All posts in “ethos”

DDG-116: USS Thomas Hudner

 

File this under “Getting It Right”:

IMMEDIATE RELEASE    No. 352-12
May 07, 2012
Secretary of The Navy Announces DDG 116 to be Named Thomas Hudner

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced today the next Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer  (DDG) will be named the USS Thomas Hudner.
Thomas J. Hudner Jr., a naval aviator who retired as a captain, received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman for displaying uncommon valor during an attack on his wingman, the first African American naval aviator to fly in combat, Ensign Jesse L. Brown.  During the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War, anti-aircraft fire hit Brown’s aircraft, damaging a fuel line and causing him to crash.  After it became clear Brown was seriously injured and unable to free himself Hudner proceeded to purposefully crash his own aircraft to join Brown and provide aid.  Hudner injured his own back during his crash landing, but he stayed with Brown until a rescue helicopter arrived.  Hudner and the rescue pilot worked in the sub-zero, snow-laden area in an unsuccessful attempt to free Brown from the smoking wreckage.

Hudner is the last living Navy recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Korean War.

After receiving recognition for his heroism, Hudner remained on active duty, completing an additional 22 years of naval service during which his accomplishments include flying 27 combat missions in the Korean War and serving as the executive officer aboard the USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War.

“Thomas Hudner exemplifies the core values of honor, courage and commitment the Navy holds dear,” said Mabus.  “Naming the Navy’s next DDG for him will ensure his legacy will be known, honored and emulated by future generations of sailors and Marines who serve and all who come in contact with this ship.”

The Arleigh Burke class destroyer will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection.  It will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and will contain a myriad of offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare in keeping with the Navy’s ability to execute the Department of Defense’s defense strategy.

From the MOH citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a pilot in Fighter Squadron 32, while attempting to rescue a squadron mate whose plane struck by antiaircraft fire and trailing smoke, was forced down behind enemy lines. Quickly maneuvering to circle the downed pilot and protect him from enemy troops infesting the area, Lt. (J.G.) Hudner risked his life to save the injured flier who was trapped alive in the burning wreckage. Fully aware of the extreme danger in landing on the rough mountainous terrain and the scant hope of escape or survival in subzero temperature, he put his plane down skillfully in a deliberate wheels-up landing in the presence of enemy troops. With his bare hands, he packed the fuselage with snow to keep the flames away from the pilot and struggled to pull him free. Unsuccessful in this, he returned to his crashed aircraft and radioed other airborne planes, requesting that a helicopter be dispatched with an ax and fire extinguisher. He then remained on the spot despite the continuing danger from enemy action and, with the assistance of the rescue pilot, renewed a desperate but unavailing battle against time, cold, and flames. Lt. (J.G.) Hudner’s exceptionally valiant action and selfless devotion to a shipmate sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

In his own words:

Postscript

In 1973, the United States Navy honored Ensign Brown by naming a frigate after him, the USS JESSE L. BROWN (FFT-1089). Captain Hudner stood beside Daisy Brown when the ship slid down the ways.

See also: “Ethos & A Navy At War

The Ties That Bind

It has been said that in a world intricately and inexorably connected, individually, we seem to draw apart from one another.   That those connections we have are tenuous, virtual and of little lasting substance or effect.   Like spiderwebs on the wind, we connect and (temporarily) bond with whatever object we come in contact with, only to be pulled apart and float until the next object enters our space.   We see this in our personal and professional relationships on a regular, daily basis.   And yet, every now and then we are reminded of the ties that bind – that survive the immediacy of the moment no matter their outward, gossamer appearance; which bespeak a deeper level of common interest and shared values.   We are reminded, if you will, that no man is indeed, an island.

The events of the past few weeks have underscored the above for me.   In no short order, I learned of the loss of three persons of note to myself, and to many others around them.   They were many things to many different people – writer, poet, leader, aviator; but in the end they each, in their own way, made a difference.   There was CAPT Carroll LeFon – Lex to almost everyone, whose legacy and loss has been chronicled here and across the web.   His writing is timeless, coming from the head and heart with the rare ability to find common points of intersection with his readers and relate a story in such manner that even those who never tasted salt air or viewed the world through sun-drenched canopy could readily relate.   We saw that gift brought to life last night at our gathering in DC and across the nation and the world as people from all walks of life came together to pay honor to his legacy.   But did you know that three of the JOs under him when he was a VFA squadron CO so many years ago screened for command this past week?   There’s a living legacy for you.

On the way to the wake last night I also learned of the passing of CAPT Ed Caffrey, USN-ret.   Himself a gifted aviator, CAPT Caffrey was a leader and pillar of the Hawkeye/Greyhound community.   The term “people person” is overworked to the point of material failure in this day and age, but he was an original in that manner.   There are today, many a former VAW and VRC CO, XO and Department Head who were mentored (again, an overwrought but apropos word here) during his tenure as CO and AEW wing commodore.   More than a few of us, myself included, owe a deep debt of gratitude for his support and advocacy on our behalf and on the behalf of the VAW/VRC community.   Easy words to say now, but there was a time when the community had, shall we say, less than enthusiastic support at the CVW level and higher because of the “support” label broadly brushed on anything that didn’t have an “F” or “A” in the 2-letter designator (and if it had an “H” or ended with a W or Q, well, bonne chance mon ami and don’t let the hatch hit you on the way out).   More than that, he cared deeply about people – his people, be they residents on the Breezy Point seawall, his nav division on JFK, students at Naval War College or even later, students at Valley Forge Academy.   Just ask the recipients of the VAW/VRC Memorial Fund which he took the lead in establishing.   He made a difference.

And there was Jeff Huber – a retired Hawkeye NFO and writer with a pen of steel and a mind of sharper wit.   Jeff was another ground breaker for the Hawkeye community, as Skippy-san so very eloquently lays out in a fine tribute over at his site today.   Jeff had the courage and determination to drag E-2 tactics out of the moribund 50’s and 60’s and lay the foundation for the missions that lay just over the horizon — Kosovo, Desert Shield/Storm, Southern Watch, OEF and OIF. Later he took that same determination and sought to be a conscious for a Service and country that seemed determined to ignore its roots and founding principles.   I didn’t always agree with his assertions – but they provided a reference point and more importantly, a prompt for me to evaluate and re-evaluate my own assumptions and analyses.   Too often today people want to reside in the “amen” section and decline to think critically for themselves – deferring instead to the opinions and assertions of others whose best or only attribute is their shrillness.

Different paths, with seemingly random co-mingling or intersections – what are the ties that bind?   In each case you are witness to someone who deeply cared about their nation, their Service and the people under their charge or in association.   Each, in uniform and in retirement, sought to continue to serve, in their own way and do what they could to better their fellow humans and the Navy to which they had dedicated a substantive part of their life in its service.   Some few years back the Navy was casting about for a definition of ethos.   I and several others demurred on the end, corporately derived and committee driven statement that emerged from the “process” preferring instead to point to the 200+ years of example driven ethos and the principles detailed therein.   Of things like service before self, courage in the face of overwhelming opposition – of conviction and standing firm for principles when all else was sinking beneath the waves.   If I were asked today for more recent examples, I can think of none finer than the three I highlight above — outstanding aviators, naval officers without peer and human beings who cared deeply about and for their fellow mankind.

And I am honored to have worn the uniform and served with them.

/S/ SJS

Naming Ships — Here We Go Again…

I have held my peace for the past 24-hours as a kind of “counting to ten” mindful of one of blogging’s first principles regarding blogging while angry.  Time’s up — I’m not angry, I’m royally POd. Still.

“The selection of Gabrielle Giffords, designated LCS 10, honors the former Congresswoman from Tucson, Arizona, who is known for supporting the military and veterans, advocating for renewable energy and championing border security,”

That was the Navy’s statement, accompanying the DoD announcement that LCS-10 would be named after the former Congresswoman from Arizona – breathtaking in clarity, reason and justification for naming this particular warship, eh?  Let me preface my following remarks by underscoring my beef isn’t with the former Congresswoman, but rather with the pandering, “feel good” action this represents.  That the Secretary of the Navy – and his supporting staff which includes active duty leadership who should know better; took this COA with no small list of genuine heroes, men and women, who have laid down their lives in willing service to this nation and all it stands for; in defiance of the list of Medal of Honor awardees (living and dead) who remain otherwise unrecognized, speaks volumes as to his (and their) stewardship of the Service, its heritage and the traditions that follow thereof.  That shouldn’t surprise me I suppose, coming from the same office that has also named ships after a disgraced Congressman and labor organizer who made clear his hate for the Navy.  All that matters is the visuals – fitting I suppose for a vessel that is star-crossed at best where missions and capabilities are concerned. Selah.

(And for the record, I was just as dismayed when we named a carrier after a living, former Congressman and another after a former President whose distaste for the Navy (and naval aviation in particular)was well known.)

Ships names mean something – they are the outward face of this nation to the world; from princes and presidents to average citizens.  They impart a picture of founding principles and elements of this nation (Constitution, Independence, Enterprise…); they recall when we chose to stand and fight for those principles (Tarawa, Gettysburg, Lexington, Valley Forge, Normandy).  They honor the sacrifice of those who fought and paid the ultimate price and those that led them – John Paul Jones, Arleigh Burke, Stockdale, Jason Dunham, Michael Murphy).  They hail the great land that brought them to life in material and manpower and stand behind them today and for the ages – Missouri, New York,  Olympia, Long Beach.  These are no temporary creations, with lives that span decades if not the better part of a century – and there names should be for the ages, not a fleeting moment of politically inspired optics.

Over at the official website for the Navy’s History and Heritage Command, there is a FAQ on naming USN ships – quoted in part below:

“How will the Navy name its ships in the future? It seems safe to say that the evolutionary process of the past will continue; as the Fleet itself changes, so will the names given to its ships. It seems equally safe, however, to say that future decisions in this area will continue to demonstrate regard for the rich history and valued traditions of the United States Navy.

For those who had any part, however small in the latest failure in ship naming – and for those who at some point were in a position to stand up and say “enough” – but failed to do so, I took the liberty of highlighting what I think is the relevant part of the sentence.

Remembering Midway – 68 Years Later

In every battle there is a moment when the combatants, and the world, seem to catch their breath. It is a fleeting moment, lost in the blink of an eye. But in that same blink, everything changes. Such moments are borne of desperation, of courage, of plain dumb luck. But they are pivotal – for what was before is forever changed afterwards. – SJS (June 2007)

Three years ago I wrote that at the end of a series of posts (which are collected here)  that began on the 65th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, and culminated on the anniversary of Midway with some modern day observations and what we might take away. For even today, with all our technological sophistication there are still things we can learn at all levels, be it at the Fleet or in the cockpit or on the bridge.  One of those lessons is the role of the individual and seizing the initiative when everything else seems to be going to hell in a handbasket around you.  That was something impressed upon me as a young LTJG E-2C Mission Commander and I found resonance and inspiration from the JO’s and petty officer’s actions that pivotal day.

And sometimes it means pressing ahead into a situation from which you know there is no way out — but to do otherwise would result in a greater loss.

There aren’t too many of them left — the original Midway vets that is.  Same for the Doolittle Raiders.  Ditto Medal of Honor awardees from that era.   These modern day Samuel’s raised their Ebenezer in our darkest hours – and what was before was forever changed.

The job wasn’t finished yet though, and the way ahead was still perilous — Guadalcanal, Savo Island, Bloody Tarawa (can it ever be though of as just Tarawa?), Iwo Jima, Anzio, Normandy, Bastogne and the Meuse — Okinawa; all lay in the future.  But it was a future made possible by the fighting spirit of the Navy, Marines and Army Air Corps in a far flung theater whose battlefield was but a featureless, sun-dappled sea of blue.  Still, more would come and follow in their footsteps.  And you and I today carry their proud heritage forward.

The far horizon is difficult to discern these days and it may well indeed hide gathering storm clouds – from whence direction I can not say for certain.  But it would do us well to heed their lessons and remember their deeds when the warning flags are broken and we are called to battlestations once again.

— SJS, June 2010

Petition to Name a Ship After LT John W. Finn, USN

Many of us do not know how we will react when suddenly called upon to perform the extraordinary in desperate and lethal conditions.  We train and plan, but until the bullet flies or the fire burns close at hand, all we can do is speculate.

On the morning of December 7th, 1941 there was no question in VP-14’s Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Finn’s mind:

Citation:
For extraordinary heroism distinguished service, and devotion above and beyond the call of duty. During the first attack by Japanese airplanes on the Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, on 7 December 1941, Lt. Finn promptly secured and manned a .50-caliber machinegun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machinegun strafing fire. Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy’s fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety. It was only by specific orders that he was persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention. Following first aid treatment, although obviously suffering much pain and moving with great difficulty, he returned to the squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning planes. His extraordinary heroism and conduct in this action were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

(Note: In June 1942, Finn was temporarily commissioned as an Ensign, rising in rank to Lieutenant two years later. During his service as an officer, he served with Bombing Squadron 102, at several stateside training facilities and on board the aircraft carrier Hancock (CV-19). Following transfer to the Fleet Reserve in March 1947, he reverted to the enlisted rate of Chief Aviation Ordnanceman. In September 1956, he was placed on the Retired List in the rank of Lieutenant. John W. Finn died on 27 May 2010. Navy History & Heritage Command).

Recently passed, LT Finn never played up the hero aspect when asked — he just said “I do know this. I didn’t run away. I stayed there and we fought the Japs until the last one left.”

We as a service — as a nation;  have lost our way in naming our ships — deferring instead to the politically expedient to the enduring values and traditions of the Naval services. Perhaps now it is time to turn this ship around and set her on a proper course.  One way to that end, I think, would be to name the next Arleigh Burke-class DDG after LT Finn.  These modern greyhounds of the sea are among the finest warships in their class and would be a fitting honor.  Regardless, however of the eventual ship-type, if you agree that one should be so-named, go sign the petition, and write your Congressman and Senators to underscore the effort.

USS Franklin (CV-13) Reunion, 18-21 Mar 2010

Fifth ship of the Essex class — fifth ship to bear Benjamin Franklin’s name…

On the 19th of March, 1945, her crew would write a story for the ages as they were tested in the crucible.

Today, like so many of their generation, the already small band of survivors of that day continue to dwindle. This coming March they will hold their reunion at Lodge of the Ozarks (Branson, MO). If you are a former member of the Big Ben, they’re waiting for you. If you are a student of naval history, or even just history — they will welcome you with open arms and warm hearts. Interested? Here’s the gouge:

Contact for Questions:
Sam Rhodes 772-334-0366 or
Beth Conard Rowland (daughter of crewman) 740-524-0024 (please leave message)

Registration closes 1 March, 2010.


And all you former Santa Fe crew? I’ll bet they would especially love to see you guys too…

h/t Xformed

Ghosts

Listen as you tread the decks on the mid-watch, or swing at anchor on a foggy morn – listen and you can hear the voices of those who went before us:

TBD-1s of 'Torpedo Six' assigned to USS Enterprise off Hawaii (1941) Courtesy Life Mag.

Douglas TBD-1 Devastators of Torpedo Six (USS Enterprise) off Hawaii for battle fleet exercises (1941)

What lessons are being taught?  What wisdom passed?  Are we still linked today?

Enterprise (CV 6) flight deck crew

Enterprise (CV 6) flight deck crew debrief (1941)

Could they have known what the future, the future of a few short months or several years later might hold for them – young sailor, ancient mariner?

CAPT McKinney, CO USS Idaho (BB 42) Inspects the crew (1941)

CO of the USS Idaho (BB 42) inspects the crew – 1941

Listen to the ghosts talk – of ships great and small

USS Wilson (DD 408)

…talk of what once was

Battle Fleet maneuvers off Hawaii – 1941

– and what it became

Battleship Row – Dec 7th

To rise again, with a vengeance,

Battle Line – Leyte Gulf

And on the wings of the breeze, as the moment fades, comes a solitary word –

Torpedo Six off Hawaii – June 1941

‘Remember‘…

(All pictures are from the newly opened Life photo archives)

New Navy Ethos

Ecce:

 

UNCLASSIFIED//

NAVADMIN 318/08

MSGID/GENADMIN/CNO WASHINGTON DC/N00/NOV//

SUBJ/NAVY ETHOS//

1. IN THE 2007-2008 CNO GUIDANCE, I DIRECTED THE DEVELOPMENT OF A NAVY ETHOS THAT WOULD REFLECT THE VALUES INTEGRAL TO MISSION ACCOMPLISHMENT FOR ACTIVE AND RESERVE SAILORS AND NAVY CIVILIANS, NO MATTER THE ASSIGNED UNIT, COMMAND, OR COMMUNITY.

2. AFTER GATHERING INPUT ACROSS THE NAVY FOR THE PAST SEVERAL MONTHS, THE NAVY ETHOS HAS BEEN APPROVED. THE FINAL PRODUCT IS THE RESULT OF COMMENTS FROM THOUSANDS OF ACTIVE AND RESERVE SAILORS AND NAVY CIVILIANS FROM AROUND THE GLOBE ON THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES AND VALUES THE NAVY EMPLOYS DAILY TO WIN WARS AND BUILD AND MAINTAIN SECURITY AND STABILITY.

3. AN ETHOS IDENTIFIES DISTINGUISHING CHARACTER, CULTURE, OR BELIEFS OF A GROUP OR INSTITUTION. NAVY ETHOS IS DESIGNED TO COMMUNICATE A SET OF BELIEFS APPROPRIATE AND IMPORTANT TO THE MORE THAN 400,000 MILITARY AND 180,000 CIVILIAN PERSONNEL WHO SHARE A COMMON BOND OF SERVICE IN THE NAVY, REGARDLESS OF BACKGROUND, PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, OR POSITION.

4. THE NAVY ETHOS:

— WE ARE THE UNITED STATES NAVY, OUR NATION’S SEA POWER – READY GUARDIANS OF PEACE, VICTORIOUS IN WAR.

— WE ARE PROFESSIONAL SAILORS AND CIVILIANS – A DIVERSE AND AGILE FORCE EXEMPLIFYING THE HIGHEST STANDARDS OF SERVICE TO OUR NATION, AT HOME AND ABROAD, AT SEA AND ASHORE.

— INTEGRITY IS THE FOUNDATION OF OUR CONDUCT; RESPECT FOR OTHERS IS FUNDAMENTAL TO OUR CHARACTER; DECISIVE LEADERSHIP IS CRUCIAL TO OUR SUCCESS.

— WE ARE A TEAM, DISCIPLINED AND WELL-PREPARED, COMMITTED TO MISSION ACCOMPLISHMENT. WE DO NOT WAVER IN OUR DEDICATION AND ACCOUNTABILITY TO OUR SHIPMATES AND FAMILIES.

— WE ARE PATRIOTS, FORGED BY THE NAVY’S CORE VALUES OF HONOR, COURAGE AND COMMITMENT. IN TIMES OF WAR AND PEACE, OUR ACTIONS REFLECT OUR PROUD HERITAGE AND TRADITION.

— WE DEFEND OUR NATION AND PREVAIL IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY WITH STRENGTH, DETERMINATION, AND DIGNITY.

— WE ARE THE UNITED STATES NAVY.

5. RELEASED BY ADMIRAL G. ROUGHEAD, CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS.//

For the record, we prefer the shorter, more direct distillation as put forth by John Paul Jones in an era devoid of polls, public opinion surveys, and warfighting by committee:

“I wish to have no Connection with any Ship that does not Sail fast for I intend to go in harm’s way.”

Your thoughts?  Am especially interested in the Fleet’s thoughts as, well, you know we sometimes get tarred with that curmudgeon brush – bitter retirees clinging to ancient beliefs and all… ;-)  (cf. Our earlier thoughts re. Ethos and A Navy At War…)

New CSAF Lays Down Some Ethos…

Been a rough few for our AF comrades in arms and while we well remember all the grief we received when the tables were turned back in ’92-93 we note with interest the items below passed our way earlier today.  Couple of bullets caught our eye – things like:

“…build a balanced force for the future – no litmus tests”

“If Navy is the Gold Standard, we will emulate” (referring to the nuclear issues)

“Enhance AF support to Joint operations Force with a specific emphasis on air-ground integration and ISR”

“Ground forces have primacy in this fight”

“Not limited to what we like doing, what we’re good at or where it fits our rhythm as a Service”

“Never unzip your zipper in public”

“You will deal with politics…but you must remain apolitical…now and in retirement”

“We will be devastating on poor performers and personal misconduct”

Interesting when juxtaposed with this itemPhib highlighted today.  But then, when you’re cut from a different bolt of cloth, and especially one the likes of this, perhaps the enclosed shouldn’t be so surprising.

” ‘Everyone contributes’ – no one has greater value to our collective mission than another”

Interesting that there wasn’t any CAC-enforced rectal temperature taking/finger in the wind poll-taking on this one.

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CSAF Guidance

View SlideShare presentation

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