Compiled by Brent Hunt, Naval History and Heritage Command’s Communication and Outreach Division
Welcome to Navy History Matters—our weekly compilation of articles, commentaries, and blogs related to history and heritage. Every week we’ll gather the top-interest items from a variety of media and social media sources and then link you to related content at NHHC’s website (history.navy.mil), your authoritative source for Navy history.
WWI@100: Treaty of Versailles Signed
On June 28, 1919, 100 years ago, the Treaty of Versailles was signed, officially ending World War I. Allied powers negotiated the treaty with almost no participation from the Germans. The treaty included 15 parts and 440 articles that reassigned German boundaries and assigned liability for reparations, although the Great Depression led to the cancellation of reparations. Part I established the League of Nations, and Part V of the treaty demobilized German military forces. Many high-ranking German officers viewed the government’s willingness to sign the treaty as a betrayal of the German people, encouraging civil disobedience and even counterrevolution. In March 1920, Wolfgang Kapp, Erich Ludendorff, and others tried to overthrow the German government and replace it with a military dictatorship. In November 1923, Adolph Hitler and the Nazis staged a failed takeover of the government, known as the Beer Hall Putsch. Although the coup failed and Hitler was sent to prison, the Nazi party gained national attention. A decade later, Hitler became chancellor of Germany.
Navy’s First Surgeon-General Appointed 150 Years Ago
On June 28, 1869, 150 years ago, the Navy’s first surgeon-general, William M. Wood, was appointed. Wood, who was born in Baltimore, MD, became a fleet surgeon with the Pacific Squadron in 1844, and upon completion of his tour was about to return to the United States when tensions with Mexico became strained. Wood volunteered to travel through Mexico and report the conditions. Posing as an Englishman, he inspected Mexican defenses and took note of their conditions and resources. At great risk to his life, Wood completed the “spy” mission and reported the information to Washington. The information he provided was credited with saving California. After the Mexican War, Wood served during the Civil War before he was named surgeon-general. He retired in 1871 and died in Baltimore on March 1, 1880. Two ships were named in his honor, Wood and William M. Wood.
New President of Naval War College Announced
On June 14, Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer announced that Rear Adm. Shoshana S. Chatfield will be the new president of the Naval War College. Chatfield will be the first woman president in the history of the Naval War College. “Rear Admiral Chatfield is a historic choice for the Naval War College,” said Spencer. “She is the embodiment of the type of warrior-scholar we need now to lead this storied institution as it educates our next generation of leaders.” Chatfield, a naval aviator, earned her doctorate in education from the University of San Diego. She has commanded at the squadron and wing levels, and served as a provincial reconstruction team commander in Afghanistan. She currently serves as Commander, Joint Region Marianas, Guam. To learn more, read the U.S. Navy release. To learn more about women in the U.S. Navy, go to NHHC’s website.
Navy Christens Guided-Missile Destroyer Daniel Inouye
The Navy christened its newest Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer during a ceremony at Bath, ME, June 22. The future USS Daniel Inouye is named in honor of Medal of Honor recipient Daniel Inouye, who served as a U.S. Senator for Hawaii from 1963 until he passed away in 2012. Inouye received the nation’s highest honor on June 21, 2000, for his extraordinary heroism during World War II while serving with the 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team in Italy. “The future USS Daniel Inouye will serve for decades as a reminder of Senator Inouye’s service to our nation and his unwavering support of a strong Navy and Marine Corps team,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “This ship honors not only his service but the service of our shipbuilders who help make ours the greatest Navy and Marine Corps team in the world.” To learn more, read the U.S. Navy release and an article in Stars & Stripes. To learn more about christening, launching, and commissioning of U.S. Navy ships, go to NHHC’s website.
USS Thresher Memorial Dedication Scheduled for Sept. 26
The president of the nonprofit USS Thresher Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Foundation announced that the proposed memorial to honor the 129 men who perished aboard USS Thresher has received final approval. Construction is anticipated to be completed in time for a dedication ceremony scheduled for Sept. 26 at the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater. “This is a very important milestone that will touch the hearts and minds of all the families (and) the former crew,” Kevin Galeaz said. “And more importantly, it will allow us to teach and tell the story of the submarine safety legacy that followed the 129 men lost to 1.5 million visitors a year.” The memorial is slated to be placed along the Roosevelt Drive walkway, midway between the welcome center and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. To learn more, read the article at the Union Leader.
SECNAV Names Newest Ship Cherokee Nation
Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer announced the newest towing, salvage, and rescue ship is named Cherokee Nation to honor the service of the Cherokee people to the Navy and Marine Corps. This is the fifth ship to honor the Cherokee people. “The Cherokee Nation is extremely honored that the U.S. Navy is recognizing our tribal nation and the generations of Cherokee men and women who have bravely, and humbly sacrificed for our freedom today,” said Cherokee Nation Chief Bill John Baker. “Cherokees are a strong, resilient people, and we are privileged to have a U.S. ship at sea that reflects both our country and tribe’s history and values.” To learn more, read the U.S. Navy release. To learn more about ship naming in the U.S. Navy and the contributions of American Indians to the U.S. Navy, go to NHHC’s website.
Navy Commands Roll Out Custom Patches for Uniforms
In response to a policy change earlier this year, commands and units across the Navy are releasing creative, unit-specific designs for an embroidered shoulder patch they can now wear on the Navy Working Uniform Type II and III. The patch can be worn in lieu of the traditional left “Don’t Tread on Me” in non-tactical environments only, and the design must be approved by the unit’s commanding officer. Patches released recently have used symbols to highlight history and mission focus. USS Washington’s design features 13 six-pointed black stars on a camouflage field, bookended with the slogan “First in War …First in Peace.” It refers to Gen. George Washington’s headquarters flag, also called the “Commander-in-Chief Standard.” U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, is going with an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer sailing in front of Japan’s Mount Fuji with the words “Service to the Fleet.” To learn more, read the article at Military.com. To learn how uniforms in the Navy have changed over time, visit the uniforms page at NHHC’s website.
This Japanese Aircraft Carrier Was Massive—It Died in Historic Fashion
In 1942, Japan realized that aircraft carriers were needed more than battleships, and during the Battle of Midway it lost four. Orders came down from Japanese command to convert Shinano into an aircraft carrier. It was massive—59,000 tons—but instead of earning the distinction as the largest aircraft carrier ever built, it earned the title of largest ship ever sunk by a submarine. The submarine that accomplished the feat: USS Archer-Fish. On Nov. 29, 1944, Archer-Fish fired six torpedoes at Shinano. Four hit, but the Japanese crew wasn’t worried. The ship had armor up to 7.5 inches thick. It was made to handle torpedo attacks. To find out what happened next, read the article at The National Interest. To learn more about carriers during World War II, read H-005-2: Carrier vs. Carrier at the Director’s Corner. To learn more about the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Force, visit NHHC’s communities page.
WWII Veteran Boards Ship That Once Took Him to Normandy Shores
A U.S. Army World War II veteran went back in time on June 18 when he boarded the same ship that 75 years ago took him to the beaches of Normandy, France. Arthur Hubbard, 95, toured the Cape Henlopen, which has been ferrying passengers between New London, CT, and Orient Point, NY, for more than 30 years. Back in the 1940s, the ship was a U.S. Navy landing craft known as LST 510, and it was used to deliver troops, trucks, and military equipment during Operation Overlord. Hubbard was just 20-years-old in June 1944, but he vividly recalls that day. “A lot of people ask me ‘were you scared?’ You bet your life I was scared,” he said. “The first truck that came off hit a land mine. They blew up. That was my first real introduction into the war.” To learn more, watch the story at WFSB-TV.
NHHC Webpage of the Week
This week’s Webpage of the Week is new to NHHC’s Middle East Engagements page. Lebanon—They Came in Peace is a historical summary of the U.S. involvement, August 1982–February 1984, in Lebanon. Initially, the peacekeeping mission was a success when the Palestine Liberation Organization departed the port of Beirut. Just four days later, however, the president-elect was assassinated and, in response, Lebanese forces massacred more than 1,000 unarmed Palestinians. The mission turned to tragedy on Oct. 23, 1983, when two truck bombs struck separate buildings housing U.S. Marines and French forces, killing nearly 300 American and French servicemembers. Check out this page today and learn more about this important operation.
Today in Naval History
On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, beginning the Korean War. Within days, Seoul fell to the North Koreans, and President Harry S. Truman authorized U.S. naval and air operations south of the 38th parallel. Over the course of the war, fighting went back-and-forth until an armistice was signed with North Korea in July 1953. Notable clashes include the battles for Seoul, Battle of Heartbreak Ridge, Battle of Inchon, and the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. To learn more, read History of United States Naval Operations: Korea at NHHC’s website.
Downloadable version of the above information is available here.