”
 
CHMN – “Where’s the RANGER (the fourth big carrier in WestPac) ?”

J-3 – “Transiting the Taiwan Strait at 15 knots enroute fromYokahama to the South China Sea, sir.”

CHMN – “Tell her to make 30.”

J-3 – “Aye, aye, sir.”

CHMN – “J-4, what’s the status of the bombs at Anderson?”

LTGEN Woolwein reeled off some impressive numbers and types of bombs and ancillary ordnance.

CHMN – “J-5, are there any ongoing plans that would be disrupted by three or four days of sustained air strikes on Hanoi?’

“Sir, only those of the NVN”, quipped LTGEN Seith.

CHMN – “J-6, How long will it take to send a Red Rocket to COMUSMACV and get a delivery confirmation?” (A Red Rocket was a message directing a major strike on specified enemy targets. COMUSMACV was an acronym for Commander U.S. Military Command, Vietnam, General Westmoreland).

J-6 – “Six minutes, sir.”

CHMN – “J-6, get with J-3 and prepare the Red Rocket. You fellas all stick around. I’ll be back in about an hour.”

 At 4:30,  Captain Train buzzed us J’s that Admiral Moorer was enroute from the White House to the Pentagon. We were all waiting in his outer office when he arrived.

“Come on in”, he invited us. “The President wasn‘t happy. He greeted me with ‘Goddamit, Tom, I was reelected last fall on a promise to the American people to get us out of this dirty little war in Viet Nam. Thieu DucTo has walked of the Paris negotiations and Henry Kissinger is coming home empty handed. What the hell do I do now?’ I said, ‘Mr. President, you’ve got to get their attention and send them a clear message.’  He wanted to know what I meant by that and I explained that he had to hurt them. Bomb the hell out of their capital, Hanoi, and keep it up until they holler ‘Uncle’. He asked me what forces would be involved and I told him 24 B-36s and four big Navy aircraft carriers. He voiced concerned over the possible losses we would sustain from their Russian-made antiaircraft missiles. I assured him that losses would be minimal because we will saturate their air defenses and keep them suppressed during the strikes. He said, “Go to it, Tom. I hope it works’.”

“Jerry (to J-3), is the Red Rocket ready”?

“Yes, sir.”

“Gene (to J-6), send it and let me know when COMUSMACV  has it.”

“Aye, aye sir!”

So, from December 22nd through the 24th of 1972 SAC B-36s and Navy carrier-based aircraft conducted around-the-clock strikes on Hanoi. Jane Fonda and her bevy of liberal antiwar peaceniks wailed and gnashed their teeth, alleging that we were bombing hospitals, killing babies and committing unspeakable atrocities.  The net result was that Thieu Duc To practically broke a leg getting back to Paris. Just over a month later the protocol was signed and the war ended.

A couple of footnotes: President Nixon was the first president since Franklin D. Roosevelt who, when he wanted military advice, sought it from his senior MILITARY officers, vice a civilian Secretary of Defense.

Here in Southern California I have gotten to know a former North Viet Nam major who was on duty in Hanoi during the December 1972 bombing. He swears that his bosses were so panicked and demoralized by that bombing that, had it continued for another 24 hours, the NVN would have surrendered.

For the experiences of our heroic POWs’s who were “guests” of the “Hanoi Hilton” during the strikes, I suggest reading Jeremy Denton’s When Hell was in Session  or John McCain’s Faith of my Fathers.

 

Pearl Harbor Revisited

By Diana Fraser Seamans, formerly Ensign A. Diana Fraser, widow of Captain James Otis Seamans, USNA '42

PROLOGUE: One of the most controversial issues associated with World War II is how much did the top military and civilian authority in Washington know about the impending Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and how much of that information was passed to the military commanders in the Pacific area.  Volumes have been written on the subject.  Incredible efforts were exerted to clear the reputations of the senior military officials in charge.  Occasionally in such cases, an unusual source of knowledge of the circumstances will surface, providing students of the subject a new perspective.

Diana Fraser was a recent graduate of Radcliffe College in 1943.  She attended Officer Candidate School and received her commission as an Ensign, USNR. Her assignment was to a special communications office in Washington, D.C.  Here is her story.***Jerry Miller, USNA ‘42


PEARL HARBOR REVISITED

As a devoted summer sailor, it was logical that I would join the Navy as a WAVE officer after graduating from Radcliffe College in 1943. Having voluntarily enrolled in a coding course the previous year, I was assigned to the Communications Section of the Navy Department's Washington Office specifically that of Captain Laurance Safford, a truly remarkable man, brilliant, enormously hard working, completely dedicated to the Navy and to carrying out his responsibilities both to his superiors and to those under him.

Captain Safford had been in charge of the coding section, Op‑20‑G, at the time of Pearl Harbor. His group had already broken the Japanese code and translated the famous "Winds" messages indicating that an attack was imminent, a message that he had, following protocol, transmitted to Roosevelt, Knox, Stark and Marshall. However, those individuals apparently withheld that information from Admiral Kimmel and General Short at Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt, under pressure from Churchill to bring the US into the war, evidently thought that a minor skirmish would change US opinion and allow the US to enter the war. I suspect he never imagined the Japanese would manage to decimate the Pacific Fleet despite the fact that Admiral Richardson, Kimmel's predecessor at Pearl, had warned that Pearl Harbor was not sufficiently defensible ‑and had been recalled to Washington for his bold assessment ‑and replaced by Kimmel.

It was about a year before Captain Safford discovered that the message had not been transmitted to Kimmel and Short by the White House or any of the appropriate upper level officials. He was perturbed by this and the fact that those in charge at Pearl were being made scapegoats for what had happened. Meanwhile Kimmel had been removed from command and Safford himself had been removed from Op‑20‑G and set aside in a small office to pursue the development of an advanced Electronic Coding Machine (ECM) for the high command. (He had developed the original ECM in general use.) In essence he was demoted, but he was far too valuable for the Navy to lose his brilliant creative talents.

I wasn't there at the time of Pearl Harbor, but was assigned to his office in July 1943.

At this point Safford contacted Kimmel and offered to stand as witness for him in any upcoming inquiry. Captain Safford was a dyed‑in‑the‑wool Yankee from Newburyport, MA, a man of absolute honesty and integrity, a skillful electronic inventor, and not one to suffer fools gladly. However, although a USNA graduate, he did not seem to be one of the "old boy" network, not a glad-hander nor cocktail party devotee, nor one who involved himself in the political machinations of the upper echelon in the Navy. His wife was a talented artist, but a rather neurotic and unpredictable lady. Many of the people who had worked under Captain Safford were devoted to him and frequently came to the office to see him and consult with him and his second in command, Commander J.A. Linn. We became aware that many of these were distinguished officers who had served under Safford in the coding section or had been in Hawaii in December of 1941.

Although we were not specifically told the reason, we ultimately understood that in preparation for what Safford realized would be a formal investigation of the Pearl Harbor disaster, he sent another WAVE Ensign and me to search the archives for the message logs from Op-20-G of the three days leading up to Pearl Harbor.  When we did this we discovered that those three logs were missing from the files.  Captain Samuel Eliot Morrison, USNR, a former Harvard history professor in charge of that Department, was not pleased with our inquiry and sent word back to our boss that he was not to send anybody there again!

Those missing logs became quite an issue in the inquiry, which certainly was a politically motivated procedure from on high.  Safford was accused of 'hallucinating" about their existence, although there were others from the department who recalled having seen the messages in question, but later backed out of testifying, fearing for their careers I presume.  (I have heard that years later those logs were returned to the files, but with the "Winds" messages excised).  Safford stood up to the end against a merciless interrogation.

The end of the tale is that eventually Captain Safford was retired as a Rear Admiral. Congress, under the sponsorship of a bill proposed y Senator Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts awarded him id="mce_marker"00,000.00 for his work - a huge sum at the time.  And about five years ago Congress passed a bill clearing the reputation of Admiral Kimmel, unfortunately not before all his sons, who had worked years for it, had died.

Having read almost every book written on the subject, I consider the most accurate account toe John Toland's Infamy, carefully researched and based on direct interviews with many of the individuals involved who were still alive at the time he was writing.  It will always remain in my mind as a cautionary tale of the dangers of political power in high places.

Diana Fraser Seamans, formerly Ensign A. Diana Fraser, widow of Captain James Otis Seamans, USNA '42.

EPILOGUE:  Diana Fraser married James Seamans, USNA '42 in 1944. Jim is the subject of an interesting Sea Story himself in that in 1942, while serving in Truxton, - an old "four pipe" destroyer - the ship, along with two others crashed into "the stormy wintry coast off Newfoundland."  110 were lost from the Truxton alone.  Jim assisted many of the crew into life rafts until he was washed overboard.  He was able to swim the 500 meters to the beach of a nearby cove, from where he and others were hoisted about three hundred feet up a cliff by the local populace.  But that is another Sea Story for another time. ***JM

Fighting World War II In A World War I Submarine

(Revised June 2009)

by Gene Malone '42

Following criticism of the equipment in the hands of our forces fighting in Iraq, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld commented that you fight with the "army you have," not with the "army you need."  That statement certainly applied to the early days of World War II and the U.S. Submarine Force.
 
The submarine war against the Japanese in the Pacific had gained momentum during 1942.  However, as the number of Japanese ship losses increased so too, did our own losses. Fortunately, submariners' ingenuity, an ever present necessity of life, took us from pre-war problems to the hands-on solutions that led in a major way to the defeat of Japan. Our wartime experience  improved our competence at an almost exponential rate, at least in those matters under our control.
 
After Submarine School in the summer of ‘42, I reported in Dutch Harbor to the USS S-31, a World War I boat commissioned in 1923. She had just completed her fifth, and successful, war patrol in the far Northern Pacific and was headed for overhaul in San Diego. Surface search radars were just then (late 1942) being installed in the boats and we received one. Our commanding officer, Robert (Mike) Sellars made me, as junior officer on board, responsible for our brand new SJ radar, Serial #3.  Radioman 3/c Nelson Reich and I attended a new school in generic radar at the Naval Base, San Diego and forthwith we were radar experts.
 
The rapidly increasing tempo of the war, the acute need for more submarines, and the availability of the newly overhauled and equipped S-31 led to our immediate dispatch to the South Pacific and Noumea, New Caledonia in early 1943. Our nominal mission was to provide submarine services to anti-submarine units. For logistic and personal support we were assigned a Liberty ship that had been torpedoed in its engine room but was otherwise afloat and undamaged. The galley worked and the staterooms were a most welcome change from the bunks in S-31. We managed to promote a Higgins boat from a sympathetic amphibious unit.  It allowed us to commute between the island where the Liberty ship was berthed and the main Navy wharf with its bowling alley and other less athletic attractions.
 
One of my Naval Academy roommates, Walt Munk, in USS Blue, a new destroyer, was briefly in Noumea. After lunch we toured the Blue.   For the first time I saw a radar Plan Position Indicator (PPI), where targets were displayed in "plan" view - a grand improvement over the submarine SJ radar, which had only a target range trace and a mechanical bearing indicator. The PPI was obviously what was needed to make submarines more capable, especially at night on the surface. However, the equipment was not scheduled for delivery to submarines for at least another year.
 
I noticed some cargo waiting on the wharf for delivery to Admiral Halsey’s flagship, the South Dakota, then in the harbor. Among the cargo was a PPI radar - the kind I had seen in the Blue.  Reasoning that the Admiral would undoubtedly approve of the radar being with the fighting units rather than on his flag bridge, I appropriated the equipment - with the tacit approval of my commanding officer, Mike Sellars.  He had been Halsey’s football coach in USS Saratoga  and agreed that the Admiral would understand.  So my ingenious appropriation became a "Title B unrecorded transfer" of equipment.
 
With hacksaw, soldering irons, and tremendous luck we installed the PPI in the S-31 conning tower. Surprisingly it fit in the cramped space and it worked.  The skipper rigged a motor and gear box to rotate the antenna.  We had successfully installed for the first time in a US submarine, a radar with a Plan Position Indicator.   We were beginning to get what we needed.
 
Japanese submarines had been busily supplying their troops who had been isolated by General MacArthur’s forces on New Guinea at Lae and Salamaua. Although our S-Boats had just been declared unsuitable for combat, S-31 was deployed in August to intercept and sink those submarines in a patrol area off Cape Orford at the southern end of St. Georges Channel, the home of Rabaul, New Britain, and the center of Japanese South Pacific naval operations.
 
Four hours after we arrived on station, we made sonar detection followed by periscope sighting on a Japanese I-52 class submarine passing broadside at 5,000 yards.  As we closed the target and made ready the torpedoes for firing, a valve failure caused rapid flooding of a forward ballast tank. We went unexpectedly deep before regaining control. Instead of sinking the Japanese submarine, we discovered the uncomfortable fact that one of the main ballast tanks when open to sea pressure, leaked into the boat. Our hull was not sound. For the duration of the patrol that bilge was continuously pumped to another space which was then pumped to sea when conditions were safe and the bilge would leave no surface trace.
 
Five hours after that first misadventure, sonar made another contact and the periscope sighted an I-61 class headed our way. The next observation showed exhaust smoke and no submarine. We ran quiet, listening for him while swinging ship to bring bow tubes to bear. Forty minutes later the I-61 surfaced 2000 yards directly astern. I-61 had zigged. S-31, having no stern tubes, commenced swinging to bring the bow tubes to bear. Skipper Sellars expertly worked the periscope, and I did the best I could with the IsWas, a hand held fire control calculator. We fired three Mark 10 torpedoes.  With the loss of weight forward, S-31 inadvertently surfaced, as did two of the three fish.  The third fish exploded noisily close aboard. The Japanese sub turned and ran while his escorting aircraft bombed the hole where our fish had exploded. We went as deep as safe - seventy feet -quietly and prayerfully wandering away.  We changed our position regularly trying to outguess the Japanese routing with no luck.  We were fighting with the equipment we had, not what we needed.
 
Intending to check out our radar’s PPI against the enemy, we ventured one night on the surface into the bay just north of Cape Orford looking for coast watcher reported ships. All we got was illumination by a ‘friendly’ Black Cat (PBY) patrol aircraft. We fired an identification flare while diving. That bright light effectively neutralized our intentions. In due time we surfaced and retired to the open Channel.
 
Our luck continued to hold. We boldly made our way some distance into Saint George’s Channel hoping to outmaneuver the Japanese routers. Unfortunately, the main motor power controllers burned up leaving us to drift with the tide at periscope depth, coming ever closer it seemed, to Rabaul. The magnificent and ingenious electrical gang in some incredible manner got the controllers back in operation.
 
Next one of our two high pressure air compressors, needed for engine starts and surfacing, developed a bent crankshaft. Fortunately, some thoughtful "thief" among the Auxiliary Gang had procured a spare and a two day replacement put the compressor back to work.
 
Then the low pressure air compressor on one of our two Nelseco diesel engines blew up, putting that engine out of use.  With surface propulsion cut in half and battery charging needing half the engine’s availability, we should have been distraught. However, those magnificent men of the engine room somehow arranged with pipes and tubes and sheer will power to cross connect the broken engine’s air supply to the newly repaired high pressure air compressor so as to let that engine function.
 
There were other problems.  Early in the patrol, the San Diego installed Kleinschmidt fresh water supplier began to lose capacity. Fresh water for most of this adventure was for the battery and coffee only; none of that washing up stuff. We stank.
 
Although the air conditioning operated nearly continuously, and satisfactorily, the temperature in the boat was never less than 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the bulkheads sweated  constantly. One of the men eventually broke and tried to open a hatch to get out while we were submerged. We tied him up gently and secured him in the commanding officer's cabin, the only available closable space. We heard his screams and thrashing for several hours off and on until morphine cooled him off.
 
Since the Coast Watcher and other sources had been reporting contacts where we had been and we had seen nothing after the first day, our disappointment was intense. No one was sorry when it was time to head for Brisbane.
 
The radar with its then unique Plan Position Indicator and the air conditioning worked well throughout the patrol. Otherwise the material condition of the old World War I boat continued to plague us. The near miraculous ingenuity of those incredibly competent submarine sailors literally saved us and blessed us. We made it safely all the way to Moreton Bay at the entrance to the Brisbane River. There we ran out of lube oil. Admiral Jimmy Fife kindly had a lighter bring us enough to make the few remaining miles to New Farm Wharf.
 
The unrecorded transfer of Admiral Halsey’s flag bridge PPI in Noumea had more than served its purpose. It had proved it worked effectively for navigation and for ship and aircraft detection and tracking.  It was reliable under difficult conditions.
 
Word had spread. I found myself ‘shanghaied’ from S-31 to the spacious, clean, comfortable, well equipped fleet submarine, USS Silversides by her skipper, John  (Jack) Coye (‘33).  I was to make her radar work. Ironically, her first skipper had asked in his last patrol report to have the SJ radar removed and replaced by a bench - a useful device on which one could sit. Adjusting to the present from the past was more difficult for some than others.
 
That PPI had its reward for me with a Navy Medal of Commendation and better the transfer to Silversides.   Mike Sellars was given command of the Blackfish.  The Submarine Force benefited with the contractor’s highly expedited production and installation of the PPI units that so greatly added to the effectiveness of submarine night warfare.

For Those In Peril On The Sea

by RADM Kenneth G. Haynes '42, USN (Ret.)

It is autumn in the North Atlantic and the day breaks in typical fashion - cold and windy with surface visibility diminished by sea spray whipped along by a brisk northwesterly wind. A glance at the sky reveals a haze with an overcast around 2000 feet.

From the bridge of a destroyer, we are observing the weather in general and in particular, the operations of three NATO aircraft carriers - two US and one Canadian. It is the early days of a NATO Fleet exercise, and there is no indicator of the dramatic event which is to follow very soon.

On board the flagship, the Officer in Tactical Command confers with his aerologists in preparation for the day’s flight operations. The overcast at 2000 feet is forecast to remain at about that altitude until late afternoon, possibly until the early evening hours. It is also forecast that when the overcast does lower, it will do so quickly and reduce the ceiling and visibility to zero-zero. With the forecast in mind it is decided that flight operations for the first day of the exercise can go forward as scheduled.

Signal flags indicating the aircraft launch course (Foxtrot Corpen) are hoisted smartly to yardarms. The task force turns to the signaled course for flight operations and all three carriers commence launch operations. The course is good. No flight decks are fouled and the launch is completed in good order. Fifty aircraft are launched - forty AD Skyraiders from the two American carriers and ten Avengers from the Canadian. The aircraft circle the task force while rendezvousing and gaining altitude. All aircraft are directed to climb through the overcast, and when formed up to circle the force.

Then, as has been forecast for much later in the day, the overcast suddenly lowers and the entire force is completely “socked in.” One can barely see the foc’sl on the surface ships.

The aircraft are in the clear over the task force. Flight and squadron commanders are advised of surface conditions, and that the task force will remain in its present location. As soon as weather conditions permit all aircraft will be brought on board.

It is now early in the afternoon, and the aircraft are reporting sufficient fuel for at least another four hours. One can hear, via squadron flight radio frequencies, the reassurances by the few experienced pilots to those only recently carrier qualified.

Another look at the weather is not reassuring. Conditions at the location of the task force are widespread over much of the North Atlantic. There is no forecast for improvement in the immediate future. Simply speaking - no improvement is expected before fuel supplies are exhausted.

The Task Force Commander confers with the captains of the carriers. We all begin to understand the true meaning of authority coupled with responsibility. There are fifty aircraft and their crews circling the force in the bright sunshine while disaster threatens in the lowering gloom of the deep, gray North Atlantic.

The weather begins to worsen and darkness seems to approach with lightning speed. Now it is moving from possible disaster to impending catastrophe.

We are within range of an emergency landing facility in Southern Greenland. The Canadians decide that it is to be Greenland for their Avengers and preliminary instructions are transmitted to the crews. The Greenland facility is flanked by 7000 foot mountains on three sides. The area is subject to large magnetic compass errors. The Avengers fuel supplies are adequate only if optimum cruise speeds are maintained throughout the flight, which will be conducted for the most part, in darkness. The final order to the Avengers - prepare to go to Greenland.

These are sobering instructions. We all begin to realize that with each passing minute our aircraft have an ever decreasing chance of getting back on board. Surface visibility and ceiling remain zero-zero; water temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

100 miles to the south of the Task Force, a submarine picket is reporting better conditions. At the time, it is the only area of decent weather in the North Atlantic. The carriers are now pitching and rolling, zero-zero conditions are unchanged and darkness approaches. The Task Force turns south and at maximum speed commences to close the position of the submarine picket. Aircraft squadron leaders are instructed to rendezvous all aircraft, proceed in company to the position of the submarine and ditch one at a time.

The force at maximum speed is at least four hours north of the submarine’s position. The 50 aircraft are on the way and will be ditching in the dark, in 40 degree temperature water, with only a valiant submarine and her crew to aid in the rescue.

Now we hear from the Task Force Chaplain on the primary tactical communication circuit. He is asking all of us to join him in a prayer for the salvation of our pilots. He does and we do. Then complete silence descends upon us as the Task Force continues at maximum speed though increasingly heavy seas and impending darkness.

Suddenly, and without any prior indication, the ceiling and visibility in the vicinity of a screening destroyer commences to improve. Almost if by magic, the visibility increases to 3000 feet and the ceiling to about 2500 feet. The conditions continue to improve until in the early evening dusk, the entire Task Force is visible.

Orders go to the aircraft directing them to return and land on any deck available. All three carriers report “ready decks” and ten minutes later the first flight arrives. There is a magnificent scramble and thirty minutes later all are safely on board. Then as quickly as the overcast departed, it returns and envelopes the Task Force in a soft, gray shroud.

Thus ended the day for a NATO naval force.

Sea Story - Rear Admiral "Whitey" Feightner

By Vice Admiral Jerry Miller, USNA '42 Class President

Rear Admiral Edward "Whitey" Feightner has to be one of the most professional aviators in the history of our country.  He paid for his college education by taking people for hops during the late 1930s.  He was commissioned as a naval aviator in early 1942.  His combat record during World War II is loaded with some hair raising incidents, including the shoot down of nine Japanese aircraft while operating from a carrier and then Henderson Field on Guadalcanal.  His post World War II aviation experience warrants attention for it has included some very significant contributions to national security, with emphasis on naval aviation.

Included in his repertoire:

    +  One of the first graduates of the Navy's new Test Pilot School, following by extensive duty at the Test Center in Patuxent River, Maryland where he was involved in many fascinating projects flying aircraft from a diverse stable.

    +  Direction of the flight training program that introduced many naval aviators to jet aviation.

    +  Member of the famed Blue Angels flight demonstration team.

    +  Participation in the several team projects required to enable naval aviation to develop a realistic ability to deliver nuclear weapons from aircraft carriers.

    +  A member of the team that tested the British aircraft carrier steam catapult (while alongside a pier in Philadelphia), resulting in the major decision to include the steam catapult in the design of the USS Forrestal, our first super carrier.

    +  Key member of the team in the Pentagon that terminated the infamous TFX (F111B) aircraft as it was headed for carrier decks under the direction of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

    +  Key member of the team that brought the famed F14 (Tomcat) fighter/interceptor/bomber into the Navy arsenal,  Its longevity was so great that several members of sixty USNA Classes were able to enjoy the thrill of flight in its cockpits.

    + Member of the team headed by Vice Admiral Bill Houser and Captain Jack Crawford, USNA '42, in their long and dedicated efforts to have the Battle of Midway commemorated in the United States in the same vein as the Battle of Trafalgar is honored in Great Britain.

It was his work with USNA '42 on the Midway project that motivated the Class to make Whitey an Honorary Member of the Class - an act that has been most rewarding. For one thing, it has improved the quality of the Sea Stories that the Class has enjoyed.  Here are a couple of examples of the flying exploits of Whitey Feightner.

The F7U Cutlass aircraft was one of the less successful carrier aircraft.  It had a very high nose landing gear that gave naval aviation a lot of trouble in carrier landings. Although sleek and fast with a high powered new engine, it lacked something in reliability.  Whitey landed an F7U on two occasions with one engine out of commission. The first occurred at the Naval Air Test Center at Patuxent River, Maryland.  One engine exploded and caught fire immediately after the initial "Field Catapult Shot" and left the F7U flying about ten feet above the waters of the Patuxent River. Because the ejection seat would not operate at this low altitude, Whitey turned downwind with the gear remaining down, since to select the "up" position would have starved the hydraulic flight controls at a critical time. Whitey found a low spot on the river bank that allowed him to get back onto the field and land, whereupon the fire crew extinguished the fire without further incident. 

The second incident occurred when flying as a member of the Blue Angels flight demonstration team.  He and Harding G. McKnight were a flight of two relocating after participating in the grand opening of the new Pittsburgh International Airport. Whitey lost an engine during an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) departure from Pittsburg enroute to the Naval Air Station in  Glenview, Illinois. Since Pittsburg was near minimum weather conditions for landing, Whitey proceeded to Glenview on one engine. On arrival, the weather was clear and he was given clearance to land on Runway 9, headed towards Lake Michigan.  He started his approach at 1500 feet.  As he and wingman McKnight passed over the center of the field, McKnight reported an explosion in his starboard engine and a fire warning light on his instrument panel. That was followed immediately by a port engine flame-out. McKnight blew his landing gear down with emergency procedures, executed a modified split-S and landed with flames coming out of both engines. The Cutlass did a half-ground loop and came to a stop in the middle of the field.  McKnight leaped out of the aircraft, rolled down the wing and fell onto the runway still wearing his parachute. Except for a couple of bruises, he was healthy.

Meanwhile, Whitey was still flying on one engine but getting low on fuel. The crew in the Air Station tower decided that the runway could not be cleared in time, so they directed Whitey to fly to O'Hare field, the civilian field just west of Glenview that was still under construction. O'Hare was not open for business as yet and the runway was covered with inverted peach baskets in order to keep planes from trying to land.  The O'Hare Tower advised Whitey to ignore the Peach Baskets as they were very light and would not harm his aircraft.  Whitey later commented that "In this evolution, I attained the dubious honor of making the initial landing on O'Hare Field with no further problems other than demolishing quite a few Peach Baskets."

"34 Hours With Old Shakey"

CDR Whitey Feightner battles Goulash, Weather and the C-124. What do a Navy Fighter Pilot and a C-124 Globemaster have in common? At first glance, nothing. But take a closer look, and youll find, well not much, really. The two don't even look right in the same sentence.

By Jan Tegler

The C-124 was a lumbering transport aircraft first fielded by the USAF in 1949. Designed to haul outsized cargo, or up to 200 troops, the freighter featured a 77-foot cargo bay. Pretty the Globemaster wasn't. It looked like a pregnant schnauzer and was only slightly faster. The four massive Pratt & Whitney 4300 radials on its thick wings looked ridiculously undersized for the job and could only propel the ungainly brute to a cruising speed in the high 200mph range. In flight, the aircrafts cavernous fuselage and the 4360s combined to produce a less than smooth ride. Hence, the Globemasters nickname: Old Shakey.

Rear Admiral Edward L. Whitey Feightner was first fielded by the USN in 1942. Trained as a fighter pilot, he proved himself during WW II, claiming nine Japanese kills. By 1959, Feightners career had also included stints as an Admirals Aide, a Blue Angel and a test pilot. Feightner had experience: he had flown just about every Navy fighter, the USAF P-80 and a remarkable variety of other military aircraft. Prolonged exposure to the sun and his fair complexion combined to produce frequent sunburns, but no tan and earned him the nickname Whitey.

The only thing the Navy fighter pilot and the C-124 had in common was a need to be at a certain destination at a certain time. In the winter of 1959, Cmdr. Feightner was stationed at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, flying the A-4D Skyhawk. The C-124 was stationed a hundred miles north at Charleston AFB, serving Military Transport Service (MATS). On the afternoon of February 13, pilot and plane met.

1200 Hours: Pinecastle Bombing Range, February 13, 1959

I had orders to fly to the Mediterranean and relieve the air wing commander of Carrier Air Group-10 on the USS Forrestal. Relieving a senior officer in the middle of a cruise wasn't SOP, but the people in Washington wanted this particular commander back at the Pentagon pronto. This meant I got a real hurry up in my orders. In fact, I was out flying an A-4D Skyhawk in the Pinecastle Bombing Range area, when I got a call from the air station and was told to land immediately.

I jumped out of the jet into a waiting car that sped directly to the BOQ. I threw my clothes into a bag, and in less than 30 minutes, I was on my way to Charleston AFB on an R4Y (Navy version of the C-131) headed to Charleston AFB. On arrival, I was taken straight to an Air Force C-121, which immediately fired up and taxied. Just as we got to the runway, the tower called and stopped the airplane. Two MPs walked into the cabin and asked whether Cmdr. Feightner was on board. I held up my hand and was told to follow them. I looked at and said, Not so fast; here are my orders. Im wanted in the Med right away. They said, We understand that, but read this. It was an authorization to commandeer anybody at anytime for any particular mission. We got off the airplane. All my clothes and things were on the C-121, but they insisted I get going and that my stuff would meet me in Europe.

We got into a car and I was driven to the operations tower, where I found out they had a special flight headed for Europe. The Navy had 10,000 pounds of top-secret gear that needed to go overseas tucked into a C-124 sitting on the ramp. I was commandeered to go along and babysit this gear. The C-124 was a huge airplane, even by today standards. Just expand the size of a C-130 five to six times and youll get an idea of what the C-124 looked like. The pilot sat 24 feet above the tarmac in the cockpit! This airplanes squadron was just getting a new squadron commander  an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel with a new Major as his operations officer. This flight was to be their line checkout before they were qualified to take over the squadron.

The plane was about ready to depart when I got to the tower, and I was given a 45 to strap on and led to a seat bolted to the deck in the rear of this cavernous airplane. A tarpaulin covered the 10,000 pounds of gear, and in this huge space, that just amounted to one little mound. I was back there all alone. I didn't even know what it was I was guarding other than that it was 10,000 pounds of top secret gear, and I wasn't to allow anybody to have it.

By the time we taxied out to the runway, it was just about dusk, and it was raining. We started the takeoff roll, and I was sitting back there and couldn't see anything. I knew there was a check pilot up front with the Colonel and the Major for the flight. Sure enough, like all good check pilots, he chopped an engine during takeoff. I heard the power come off, come back on and then come off again, and we came to a sudden stop. The crew hadn't really handled this very well, and we were now off the runway with the six-and-a-half-foot tall right mains up to their axles in the mud!

Temporarily relieved of my cargo watching duties, I went back to their hanger and waited with the crew. It took about four hours to get the airplane back on the runway. They had hosed off all the mud, determined there wasn't any real damage and decided that we'd go ahead. We went back out onto the runway, and this time, the check pilot didn't chop an engine!

We climbed and headed out across the water on a course just past Bermuda, and at that point it was decided that the flight crew had run out of crew time.

So we dropped into Bermuda to stay overnight and let them get the proper rest. The next morning we needed to get on the road again soon so the crew wouldn't run out of crew time before we got to the Azores. It was between breakfast and lunch then, and there wasn't any place open to feed us except the British O Club. We were told that breakfast would be Hungarian Goulash, which they were serving for lunch that day. I can't stand Hungarian goulash and talked their cook into making an omelet for me

1700 Hours: Bermuda, February 14

I ate my omelet, and everybody had their goulash. We got airborne at about 16:30 in the afternoon and were climbing through 1,500 to 2,000 feet, when there was a loud bang! In the back, out of a small porthole-type window I could make out that they were shutting down the number-three engine. I was still strapped in, and as I didn't know what was happening, I stayed strapped in! We orbited off Bermuda for probably an hour while they assessed the situation. They figured out that a stack had come loosen that starboard inboard engine; and they decided that three engines would be fine as we had no real load. There had been enough delays already; we'd just push on. I later discovered that a ship was waiting for this gear we were delivering.

2030 Hours: 9,000 feet, Mid-Atlantic

We headed off across the pond toward the Azores. About three hours later, the crew chief came and asked me to come up to the cockpit. I was delighted; I was freezing to death in the back. We went forward and climbed a ladder through the tremendous cargo bay up to the flight deck. That's when I was told we had a real emergency going on. The check pilot, an Air Force Reserve Captain, had just came down with ptomaine poisoning. He was strapped into a bunk behind the flight deck, and he didn't look good at all. He was in convulsions and white as he could be. The Major also looked like he was bitten by the goulash. He had his headphones on and was standing aft of the flight deck by the Captain, talking on the radio to a doctor somewhere, getting medical advice on what to do about this. I assumed we would turn around and head back home, but the Colonel said to me, Wer'e about to run into a front, and I am a little concerned. I would like to get that engine back online. The crew chief and I want to go out and fix it.

The C-124's wing thickness was so great that you could actually walk out into the wings during flight and perform maintenance on the engines. He asked if I would fly the airplane for a little while. I was happy to; anything was better than sitting in that cargo bay! So I jumped into the left seat and took over; everybody else left the cockpit and went aft. I'm flying along about 9,000 feet, and after about 25 or 30 minutes, not a soul had come back to the cockpit. The airplane was on autopilot, and I just monitored everything and made sure we stayed on course. All of a sudden we ran into the front and it started to rain, and there was a lot of lightning. As I'd never been in a C-124 before, the next thing that happened really alarmed me. The instrument panel kept jostling back and forth!  Man, this thing was Old Shakey! I thought my eyesight was going bad, but the shaking was just characteristic of the airplane. It had a spring mounted instrument panel that seemed to move through an inch and a half of travel back and forth in rough weather, You can imagine what it would be like if you were trying to fly instruments!

We started to get some fairly hard jolts, and still no one had returned to the cockpit. I turned off the autopilot to fly the airplane manually because I didn't know how much stress it could take. The turbulence was getting more and more severe and it was raining quite hard. Just then, the crew chief called me over the intercom: Skipper, get ready to crank up the number three engine. He went over the checklist with me and I started the engine. The oil pressure came up just fine, and the temperature looked good. It idled just like it should, no strain, so I decided to bring it back up online and synchronize the propeller. Everything was going great except that we were really being thrown around by this storm. I had my hands full, and after an additional 15, or 20 minutes, I thought, ˜I'm still alone here. What in the world is going on with those guys? I called the crew chief on the intercom, but got no answer.

Shortly after, the cockpit door opened up and a slender young guy walked in. He was a Navy Lieutenant j.g. I looked at him completely baffled as he said, ˜I'm Lt. Roberts. Im your navigator. He saw my quizzical look and told me he had just gone through navigation school and that he was a destroyer sailor not an aviator! I thought, What else strange can happen? Well, he starts to bring me up to date. He said, ˜When you started up the engine, the Colonel was in the engine nacelle, and he got a terrible dose of carbon monoxide. He's blind!

Later, I saw a big plaque on the engine that read, Do not enter in-flight: Carbon Monoxide! Apparently, he and the crew chief had been able to put the blown stack back on and wire it into place. It was holding satisfactorily, so the Colonel told the crew chief to head out and tell me to start the engine, while he stayed behind to make sure there wouldn't be a fire around the stack when the engine was started. When it fired up, he ingested a huge amount of fumes and passed out. They got him out and put him in a bunk. On top of everything else, by this time, the Major was also upchucking from the goulash, yet he was the only one able enough to help the crew chief take care of the others.

03:00 Hours: 9,000 feet, closing on the Azores, February 15

So there I am, all by myself in the cockpit of Old Shakey. After a while, we got fairly close to the Azores. I shifted over to the Base frequency, and the next thing you know, I get a call from there saying, We're sending a B-17 out to you, and when he picks you out on radar, he'll give us a call. He has an emergency boat on board. That got my attention! I didn't know what they knew, but at least they said, Keep on coming. You'll break out of the storm 50 miles east of the Azores. The minute you break out, you'll orbit until daylight, and then we'll bring you down.

That sounded good to me, so I kept on heading that way, and pretty soon, I broke out of the storm and could see the moon and stars; but we were actually 50 miles short of the island, to the west. I looked down and could see the island ahead and reported I had them in sight.  They rogered that, and I started to orbit. At about 03:30 the tower called me. Apparently, the doctors had decided that we had to get the Colonel down or he might not make it. I asked, Do you have a GCA? They confirmed they did, and I replied, Well turn it on, because I am coming in. They said, All right; we'll bring you in, but be advised that you'll have a slight crosswind and we've got clouds over the island down to about 800 feet. I said, Fine, we'll just come in on the radar.

We got everything straight and I started talking to the GCA controller, when all of a sudden a voice from the tower asks, Who are you? I replied, I'm a Navy fighter pilot, and I'm flying the airplane. They came back, Wait one. I realized that my casual answer had probably worried them, thinking, How in the world is a Navy fighter pilot going to land this thing? So, after a little pauseI called again and said, If it's any help to you, I'm also a Navy test pilot, and though I've never been in a C-124 before, I've flown a lot of big airplanes. That seemed to settle them down.

I was again advised of a crosswind from the right on the base's single runway, and I told them it wouldn't be a problem. As I was getting ready for the approach, I got hold of the crew chief and asked him, How about getting that Major up here with me? I was on final, down to about 3,000 feet, when he trudged into the cockpit. He sat down in the right seat, and I figured, you know, he knows the airplane, so I said, OK, you've got it. Right away he says, Not me! I'm not gonna take this thing! I'm woozy. I keep passing out.

Well I guess this was my day to do everything, so I told him, I'm gonna fly instruments all the way down, and you let me know when we've made the runway, and then you take over. We kept going downhill, and we broke out about 1,000 feet. I said, OK it's all yours! He grabbed the wheel, but I'll tell you, being an old flight instructor, I never really let go of that thing. We got over the runway, and I saw the wind drifting us. I cranked the wheel into it and didn't get any opposition from him. So, I'm not sure which one of us landed it, but we put that airplane on the runway!

Later, I learned that the Colonel was medically discharged from the Air Force. They managed to save the check pilot, too, but he had a really bad case of poisoning. The next morning a new C-124 flight crew came in from somewhere, and we took off and flew to Rabat. When we landed there, the Forrestal had an A-3 Skywarrior sitting on the tarmac waiting for me; in fact, my predecessor, the outgoing air wing commander was flying the airplane. They threw me on board, and my next stop was landing at sea aboard the carrier. We put the guy I relieved on an airplane, and  presto  I was air wing commander.

I got a big letter of thanks from the Air Force. Apparently, the top-secret cargo was some kind of communications gear. To this day, I don't know exactly what it was, but eventually, it got to where it was going, and so did I.

Note from the Class of 1942: Whitey has been an active Honorary Member of USNA '42 for many years.

Prisoners On Board a Submarine During World War II

A Companion Piece To The "Befriending The Enemy" Story

By Capain Roy Werthmuller '42, USN (Ret.)

Background:

By the end of 1944, most of the Japanese merchant ship fleet had been sunk, primarily by submarines and naval air forces. This merchant fleet was vital in supplying Japan with oil and other materials of war.

The Sea of Japan was the only place that the Japanese merchant ships could operate with little fear of opposition. Japan was receiving significant support from China and Korea via the Sea of Japan. Since there were only two entrances and both were guarded by extensive mine fields, it was not feasible for allied warships to enter.

The submarine force commander heard in 1943 that a mine detecting sonar had been developed for the mine force, but was judged not suitable for minesweeping. At first he saw no use for that sonar in submarines. However, by mid-1944 the admiral saw the mine sonar as a possible key to enter the Sea of Japan through the guardian minefields. He importuned the authorities in Washington to make available some of those sonars to Pacific submarines.

By mid-1945, sonar units were available for nine submarines, all of which entered the Sea of Japan successfully and sank ships. Unfortunately, one of the submarines was sunk after torpedoing a Japanese merchant ship. A second group of submarines was equipped with the sonar and entered the Sea of Japan in early August 1945, including Torsk (SS 423) which fired the last torpedoes to sink an enemy ship in World War II.

A captured document made the southern entrance through the Tsushima Strait a little easier by indicating that there were 4 lines of mines and stated the distances between mines and their depth. The mines were the moored type and were set at depths to sink surface ships and submarines.

Torsk entered the Tsushima Strait on 10 August 1945 and submerged to 150 feet at 4:20 a.m. It took about 16½ hours to complete the transit and four mine lines were encountered and successfully avoided.

The Rescue:

The morning after entering the Sea of Japan and while at periscope depth a strange apparition was seen on the horizon. No one could figure it out until coming up higher in the water. Then seven Japanese men were discerned clinging to floating debris. The captain immediately decided to take the men on board although Torsk was deep in enemy territory and would be very vulnerable on the surface with hatches open.

The men at first were reluctant to come on board, but six were finally enticed aboard. The seventh tried to swim away. However, when he saw that his shipmates were being given good treatment, he finally consented to being rescued. He was so weak that our crew had to pick him up and carry him below. The crew was having breakfast at the time and they tried to give the prisoners pancakes, but the survivors were intelligent enough to mainly drink the syrup, which was probably best for them in their starving condition.

Treatment on Board:

The problem now was how to best assure that the prisoners would not cause security problems or impede operations. It was decided to put three of the prisoners in the forward torpedo compartment, three in the aft torpedo compartment and the seventh in the galley to help the cooks. The one assigned to the galley was only in his teens and had been the cook on a Japanese merchant ship that was sunk several days earlier. He indicated, via sign language, that he was the cook on two previous ships which had been sunk. This boy became the favorite of the crew and learned some English before he left the ship. More about him later.

Operations After Taking Prisoners:

There was always someone on watch in the compartments where the prisoners were located. Therefore, the watch schedule did not change and operations were not hindered. Fortunately, the prisoners accepted their condition and were very cooperative. They were not restrained, but the watches in the torpedo rooms were armed.

The second morning after entering the Sea of Japan, while patrolling off an island in the southern part, Torsk sank a small merchant ship. The next day another merchant ship was sunk and the fourth day August 14 was quite a busy day.

Early that day a merchant ship escorted by a single frigate was sighted. The captain decided to sink the frigate first with a new type of torpedo which homed in on a target’s screw noises. Torsk was one of the first submarines to get this new, secret Mk. 28 torpedo. The captain fired one torpedo which we saw hit the target’s stern and lift it up 45 degrees. A number of lifeboats were seen picking up the survivors and luckily for them they were only a few miles from shore.

The merchant ship headed toward a nearby port at full speed. Before we could get in a good position to fire torpedoes, it entered port. Our captain said maybe we should surface and fire at it with our 5 inch gun, but fortunately decided against it when a Japanese warplane appeared headed to our area. Soon more ship sounds were heard and we saw another frigate bearing down on us. The aircraft apparently saw Torsk and called in the frigate. The frigate apparently saw the periscope because he was heading directly toward it.

Another acoustic torpedo was fired at the frigate even though the acoustic torpedoes were designed to be fired from aft a target’s beam and the present target was heading directly toward us. The torpedo was fired when the target was about 2000 yards away and Torsk went deep to evade and hoped the torpedo hit. After what seemed to be an eternity, a loud explosion occurred very close to us, accompanied by breaking up noises. If that torpedo had not hit, there would have been a bad depth charging. They sent another frigate out to try to locate Torsk, but it was quite easily evaded after it had dropped a few depth charges - fortunately not close.

While at silent running to evade the frigate, one of the cooks dropped a pan which made a big noise and Tanaka, the prisoner in the mess room, made a signal to keep quiet. He knew there would be trouble if the enemy ship heard us.

Since the crew had very little sleep for the past few days, the captain decided to go into deep water and rest for a day. The next morning there was a message that the war had ended and that there was a cease fire. Everyone was of course happy with the news, but spirits were somewhat dampened by a following message which said that Torsk would have to stay in the Sea of Japan until the mines had been swept from Tsushima Strait which took more than two weeks.

As you may imagine, after the hectic days before the cease fire, it was quite a change to have nothing to do. The crew started to clean the ship which had been neglected during the times at battle stations. The prisoners helped in this and because of their small size and agility cleaned places never cleaned before. Also, the prisoners had become quite acclimated to life on board.

Once when an engineman had difficulty closing a valve when diving, a prisoner jumped in and helped without being asked.

The crew started to teach the boy, Tanaka, English and he was a quick learner. One morning a crew member mischievously taught him that “good morning” in English is “I hate marines”. However, others quickly let him know that was only a joke. The crew really liked him and did not want him to get in trouble with the marines who would be taking him when we returned to port. The boy was so integrated into shipboard life that he was eventually not guarded at all.

The prisoners enjoyed life on board and all gained weight and did not want to leave. Upon arrival in Guam 3 or 4 weeks later, they left the ship with candy and cigarettes as presents from the crew.

Torsk returned to the Submarine Base in New London via Pearl Harbor and Panama. No one knew until later that Torsk had sunk the last enemy warships.

Final Thoughts:

1. The commanding officer took a big chance staying on the surface for a long time while in enemy waters to rescue seven enemies.

2. He also took a chance not restraining them while on board, other than arming the guards.

3. The prisoners could not speak any English and no one in Torsk crew spoke any Japanese so there was no chance of getting any intelligence from them while on board.

4. The prisoners were merchant seamen, which was not known until they were on board for some time. It might have been different had the prisoners been Japanese military.

5. Treating the prisoners well made them very cooperative.

Lack Of Air Support For The Brown Water Navy And Civilian Authority Over The Military

(This Sea Story is a revision and condensation of an article titled McNamara Kills the Pilatus Porter, published by the US Naval Institute in the June 2005 issue of Naval History magazine).

As the Navy takes steps to resurrect the Brown Water Navy, it is time to recall the experience of that form of warfare during the Vietnam Campaign. History teaches. There were some significant lessons about air support for riverine forces in that period of our history. There were also some significant lessons about civilian/military authority that bear study.

With the arrival of Robert McNamara in the Pentagon as the Secretary of Defense in January 1961, major changes in the nature and degree of civilian control took place. The staff in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) was expanded greatly with a cadre of bright young intellectuals. Micromanagement became the norm, with more control being usurped by the new incumbents. Initially they were fascinated with the details of our nuclear warfare plans and the Cold War. Then came the Vietnam War and they were faced with the problem of stopping the advance of communism by the use of military force, many miles from our homeland. One of the most significant problems was the need to protect the Vietnamese populace in the most southern part of Vietnam - the Delta Area.

To solve the problem, the BrownWater Navy was created, something quite foreign to the traditional "blue water" forces that had plied the oceans of the world, protecting our sea-lanes for two hundred years. Some of the great stories of Navy combat action are beginning to surface as historians peruse the Brown Water Navy archives and hold discussions with some of the participants. The candidacy of Senator John Kerry for the office of the presidency in 2004 added attention to the Brown Water forces because he served with that organization for a short time.

This new Navy was centered on small river patrol boats (PBRs). They were 31-foot fiber-glass boats powered and steered by turnable water-jet nozzles and capable of making 29 knots. Their basic armament consisted of two .50-caliber guns, one M-60 machine gun, and a 40-mm grenade launcher. They were high speed, maneuverable, shallow draft vessels, manned by a couple of commissioned officers and an enlisted crew. They were part of an organization designated as Task Force 116 (TF-116). They received air support from a small contingent of borrowed Army helicopters manned by Navy crews.

By early 1966 this Force consisted of 120 PBRs, supported by 20 large personnel craft, one amphibious transport (dock) and one landing ship tank (LST). There was a desire by the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Command (CinCPac), as expressed in a message to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to increase the number of PBRs to at least 200 because the PBR/helo operations had "been effective in disrupting enemy control and use of major waterways in the Delta Region." However, in the same message CinCPac pointed out that the effectiveness could not be "optimized without a concomitant increase in number of helos." More close air support was needed.

The PBRs plied the inland waters of South Vietnam, protecting the local inhabitants who were under constant pressure from the Vietcong. Some major contributions were made in the prosecution of the War. The tempo of their operations and effectiveness increased markedly in the late 1960s when Admiral Elmo Zumwalt was promoted to three stars and sent to Vietnam to take command of all in-country naval forces. His aggressive inspirational leadership was reflected in the actions of this young Brown Water Navy. It was an unusual role for "blue water" sailors - and it was hazardous.

This new Navy needed close air support. The PBR crews soon knew their business, but as with any surface combat operation, air support was required for reconnaissance and firepower in a firefight. The Navy in Washington had not anticipated this air support requirement and the normal acquisition process for a suitable air support vehicle would take a lot of time. Make shift actions came into play. Some Huey helicopters were borrowed from the Army, which really had none to spare. Machine guns were anchored to the floor of the helos and they became "gunships" manned by Navy crews. On 1 April 1967, the existing helo detachments in country were organized into Helicopter Attack (light) Squadron Three or HAL-3. This Squadron provided helicopter close air support to the boats. It was divided into nine detachments that were scattered throughout the Mekong Delta. These detachments operated from five airfields and three specially configured Landing Ship Tanks (LSTs). A typical detachment consisted of two helicopters, a lieutenant commander as officer-in-command, with seven additional pilots, eight aircrewmen (door gunners), and an assortment of maintenance technicians.

You did not have to view this operation very long before you became aware of some of the deficiencies. The helos were old with many maintenance problems. The high temperature and humidity operating conditions in the area made it difficult for the helos to realize their full payload and lift potential. Further, rapid response depended on distance from the firefight area. Time on station was limited by the helo fuel and payload status. Also, the noise of the helo was a dead give way to the enemy. It was difficult to sneak up on anything with a noisy helicopter.

As the PBRs moved through the waters of the delta, they were often ambushed, needing air support immediately. That meant a call for helos from the nearest operating base. Sometimes the delays in response were frustrating. Even after arriving on station, the helos still lacked the firepower and time on station to provide the desired protection. Of greatest significance however, was the lack of numbers. Helos were in great demand by both Army and Marine Corps forces. There was a shortage and this new Navy mission did not generate a high enough priority to provide all the assets that were needed to adequately support this rapidly expanding Brown Water force. So the responsible authorities in the Pentagon searched for a quick solution - something as good as or better than the rotary wing helo - something that would meet the need, at least on an interim basis until a more permanent solution could be implemented. Enter the Pilatus Porter fixed wing aircraft.

The Pilatus Porter, which was initially designated as the OV-12A, originated in Switzerland, meeting a requirement for high altitude mountain flying with a short take-off and landing (STOL) capability. It looked something like a junky Spirit of St. Louis, but looks can be deceptive. It was a high wing monoplane with a wingspan of about 50 feet, length 37 feet, weight 6,100 pounds (maximum gross). Armament could vary but in later versions it consisted of one 20 mm side firing Gatling cannon plus up to 1925 pounds of external stores on five pylons - two on each wing and one on the center fuselage. It could carry a variety of ordnance including forward firing gun pods, 500-pound and 250-pound bombs, napalm units, cluster bomb units, flares, rockets, smoke grenades and propaganda leaflet dispensers. Various combinations of machine guns and ordnance were tested and proved to be feasible. A Garrett turboprop engine delivering 650 horsepower powered the aircraft and it had a reversible propeller. Maximum speed was 148 knots at take-off power, range over 400 nautical miles, and endurance of almost five hours. With portable oxygen for the crew, it could go to high altitude. Shutting down the engine, it could glide silently for long distances and was an excellent reconnaissance platform. It could carry at least six passengers or an equivalent number of troops with field gear. Medical evacuation capabilities were one litter patient, three ambulatory patients and one medical attendant.

The reversible prop and relatively high power gave it the short landing capability. Immediately upon touching the ground on landing, or even a bit before, the prop could be reversed and the aircraft would come to a halt on the width of a normal runway. Similarly with the exceptional amount of power available, it could take off in short distances, again the width of a runway. Most appropriate for the Brown Water Navy, the plane was a jewel on floats. The reversible prop provided what all floatplanes need - the ability to "back up." You could park the aircraft alongside a pier or small boat with no difficulty, easier than parallel parking your car in a crowded metropolis. Further, the procurement cost was relatively minor - less than id="mce_marker"50,000 for a combat ready airplane.

The Central Intelligence Agency had already procured some of the aircraft and was operating them in Vietnam as "Air America," with major support capabilities in Taiwan. This in-country operation could provide a major support capability to the Navy if needed.

In the mid-1960s the U.S. Air Force became interested in the Porter. Two of the birds were configured with bomb stations and automatic weapons. Tests were conducted and it was evident that for certain missions, the plane could be a winner. I was one of several Navy officials that reasoned we could use the Porter as an interim emergency measure and add much to the Brown Water Navy. Its speed, endurance, payload, and ability to take damage compared to the helo made it a natural for air support of the PBR Task Force. On floats, it could remain with the boats at all times. They did not have to be based at some shore facility several miles away, but could remain physically with the boats serving as an integral part of the fire fighting team. When missions were conducted, the birds could take off with the PBRs and remain with them from start to finish of a mission, providing reconnaissance and fire support as needed. They could provide close air support at its ultimate best - control in the hands of the customer with instant and constant availability.

As Captain Allen Weseleskey USN (Retired), an experienced helo pilot and Navy Cross awardee in HAL-3 commented: "I would have given my eye-teeth to have had a fixed wing float/land capable machine to cover Brown Water Operations. To have had the Pilatus Porter would have reduced maintenance man hours over rotary wing aircraft, permitted more time on patrol/station and with the payload capability, we could have blown the socks off any enemy. And we haven't even touched on beans/bullets/mail/ and passenger movements that would have boosted morale greatly throughout the TF-116 operations theater."

So the Navy moved out smartly to fulfill the emergency requirement. At the time I held a significant position in the Pentagon relating to requirements for naval aircraft and associated weapons systems. Along with several other leaders of naval aviation, I flew the aircraft, on both wheels and floats. Then we located Lieutenant Colonel Robert Purcell, a combat experienced Marine officer. We assigned him as the Program Coordinator. Purcell had been an enlisted Marine with infantry combat experience in the Korean War before he ever entered flight training with the rank of captain. His qualifications for his assignment are reflected in his combat awards, which include two Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Silver Star, a Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, nineteen Air Medals and unit commendations. He personified the best in combat experience, both on the ground and in the air. He was not particularly happy with being assigned to duty in the Pentagon, but it is axiomatic that if you want to make changes in the armed services, the Pentagon is the place to be.  Purcell was now in a position to make some changes and he was doing a great job. It was the fall of 1967 and he took action to clear all the procurement wickets in the Department of Defense, with a deployment date set for the spring of 1968. Initial support for the idea was almost unbelievably positive.

Next came the Congressional wicket with the need to gain authority for funding and procurement on a sole source basis, which meant no competition and no delays. The aircraft was in production and several were available "off the shelf" - on the parking ramp at Fairchild Aircraft north of Baltimore, Maryland. All that was needed was the modification to incorporate the armament features and the bird would be on its way to a combat role. Deployment could be started in about 100 days from the word "go." The initial program, approved in OSD and receiving support in Congress was for the procurement of 19 aircraft, at a total cost of $3.0 million. Support funds would come from the regular operating budget allocation.

Recognizing the urgent need and the wisdom of the proposal, Congressional staffs were supportive of the sole source authority, a major milestone for prompt action. Everyone seemed to recognize the need and the value of the Porter in answering the call for close air support of the Brown Water Navy, at least as an interim measure.

We identified the commanding officer of the first unit, modifying his career pattern to take on this new challenge, something about which he became very excited. Then-Commander Jack French was an outstanding officer, commanding a propeller attack squadron. He knew about props, bombs, close air support and staying on station. He was beginning to finger some pilots to join in the fun. "We got the word of the Pilatus Porter, and there were 13 airframes in Hagerstown, MD. We had orders cut and were to proceed with six of my pilots and transition accordingly - out of the parking lot. Very exciting." It looked like a winner.

This was not a major expensive procurement of a high tech, exotic fighter or bomber. But it was a program that had so many obvious benefits that all involved felt good, especially since the cost was relatively minor. A great way to get "more bang for the buck." And then the bubble burst. Suddenly the program was dead.

The naval/marine officers involved in implementing the acquisition program found that all support in the Office of the Secretary of Defense had evaporated. The noncompetitive program came to a screeching halt under orders from Secretary of Defense McNamara - the highest civil authority in the Pentagon. Subsequent research of the files conducted over a period of several years, verified that Mr. McNamara had responded to pressure from a former associate, Mr. Lynn Bollinger. Bollinger headed the Helio Aircraft Corporation that produced a light liaison aircraft for the Air Force. He wrote a simple "Dear Bob" letter to McNamara protesting the noncompetitive aspects, contending that he had a plane under development that could do the job, and wanted support. As for his "development" aircraft, Lieutenant Colonel Purcell went to the trouble of flying it and found it completely unacceptable, a "dog" in the vernacular of combat pilots.

Bollinger's actions also involved traditional lobbying with the Congress on Capitol Hill and he was effective, convincing at least one Congressman to officially question the noncompetitive procurement action. Bollinger kept Secretary McNamara informed of his actions by phone. Bollinger obviously reasoned that if the Navy procured the Pilatus Porter, even as an interim emergency measure, his own aircraft program would be in jeopardy for future orders, which was probably correct. He took advantage of his personal association with the Secretary of Defense to kill the competition, and he was successful. Such action may be understandable in the competitive business world, but it would be refreshing sometime to find a competing contractor who would readily admit that the opposition had something of value that could be used immediately, thereby aiding the combat effort - and probably saving some lives. Bollinger could have been a hero with the military, but that was not to be. The official demise came in a memo to the Secretary of the Navy from the Secretary of Defense on 20 December 1967 when the sole source procurement action was terminated.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff continued to support the program and tried to keep it alive with a recommendation to the Secretary of Defense in early February 1968 that he "approve sole-source procurement to permit the fastest possible deployment of the OV-12A to SVN (South Vietnam) for support of Game Warden" (Brown Water Navy). But sole source was again denied. The program was dead.

Understandably, Lieutenant Colonel Purcell was perturbed. The cancellation action contributed to his early voluntary retirement from active duty, in spite of the fact that he was about to be selected for promotion to the rank of colonel. Captain Jack French, the prospective commanding officer of the planned squadron, missed out on an assignment that would have kept his career moving forward, as he eagerly anticipated command of this special unit that many believed would have made major contributions to this new kind of naval warfare. Ironically, following retirement he spent quite a bit of time flying floatplanes in the Alaskan theater. But those were minor considerations. The real issue was the loss of a significant war fighting capability for the PBR Task Force when it was desperately needed. The Brown Water Navy lost over twenty-five hundred men during the Vietnam campaign. How many lives might have been saved with the implementation of this program action? To quote Captain Jerry Wages, a leader of the Brown Water Navy who commanded a Task Group in the latter phases of the War, "To think of how many of these young warriors could have been spared if we would have had fixed wing assets two years earlier just blows my mind!"

The late Admiral Tom Moorer was the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) at the time. A hallmark of his career was his intense concern about "his crew." He preached that with authority comes responsibility and the first responsibility of one with authority is to "take care of your crew." Since he was the military leader of the Navy, he considered that every sailor was part of "his crew." He knew about the Pilatus Porter program and when it was canceled, he sent for Lieutenant Colonel Purcell, asking for a detailed debrief of the case. Then he asked for a written report, to be delivered directly to him - not through any chain of command. The report was delivered as ordered. On 21 March 1968, Admiral Moorer sent a memorandum to Secretary of the Navy Paul Nitze, appealing the case and recommending procurement of the OV12A. Moorer was the highest military authority in the Navy, destined to become the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and yet he could not reverse the combined action of the civil authority in the Executive and Legislative branches of our government - for an interim emergency procurement requiring an outlay of $3.0 million. It is a sad chapter in the civilianl/military authority history of our armed services, particularly when compared to the authority vested in Admiral Ernest King when he was the CNO during World War II.

Facing the denial for sole source procurement, the Navy struggled on with its existing helo assets. Eventually a larger fixed wing close support aircraft, the OV-10 Bronco arrived on the scene, but long after the Pilatus Porter opportunity had been negated. At this writing in June of 2006, the Porter is still in production, with many in service around the world performing a multitude of missions. It would be ironic if it showed up as a close air support vehicle for the newly emerging Brown Water Navy.

When this story was about to be published by the Naval Institute in the June 2005 issue of NavalHistory magazine, the Editor called former Secretary McNamara to obtain his reaction to the article. In the words of the Editor, "When contacted, the former Secretary said that he did not recall the incident although he did vaguely remember meeting someone named Bollinger at Harvard in the early 1940s. He expressed doubt that such a small program would have risen to his level for a decision unless it involved some widening of the war. This one did not." So much for the civilian authority.

There are still naval persons alive - including me - who will never forgive the civilian authority for the cancellation of this program. It did not improve the relations between some naval aviation leaders and the civilian authority in the Pentagon. But even so, those leaders would undoubtedly fight to preserve the traditional civilian authority concept. After all, not all members of the civilian authority in the Pentagon and the Congress have turned their backs on military judgment, especially in time of war.

Seagoing Surprise

By Ted Balis '42

It was in 1960. I was Executive Officer of the cruiser Saint Paul . We were scheduled to fuel from an oiler, port side to. The Old Man (Jack Maurer ’35) told me to take the conn, make the approach and complete the evolution. It was something I had done before in my eighteen years of commissioned service, so I relieved the OOD as conning officer and proceeded as ordered.

The oiler’s fueling course and speed was steady as a rock, and the approach was routine. Once alongside, I slowed to the fueling speed and adjusted turns to match the speed of the oiler, while the deck force rigged the fueling and underway replenishment lines in record time. We were riding comfortably at about fifty feet and were receiving oil when it happened.

All of a sudden the distance started widening rapidly! I checked our course on the bridge-wing pelorus, and queried Saint Paul ’s helmsman – we were within a degree or two of the fueling course. THE OILER WAS TURNING LEFT! And the deck force and black gang were watching the lines and hoses approach the limit of their reach. The whole rig could be on the verge of carrying away, subjecting them to flailing manila and wire and bathing them in black oil. All I could do was maintain course and speed. Any attempt to come left would invite collision.

Miraculously, with the distance at its extreme maximum, the oiler started easing back to the right a few degrees at a time until she had brought the distance back to what it had been originally. Then she resumed the fueling course. Everybody in Saint Paul breathed a sigh of relief. That changed to a sigh of disbelief when we received the following BT by flashing light from the Captain of the oiler: “Sorry. My helmsman fainted while carrying left rudder."

Going to sea sometimes can be full of surprises, and dangerous to your health as well.

A Defining Moment

by VADM Jerry Miller '42, USN (Ret.)

(This Sea Story is a revision of an article titled Duty Versus Friendship, published by the USNA Alumni Association in the July-August 2000 issue of Shipmate Magazine).

Occasionally adults with a respectable career will be asked to describe the "deciding moment" or incident that set the course for that career. Some individuals may experience several deciding moments as they search for the right path ahead. For me it was a single incident - disciplinary action rendered by the Commandant of Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy during my senior year.

I enjoyed life at the Academy. I had been in the enlisted ranks for a couple of years before entering and the life of a midshipman was great. I found myself particularly enjoying the social camaraderie that is a hallmark of the Institution. I had no great ambition to be a leader at the Academy - a "striper" as they were called. My objective was to graduate, receive a commission, and become a naval aviator. That was about as far ahead as I had planned.

When our senior year finally arrived, I found myself, to some surprise, assigned a role as a Company Commander - a three striper. Since the regiment was relatively small with only 12 companies at the time, being a three striper was pretty big stuff. Gradually I discovered that I liked being out in front. The authority was not much but it was better than being in ranks toting a rifle. I got hooked on being "in charge." Then came the "deciding moment."

It was the fall of 1941. War was in the air and seniors at the Naval Academy knew that it was just a matter of time before we would be involved. The pace of academic instruction had been accelerated. The Class of 1941 graduated in February. The Class of 1942 was slated to finish on 19 December 1941. Things were getting serious.

One bright, yet recalcitrant classmate was feeling his oats. Having a great desire for personal recognition, he was prone to take actions that unfortunately worked against the attainment of his goals. Failing to be recognized with rank (stripes) in the regimental military structure, he turned to taking on the "system," attempting to show the underclassmen that he was a leader, in one way or another. The "system" had recognized his potential by giving him an extra year to develop. He was turned back from the Class of 1941 to the Class of 1942, but he still fought the system in sophomoric ways.

His violations of the rules were relatively minor, yet irritating to some of his new classmates. He was personable and had many friends but his desire to be a recognized leader overpowered his good sense. He took to creating the image that he was a real swinger - a stud with the girls and a big boozer - that he could violate the "no drinking" rules and get away with it. His actions eventually included coming to the Sunday evening military formation with a "snoot full." Whether he had a few beers or less, he gave the impression that he had been on a tear. He stood in ranks, but vocally, in loud and boisterous terms, portrayed the image of being "tight." As his Company Commander, I followed the traditional custom of never putting a classmate on report. I handled the situation by asking one of our classmates to escort the offender to his room, rather than have him march to the mess hall for evening meal.

This little Sunday evening play went on for about a month. Then our hero decided to escalate his act. He showed up in formation wearing civilian clothes, another violation of the regulations. He evidently reasoned that the usual procedure would be followed - that another class­mate would escort him to his room. By this time I had my fill of the performance. Rejecting the unofficial code that one never puts a classmate on report, I confronted the actor with some stern words. I informed him that enough was enough. I ordered him to remain in ranks as the company marched to the mess hall. I added that I hoped the commissioned duty officer would notice the event and put the culprit on report. My words sobered up our hero rather rapidly. Things were getting serious.

The formation had just made the first turn towards the mess hall when the duty officer appeared on the scene and our hero was on report. I was prepared to withstand the wrath that was sure to prevail for having failed to protect a classmate, but the Commandant of Midshipmen had other thoughts in mind. He summoned the culprit's platoon commander, the acting battalion commander, and me to his office for a formal discussion of the event. His questions were simple. All three of the assembled stripers were part of the military structure of the Regiment. We were responsible for the conduct of our troops. Why had none of the three of us chosen to put the culprit on report? Why had we left the task to the commissioned duty officer?

I answered with one of the dumbest comments ever made by a midshipman. I informed the commandant that in considering a military career, I had reflected that if it came to a choice between friendship or duty, I regretfully would have to choose friendship. The commandant re­sponded with, "Young man, you have a lot to learn." With that, he inverted the rank structure of the three of us in front of him. The acting battalion commander was reduced in military rank and made the last man in the class. I was reduced to the next to the last rank and the platoon commander to one rank above that. We had been leaders, out in front with responsibilities. Now we were back in ranks, at the bottom of the pyramid, packing a rifle in parade formations and taking orders from others in our class. It was a rude shock, but it was also most appropriate. It was a defining moment for me. I found that I really wanted to be out front - to be a leader. That was to be my focus for the rest of my career, all caused by one special moment in the Academy's program to train leaders for combat. During the next thirty years, I was privileged and fortunate enough to be in command - "out in front" - of more than a dozen sea/combatant units, including special task forces, the US Second and Sixth Fleets. All of the pleasure of command came to me as a result of disciplinary action - a defining moment.

Distorting Intelligence "The Missile Gap"

By VADM Jerry Miller '42, USN (Ret.)

Since the beginning of the war in Iraq in 2003, numerous allegations have been levied concerning the distortion of intelligence for political purposes. Particular emphasis has been placed on the existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Based on my personal extensive experience with both tactical and strategic intelligence during World War II, the Korean/Vietnam flaps, and the Cold War, I seriously doubt the validity of the allegations. I believe our current leaders have been done in by the very nature of the intelligence function - a most imperfect science at best. One of the first lessons learned about intelligence, particularly in combat, is to never trust the stuff. Always be highly suspect and have a contingency plan in case the intelligence proves to be flawed.

That is not to say that intelligence will not be distorted for political purposes. One of the most famous cases of intelligence distortion occurred during the presidential election campaign in the summer of 1960. It became known as the "missile gap."

In that campaign, members of the Democratic Party (the "outs") were seeking to defeat the Republican Eisenhower Administration (the "ins"). The Democrats levied charges of weakness in national security on the part of the Eisenhower Administration. They created an illusion of a missile gap, which stemmed from a major distortion of intelligence by the military as it related to the nature of the Soviet nuclear weapons (WMD) threat to the United States.

Following World War II, nuclear weapons became the cornerstone of our national defense policy. The Soviets adopted the same policy. In the early days of his administration, President Eisenhower called for "nuclear superiority" over the Soviets, which was interpreted by many as having more weapons than the Soviets - more weapons, not necessarily better weapons. The intelligence community assumed a major role in measuring how many weapons the enemy possessed. Those measurements of the Soviet arsenal could be compared with the magnitude of the US arsenal, resulting in an opinion of who was ahead - who was strong and who was weak - a pretty naïve measurement but nevertheless, the one that was employed.

The U.S. rapidly developed a capability to deliver nuclear weapons on selected targets. The weapons became smaller in size and weight while simultaneously increasing greatly in explosive power and accuracy. New delivery systems were developed, including land based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Significant new aircraft were designed and produced by both the Navy and the Air Force for the specific purpose of delivering nuclear weapons. All individuals charged with developing attack plans for the use of these weapons required good intelligence on Soviet targets in order to guarantee a respectable probability of success. Gaining intelligence on the composition and magnitude of the Soviet nuclear weapons arsenal was particularly difficult.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s much of the high quality target intelligence about the Soviet Union came from photography taken by the Lockheed U-2 "spy plane" - a bird that could fly at high altitudes and take photos of significant quality, although not in the volume needed to cover the entire target spectrum. The U-2 program suffered a major set back when a plane piloted by Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union by a surface-to-air-missile (SAM). That caused much embarrassment to President Eisenhower and forced the US to rely on the newly emerging space satellite photo capability for intelligence. Unfortunately, the quality of the "take" from the few orbiting satellites was very poor.

A significant aspect of the intelligence capability at the time was the most impressive organization developed by the Strategic Air Command (SAC), headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. The Air Force invested heavily in developing an intelligence capability and SAC became the dominant organization for providing information on the nature of the Soviet threat. SAC was able to process the "take" from the satellites in record time and often had the results on the street before any of the military services or the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). SAC intelligence became the intelligence relative to the Soviet nuclear weapons threat to the United States.

In the summer of 1960, presidential candidate Senator Jack Kennedy paid a visit to SAC headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. He received a detailed briefing from the SAC intelligence organization about the Soviet nuclear threat to the United States. Based on the information he received, candidate Kennedy and the Democratic Party levied a charge against the incumbent Eisenhower Administration that the latter was weak on defense - that the Soviets had developed and deployed far more nuclear weapon capable missiles than the United States. There was a "missile gap." The Democrats made much of the issue. Some individuals credit the "missile gap" as a major factor in enabling Jack Kennedy to win the election and take over as President in January of 1961.

One of the major cabinet posts filled by the new President was that of Secretary of Defense. Kennedy chose Robert McNamara, a man with great confidence in the ability to solve any problem through systems analysis. He was a "prober" - the ultimate oversight authority. One of the new Secretary's first visits out of Washington was to SAC headquarters in order to be briefed on a new Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) which was to be placed in effect in the spring of 1961. The new Plan brought together for the first time in a single document, most of the nuclear weapons allocated to individual commands for delivery against the Soviet threat. It was a logical and significant approach to the deadly serious business of coordinating a massive nuclear weapons attack involving about 3500 weapons - an attack against the Soviets. It relied heavily on SAC intelligence and McNamara wanted to become familiar with the SIOP. So he traveled to Omaha.

I was a young captain at the time, holding a key position on the Staff preparing the SIOP. I was a qualified nuclear weapons delivery pilot and had some experience in monitoring the attack plans of the various commands possessing nuclear weapons. I was assigned the task of briefing many high level visitors about the history of our organization - the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff (JSTPS) - formed in the fall of 1960 just after Jack Kennedy's visit to SAC headquarters. I briefed the new Secretary of Defense and his extensive entourage, which included the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including General Curtis LeMay, the "father" of SAC. Following my introductory briefing, an intelligence briefing was conducted. Material was presented contending that there was a missile gap. Mr. McNamara created some surprise by asking to see the raw intelligence - the "take" from the satellites on which the threat had been developed. This created some embarrassment, for the Secretary was not "cleared" to view such material. Because of the sensitivity of the satellite "take," one had to have a security clearance from the White House to view the raw data. McNamara did not have that clearance. It took about thirty minutes to overcome that obstacle - accomplished by appropriate phone calls.

The Secretary viewed the raw data and was as perplexed as some that had reviewed the data earlier. He expressed his concern over the interpretation of the "take" and finally concluded that there was no missile gap. That was a conclusion that many of us had reached when we saw the raw intelligence. The quality of the material was so poor that a bulldozer operator clearing ground for a housing development in Moscow could create a satellite photo image that could be interpreted as a new ballistic missile field. Several of the Staff - including me - had protested the conclusions reached by the SAC intelligence organization but to no avail. The Secretary's conclusion about "no missile gap" created a minor political embarrassment but was of no significant consequence since Kennedy had won the election. The Republicans were "out" and the Democrats were "in."

The next eight years saw much interest in the SIOP by McNamara and his successor. That first SIOP was an attack plan coordinating the delivery of some 3500 nuclear weapons. By the time McNamara left office the total had risen to over 7000, on its way to 10,000 by the mid 1970s.

A basic lesson that officers in the military can learn from this Sea Story is that during a national political campaign, a favorite tactic of politicians is to levy charges of weakness on national defense by those in power. In the process of substantiating the charges, there may be attempts - sometimes quite successful as in the case of the missile gap - to exploit military plans, capabilities, and people. It is essential for the health of our nation that our military capabilities and plans reflect the highest level of integrity. The SAC intelligence organization was superb in its capability. Its mistake was in stretching and distorting the facts, something that is easy to do if oversight is severely constrained. SAC Intelligence was building a massive Soviet threat, which would in turn have an advantageous effect for their command in the national budget and force allocation process. Politicians took advantage of the distortion.

The "missile gap" of the 1960 presidential campaign is a classic example of the abuses of intelligence that can result when there is a failure to evaluate and maintain a critical approach to all data provided to the user. Any experienced participant in combat learns rapidly to be very skeptical of intelligence reports. The same requirement holds for those viewing intelligence for policy and strategic planning purposes. Secretary McNamara, with his probing "show me" surprise, provided high-level oversight that was needed relative to the missile gap. Had it been exercised before the 1960 national election, the Republicans might have prevailed. Exploitation of intelligence for political purposes is a tactic to be avoided - but it can be expected in the future. Members of the military must maintain their integrity and not become a part of the political process - at least while on active duty.

Submarine Vs. Submarine

By Gene Malone '42

It was 29 December 1943, just after midnight. Silversides was conducting a night surface patrol a few miles northwest of Palau. Radar detected and we closed and mingled with a nine ship southbound convoy. In a three-hour surface battle we rid the seas of six Japanese ships firing twenty of our twenty-four torpedoes. But that is another story.

We moved several hours south the next day, spent New Year's Eve flushing an empty fuel ballast tank and recharging batteries, both personal and ships’. Ready to fight another day Silversides headed north toward our Palau station on the surface, using a moderate zigzag plan.

It was about an hour into the afternoon watch the day after New Years’. The sky was a cloudless equatorial blue. A light breeze stirred up a few random whitecaps over the long deep ocean swell. There were four lookouts, the quartermaster of the watch, the Junior Officer of the Deck and me, the OOD, on the bridge.

The junior officer of the deck and the quartermaster of the watch were aft on the cigarette deck. It seemed to me that there was an unnecessary amount of unseaman-like chat going on. As the youngest officer on board, but not a particularly modest one, I decided to interrupt the social hour with a few words of firm instruction. Turning to deliver my verbal blast, I saw, just off the starboard beam, what looked to be an impulse bubble and the start of a torpedo wake. Then a periscope broke the surface. By then Silversides was well into my, "Left full rudder, all ahead emergency." "Ease the rudder, steady as you go." "Make ready the after tubes."

Through the sweat and super-charged with adrenaline, we watched the first enemy torpedo pass parallel to our new course about seventy yards to starboard. Seconds later a second fish passed close aboard to starboard. A deep breath later the third shot, obviously aimed at our stern after the turn, passed to port so close that the torpedo and its wake were clearly visible as it passed. A steady hand on the conning tower helm had defeated the Japanese superb fire control.

While I was engaged in my OOD duty, the Captain, Jack Coye (’33) and Exec, Bob Worthington ('38), although noting that the tubes were ready, decided to hold fire given our speed, the narrow target the other submarine presented, the nature of our torpedoes and the too obvious accuracy of his fire control. Furthermore, our being quite well out of our assigned area made it a possibility that the other guy was a nominal friendly making a bad identification (ID).

Our best chance of killing the other submarine, if it were Japanese, would be to get out of sight, over the hill, dive and return quietly to check him out when he surfaced and shoot. Half an hour later we slowed and dove. No sooner had we made the dive and turned to close than the dread word came forward, "Fire in the maneuvering room"; “Lost power on both shafts."

The maneuvering room was untenable except with rescue breathing apparatus and the air throughout the boat was foul. The electrical gang had power back on both shafts within half an hour. It was apparent that continued submergence was unwise so, conceding the day to the other submarine, we surfaced and proceeded in a calmer direction. Having lived to fight another day, Silversides declared a draw for the day and returned to her area to find targets for the last four torpedoes. And that's another story.

One-Shot Dutchman

by Charlie Smith '42

I served in USS Amsterdam(CL101), a Cleveland Class light cruiser, commanded by CAPT A. P. Lawton, USNA '21, as Main Battery Assistant from her commissioning in early '45 until the end of the WW II.  We had a six inch main battery with two three-gun turrets forward and two aft.  The guns were designed with high enough elevation capability to make possible their use for antiaircraft purposes.  However, the fire control systems for this use were not provided. 

Our Gunnery Officer was Jim Thomson, USNA '35, who had served in the Bureau of Ordnance and was aware that proximity fuses had been manufactured for the six inch projectiles.  He managed to obtain a number of them and assigned me the task of devising a way of testing them without using all of them in the test.

My plan was to fire two time-fused bullets at the target, and then one bullet with the proximity fuse.  I intended to use the time-fused bursts as the basis for estimating the range settings for the proximity fused projectile. I used range tables for a surface shoot with a small correction for elevation in making up a table giving the time of flight.  I estimated that the probability was minimum that one or two single time-fused shots, using settings read from a table at maximum range, would hit a moving air target.  Therefore, using  time-fused shots for spotting purposes seemed to make sense.

My gunnery officer approved my plan. Our task group commander set up a gunnery practice against a radio controlled drone on a track directly in toward us.  Because we wanted to test our system out at longer range than anyone else, CDR Thomson asked CAPT Lawton to ask the task group commander for permission to open fire early.  It was granted and I was on center stage.  I fired my first time-fused bullet as soon as the control plane indicated range clear.  I don't now remember the exact range but it was near our maximum. I followed the bullet with my binoculars as soon as it left the barrel.  Eventually the target drone came in view first below the bullet and then above. It looked as though it had missed, but then it exploded and the target drone disintegrated. The Task group commander was furious and immediately forbade our ship from firing in any future practices.  We were known after that as One-shot Dutchman! 

The irony – although I accomplished the extraordinary feat of hitting an air target with a single shot at long range using manual fire control settings, I was a failure.  I had failed to test the proximity fuse and in addition brought the task group commander’s wrath down on my skipper!

Admiral Arleigh Burke And Me

by Ted Balis '42

In the fall of 1950, at the request of then Rear Admiral Arleigh Burke, I went to Tokyo, Japan to join the staff of Commander Naval Forces Far East.  I was a young Lieutenant Commander.  He had just been promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral.  His name had been removed from the flag officer promotion list by the Secretary of the Navy for his role in the so-called "Revolt of the Admirals."  His name was returned to the list by President Harry Truman, for Burke was obviously a senior officer with great potential.  He was later to become one of the Navy's greatest leaders, serving as Chief of Naval Operations for six years during a crucial period in our history.

Upon my arrival in Tokyo, I was assigned to assist Admiral Burke.  After about two months, a four-officer communication watch group was formed to cover the twenty-four hour day. I was part of the group. Our duties were to review the message traffic, then brief the flag officers and other key officers at about 6:30 AM each morning. We were on watch for eight hours and off for twenty-four hours.  Of course our daily habits also rotated. When you got to your quarters after the midnight to 8:00 AM watch, you had to decide whether to eat, sleep, or do something else.

One morning I went to sleep after the eight hour mid-watch.  Suddenly I was awakened and told that Admiral Burke wanted to see me right away. I went into his office. He told me to sit down.

Then he started to chew me out for failing to tell him about a certain message. Next thing I remember he was awakening me and told me to get the hell out. I had fallen asleep in front of him while he was chewing me out.

I worked for Admiral Burke in two more assignments and turned down a third one. The message that caused the stir was a personal one addressed to Admiral Burke, which could not be shown to me.

South China Sea Episode

by Jerry Peddicord '42

In the spring of 1954 I was on my third successive deployment to the Far East in aircraft carriers, this time in the Essex. We were being a presence in the South China Sea. Our task group consisted of two carriers, a cruiser and screening destroyers. On 22 March, while at Subic Bay in the Philippines, we were ordered to sortie in a hurry and head west at 25 knots – an unusually high speed of advance for our normal peacetime operations. Only key people in the two carriers were told of our mission.

We arrived off the coast of Indo-China the next day, conducted an underway replenishment, and commenced several days of air operations.

On the international scene, the Communists were advancing on Dien Bien Phu, which was held by the French, threatening to drive foreign forces out of Indo-China once and for all. This real threat alarmed the U.S. Government. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was a strong advocate of the Domino Theory--- that the Communists could gain control of the entire area by picking off the relatively weak states of Southeast Asia, and maybe even Indonesia and Australia as well, one by one. Each victory would facilitate the next, like a domino line falling. The question in the United States was when and where to take a stand in opposition.

It turned out that the French were overwhelmed and Dien Bien Phu did fall while we were on station off the coast. The task group response was extensive reconnaissance flights over the city in preparation for an air attack, if so ordered. We had the capability to launch aircraft armed with the atomic bomb, and made all preparations to do just that if authorized by Washington. However, at the last minute, President Eisenhower made the decision that this was not the time or place to use atomic weapons. The planned operation was cancelled and we returned to our training mission.

Looking back, I have often wondered what effect execution of that planned nuclear attack would have had on that part of the world, to say nothing of events that have transpired worldwide over the past fifty-two years. Radical change in any number of scenarios can be visualized— Vietnam, the Cold War, U.S./ Russia and U.S./China relations, etc.  Would there have been an all-out nuclear WW III, once other major powers acquired nukes?

Maybe the most significant aspect of my story, in the eyes of future readers, is the fact that there was a period of time in our history when we actually considered use of a nuke almost as a tactical weapon, if authorized by higher command. We were walking a high wire in those days.

Rickover In Print

Most sea stories about Hyman Rickover, USNA '22, deal with his famous interviews of candidates for the Navy's nuclear power program. However it is in the written word that true character is revealed.   Here is Rickover in print.

In early 1970, the Navy's material establishment was under the command of a "Chief of Navy Material" - a four star flag officer, USNA '40.  Rickover was a three star admiral at the time and held a subordinate position in the existing organizational structure, although the word "subordinate" was never really in his lexicon. 

This Material Command, in typical bureaucratic practice and in an attempt to apply more analysis to its manpower policies, came up with a proposal for the establishment of "manpower factors."  Division heads in the organization, of which Rickover was one of several, were requested to respond to the idea.  Rickover's response is loaded with wisdom, gleaned from working on problems, not theorizing about them.  Here are excerpts from his official memo to the Chief of Naval Material dated 20 January 1970.

"It appears that the HUMAN FACTORS 'program' is another of the fruitless attempts to get things done by systems, organizations, and big words rather than by people.   It contains the greatest quantity of nonsense I have ever seen assembled in one publication.  (His emphasis).  It is replete with obtuse jargon and sham-scientific expression which, translated into English from its characteristic argot - where this is possible - turns out to be either meaningless or insignificant. It is about as useful as teaching your grandmother how to suck an egg," (Again his emphasis).

Then he gets serious. 

"Those who compiled the instruction demonstrate a lack of knowledge as to how work in this real world is actually done. They assume that engineers who design naval equipments have no awareness that these are to be operated and repaired by average human beings, and for this reason, they need the guidance of Human Factors 'engineers'.  With the elucidations such 'engineers' will give, the simplest everyday problem will become incomprehensible.

"This proposal is typical of present day social 'science' concepts - that one needs no detailed expertise in a given field; he can with little or no training or experience 'solve' a problem by the exercise of his intellect and the use of concepts.  This may be true in pure science; it certainly is not in engineering.  To advocate the contrary demonstrates a lack of insight on how engineering problems are actually solved.

"To implement the Human Factors 'program' will require about as many additional people as now are engaged in doing technical work.  New large organizations -- a vast new social 'science' bureaucracy contributing absolutely nothing to the building of ships -- will have to be set up in the Headquarters of the Naval Material Command, in all the Systems Commands, and in contractor organizations.  Should Human Factors succeed in its 'objective' it will likewise succeed in stopping all useful work.

"The proposed directive cannot be undertaken by rational persons interested in getting the job done; it cannot be accomplished; it will add another monstrosity to our already vast administrative burden; it will increase the cost of shipbuilding; it will make us a laughing stock.

"I recommend that the Human Factors 'program' be forgotten as fast as possible.  There will of course be objections by those who by now have already established a vested interest beachhead, but the good of the Navy should prevail.

                                                                                    /s/  H. G. Rickover"

It is always so refreshing to have a subordinate let you know exactly where he stands.  Rickover was a master at that.

MacArthur and Me

By VADM William D. Houser '42, USN (Ret.)

I was the General Quarters OOD in the light cruiser Nashville, and witness to a heretofore untold story that took place during the successful invasion of the Philippines and the night surface action which followed. It all stems from the fact that General Douglas MacArthur, Commander of the Southwest Pacific Area, and in overall command (but not tactical command) of the Philippine Operation, was embarked in my ship. He spent most of his time on the Nashville ’s bridge monitoring command circuits, but not interfering with Commander Seventh Fleet, Vice Admiral Kinkaid, who was in overall tactical command. As usual, the General was accompanied by his senior staff and the ever-present media, creating a crowded bridge to say the least. Most of the time I was in earshot of the General, although there was no camaraderie between us, a five-star Army legend and a two-stripe Navy OOD. When the beach was secure on D-Day, the General and entourage left the ship temporarily to wade ashore, where he made his historic announcement that, as promised to the Philippines in early 1942, he had returned.

Now for the untold story. When we learned of major enemy forces approaching Leyte Gulf from both the south and the north, Seventh Fleet ships began topping off both fuel and ammunition, and VADM Kinkaid began to worry about what to do with the General to protect his safety. His decision was to leave him in the Nashville but to keep the ship out of the surface action, anchored in the northern part of the Gulf, far removed from the northern entrance to Surigao Strait which would be the crucial scene of action. The General demurred at first, saying he wanted to be with Kinkaid in his flagship, the old battleship Pennsylvania. But ComSeventhFlt would have none of it. He insisted that the potential danger was too great and that he would not jeopardize his senior’s safety by exposing him to a knockdown dragout night surface action involving 16-inch battleships, cruisers and destroyers on both sides. So the refueled and rearmed Nashville with her valuable passenger spent the night safely anchored listening to the tactical circuits describing the victorious and critical Battle of Surigao Strait.

Befriending The Enemy (In the days long before Abu Graib)

By Capain Roy Werthmuller '42, USN (Ret.)

In early August 1945 I had the good fortune to be the executive officer of Torsk (SS 423) when we entered the Sea of Japan for a series of successful operations against Japanese merchantmen.

The morning after we entered and while at periscope depth we noticed a strange apparition on the horizon. None of us could figure it out until we came up higher in the water. Then we discerned seven Japanese men clinging to debris. We approached them and at first they were reluctant to come on board. We found out later that their small ship had been sunk by U.S. airplanes and they had been in the water for several days.

We succeeded in getting six of the men aboard, but the seventh tried to swim away. When he saw that his shipmates were being given good treatment, he finally allowed us to pick him up. He was so weak that our crew had to pick him up and carry him below. We were having breakfast at the time and the crew tried to give the prisoners pancakes, but the survivors were intelligent enough to mainly drink the syrup which was probably best for them in their starving condition. We put three of the prisoners in the forward compartment, three in the aft compartment and the seventh in the galley to help the cooks. The one assigned to the galley was only 16 years old and had been the cook on his ship. He indicated that he had been on two previous ships which had been sunk. This boy became the favorite of the crew and learned a lot of English before he left the ship.

After successful actions in the Sea of Japan we received a message that the war had ended and that there was a cease fire. As you may imagine, after the hectic days before the cease fire, it was quite a change to have nothing to do. The crew started to clean the ship which had been neglected during the times at battle stations. The prisoners helped in this and because of their small size and agility cleaned places never cleaned before. Also, the prisoners had become quite acclimated to life on board.

Once when an engineman had difficulty closing a valve when diving, a prisoner jumped in and helped without being asked. Another time, the boy in the galley warned a crew member about making noise when we were evading a frigate. The crew started to teach the boy English and he was a quick learner. One morning a crew member asked me to come aft to see that Tanaka, the mess cook, had learned to say “good morning”. I went aft and said: “good morning Tanaka.” He said: “I hate marines.” Of course, the marines would be taking him when we returned to port. I made certain that they told Tanaka of the joke, because the crew really liked him. The prisoners enjoyed life on board and all gained weight and did not want to leave. When we arrived in Guam 3 or 4 weeks later, they left the ship with candy and cigarettes as presents from the crew.

Sinking a Special Submarine

by Frank Sellers '42

It was mid-December 1943.  I was the Executive Officer of the USS Wainwright (DD-419).  We were in company with two other US destroyers and HMS Calpe in the Mediterranean, conducting a search for German submarines.  Upon making sonar contact, Wainwright and Calpe made depth-charge attacks that forced a German submarine to the surface.  We opened fire with our 40 MM guns, raking the topside of the submarine.  We ceased fire when enemy crewmen started waving white flags.  This whole event occurred in an unbelievably short period of time.  We were a veteran submarine hunter/killer team and had been fighting the Germans for almost two years.  We had never before experienced such a turn of events.

Wainwright's First Lieutenant and a boarding party shoved off in our whaleboat and soon were alongside the submarine.  The German crew assisted them in boarding.  Once on board our First Lieutenant indicated to the Captain of the sub that he planned to go below decks.  "I wouldn't do that if I were you," said the Captain.  Seeing that the officers and crew had already surrendered and were prepared to proceed to the Wainwright, our First Lieutenant decided to heed the advice of the Captain and remain topside.  The Captain appeared to be a longtime U-Boat veteran whose advice should be heeded.

Transfer of the entire submarine's company, including the skipper, to the Wainwright was accomplished without incident.  About twenty minutes after the crew boarded the  Wainwright, their submarine suddenly disappeared below the waves.  There were no explosions.  Open seacocks had done her in, explaining why the Captain had advised our First Lieutenant to remain topside.

Once on board Wainwright, the prisoners were peaceful and cooperative.  Some were amazed at the size of our depth charges on the fantail racks - the kind that had forced them to the surface.  We were so impressed by the demeanor of the German captain that we asked him to join us for dinner in the wardroom.  He was very pleasant, identifying himself as Lieutenant Commander Gerb Kelbling.

Wainwright was ordered to proceed immediately to Algiers to offload the prisoners.  Upon arrival we were surprised at the reception.  A British intelligence officer on the pier greeted the German captain saying "Commander Kelbling, we've been looking for you for a long time."  Evidently our target was the U-593.  She and her crew under the command of Gerb Kelbling had sunk a large number of ships in the Mediterranean.  We had captured a real celebrity.

Don’t Give Up The Ship

by CDR Allen "Buck" Catlin '42, USN (Ret.)

I was an enlisted man on a battleship striving to make the top 100 who would receive Fleet appointments to the Naval Academy as midshipmen.  I had enlisted too late to be assigned to the Naval Academy Preparatory Class (NAPC) for the course of instruction that started in the fall of 1937.  Since an applicant was required to have a year of  sea duty prior to entry to that Class, I was ineligible.

As a consequence, I decided to try and qualify for assignment directly from the ship to the Academy, bypassing the Prep Class.  In order to pass the Academy entrance exams, I was studying hard in the crew's mess while being a Sixth Division "deck ape" on the USS Nevada.  Gene Farrell, in the Fire Control Division of the ship was my mentor.  He suggested that I try to get an alternate Congressional appointment somewhere that would qualify me for late entry to the NAPC.  A few months of formal classroom study at the Class was what I needed to pass the entrance exam. If I didn't make the Class of 1942, I would have been too old the following year to enter the Naval Academy.

I applied for and took a civil service-run competitive exam from a Florida congressman's district.  Wonder of wonders, I received a first alternate appointment, which entitled me to be assigned to the Prep Class. (My classmate Bill Houser was the principal appointee).

"Not possible at this time," was the Division Officer's response to my request for transfer. (The ship was about to go into anti-aircraft gunnery battle practice.  I was his director talker. He would not release me for the new assignment). Gene told me to talk to the ship's Personnel Yeoman, who agreed to draft a letter for me, addressed directly to the Bureau of Navigation (called the Bureau of Personnel today).  When I signed the letter I remember the yeoman saying, "If it gets back to the ship that you have sent a request directly to the Bureau instead of through the chain of command, your ass will be in the soup!"

A couple of weeks later I received a letter directly from the Bureau, approving my request and authorizing the ship to transfer me to the Preparatory Class. It was signed "BY DIRECTION C. W. NIMITZ, CAPTAIN USN."  I didn't know who this dude NIMITZ was, but two days later I was on my way to the Prep Class and eventually to the Naval Academy - thanks to Gene Farrell, an understanding ship's yeoman and a future five star Navy icon.

This experience taught me always to look beyond bureaucratic structures and procedures in order to get something done. Protocols and procedures, however efficient, often stand in the way. The decision maker must identify the issue first, and then tailor the use of procedures accordingly.  I was fortunate indeed that three such individuals were able to define the issue in my case and then take the actions needed to enable me to enter the Naval Academy.

An Unsung '42 Hero

By Rear Admiral Gene Farrell 42, USN (Ret.)

Once upon a time, several years ago, I visited Dick ("Tiger") O'Brien at his Denver, CO, home. We were enjoying our camaraderie over a beer when I noticed a pair of artifacts hanging on the wall of Dick's study. One was a large, slightly rusty sheath knife like the kind many of us carried in the Pacific Fleet during WW II. The other was a .45 caliber pistol, which was standard equipment worn by many officers during general quarters.on board their ships. I asked Dick what was the significance of the two items. His response was a fascinating tale which ought to be recorded in the annals of wartime experiences of our classmates. It began June 4, 1942 with the Battle of Midway.

Dick's ship,  USS YORKTOWN (CV), was mortally wounded during the furious action of that historic victory over Vice Admiral Nagumo's IJN Carrier Strike Fleet. When the order to abandon ship was given, Dick and a Marine sergeant left their battle station and made their way together along the inclined flight deck toward their assigned abandon ship stations. Hearing a plaintive call for help they investigated and found an injured sailor, one of whose legs was impaled by the twisted grids of the deck grating, which a bomb explosion had distorted. Dick gave the man a shot of morphine from his first aid kit, and ordered the sergeant to stand by the sailor while he went for a tool to sever the grid and free the man.  He remembered where the nearest repair locker was located and reasoned that it might contain a bolt cutter or hacksaw. Luckily, he found the latter and sawed the man loose.  About that time, another sailor approached Dick and said, "Mr. O'Brien, I don't have a lifejacket and I can't swim!".  Dick took off his lifejacket and gave it to the man.

"That was magnanimous of you,"  I said.  "Not at all," replied Dick. "I knew where there were several stored in a locker, and I went and got one for myself and an extra one for the wounded sailor."  He also found a line to lower the man from the deck to the water's edge, and instructed the sergeant, a big burly man, to do the lowering while Dick went over the side and commandeered a large plank of flotsam to support the sailor. Once in the water, Dick discovered that the tie-ties of his life jacket were rotten. To hold the jacket on, he was forced to clamp his elbows to his sides while he and the sergeant struggled to maneuver the "raft" away from the sinking ship. Finally, he gave up on the lifejacket and discarded it only to find that his buoyancy, reduced by the weight of the pistol and knife, was less than zero.  He contemplated jettisoning both, but an inner voice told him not to do so.

Clear of the sinking carrier, Dick expected to be rescued by the escorting destroyer which was recovering survivors. He had her in sight about a thousand yards away. Suddenly he saw two black puffs of smoke erupt from her twin stacks, which told him their intended rescue ship was about to take off for parts unknown.  Dick upholstered the soggy pistol and pulled the trigger seven times. By the grace of God, three of the seven wet cartridges fired and were heard on the destroyer, which turned toward them and hauled them aboard.  On deck, Dick handed the pistol to gunner's mate saying, "This old piece saved my life.  Take it to the armory, clean it up and give it back to me when I leave your ship."

Dick was never commended for what he did that fateful day in June of 1942. In the after-battle confusion of a lost ship's administrative order, it was probably not even mentioned in his fitness report, if indeed one was ever submitted. And very few, if any, of Dick's classmates know about it.  But we all know from his fighting record in the intercollegiate boxing rings, and the two Silver Stars he was subsequently awarded as Division Commander of PT boats in the Mediterranean, that Richard Hamilton O'Brien is made of the "right stuff".

The Parson's Bible

By Rear Admiral Robert G. Mills, USN (Ret.), '42

Outside naval recruiting stations on December 8, 1941, long lines of loyal Americans formed to answer their country's call to duty.  From a farm in Kansas came a muscular young divinity student who saw the opportunity simultaneously to serve both his country and his Lord in this high endeavor.  After a sharply abbreviated boot camp he went out to the Pacific to report to the destroyer USS Ralph Talbot.

To aid in his self-appointed crusade he brought along about 100 miniature Bibles to distribute to his new shipmates, which led to his early testing.  Not only did these gifts not receive the expected approbation among the somewhat rough-talking crew, but a major stowage problem existed.  Chipping hammers and acetylene torches were cutting away at the destroyer's deckhouses, offices, and storerooms to make room to mount fire control radars, 20mm anti-aircraft guns, ammunition stowages, and air search and surface search radar.  The ship's crew was increased from 140 to 240 to service this additional armament.  Stowage space for personal gear was drastically reduced, and the new Bibles occupied about half of the total of the meager locker space allocated to this new recruit seaman.

Destroyers did not carry Navy chaplains, and personnel transfers between ships at sea (in those days before helicopters) were limited to emergencies.  So each Sunday our dedicated missionary set up church services on his ship's fantail.  Response was minuscule at best, but the good-natured new seaman soon won the moniker "Parson" amongst his shipmates.  Nevertheless, the unwanted Bibles remained jammed into his cramped locker.

Not long thereafter Ralph Talbot was transferred to join the Australian Fleet to help support the amphibious landings at Guadalcanal.  The Parson's battle station was on #4 five-inch gun, mounted on the main deck aft.  Ammunition for this unshielded gun came up from the magazine to the nearby deckhouse, whence it was passed from hand to hand down a line of men to the gun.  The husky Parson was the last in the shell-passing line, with the task of hoisting the 60 pound shells head high into the broad brass and steel fuze setter on the ever-moving gun mount.

Shore bombardment to assist the landing Marines opened the long awaited offensive.  Two days of Japanese air attacks, with all men continuously at a high state of alert at their battle stations, gave the Parson his first taste of combat.  Ralph Talbot had only three men wounded in these initial attacks, but had been called to render assistance to squadron mates Jarvis (sunk) and Mugford (badly damaged), which gave the Parson his first of never-ending calls to conduct burial at sea services.  By the third night off Guadalcanal all were wearied and senses dulled by nearly three days of high tension and full alert.

Suddenly, in the blackest of the night, the heavens burst into a brilliant display of flares from Japanese aircraft, and star shells and searchlights from a division of Japanese cruisers.  The surprise was complete, and the lack of adequate Allied training in night actions was tragically apparent.  Four Allied cruisers quickly went on their way to the bottom, and the Japanese escaped without loss of a single ship.

Ralph Talbot had been caught up in a confused melee, unfortunately attracting the fire of three or more cruisers as they passed by.  Of the several hits sustained, one a few feet below the Parson's battle station blew a hole in the side of the living compartment, flooding it with salt water.  Before long a sticky scum of black fuel oil floated on top.  The Parson's stock of Bibles soon attested to the widening spread of this messy mixture.

Of more instant concern, one incoming shell hit the underside of #4 five inch gun, bursting just behind the large brass and steel fuze setter, not three feet from where the Parson was busy at his battle station.  The explosion and shrapnel killed the man on the Parson's right, the man on the Parson's left, and killed or injured nearly every other man in that gun crew.

The Parson was untouched.

Surely the hand of God was on this man.  The crew regarded him with a sense of awe.  On following Sundays the fantail was grossly overloaded for the Parson's church services.

The hottest items on the ship were salt-water-soaked, fuel-oil-stained miniature Bibles.

A "Cool" Fighter Pilot

By Captain William Montgomery, USN (Ret.), '42

I was gunnery officer of Stembel (DD644) in the spring of  1945.  We were operating with the fast carrier task forces conducting the early naval air strikes on the Japanese home islands. On this day a large strike force was returning for recovery aboard the carriers. The strike leader radioed that he had an F6F fighter plane in the group that had been seriously damaged by antiaircraft fire and required emergency recovery. 

The carrier acknowledged the message and directed the pilot of the damaged plane to make a low pass over the ship for visual inspection to determine if it could be taken aboard. Stembel was on the carrier's beam, relatively close aboard and we observed the plane as it made the pass. There were multiple holes in the fuselage and wings, a number of which were quite large. One landing gear was hanging loose and the tailhook was not deployed. It was obvious that the plane could not be taken aboard the straight deck carrier.

The pilot was given two options: climb to a suitable altitude and bail out, or ditch alongside a destroyer. He opted to ditch and we were designated as the rescue ship. We dropped astern of the formation, manned the motor whaleboat and rigged a ladder over the side of the ship. The pilot made a perfect water landing on our starboard beam, close aboard. The whaleboat closed the plane. The pilot stepped onto the wing of the plane and then into the boat, hardly getting his feet wet. 

I was supervising operations on the main deck as the whaleboat made the ladder. I was an advanced 23 year old, but I have a clear recollection of how young the blond, curly haired pilot looked as he climbed the ladder. When he reached the deck edge, he stopped and said "Wait a minute!"  He then backed down the ladder, stooped and dipped his parachute pack in the ocean water. As he climbed the ladder again, his face broke into a broad grin. This time he came aboard, saying, "If I get it wet, they let me keep it!"

Naval Gunfire Support In Vietnam

By Captain Ken Simmons, USN (Ret.), '42

In the summer of 1965 I reported as skipper of Oklahoma City (CLG5), flagship of VADM Blackburn, Com7thFlt. By the Admiral’s invitation I attended his morning staff briefings. Soon after my arrival one of the briefings concentrated heavily on gunfire support. By virtue of WWII cruiser experience in support of troop landings and later duty related to the gunfire support range at Culebra, I considered myself an expert. I listened carefully to all that went on in the briefing, eager – and hopefully ready -- to jump in and offer my expertise.

Toward the end of the briefing the Admiral turned to me and said, “Ken, step into my sea cabin after the briefing.” For the remainder of the briefing my mind was busy relating my expertise to the content of the briefing, especially what was being discussed at the time the admiral made his request. I was quite satisfied that I was ready to explain and amplify, with expert judgment and profound wisdom, all the points being covered at that time. When the briefing ended, and after giving the admiral time to settle in his sea cabin, I knocked on his door and entered. He immediately exploded, “Simmons, when the hell are you going to get my air conditioning going?"

Six Loaded Guns

By Commander John D. Patterson, USN (Ret.), ‘42

I could have sacrificed the lives of some very important people. I could have altered the course of history, just by lowering my right arm.

The situation was something like this. Circa 1958, the Chinese Nationalist Government wanted to reinforce and resupply their garrisons on the islands of Quemoy and Matsu located in the Formosa Straits just off of the coast of Communist China. The islands were under sporadic bombardment by Communist shore batteries. The Nationalists had gathered some LSTs and other craft in the Pescadorese Islands and they wanted the US Navy to escort them to Quemoy. A Task Group with a cruiser and a squadron of destroyers was assigned to the task. The operation commenced after a briefing that stressed that shore batteries could be encountered and, possibly, some Communist aircraft might approach the formation. No friendly aircraft were to be in the area. Orders were that we were not to fire our weapons unless fired upon or unless unidentified aircraft approached within 5,000 yards of the formation.

I was the skipper of the lead destroyer on the starboard flank. Prior to getting underway, the Gunnery Officer and I agreed that he would not fire at any target until I gave a signal. I was to raise my right arm and to be in a position where he could see me. He was to fire if I lowered my arm. Positive control was what I wanted. As the Task Group approached Quemoy, tension grew and the crew became edgy.

About five miles from Quemoy, our Combat Information Center (CIC) announced an unidentified aircraft approaching on the starboard beam, range 25,000 yards, speed 200 knots, altitude 10,000 feet. The Task Group Commander was notified. The Gunnery Officer reported “locked on” at 22,000 yards. The Task Group Commander was again notified. The plane continued on course and speed and took no evasive action. This was puzzling. The situation was tense, the crew excited, the Executive Officer was full of advice, the radios were noisy, and I was wishing I was someplace else. I gave the order to load all six of our five-inch guns and raised my right arm.

At 7,000 yards, the plane seemed to dive toward the ship. I was, by now, really uptight with my arm raised and knowing the plane was a sitting duck. Suddenly at 5,000 yards the plane veered to starboard revealing a Chinese Nationalist insignia. The crew cheered and there I was with my arm raised and “six loaded guns.” I stepped into the pilothouse and lowered my arm.

The next day, at the post operation briefing on Quemoy, General Chaing Kai-Shek said that it had been a very great thrill for him to fly over his fleet. He did not know about the “Six Loaded Guns."

Dog Days At Ko-Roc

by Colonel Leroy C. Barton USMC (Ret.) and Colonel Gerald L. Ellis Colonel USMC (Ret.)

PREFACE

by CAPT Grayson Merrill '34, USN (Ret.) and VADM Gerald Miller '42, USN (Ret.)

I am CAPT Grayson Merrill , USN (Ret) called the “activist” of “sea Stories” by VADM Jerry Miller, USN (Ret) – President Class 1942, He asked me to connect dots to help readers understand how this Sea Story actually started in 1944 when I wrote a development spec for the air-to-ground missile, “Bullpup”. In 1947, then MAJ Cranford Dalby, USMC developed the Navy’s first MPQ-14 close air support system and deployed it to Korea where its descendent TPQ probably guided the authors’ planes to Ko Roc targets. Read Sea Story “Innovation Wins Wars” on this web site for details.

Even more important was the facts that Marine ground forces were suffering from artillery and AA fire from the caves of Ko Roc. Here is that perspective from BGEN Jacob E. Glick, USMC (Ret), Naval Academy Class of 1942:

“I can verify the situation and the conditions at the Khe Sanh Combat Base in the spring of 1968, as reported in the following Sea Story. When I commanded the Base, and the forces there, in April and May of 1968 we were receiving incoming fire of one hundred to several hundred rounds per day. We lived underground, or in deep bunkers, and when required to go out in the open, kept it short. When aircraft came in for re-supply or evacuation of injured, it was ‘touch down and go’. Any aircraft arriving brought in almost instant mortar, rocket and gun fire. The NVA had registered on every inch of the base so could bring accurate fire to bear immediately.

We could put counter battery fire on most of the enemy firing positions except for the 130mm guns firing from the Ko Roc massif. This was a sheer cliff area across the border in Laos , southwest of Khe Sanh. Our 155mm weapons at Khe Sanh did not have sufficient range to reach the caves at Ko Roc, nor did the 175mm guns at Camp Carroll and the Rockpile.

Normal bomb delivery could not get into the caves to knock out the guns. The only suitable weapon available was the Bull Pup, as reported in the Sea Story. This was an extremely difficult and dangerous delivery mission for the pilots, since they had to stay in a steady glide and guide the Bull Pup all the way to the target. Enemy antiaircraft fire compounded the delivery problem. But the Marine pilots hung in there and made successful hits inside several of the caves, greatly reducing and ultimately eliminating the level and effectiveness of enemy fire from Ko Roc.

Dog Days at Ko-Roc

There were more than 1000 rounds of rocket and Mortar fire on the day I arrived and it never seemed to get any better. I reported in to Brig Gen Glick who commanded the Task Force that included a Marine regiment and an Army Brigade. Both units were in and around the Khe Sahn Base. I was to run the Tactical Air Direction Center (TADC) and provide support to all Task Force units. The TADC was set up in an underground concrete block house with 70,000 pounds of sand bags on the roof. Khe Sanh was the worst place that I ever served, even worse than my flight in and out of Iwo Jima in WWII. What made it worse was the constant incoming and the rabid rats and dust.

Reading the article by Jerry Ellis in the spring "Yellow Sheet" brought back fond memories of my time in Chu Lai and the special assignment that came my way for my last few months in Vietnam . I was the XO of MAG-12 and flew with all four of the A-4 squadrons and the one A-6 Squadron in the Group and hoped to spend my entire August 67-September 68 tour in that billet. However, I was selected for promotion to Colonel and was due to be promoted 1 July 1968, so the powers that be decided that I had to go on to bigger and better things, as if any thing could be better than being the Executive Officer of an Air Group in combat and living in the VIP hut on the beach at Chu Lai.

One evening in April, I answered a knock on my door and found the Group Boss, Colonel Charlie Armstrong with a scowl on his face standing on my stoop. He said that the Wing Chief of Staff had just called and ordered me to go to Khe Sanh as soon as possible. The next morning, I stopped by the Wing Headquarters in DaNang for a brief by the Wing G-3. Then it was off to the Division Headquarters for a briefing by the Division Air Officer, Colonel Art Schmagle. My new job was to coordinate the overall air support effort at Khe Sanh. As I was leaving, I was told that one of the major concerns was that Marine Air should not be subsumed by USAF control.

As the CH-53 that was delivering me to my new billet landed at Khe-Sanh, I heard the unmistakable sound of incoming 122 MM rockets. We had seen and heard a lot of these at Chu Lai so I grabbed my bag and headed for the nearest bunker. There was a helicopter "expert" on board with me and he did not have a bag but I passed him on the way to the bunker.

Several days after I arrived, the Army Brigade was scheduled to conduct a sweep toward Lan Vehi. I suggested that if the Brigade got incoming artillery fire from Ko Roc in Laos that I would get Air support on the way pronto. The Brigade Commander replied that he had not been that impressed with the Air Force support that he had received in the past. I assured him that he could expect much better results from the Marine Air that I controlled.

Ko Roc was an area in Laos just across the border West of Khe Sanh. In an area on the Cliffs of Ko Roc, known to the pilots as the Karsch (sic), the North Vietnamese had placed several large artillery pieces in the caves facing Khe Sanh. They would roll the artillery tubes on rails to the mouth of the caves, fire a few rounds and then roll them back before counter battery fire or air support could effectively engage them. Laos of course was off limits to our ground forces.

In the initial Army Helo insertion, the Brigade units came under heavy enemy fire and I called the Airborne Air Force Controller for permission to run some TPQ missions on the Guns at Ko Roc. We then ran about nine missions, getting permission each time.

A Marine airborne FAC, reported that he was watching our strikes and asked that he be allowed to call in some close air support. At the time, I could not contact the Air Force Controller and the Brigade was still receiving heavy incoming fire so I gave the airborne FAC permission to conduct the strikes.

After two TacAir strikes, the Air Force controller came back up on the radio and demanded to know why we were conducting air strikes in Laos without prior approval. I told him that troops were in contact and receiving fire and that the strikes were at the same coordinates that he had approved before. That did not satisfy him and he put me on report to Saigon . Shortly, I got a call from the Marine Wing G-3, asking me "what the hell are you doing". I told him that there were troops under fire, previous strikes had been cleared on the same coordinates and that given the same circumstances, I would do it again. Later the Division Air Officer called with the same question and I gave him the same answer. That was the last I heard from the Air Force and I was not Court Martialed and still made Colonel on schedule.

I spent the next few days trying to work out a way to neutralize those caves at Ko Roc. We looked at using "walleye", a TV guided glide bomb, but discovered that they were in very short supply and what few were available were being used by the Navy against priority targets in North Vietnam . That left the "Bull Pup".

However, I remembered that several years before when I was assigned to OPNAV as Program Director for Air-to-ground ordnance, we had decided that the Bull Pup was not very desirable in a hostile environment because the pilot had to have a clearly visible target and when delivering the Pup had to remain in a stable glide while guiding the Pup to the target. If the target was clearly visible, then so was the attacking aircraft, and if the pilot could not take evasive action then he became a real good target for the antiaircraft fire. Because of these problems the Navy stopped using the Pups and the overall buy was reduced considerably. Upon checking, I found that MAG-12 had eight Bull Pups in their Bomb dump and since the antiaircraft fire would not be as intense as in North Vietnam , I decided to give them a try.

A call and a quick brief to the Wing set things in motion and the plan was executed. I have asked Jerry Ellis to finish this since he was in on the Bull Pup strike.

When the Group got the call for a Bull Pup strike, the group S-3 Lieutenant Colonel Bud Deering (now Colonel USMC Retired) started looking for pilots with recent Bull Pup experience. I had fired two Bull Pups the previous year while on a Med Cruise with VMA-324 and had spent hours playing with the simulator. We had a simulator in our ready room on the carrier and spent considerable time playing against each other. Major Dick Gustafson (now Maj Gen USMC Retired) had recently reported in to the Group from China Lake and he had fired several Pups in the last year. We did not have a simulator in the group and none could be found in country.

Gus and I compared notes and agreed with the basics of Bull Pup delivery. First, you had to get the Pup in a good position-lined up and a little high- before the rocket motor burned out. You could never let the missile get below the target because it did not have the power to come back up, especially toward the end of the flight. The pilot used a small control stick on the console to guide the Pup to the target. The missile had a red flare on its tail so the pilot could keep it in sight.

On the appointed day, Gus and I launched in A4-E’s from Chu Lai with four Bull Pups each. On checking in with the airborne FAC, we were briefed that the major antiaircraft fire would be from the top of the cliffs above the caves. It was a beautiful, clear morning and the caves, six in all, were clearly visible along the karsch. I was leading the flight and after being briefed, I rolled in on my first run.

The first Pup I fired immediately went stupid and dove into the jungle right in front of me, exploding with a big fire ball. The controller immediately cleared Gus in while remarking that he had not observed any hostile fire on my run. When Gus rolled in, the whole hillside seemed to come alive with antiaircraft fire, there were tracers every where. Apparently, my first dud had alerted everyone that we were coming. Gus fired his first Pup and stayed in a steady glide under the withering fire. His first Pup hit the face of the cliff just to the left of one of the big caves and set off a small land slide.

As I rolled in on my second pass, I told the controller that I was going to aim this one at the top of the cliff where we were getting the heavy AA from. I guided number two Pup into the jungle where the heaviest fire was coming from and was rewarded with a huge explosion and two large secondaries. Gus guided his second Pup into the mouth of the second cave from the left and got a huge fire ball from that cave and the end cave on the left. The controller noted that the antiaircraft fire was considerably less than when we started. On my third run, I had a great missile and watched as it disappeared into the center tunnel. There was a few seconds delay before a huge fire ball emerged from the cave mouth and smoke came out of two others. Gus then had a missile go stupid and II hit the cliff face with my last one. Gus had another direct hit with his last Pup and we called it a day, happy that neither of us had taken any hits on our aircraft.

Colonel Barton (Lima-Lima) called to congratulate us on the mission and the heavy guns at Ko Roc were never a big problem again. To my knowledge this was the only Marine Mission utilizing Bull Pups flown in Vietnam , at least during my tour, and it turned out to be the right ordnance for the heavily defended target complex.

 

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