Navy History Matters – November 26, 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.

CNO James L. Holloway Dies at 97

Twentieth Chief of Naval Operations Adm. James L. Holloway III has died in Alexandria, VA, Nov. 26. Holloway was born Feb. 23, 1922, in Charleston, SC, the son of Adm. James L. Holloway Jr. He became the CNO on July 1, 1974, relieving Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr. as the Navy’s top military leader. He served under three presidents—Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter—during his tenure. Holloway also served as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He began his naval career when he from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1942 with the wartime-accelerated class of 1943. He served aboard destroyers during World War II, participating in the Saipan, Tinian, Palau, and Leyte Gulf campaigns. Following WWII, Holloway served as a fighter pilot in the Korean War and as commanding officer of USS Enterprise during the Vietnam War. After he retired in 1978, Holloway was instrumental in the online publishing of NHHC’s DANFS project. For more on his life, read Admiral James L. Holloway: A Lifetime of Service at NHHC’s website.

H-Gram 38: Battle of Leyte Gulf

In his latest H-Gram, Director Sam Cox expands on H-Gram 036: “No Higher Honor”—The Battle off Samar with an overview of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, focusing on stories of valor and command decisions. He also covers two related episodes that are generally not mentioned in the histories of Leyte Gulf: the loss of USS Tang near Formosa while attacking a Japanese Leyte-bound convoy on the night of Oct. 23–24, 1944, and the deaths of 1,781 mostly U.S. prisoners of war when the Japanese “hell ship” Arisan Maru was torpedoed by a U.S. submarine on 24 October while en route from the Philippines to Formosa. Tang was one of the most successful U.S. submarines of World War II, sinking 24 Japanese ships before her own circular-running torpedo sank the boat. Finally, Director Cox examines leadership decisions made during the battle by Japanese Vice Adm. Takeo Kurita and Admiral William Halsey. For more, read H-Gram 38 at the Director’s Corner.

Bill Introduced to Build DC Monument Honoring Medal of Honor Recipients

On Nov. 19, two Texas congressional representatives proposed in legislation a Washington, DC, monument to honor Medal of Honor recipients. Reps. Mark Veasey and Ron Wright filed the National Medal of Honor Monument Act to honor recipients of the nation’s highest honor. The bill also recognizes the new home of the National Medal of Honor Museum in Arlington, TX. “We look forward to working with the bipartisan contingent of elected officials to make sure we are doing all that we can to honor the more than 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients and get this great piece of legislation passed,” said Joe Daniels, CEO and president of the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation. The foundation has identified potential sites for the monument, but information related to the cost is not yet available. For more, read the article in the Stars & Stripes.  

Naval Historical Center Established

On Dec. 1, 1971, the Naval Historical Center was established by consolidating the Naval Historical Display Center—now the National Museum of the U.S. Navy—and the Naval History Division. In 1982, NHC moved into a new building complex named in honor of Commodore Dudley W. Knox located on the Washington Navy Yard. Also during that year, the Naval Historical Foundation donated its collection of art and artifacts to The Navy Museum. In 1991, oversight of the USS Constitution Maintenance and Repair Division—known today as Detachment Boston—was transferred to NHC, and in 1996, the Underwater Archaeology Branch was established. In 2006, NHC was given oversight of all SECNAV-designated Navy museums. On Dec. 1, 2008, through OPNAVNOTE 5400, NHC was renamed the Naval History and Heritage Command in recognition of its broader responsibilities. For more, read the origins of NHHC at NHHC’s website.

Veterans Recall Experiences in Vietnam during HRNM Panel Discussion

Fifty years ago, they served in a variety of capacities during the Vietnam War, but during a recent panel discussion at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, their roles changed to storytellers. Navy veterans Danny Lliteras, Gordon Paulson, and Carmen Adams spoke to an audience about their wartime experiences. Jan Herman, who formally was the Navy’s medical historian for 33 years, moderated the event, “To Bind Their Wounds.” The panel was an extension of HRNM’s new exhibit “The Ten Thousand-Day War at Sea: The U.S. Navy in Vietnam, 1950–1975.” “The seminary didn’t prepare me for the trauma I saw in Da Nang,” said Paulson, who served as a chaplain in Da Nang from March 1966 through February 1967. He talked about the time six Vietnamese girls were brought into the emergency room after being shot. The moment was particularly hard for Paulson, because he had little girls of his own at home. For more, read the article at The Virginian-Pilot.

Partnership Between Malta and U.S. Commemorated

The charge’ d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Malta spoke recently during a plaque unveiling ceremony to commemorate the long-term partnership between the United States and the southern European island of Malta. The plaque honors the memory of the American and Maltese Sailors of the 3rd Mediterranean Squadron of the U.S. Navy and its flagship USS Constitution. During the 19th Century, Constitution Sailors fought against pirates in the region. “Our partnership with Malta has been going on for more than 200 years, so this is a very special moment,” said Mark A. Schapiro, charge’ d’affaires. “The USS Constitution was a very unique ship, it’s our flagship and it’s still seaworthy today.” During the American Revolution, about 1,800 Maltese helped America gain its independence. During World War II, an American tanker delivered long-awaited provisions to the people of Malta. In 2011, the country’s Grand Harbor was the main focal point for the evacuation of U.S. citizens from Libya. For more, read the article at TVM.

Navy Accepts Delivery of USNS Miguel Keith

The Navy recently accepted delivery of USNS Miguel Keith, its third expeditionary sea base ship. The ship is named in honor of Medal of Honor recipient Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith. “Like the ship’s namesake, those who sail aboard Miguel Keith will embody his dedication to service to our country,” said Capt. Scot Searles, program manager. Keith received the nation’s highest honor posthumously for his heroic actions during the Vietnam War. On May 8, 1970, in the Quang Ngai Province, Keith, who was severely wounded, delivered a hailstorm of machinegun fire to a numerically superior enemy force, ensuring the success of his platoon. For more, read the U.S. Navy release.

NHHC Webpage of the Week

This week’s webpage of the week is Hampton Roads Naval Museum’s Vietnam exhibit page, The Ten Thousand-Day War at Sea: The U.S. Navy in Vietnam, 1950–1975. The exhibit, which recently opened to the public, explores the missions and contributions of the Navy at sea, on land, and in the skies over Vietnam. More than 1.8 million Sailors served in virtually every aspect of the war, and their experience has had a lasting effect on the Navy. This exhibit explores the Vietnam veterans’ contributions to one of the most controversial wars in our nation’s history. Check it out today.

Today in Naval History

On Nov. 26, 1941, under the greatest secrecy, the Japanese armada—commanded by Vice Adm. Chuichi Nagumo—left Japan to attack the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor. The armada included all six of Japan’s first-line aircraft carriers—Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku, and Zuikaku. With more than 420 embarked planes, the ships were by far the most powerful carrier task force ever assembled. In addition to the carriers, the Pearl Harbor striking force included fast battleships, cruisers, and destroyers, with tankers to fuel the ships during the passage across the Pacific. An advance expeditionary force of large submarines, five of them carrying midget submarines, was sent to scout around Hawaii. Their mission was to dispatch the midgets into Pearl Harbor to attack ships there and torpedo American warships that might escape to sea.

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