All posts in “Navy”

Preserving History: USNI, Kickstarter and USS Indianapolis

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WORLD WAR 2 was really the first multi-media war.  True – photography was present in the American Civil War (or as my late grandma used to call it “The Late Unpleasantness” among some of her milder epithets – but we digress).  Motion pictures were still embryonic and grainy when WWI burst on the scene and so most people’s information of the war came via print — newspapers mostly.  WW2 changed that as along with “traditional” media, a new breed of journalist, the photo-journalist, appeared and significantly added to the wartime narrative via imagery.  Human beings are visual creatures (and some say the male of the species especially so) and while the best of the traditional journalists could still catch you with a compelling story, it was the photo-journals that brought the war home.  In stark black and white or color (Kodachrome™ no less) we were flooded with imagery from the banal to the heart wrenching.  Through the pages of magazines like Look and Life we followed the war from the images of still burning ships in Pearl Harbor, across North Africa with Patton, above Occupied Europe in a Flying Fortress or from the decks of a warship like the USS Indianapolis, the war was in our parlors, soda stands, five-and-dimes and scattered about break rooms at our work places.  From the skyscrapers of New York, to the manufacturing plants outside Detroit to a Nebraska farm, the work of photographers like Edward Steichen (who assembled what came to be perhaps the most famous team of photographers during the war) gave heretofore unprecedented access into a global war supported by those most distant from it.

But it wasn’t just the “name” photographers who set this precedent.  Unheralded unit photographers captured and documented all the details of this massive war effort.  Photographers such as Alfred Joseph Sedivi, ship’s photographer onboard USS Indianapolis were every bit as important as the byline photogs and the story they told gives us today, a window into a piece of America’s history and heritage we might otherwise miss.  Except that today, that history, that noble heritage is literally crumbling away in the ace of the onslaught of time and environment.  The Naval Institute is endeavoring to preserve this heritage though and is working to both preserve and transfer photos to digital form — their first major undertaking in this effort is the preservation of  Sedivi’s work and other rare images from the Indianapolis.  Doing so requires fiscal support and hereto, the Institute is trying something new by funding through Kickstarter.  To quote the Institute:

the Institute has launched a effort to raise the funds needed to restore and digitize all 1,650 photos. With your generous donation, we can ensure that this important collection of photographs will be available for the survivors and their families, as well as historians, the public, and future generations. Once digitized, the collection will be made available for viewing online via the Institute’s website. More information about the photography collection of Alfred Joseph Sedivi in the current issue of Naval History magazine.  $3,000 goal would provide the funds to digitize the entire 1,650 photo collection and preserve the original photos, including preservation materials (archive boxes, poly slides for each photo). The Institute’s stretch goal of $7,000 would enable the purchase of a quality digital camera and copy stand mount allowing for the photo albums to be digitized without being taken apart.  The albums would then be preserved and properly stored in their original and current condition.  If funds raised total $10,000 or more, the Naval Institute will develop a traveling exhibition of the photographs to be displayed at museums and locations across the US. 

It is a worthy endeavor and early success would aid larger and more complex projects in the future.  Head over and read more about it here.  It’s our heritage at stake – let’s see what we can do to preserve it.

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Flightdeck Friday – Bonus Edition: “RAVEN ONE” by Kevin Miller

81UW5+-QwTL._SL1500_A good friend, fellow scribe and most importantly, a shipmate of the very best kind, CAPT Kevin Miller, USN-Ret. has just published his first novel, Raven One as an ebook with Kindle Books.  Hozer was an F/A-18 driver and served penance with me on the Navy Staff many passings of the Moon ago.  Over time we’ve gone back and forth over whether it was worth the effort to flesh-out the stories he was putting together into a skeleton novel and go through the grinding editing and marketing process to get published.  It is therefore that with a firmly penned OK that recommend this book to tailhookers and shorebound alike.  A quick bit about the book itself from it’s spot on Amazon:

Lieutenant Commander Jim Wilson, a fighter pilot aboard the carrier USS Valley Forge, is weary of combat over the skies of Iraq. He has been there many times since the late 90s, but now, as each passing minute draws him once again closer to combat, various other conflicts also complicate his life. His executive officer Commander “Saint” Patrick becomes unreasonably overbearing; his wife Mary, fed-up with their long separations, applies pressure for him to resign from the Navy; junior officers test his leadership skills as they act in unpredictable ways; and the raging sea outside serves as the only thing that separates him from events that will change forever his life and career. Imminent combat with the inhospitable and hostile countries over the horizon is the only constant he can depend on. 

Raven One places you with Wilson in the cockpit of a carrier-based FA-18 Hornet…and in the ready rooms and bunkrooms of men and women who struggle with their fears and uncertainty in this new way of war. They must all survive a deployment that takes a sudden and unexpected turn when Washington orders Valley Forge to respond to a crisis no one saw coming. The world watches – and holds its breath. 

Retired Navy Captain Kevin Miller fills his novel with flying action and adventure – and also examines the actions of imperfect humans as they follow their own agendas in a disciplined world of unrelenting pressure and danger.”

Here’s this link:  Raven One  now go and enjoy.

w/r, SJS

Of Skyhawks, ‘Saders and Sea Stories – TINS

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If, like your humble scribe, you spent anytime turning the pages of the Tailhook Association’s quarterly pub, The Hook, between 1991 and 2011, you undoubtedly paused for Jack Woodul’s column “The Further Adventures of Youthly Puresome” drawn from his deep reservoir of stories from his time flying the A-4 and F-8  - and other sundry endeavors.  They were (are) great stories and something those of us who came along in the immediate aftermath of Vietnam and before the PC police hijacked the narrative can relate and attest to.   In his own words:

We Naval Aviators of my ancient era occupy a shared space and time that was unique, heroic, funny, outrageous, and tragic. We circled the wagons against a society that repudiated us, picked off a bunch, and said frabb anyone that couldn’t take a joke. We share a common bond that I am unwilling to let perish when I am hustled off to the Non-PC Gulag.

Those stories, regrettably, ended after 2011 and eventually disappeared from the web, leaving me to resort every once in a while to make the trip to the basement, pullout the box(es) of old Hook magazines and pull a random issue for a YP fix.  And given the current baleful look SWMBO casts at my library of Hook magazines, I fear for their continued existence on this earth, at least in current form and not recycling in a dump someplace.  It is therefore with no small amount of joy to note that YP is available once again at a new, dedicated site:  http://youthlypuresome.com/  – and we’ve added it to the roll over there on the left under “Naval Aviation.”

BTW – these stories also formed the kernel of an idea with YHS that rattled around in his brain bucket until the blogging platform arrived.  So – while I count Lex, Sal, Xformed and Far East Cynic as my motivators for getting into blogging, it was through the auspices of The Hook and “Youthly Pursesome” that kicked my tail into writing outside of work or the classroom.  

Welcome back YP – we missed ya!

 

The E-2 Hawkeye At Fifty

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50yrs1This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the E-2 Hawkeye’s entry into Fleet operations.  Over the course of those fifty-years the aircraft has radically changed and grown in capabilities and mission focus, while visually remaining much the same as the first E-2A .  From Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq,  it has been a part of every conflict and some notable special missions. Developed as a purpose-built AEW platform to guide carrier-based fighters to intercept Soviet missile carrying bombers, it counts a multitude of missions that include battle management, post-disaster relief (air traffic control), SAR, counter-narcotics, and ASUW, to name but a few.  In its forthcoming iteration, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, it will be a centerpiece in Navy’s integrated fires plan.  All that said, the E-2 also played a major role in my life for the better part of a 26-year career, and still influences it today.

So how do you recognize 50 years of service?  Well – you certainly throw a celebration – and this year’s Hawkeye Ball and Hawkeye Week in October will feature the 50 year celebration (more on that to follow).  An E-2C will be inducted into the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola (finally!).  And in the run up to Hawkeye Week this site and the Hawkeye-Greyhound Association’s site will feature articles on the historical background and lineage of the Hawkeye, along with personal memories collected from those who have flown and worked on the Hummer.  We’ll kick it off here in the coming days with an updated re-run of the CADILLAC I & II series from a few years back.  If any out there have stories or memories to share (and especially photos – we need photos particularly from the early days, due credit will be given and copyright enforced) please send them along.

Watch for the hashtag #HawkeyeAt50

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Flying Sharks

J-15s onboard CV 16 Liaoning in 2013 – sporting a familiar tail emblem…

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Holiday Lights – of a Different Kind

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While stationed in Norfolk (on active duty) one of our family traditions come Christmas was to head up to the Naval base after Christmas Eve service and take in the sights of the ships dressed out in holiday lighting.  From sub to destroyer and big deck amphib and carrier, almost all were dressed out in one form or another – some to such an extent that it rivaled the nearby skyline for wattage.  One thing, however, was always foremost on our minds as a family – of those who were over the horizon, on deployment that wouldn’t be home this holiday.  As a family, we were pretty sensitive to it given the number of Christmases (and anniversaries, birthdays, etc.) I’d been deployed and so we always kept them in our thoughts and prayers every holiday season.

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Including even now, as a retiree …

 “O  Eternal Lord God, who alone spreadest out the heavens and rulest the raging of the sea; vouchsafe to take into Thy almighty and most gracious protection our country’s Navy and all who serve therein.  Preserve them from the dangers of the sea and from the violence of the enemy; that they may be a safeguard unto the United States of America and a security for such as pass on the seas upon their lawful occasions; that the inhabitants of our land may in peace and quietness serve Thee our God to the glory of Thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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“Air Raid Pearl Harbor. This is Not A Drill.” *

* Telegraph from Patrol Wing Two Headquarters warning of the attack on Pearl Harbor

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:

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Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

(More)

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Underway

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Wouldst thou,”–so the helmsman answered,
“Learn the secret of the sea?
Only those who brave its dangers
Comprehend its mystery!”
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It’s a hard life and one oft misunderstood by those who haven’t been there, for they don’t know the allure, the draw that the sea can have.  She is a demanding mistress – claw you from family and hearth she will to draw you back to her clutches.  She is unforgiving – temperamental and unyielding.  She will toss you like a leaf on the breeze and shake you like wolf with its prey.  She will leave you beaten, bruised – gasping for life.  But then she will leave you with golden moments like this.

And for those of us who have gone down to the sea in ships, we sigh and nod…remembering.

(h/t SierraHotel  via FB)

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