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Navy History Matters – July 9, 2019

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.

Navy Validates U.S. Submarine S-28 (S-133) Wreckage

The U.S. Navy recently validated the identity of the wreckage of U.S. submarine S-28 (SS-133) off the coast of Oahu, HI, nearly 75 years after the ship was lost. Ocean Explorer Tim Taylor and his “Lost 52 Expedition Team” located this final resting place of 49 Sailors in 2017. “Identification of a Navy gravesite is something Naval History and Heritage Command’s Underwater Archaeology Branch takes great care in doing,” said NHHC Director Sam Cox. “After an exhaustive review of the data provided by Tim Taylor’s team, we can positively identify the wreck of S-28.” On July 3, 1944, S-28 was off Oahu conducting antisubmarine warfare training. During the training, communication was sporadic. The last communication heard from the World War II boat was on the evening of July 4. The Navy searched for the submarine but was unable to locate it. Two days later, a diesel oil slick appeared. “This discovery helps to ensure their service will always be remembered, honored and valued, and we hope provides some measure of closure to their families,” added Cox. To learn more, read the article at Yahoo.

Remembering Capt. Pete Tzomes

“Capt. Tzomes was what we want all Sailors to be—tough. He, along with the other members of the Centennial Seven, conquered unimaginable hurdles to help shape us into the diverse fighting force we are becoming today,” wrote Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. “His career, and indeed his life as a whole, was historic and inspirational.” Capt. C.A. “Pete” Tzomes—the first African American to command a nuclear-powered submarine—died June 13 at the age of 74. He was the first of the Centennial Seven—the only African Americans to command submarines during the first 100 years of the U.S. Navy submarine force. Upon hearing the news, Richardson asked some of Tzomes’s shipmates to tell their story about the man who made history. To find out what his friends had to say, read the blog at The Sextant.

WWII@75: Japanese Resistance Ceases on Saipan

After more than three weeks of brutal combat, organized Japanese resistance ceased in the World War II invasion of Saipan, July 9, 1944, 75 years ago. Dubbed Operation Forager, the bloody battle’s victory provided the Allies the opportunity to build airfields that would bring Tokyo into range of U.S. B-29 bombers. Although the operation was a success, it was costly. Americans suffered 26,000 casualties, 5,000 of which were deaths. At least 23,000 Japanese troops were killed and more than 1,780 captured. It was the deadliest campaign of the Allied Pacific offensive to date. To learn more, read H-032-1: Operation Forager and the Battle of the Philippine Sea by Director Sam Cox and Operation Forager: The Battle of Saipan by COD’s Adam Bisno.

Constitution Underway on Independence Day

USS Constitution was underway from the ship’s berth in Charlestown, MA, July 4, in celebration of the 243rd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. While underway, Constitution Sailors read the Declaration of Independence to the more than 450 guests. “To be aboard Constitution today is a great honor,” said Cmdr. Nathaniel R. Schick, 75th commanding officer of Constitution. “This is a ship that was named by President George Washington, who in July 1776, read the Declaration of Independence to his Soldiers, who were recently minted as the Continental Army, as they were looking at the British Armada off the coast of Long Island and the Hessian soldiers and British regulars that were aboard the ships. As Washington was trying to find ways to motivate his men, the words from the Declaration of Independence took on a different meaning.” To learn more, read the article at DVIDS.

Kalbfus—First Director of Naval History 75 Years Ago

On July 12, 1944, 75 years ago, retired Adm. Edward C. Kalbfus was detached from the General Board and became the first Director of Naval History. His orders were to coordinate the various programs underway, including Professor Robert Albion’s project to document the administrative aspects of World War II and Lt. Cmdr. Samuel Eliot Morison’s history of naval operations. Early in 1945, Kalbfus issued a series of directives related to the writing of administrative histories. In one measure, he requested that major fleet and shore-based commands submit narratives of their wartime experiences. At the end of the war, the Office of Naval History began writing, based on the administrative histories, and in 1959, the 1,042-page volume titled Administration of the Navy Department in World War II was completed. For more information, see Guide to United States Naval Administrative Histories of World War II.

Port Royal Commissioned 25 Years Ago

On July 9, 1994, 25 years ago, USS Port Royal was commissioned at Savannah, GA, and homeported at Pearl Harbor, HI. The guided-missile cruiser is the 27th and last ship of the Ticonderoga-class cruisers. She was named after American Revolution and Civil War battles at Port Royal, SC. The ship has participated in multiple Middle East engagements, including Operation Southern Watch, 1995–1996, with the 29th Chief of Naval Operations, then-Capt. Gary Roughhead, in command through most of the deployment. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Port Royal deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. On Jan. 6, 2008, five Iranian speedboats approached the vessel dangerously close, made threatening moves, and then dropped white-box objects into the water, simulating mining operations. In March 2017, the ship returned from a 212-day deployment to the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, South China Sea, Western Pacific, and Indian Ocean.

Rhode Island Commissioned 25 Years Ago

On July 9, 1994, 25 years ago, USS Rhode Island was commissioned at Groton, CT. The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine is the third Navy vessel named after the state of Rhode Island—the first participated in the Civil War, and the second was part of the Great White Fleet. On Aug. 11, 2009, personnel from Rhode Island rescued five Bahamian fishermen whose boat had capsized in the Atlantic. The men reported they had been adrift for four days at sea. Recently, Rhode Island underwent a 33-month engineered refueling overhaul at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, VA, before returning to homeport at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, GA, in May 2019.

Dextrous Commissioned 25 Years Ago

On July 9, 1994, 25 years ago, USS Dextrous, an Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship, was commissioned at Ingleside, TX. The ship is part of Fifth Fleet and homeported in Bahrain. Dextrous is the second ship to bear the name; the first received five battle stars for World War II and five more for the Korean War. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the ship participated in Operation Enduring Freedom and, in 2003–2004, participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2005 and 2006, Dextrous had major overhaul work performed, and in September 2006, deployed to the Persian Gulf to test the newly installed equipment and conduct maritime security operations. In 2013, the commanding officer of Dextrous was relieved due to loss of confidence after an investigation revealed deficiencies in operational preparedness, situational awareness, and tactical proficiency. In 2015, the commanding officer was relieved again due to alleged misconduct.

Faces of Freedom: From the Barracks of Beirut

On Oct. 23, 1983, a suicide bomber crashed a truck carrying 2,000 pounds of explosives into U.S. Marine barracks at the Beirut International Airport in Lebanon, killing 220 Marines, 18 Sailors, and 3 Soldiers. It was the deadliest day for the Marines since Iwo Jima. America would not see a deadlier attack until the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks. Mark McNeil, now working as an execution manager for NIWC Atlantic’s Installation Planning and Execution department, was there on that day. At the time of the attack, he was the lead broadcast engineer for the Navy broadcasting division of the U.S. Navy Office of Information (CHINFO). “Part of the mission was to comfort forward deployed Marines and Sailors, to give them that piece of home,” said McNeil about the daily radio broadcasts. On the night of Oct. 22, he and two other colleagues sheltered in a nearby bombed out building. He remembers being concerned for their safety due to the recent uptick in fighting. The next morning, the bombing happened at 6:22 a.m. To learn more, read the U.S. Navy release. Also, check out Lebanon—They Came in Peace at NHHC’s website.

Navy WAVE Instructor Taught Instrument Flying to WWII Pilots

Chris Schiess is proud of her family’s military service. Her father emigrated from Norway and served in the U.S. Army during World War I. Her husband was a U.S. Navy fighter pilot during World War II. One of her sons served during the Vietnam era, and another flew for the U.S. Air Force during Desert Storm. She even has a grandson who is on active duty as an Air Force pilot. Schiess served as well. She was a Link Trainer operator with the WAVES during WWII. The Link Trainer was a flight simulator used to train pilots and other aviators for instrument flying conditions. More than 500,000 U.S. pilots trained on Link simulators during the war. To learn more, read the article in the Statesman Journal.

NHHC Webpage of the Week

This week’s Webpage of the Week is a report recently published to NHHC’s website that covers combat operations up to March 1, 1944, during World War II. Our Navy at War, an official report by Adm. Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief, United States Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations, provided the Secretary of the Navy a comprehensive report on the peacetime and wartime Navy, including combat operations up to that point. King’s progress report notes “the importance and complexity of our naval operations and the tremendous expansion of our naval establishment since [the United States] entered the war.” Check it out today and learn more about the U.S. Navy during the war.

Today in Naval History

On July 9, 1846, during the Mexican-American War, Cmdr. John B. Montgomery and his detachment of Marines and Sailors from the sloop-of-war USS Portsmouth raised the U.S. flag over (Yerba Buena) San Francisco, CA. The Mexican-American War, 1846–1848, was the first U.S. armed conflict fought on primarily foreign soil that matched an expansionist-minded United States against a militarily unprepared Mexico. Mexico lost about one-third of its territory, including almost all of present-day California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico.

For more dates in naval history, including your selected span of dates, see Year at a Glance at NHHC’s website. Be sure to check this page regularly, as content is updated frequently.

Downloadable version of the above information is available here.