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Navy History Matters – November 24, 2020

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.

SECNAV Names Two Future Virginia-class Submarines Tang, Wahoo

Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite announced recently that two Virginia-class submarines would be named USS Wahoo and USS Tang. The new boats will carry the names of two storied World War II submarines. It will be the third time the Navy has used the names. “The success in battle both previous namesakes endured will undoubtedly bring great pride to the future crews of USS Tang and USS Wahoo,” said Braithwaite. “Along with the previously named USS Barb, these boats will honor the strong traditions and heritage of the silent service.” The WWII Tang received four battle stars and two Presidential Unit Citations, and her commander, Lt. Cmdr. Richard H. O’Kane, received the Medal of Honor for Tang’s final, heroic actions. Wahoo received six battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation for her WWII service. Wahoo’s commander, Lt. Cmdr. Dudley Walker “Mush” Morton, received the Navy Cross, and destroyer USS Morton was named in his honor. For more, read the U.S. Navy release.

WWII@75: First Nurse to Receive Distinguished Service Medal

On Nov. 30, 1945, Capt. Sue S. Dauser of the Navy Nurse Corps received the Distinguished Service Medal for her leadership during World War II. It was the first time a nurse received the medal. Dauser graduated from the California School of Nursing in 1914 and became a Navy nurse in September 1917. She served as chief nurse with a naval base hospital in the United States and in Scotland during World War I. Following the war, she was placed in charge of nursing activities at U.S. Naval Hospital, San Diego, CA. During the 1920s, Dauser served onboard several ships, overseas, and at U.S. facilities. She tended to President Warren G. Harding during his fatal illness in 1923. In the 1930s, Dauser was the principal chief nurse at several Navy medical facilities. She was appointed superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps in 1939. Serving in that capacity throughout World War II, she supervised the great wartime expansion of the Nurse Corps and its activities throughout the world. In December 1942, after changes in the law, she received the rank of captain. She retired from active duty in November 1945.

New Year’s Eve Deck Log Contest

Sailors, we want to hear your voice! NHHC is hereby reviving the tradition of the New Year’s deck log poetry contest. Let your poetic prowess be celebrated! The deck log is the official record maintained by all commissioned U.S. Navy vessels. While the contents of a deck log generally are regulated fiercely, the U.S. Navy has long held the tradition of the midnight New Year’s Day poem. The first entry of the New Year, written in verse, gives a brief glimpse into the minds of the Sailors and shipboard life, and provides a human voice to the otherwise impersonal deck log. Unfortunately, this tradition is waning with each passing New Year’s Day. By reviving the contest, NHHC hopes to preserve the tradition and boost participation throughout the fleet. For details on the contest, visit the New Year’s Eve Deck Log Contest page at NHHC’s website.

A Special Air Delivery From the U.S. Navy Arrives

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum recently received its newest aircraft artifact. The F/A-18C Hornet with familiar Blue Angels markings touched down at Dulles International Airport and taxied to the museum’s nearby Udvar-Hazy Center where it will undergo restoration before it is displayed. “We’re very happy to have this aircraft in our collection,” said Laurence Burke, curator at the museum. “We look forward to getting it out on the floor where people can see it. The F/A-18 was a game-changer.” The F/A-18 C and D Hornets were retired at the conclusion of the Blue Angels 2020 season. The latest arrival will join other naval aviation greats on display, such as the F6F-3K Hellcat, F-4S Phantom II, A-6E Intruder, and F-14D Tomcat. For more, read the article.

Scottsdale Tribe Built 5-Acre Memorial to Honor USS Arizona

The Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community recently funded and built a five-acre memorial near Scottsdale, AZ, that honors the crew of USS Arizona. The site’s garden perimeter spans the length and width of the ship that was sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. There are quotes from survivors on benches along pathways that end with flagpoles marking each branch of the U.S. military. Most of the columns light up at night to represent the 1,177 lives that were lost. The Arizona venue also honors the crew with metal monuments of stacked blocks with names and ranks engraved on them. “The memorial is a really neat thing,” said John Egan, who is the son of Paul Egan. Paul was onboard Arizona when it was attacked, but he survived. Paul passed away in 1992 at 71 years old. His ashes are interred on Arizona in Pearl Harbor. For more, read the article in the Navy Times.

Chester Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief of Pacific Fleet, Made Mark in History

Chester W. Nimitz looked forward as a child to someday joining the military. His father died before he was born, so his mother and paternal grandfather, Charles Nimitz, raised him. The elder Nimitz served as a Merchant Marine captain and had a profound impact on the young Nimitz. When Nimitz reached adulthood, his congressional representative convinced him to apply to the U.S. Naval Academy, where he subsequently graduated seventh in his 1905 class. During World War I, he served as chief engineer on a destroyer and later as an aide to the commander of the Atlantic Submarine Fleet. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt named Nimitz commander of the Pacific Fleet. At the time, the fleet was in shambles, and the Japanese were threatening American shores. Nimitz quickly rallied American ships that were available to hold off the Japanese threat. For more, read the article.

Military Force Authorized by UN—30 Years Ago

On Nov. 29, 1990, the United Nations approved Security Council Resolution 678, authorizing the use of military force unless Iraq vacated Kuwait by Jan. 15, 1991. When the Iraqi army invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, the United States deployed a major joint force as part of a multination coalition to stop President Saddam Hussein’s brutal aggression. When President George H.W. Bush ordered the deployment of troops and equipment to defend Saudi Arabia, more than 240 ships carrying about 18.3 million pounds of equipment and supplies was facilitated. Hussein’s repeated rejection to abandon the invasion and leave Kuwait led to the commencement of combat operations on Jan. 18, 1991. For more on Desert Shield/Desert Storm, go to NHHC’s website.

Sailor Killed in 1941 Attack on Pearl Harbor Laid to Rest in Arkansas

After almost 80 years, a Sailor who was killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor has finally been returned to his home state of Arkansas. Samuel Cyrus Steiner, 20, went missing while serving aboard USS Oklahoma. The remains of Sailors killed in action had been buried at the National Memorial of the Pacific, but in 2015, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency began identifying servicemembers’ remains using DNA technology. On Nov. 21, members of Steiner’s family and members of local veterans’ organizations gathered in Texarkana for his funeral service. “If I had to choose a brother, I couldn’t have chosen a better brother than the one God gave me,” said Emily Utterback, Steiner’s younger half-sister. For more, read the article.

Webpage of the Week

This week’s Webpage of the Week is the Navy Thanksgiving page. The U.S. Navy has celebrated Thanksgiving in one fashion or another even before it became an official American holiday. Arrayed on this page are selected Navy Thanksgiving menus from NHHC’s collections that span the first half of the 20th century. Although some dishes, such as “Mayonnaise Salad” on battleship Arizona in 1917, and “Baked Spiced Spam à la Capitaine de Vaisseau” on cruiser Augusta in 1942, have not transcended time, roast turkey, baked ham, and pumpkin pie have been the anchors of nearly every Thanksgiving feast at sea or on shore to the present day. Check this page out today. Happy Thanksgiving!

Today in Naval History

On Nov. 24, 1943, Japanese submarine I-175 sank USS Liscome Bay southeast of Makin Island. Although 272 of the crew were rescued, the ship lost more than 600 Sailors, including Navy Cross recipient Cook 3rd Class Doris “Dorie” Miller. Miller received the Navy Cross from Adm. Chester W. Nimitz for heroism onboard USS West Virginia during the Pearl Harbor attack. After carrying several wounded Sailors to safety, including the ship’s captain, Miller manned a Browning antiaircraft machine gun—on which he had no training—and proceeded to fire on the enemy until he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship. Miller was assigned to Liscome Bay in the spring of 1943 and was onboard the escort carrier during Operation Galvanic, the seizure of Makin and Tarawa Atolls in the Gilbert Islands. A single torpedo that detonated the aircraft bomb magazine hit the ship while cruising near Butaritari Island. Liscome Bay sank within minutes

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.

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