BOOK REVIEW – Where Youth and Laughter Go – With “The Cutting Edge” in Afghanistan

Folsom_Where Yough and Laughter GoBy Lt.Col. Seth W. B., Folsom USMC., Naval Institute Press Annapolis, MD (2015)

Reviewed by Charles Bogart

This is the third book by Lt. Col. Folsom concerning his experiences fighting the War on Terror. In 2006, he published The Highway War: A Marine Company Commander in Iraq. In 2010, he wrote In The Gray Area: A Marine Advisor Team at War. This book recounts his experiences during the period 2011-2012 as commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, “The Cutting Edge” 7th Marines (3/7). During this period, he and his men during had the impossible assignment of bringing law and order to Afghanistan’s Sangin Valley, an area controlled by the Taliban. The author focuses on both the big and small picture. We are treated to an examination of the overall problem 3rd Battalion faces and the on the ground tactics he and his men employee.

Lt. Col. Folsom allows the reader to enter into his mind from the day he receives his orders to take command of “The Cutting Edge” until he turns command of the 3/7 over to its next commanding officer. Perhaps the most interesting part of the book is the first 50 pages.

within these pages, we follow LtCol Folsom as he works to build his battalion into an efficient fighting team. The author freely discusses the problems he encountered in developing a war fighting capability within his battalion. An interesting observation made by the author in his book was how the tactical situation in Sangin Valley was always in a state of flux. When the 3/7 returned to a former battlefield, the present battlefield was a different from the one they left only a year ago.

The story of 3/7’s seven-month tour in Afghanistan is one of constant patrolling and taking casualties. The unit would lose seven men in action with twice as many men would lose one or more limbs. Danger lurked everywhere in the form of ambushes, sniping, and IEDs. The author laments that the Afghan soldier lacks the work ethic of his Marines and that the civilian community he and his men are trying to protect sit as passive observes of the fighting going on around them. Lt. Col. Folsom and his men during their deployment, must constantly juggle the manpower needs of protecting their bases and conducting aggressive patrolling while observing the Rules of Engagement, to insure no innocent lives are taken, while the enemy flouts these rules.

This book is destined to become a classic on unconventional warfare. The author’s writing draws the reader into the scene being presented whether on the battlefield or elsewhere. Anyone seeking to prepare themselves to lead men and woman into battle cannot go wrong by reading this book.


Charles H Bogart resides in Kentucky.

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Christopher McKee to Receive Knox Medal

NASOH_KNOX Presentation 2016

At the National Maritime Awards Dinner held on April 21st at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, the Chairman of the Naval Historical Foundation, Admiral William J. Fallon announced that Christopher McKee, currently a Scholar-in-Residence at the Newberry Library in Chicago, will receive the foundation’s prestigious Commodore Dudley W. Knox Medal for Continuing Lifetime Achievement in the field of naval history.

The medal will be formally presented at the conclusion of the forthcoming North American Society for Oceanic History conference to be held in Portland, Maine from May 11 to 14, 2016.

Christopher McKee is the Samuel R. and Marie Rosenthal Professor Emeritus at Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa. Born in Brooklyn in 1935, McKee graduated from Houston’s University of St. Thomas in 1957 and completed his Master of Library Science degree from the University of Michigan in 1960. Before joining the faculty at Grinnell College in 1972, McKee held posts with Washington and Lee University and Southern Illinois University. He also held the Secretary of the Navy Research Chair at the Naval Historical Center from 1990 to 1991 and was an NEH Fellow at the Newberry Library from 1978 to 1979.

Christopher McKee

Christopher McKee

McKee first made his mark in the field with Edward Preble: A Naval Biography, 1761-1807. First published in 1972, the study broke new ground. Unlike earlier studies of the that war written strictly from the American perspective, McKee made an effort to understand the policies of the Tripolitans and used French consular reports to gain insights to Preble’s negotiations with the Pasha. Recognizing the book’s continuing relevance, the Naval Institute Press republished the book in 1996 as part of its “Classics of Naval Literature” series.

His second book A Gentlemanly and Honorable Profession: The Creation of the U.S. Naval Officer Corps, 1794-1815 set a standard of creative scholarship that few books on the early history of the U.S. Navy equal. Published in 1991, it earned the prestigious John Lyman Book Award from the North American Society for Oceanic History, and the Samuel Eliot Morison Award from the USS Constitution Museum.

From there McKee moved into the study of enlisted sailors which led to the 2002 book Sober Men and True: Sailor Lives in the Royal Navy, 1900-1945 where he asked important questions other historians have not asked and discovered answers from sources that other historians have not consulted.

In addition to books, McKee has produced essays and articles that include “Constitution in the Quasi-War with France: The Letters of John Roche, Jr. 1798-1801,” American Neptune 27 (1967); and “The U.S Navy, 1794-1860: Men, Ship, and Governance,” in James Bradford’s A Companion to American Military History (2010). His chapter in Bradford’s Command under Sail: Makers of the American Naval Tradition on Edward Preble significantly reinterprets Fletcher Pratt’s long accepted narrative on “Preble’s boys” and his article in the William and Mary Quarterly 42 (1985) titled “Foreign Seaman in the United States Navy: A Census of 1808,” provides demographic details extracted from an officer’s report about the national origins of 103 Marines and 316 Sailors who served under him.

Ia gentlemanly and honorable professionn addition to his teaching, research, and writing, McKee has been involved with numerous academic organizations. In addition to the Naval Historical Foundation, organizations that he has been active with include the North American Society for Oceanic History, Canadian Nautical Research Society, Society for the History of Navy Medicine, the U.S. Naval Institute, as well as the Organization of American Historians and Society of Historians of the Early American Republic.

With his participation in the annual meetings of these organizations and attendance at numerous conferences (he has attended every single Naval Academy history symposium since that conclave started in 1977), McKee has made himself accessible to upcoming military and naval scholars interested in 18th and 19th century history. Samples where McKee is cited for his able assistance in producing path-breaking scholarship include: Linda Maloney, The Captain from Connecticut: The Life and Naval Times of Isaac Hull (Boston: Northeastern University, 1986); William B. Skelton, An American Profession of Arms: The Army Officer Corps, 1784-1861 (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1992); Ira Dye, The Fatal Cruise of the Argus: Two Captains in the War of 1812 (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1994), and again with Uriah Levy: Reformer of the Antebellum Navy (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2006); William P. Leeman, The Long Road to Annapolis: The Founding of the Naval Academy and the Emerging American Republic (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010); and Myra C. Glenn, Jack Tar’s Story: The Autobiographies and Memoirs of Sailors in Antebellum America (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Now 80 years old, McKee continues to press on. Having written on enlisted life in the Royal Navy, McKee has returned to this side of the Atlantic, where he is completing a manuscript with the tentative title of Ungentle Goodnights: Life in a Home for Elderly Naval Sailors and Marines, 1891-1895, a social history based on the lives of the first 541 enlisted beneficiaries admitted to the United States Naval Home in Philadelphia.

McKee’s selection for the Commodore Dudley W. Knox Medal will make him the eleventh individual to receive this prestigious honor since the Naval Historical Foundation established the award in 2013. Previous recipients include: Dean Allard, Thomas Cutler, Kenneth Hagan (2015); John Hattendorf, William Dudley, Craig Symonds, and Harold Langley (2014); and James Bradford, Phillip Lundeberg, and William Still (2013). Nominations for the 2017 award are welcome through foundation’s website

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National Maritime Awards Dinner (NMAD) Recap: The Rising Tide of Our Maritime and Naval Heritage

Capt. Jim Noone, USNR (Ret.), NMAD Co-Chairman

“The tide rises for all of us as we help build a strong future for the heritage and maritime community.” – Capt. Jim Noone, USNR (Ret.), NMAD Co-Chairman (Photo courtesy Joe Rudinec/Rudinec and Associates/Released)

By Matthew T. Eng

The National Maritime Historical Society (NMHS) and Naval Historical Foundation (NHF) hosted a gala event at the National Press Club on 21 April to honor the achievements of three individuals who have made lasting contributions to maritime and naval heritage. Formerly known as the Washington Awards Dinner, the newly rebranded National Maritime Awards Dinner has grown to become a signature event in Washington, D.C. in recent years to celebrate those who have made significant contributions to broaden our nation’s maritime and naval heritage visibility.

For those who could not attend NHF’s  90th Anniversary event back in March, the dinner also provided the opportunity for NHF Chairman Admiral William J. Fallon, USN (Ret.)–who took over the helm from Admiral Bruce DeMars, USN (Ret.) in December of last year–to describe NHF’s mission and accomplishments.

Over three hundred guests, many representing organizations that promote maritime and naval heritage, enjoyed an evening of shared commitment and camaraderie overlooking the White House and downtown Washington. Throughout the night, the theme of support and giving came up often. Contributions from generous donors are critically important for these two nonprofit organizations to continue to thrive. This support was clearly evident in the many individuals who bid during the silent auction held before the dinner. The auction offerings included spectacular nautical memorabilia, artwork, VIP insider tours, and vacation packages.  Each successive bid was a commitment to preserving and honoring this nation’s rich and storied maritime and naval legacy. An engaging live auction was also held during the dinner itself, which included a chef’s dinner at Philip’s Seafood for eight and embarkation for a parade of sail aboard the schooner Sultana. The most sought-after prize of the evening, however, was a fantastic 10-night trip cruise package for two to Cuba aboard Pearl Sea Cruises. A number of individuals also directly contributed to the educational programs of NMHS and NHF, which will continue to underwrite a broad range of initiatives carried out by both organizations. A special thanks to all of the auction donors involved in the dinner!

Guests bid during the silent auction (Photo courtesy Joe Rudinec/Rudinec and Associates/Released)

Guests bid during the silent auction (Photo courtesy Joe Rudinec/Rudinec and Associates/Released)

Dinner Co-Chairman Captain Jim Noone, USNR, (Ret.), a member of the NHF Board of Directors, opened up the formal awards program with a brief summary of the three individuals being honored: Philips Foods and Seafood Restaurants owner Stephen B. Phillips; American Cruise Lines and Chesapeake Shipbuilding founder and CEO Charles A. Robertson; and Executive Chairman of Enterprise Holdings Andrew C. Taylor.  As Noone suggested, each of the recipients received their awards in front of “representatives from virtually the entire spectrum of the maritime community.” Through their dedication and philanthropic spirit, each recipient gained stature in the maritime industry and professional world through hard work, and a core dedication to understanding and supporting this country’s deep connection to the sea.

Stephen B. Phillips and Charles A. Robertson received the National Maritime Historical Society’s Distinguished Service Award. Both recipients embody the spirit and core mission of NMHS through their lasting contributions to the maritime industries of the United States. Stephen Phillips deflected attention from his own accomplishments and instead accepted the award on behalf of the men and women serving our country today at home and abroad. “Even the lowest pay scale in the Navy today deserves this honor more than I do,” he said. American Cruise Lines CEO Charles A. Robertson accepted his award and spoke about the evening’s theme of support:

“I know the importance of maritime history and the important work that the National Maritime Historical Society does for the nation [. . .] It’s a wonderful thing to be involved in preserving this heritage.”

For the Naval Historical Foundation, the highlight of the night was the presentation of this year’s NHF Distinguished Service Award to Enterprise Holdings Executive Chairman Andy Taylor. Andy was introduced by Admiral Sandy Winnefeld. Recently retired as the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Winnefeld was the commanding officer of USS Enterprise (CVN 65) during her 20th deployment, at the opening of Operation Enduring Freedom following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US. Admiral Winnefeld talked briefly about “the remarkable connection that the Taylor family has with the United States Navy.” Andy Taylor’s father, Enterprise Rent-A-Car founder Jack Taylor, was a combat pilot who flew F6F Hellcat fighters from USS Essex (CV 9) and USS Enterprise (CV 6) during World War II. He eventually named his new car rental company after the Enterprise.

Enterprise Holdings Executive Chairman Andy C. Taylor accepts the NHF Distinguished Service alongside NHF Chairman Admiral William J. Fallon, USN (Ret.), Admiral Sandy Winnefeld, USN (Ret.), and Gary Jobson. (Photo courtesy Joe Rudinec/Rudinec and Associates/Released)

Enterprise Holdings Executive Chairman Andy C. Taylor accepts the NHF Distinguished Service alongside NHF Chairman Admiral William J. Fallon, USN (Ret.), Admiral Sandy Winnefeld, USN (Ret.), and Master of Ceremonies Gary Jobson. (Photo courtesy Joe Rudinec/Rudinec and Associates/Released)

Although his son Andy did not serve in the military, the business practices and ideas distilled from his father have helped Andy grow the company to its worldwide prominence today, and to help those who have served and continue to serve their country in the military. Enterprise is a universally acknowledged supporter of military veterans, and continues to actively hire men and women rotating out of their military careers. That fondness and respect for the U.S. military is a core reason why Andy, the Taylor family, and Enterprise Holdings is so deserving of this award. Among other philanthropic contributions, the Taylor family set up the USS Enterprise student scholarship administered through the Wings Over America Scholarship Foundation, and continues to help build Fisher House accommodations around the country to support wounded veterans and their families. Although CVN 65 is no longer in service, the Taylor family is engaged in promoting the “Big E” legacy for future generations—particularly now that Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has announced that the the name Enterprise will be bestowed on CVN 80, which should join the fleet in the mid-2020s. “Of all things,” Winnefeld closed with, “(Andy) is a great American patriot and businessman quietly making great things happen with other people.”

Andy C. Taylor (Photo courtesy Joe Rudinec/Rudinec and Associates/Released)

Andy C. Taylor (Photo courtesy Joe Rudinec/Rudinec and Associates/Released)

As a tribute to the Taylor family patriarch Jack Taylor’s World War II service, NHF Chairman Admiral Fallon presented Andy and his family with several framed photographs of Enterprise (CV 6).  Andy Taylor spoke briefly about the honor of the award. “I am proud to continue my father’s Navy legacy,” he said in his acceptance speech. His final remarks about his father echo the unique way naval history comes together, and continues to enthrall us today:

“[He originally] named the company Executive, but when we had to change it, and wanted a name that started with “e”, it wasn’t going to sound as good if we used the ship name Essex. He spent more time on Essex, but Enterprise is a better name for a rental car company. We are so glad we did that.”

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Trust Began with a Lie

NHF Historian Dr. David Winkler (at the podium) addresses the U.S. and Russian Navy delegations during concluding ceremonies of the 40th Annual Incidents at Sea Agreement Review that was held at the Naval Observatory. U.S. Navy Photo.

NHF Historian Dr. David Winkler (at the podium) addresses the U.S. and Russian Navy delegations during concluding ceremonies of the 40th Annual Incidents at Sea Agreement Review that was held at the Naval Observatory. U.S. Navy Photo.

By David F. Winkler, Ph.D.
NHF Staff

Last Friday’s SU-27 barrel roll of USAF RC-135 and earlier buzzings of USN Destroyer are rare hiccups in 44 year INCSEA accord.

The Incidents at Sea Agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union had only been signed a year earlier in Moscow by Secretary of the Navy John W. Warner and Admiral of the Fleet Sergei Gorshkov on behalf of their respective presidents. One of the provisions called for an annual review meeting to be hosted by each nation on a rotating basis.


Vice Admiral J.P. “Blackie” Weinel

The first such review was set to be held in Washington beginning on May 14, 1973. Selected to head the American delegation Vice Admiral J.P. “Blackie” Weinel understood that the first review would set a foundation for building trust with his Soviet counterparts. Meeting with members of his delegation Weinel exclaimed:

“No posturing, no bragging, and no looking down our noses at the Russians. Take no interest whatsoever in any kinds of secrets. Don’t even act like you’re trying to find anything out, because we are not on any intelligence missions. I don’t give a damn if they were building seventeen aircraft carriers. That’s not what we are here for. Establish give and take with your counterparts. Don’t make it one way. Be able to listen as much as you talk. Admit to yourselves that the Russians could be right and have a better mousetrap than we have. Always focus on the bottom line, which is we both see the foolishness of the games of chicken and we need to knock it off. And finally: Be absolutely, completely honest with them!”

With no direct flights between Moscow and Washington in 1973, the Russians flew into New York’s Kennedy Airport and transferred to National Airlines for the short evening hop to Washington. Unfortunately, though the Russians made the connection, their luggage did not!

The next morning, Vice Admiral Weinel arrived early at the Washington Hilton to meet with his counterpart, First Deputy Chief of the Main Navy Staff, Admiral Vladimir N. Alekseyev. Still donning the clothes he wore the previous day, Weinel could discern that Alekseyev was not happy.

Weinel recalled the first thing Alekseyev said was:

“Where the hell is my luggage?”

For some reason that he later confessed that he never understood Weinel responded:

 “We didn’t realize you had as much luggage as you had. We haven’t finished searching through your luggage yet but we should be at about 10 o’clock this morning.”

Alekseyev didn’t bat an eye and turned to his interpreter:

“Well, I’m going to have ham, eggs, potatoes, and a pot of coffee.”

From then on while the Russians were in Washington, Alekseyev would tell listeners:

“What an honest man Admiral Weinel is. I completely trust him!”

With a trusting rapport established under false pretenses, the first annual review produced constructive exchanges that led to a protocol that extended the 1972 accord to include the merchant ships of both sides. From there on, naval leaders from both nations continued to annually meet to frankly discuss the interactions of their respective fleets. During the first decade of the accord, the number of incidents dropped off substantially from the pre-INCSEA timeframe.

Time Magazine Cover, Sept. 1983

Time Magazine Cover, Sept. 1983

Then, after the Soviet shoot-down of KAL 007 on September 1, 1983, west of Sakhalin Island, the Soviet Navy attempted to interfere with American and Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force recovery operations. Rear Admiral Ronald Kurth recalled:

“It was a very severe challenge to the agreement and intrusion on the part of the Soviet Navy.”

Using the method prescribed in the agreement, the United States protested the harassment. The Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Sylvester R. Foley summed up what happened:

“The Soviets gave us trouble and hassled us and we said ‘if the Incidents at Sea Agreement means anything, cut it out,’ and they did.”

In the aftermath of the Sea of Japan incidents, Rear Admiral Kurth found the Soviets very conciliatory at the 1984 annual review:

“The Soviets really, really did everything possible to preserve the agreement and reestablish confidence. They handled their conduct in the Sea of Japan very openly, and we did, indeed, reestablish confidence.”

Explaining the Soviet change of face, a veteran of the U.S. delegation, Captain Edward J. Melanson observed:

“While we saw it as a technical agreement, the Soviets, particularly the Soviet Navy, saw it more in a political context of an agreement that kind of set their service apart from the rest – as they were dealing on a bilateral basis with United States Navy.”

This observation certainly could have been seconded by Vice Admiral Weinel. A year following the lost luggage incident that led to the first of the series productive reviews, Weinel was greeted by Admiral Alekseyev as he stepped off his airplane in Moscow. As the two men exchanged pleasantries, the American could not but help notice nearly everyone in the Russian reception committee checking their watches. Weinel recalled “in some phenomenally short time like four minutes sixteen seconds” the luggage arrived and Alekseyev proudly announced:

“You can pick up your luggage now!”

A staff historian, Dr. Winkler’s Ph.D. dissertation on the Incidents at Sea Agreement was published under the title Cold War at Sea: High-Seas Confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union by the Naval Institute Press in 2000.      


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‘Hammerin’ Hank Mustin Oral History Posted

Portrait:  US Navy (USN) Vice Admiral (VADM) Henry C. Mustin (uncovered)

Portrait: US Navy (USN) Vice Admiral (VADM) Henry C. Mustin (uncovered)

On April 11, 2016 the Naval Historical Foundation lost a strong supporter who was part of one of the Navy’s more storied families – Vice Admiral Henry C. Mustin.

His grandfather, the first Henry C. Mustin, established his fame in naval aviation history when he was launched by catapult off the underway armored cruiser North Carolina – a first! He also established the naval aeronautical station at Pensacola, Florida which remains today as an essential training facility and home to the National Naval Aviation Museum.

His father Lloyd Mustin served as a gunnery officer on cruisers during World War II, surviving the loss of the light cruiser Atlanta during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. He would rise through the ranks and retire as a vice admiral.

The junior Henry C. Mustin also had a brother Tom, who also served in the brown waters of Vietnam and was decorated for his combat actions.

Such was the contributions of this foursome that the Navy commissioned the guided missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) in 2003 to honor their service to their nation.

The recently deceased Mustin’s portion of those contributions was quite significant. A graduate of the Naval Academy Class of 1955, “Hammerin Hank” would have an extremely successful career in the surface warfare community and as Commander, Second Fleet, developed naval operational goals and objectives that would be incorporated in the Maritime Strategy that aimed to take the fight to the Soviet Union in the advent of World War III.

In early 2001, NHF historian Dr. David Winkler and Mustin USNA classmate Captain William Peerenboom conducted a series of interviews which combined to make a remarkable oral history. With his memorial service scheduled for this Thursday morning at the Naval Academy and with his family’s permission, the NHF is pleased to honor Vice Admiral Mustin with the posting of his lifetime recollections of serving in the United States Navy.

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Dusty Kleiss: A Hero of Midway Remembered

    Captain Jack "Dusty" Kleiss retirement photo, 1962; Kleiss with wife Jean, 1942 (Images provided by Jack Kleiss/Hampton Roads Naval Museum/Laura Orr)Captain Jack “Dusty” Kleiss retirement photo, 1962; Kleiss with wife Jean, 1942 (Images provided by Jack Kleiss/Hampton Roads Naval Museum/Laura Orr)

Captain Jack “Dusty” Kleiss, USN (Ret.), a VS-6 Dive Bombing pilot that served during the battle of Midway, passed away last week at the age of 100 at his residence in Texas. The Kansas native was the last surviving pilot of his kind that fought in arguably one of the greatest naval battles in human history. He is remembered for his heroism and unwavering humility in the pivotal role he played during that battle.

By Matthew T. Eng

Before I accepted my current position as the Digital Content Developer for the Naval Historical Foundation, I cut my teeth working for several years in the education department of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. As a lifelong resident of Hampton Roads, I wanted to stay close to Norfolk after graduate school and learn more about the area’s strong connection to the Navy. While there, I had the opportunity to work with the finest set of museum staff I have ever met. One of those staff members who came shortly after I started as a contract educator was Laura Orr. Laura was a seasoned museum educator with loads of experience and moxy. It was the beginning of a friendship and working partnership that continues today.

Around 2011, she informed he that she would be working with her husband, Old Dominion University History Professor Dr. Timothy Orr, on a new writing project about about a Battle of Midway veteran named Jack “Dusty” Kleiss. At that point, I was still a young greenhorn in naval history whose knowledge barely extended beyond the American Civil War navies and the 19th century. From what I was told, he was certainly a household name among veteran circles and WWII aficionados.

Over the course of the next few months, Laura and her husband traveled down to San Antonio, Texas, to meet Dusty and write down his story. What an extraordinary story it was. The museum was fortunate enough to have Dusty write about his personal experiences in the Navy, specifically at the Midway. His excellent article is included in the 2012 Special Midway edition of The Daybook, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum’s quarterly publication. I often dig back into my issue I keep in my library and read about his miraculous exploits. This particular section of his article details his experience scoring a direct hit on the Japanese carrier Kaga as a member of USS Enterprise’s Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6):

Wade McClusky waggled his wings and, in our Scouting Six planes, we followed him into a dive on Kaga, the closest carrier. This was the perfect situation for dive bombing: no Zeros, no anti-aircraft fire. McClusky and our Scouting Six dive bombers attacked Kaga. Bombing Six planes attacked Akagi. Earl Gallaher scored the first hit on Kaga. I watched his 500-pound bomb explode on the first plane starting its takeoff. It was the only plane on Kaga’s flight deck. His incendiary bombs also hit the gas tanks beside it. Immediately, the aft-part of the ship was engulfed in a huge mass of flames. I scored the next hit. My 500-pound bomb and two 100-pound incendiaries landed on the rear edge of the large red circle on the bow of Kaga. The bombs set fire to the closely-parked airplanes below deck, filled with gasoline; a huge fire started. (Note: my bombs hit the target at 240 knots, and exploded 1/100th of a second later!) I had dropped my bombs at 1,500 feet, and I pulled out at 9g, just barely skimming above the water.

A Zero came speeding for us. I gave my gunner John Snowden a good angle, and in two seconds, no more Zero! I sped past numerous ships shooting AA fire at me, so I changed course and altitude every second. I finally made a half circle, heading towards Midway. I looked back and saw three carriers in flames: many bombs from Scouting Six and Bombing Six had hit Kaga; three bombs from Bombing Six had hit Akagi; and bombs from Yorktown’s dive bombers torched Soryu. Only Hiryu, twenty miles away, was unharmed.

For his actions at Midway, Kleiss received the Navy Cross. He also received a Presidential Unit Citation in 1944. He also received the Distinguished Flying Cross for action at the Marshall Islands.

 Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryu burning, shortly after sunrise on 5 June 1942, a few hours before she sank.  (NHHC Photo # NH 73064)

Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryu burning, shortly after sunrise on 5 June 1942, a few hours before she sank. (NHHC Photo # NH 73064)

On 7 March of this year, Dusty and I celebrated the same birthday. I blew 32 candles out on my birthday cake; Dusty had 100. I got a birthday call from my parents. Dusty got phone calls from John McCain, Ash Carter, George H.W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Each of the phone calls apparently thanked him for his service and his courage during Midway. Yet it is likely that he shrugged off the praise he had likely heard for nearly 70 years.  “I’m anything but a hero,” he said to CNN reporter Richard Roth, “I was only doing what at the time was the proper thing to do.” Laura and Tim Orr asked him about a sentimental photo of Kleiss with his new wife Jean taken after his return back to the states. After receiving one of the most prestigious medals in the United States military, all Dusty could say was “Who would ever look at a Navy Cross with the most beautiful girl in the world doing her stuff?” Those words are still some of the most sentimental I have ever heard, and my heart still flutters every time I read it. Romance authors could not write a better line if they tried. War is hell, but love and duty are eternal. Dusty was a master of both.

Dusty Kleiss wearing Distinguished Flying Cross (Photo by Jack Kleiss/HRNM/Laura Orr)

Dusty Kleiss wearing Distinguished Flying Cross he earned for his action at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands (Photo by Jack Kleiss/HRNM/Laura Orr)

Dusty would retire from the Navy as a Captain in 1962. He went on to work for the aerospace industry. He remained active in the community and had written or posted about his experiences on several websites on the Internet. He also made several noteworthy television appearances. Sadly, Dusty passed away last week. He had told those closest among him that he wanted to make it to 100. Strong willed and determined, Dusty did just that – one last mark on the greenie board of a life well lived.

So often we write about individuals of naval history who were towering figures that made the big decisions that turned the tide of conflict. That kind of attention is usually reserved for high ranking officers, men of the WWII era with names like Nimitz, Leahy, Halsey, and King. Dusty never wore stars on his shoulders, but you can believe his character and demeanor was worthy of five stars. It is highly doubtful that monuments will be built in his honor. Dusty would want it that way. So in my own small way, this is but one of many tributes to a great American who exemplified honor, courage, and commitment.

In life or death, his story will continue to inspire generations of Sailors coming into the U.S. Navy. I never knew the man like Laura or Tim did. I can only imagine what it must have been like to sit next to someone who took part in such a harrowing event only to push it aside as merely doing one’s duty. That is the true mark of a hero. But he was more than a hero to me. He was a different caliber of human being. We can only hope to all live close to the potential of Dusty. My heart goes out to the Orr family and anyone who knew him well. Your lives have been undoubtedly enriched by the experience.

Fair winds and following seas, Sir. You are our hero, and we all owe you a debt of gratitude.

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CHOW: Navy Bean Soup

Chow Navy Bean Blog CoverCHOW is a new blog and video series exploring the history behind U.S. Navy culinary traditions. See our first story on “Creamed Sliced Dried Beef” AKA S.O.S. here.

By Matthew T. Eng

Tucked away on the Naval History and Heritage Command’s website is a small section on the food Sailors ate aboard ship throughout the history of the United States Navy. Under “traditional Navy recipes,” NHHC gives three staple recipes from the 1958 Navy Cook Book: baking powder biscuits, creamed sliced dried beef, and Navy bean soup. In case you haven’t read our previous post for CHOW, we have already tackled one of these for our first project (creamed sliced dried beef). After all that thick gravy, I was feeling more like soup than biscuits.

It’s a common dish, readily available in many cafeterias, mess decks, or Easter dinner tables. You see the same type of beans used for game day cookouts (both baked and barbecued) and inside tinned cans with tiny pieces of pork. Among these dishes, Navy bean soup highlight’s the legume’s true potential. It’s hard to believe such a simple soup could bring about so many complex flavors. Navy bean soup, or its many variations, has developed over the last two centuries into an iconic American dish. The bean itself is native to the Americas. And like any good Sailor worth his/her salt, the bean is resilient: hardened and strong, they are able to endure severe temperatures. Maybe that is why, albeit unconfirmed, many attribute the name of the soup to the United States Navy, whose cooks have served it to sailors since the 19th century.

The most common name for navy bean soup is “Senate Bean Soup,” which has been a fixture in the Senate cafeteria since the early twentieth century. Other recipes in cookbooks and online refer to it simply as “ham bone soup.” Whatever it is called, ham hocks and ham bones are the feature ingredient for flavor. That key component may be the only thing that can get approval from both sides of the political spectrum, inside the Dirksen Building Cafeteria at least.

The Navy couldn’t seem to make up its mind for a soup name either, let alone a consistent recipe. Because of the surge in popularity at the beginning of the twentieth century, I decided to comb through turn-of-the-century Navy cook books to find the origin of the recipe. The first one I could find was from the 1902 General Mess Manual and Cook Book. Although Navy bean soup is not specifically mentioned, there is a recipe (the first one on the list of soups) for a “bean soup with salt pork.” The recipe used large amounts of fresh water to dilute the salt pork overnight before adding the boiling beans. The recipe was simply that: boiled pork and boiled beans in water, served with stale bread browned in a pan to be added to the soup mixture. Most of the soup recipes from that era were as no frills as the boiled bean soup.

Recipes improved in the proceeding decades. Although the same principle for preparation existed, room for improvement was clearly evident. The 1920 U.S. Navy Cook Book features a recipe for “bean soup.” The soup, prepared by soaking beans in cold water and boiling slowly in ham stock or ham bones. Unlike most Navy bean soups served today, the 1902 version from the U.S. Navy Cook Book included a hefty portion of tomatoes (12 lbs.), used to simmer in the soup one hour before service. Cook books refer to this style as “old fashioned” bean soup. The many variations to the traditional soup reminds me of the various ways people in New England take their clam chowder. By the time of the Second World War, a more standardized version of what we now now today as Navy bean soup came about. By 1958, tomatoes were only used as a “variation” to the Navy bean soup recipe.

Like the previous recipe, I decided to use the recipe from the 1944 Cook Book of the United States Navy.

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I showed the 1944 recipe to my father-in-law, a Navy veteran from over thirty years in the service. “Yeah, that looks about right,” he said. “I remember whenever we had Navy bean soup in the mess decks, you wanted to make sure you didn’t have the bottom rack.” Fiber can do wondrous things.


Because I never planned to make over six gallons of soup on my own, I had to once again scale down the recipe thanks to the STEM project created by teacher Greg Felber of Ledyard Middle School. Because I wanted to have enough soup for people to hopefully taste after I finished the project, I decided to make a quarter (1/4) of the full recipe. Could I make enough to feed 25 people using conventional pots and pans? After all, the goal is to get the rest of America making these recipes. It’s a lot of beans. A LOT. The math was a lot easier this time, thankfully. All I had to do was divide by four.

There was only one problem after I made all of the conversions: getting the materials to make it. The vegetables were easy enough. As I came to find out, obtaining the meat was more difficult than I expected. The recipe called for four ham bones. I looked around and could not find a definitive size of each bone. After more looking, I couldn’t find a ham bone PERIOD.

I looked everywhere for a ham bone. One supermarket would say they only had smoked ham hocks. Another one flat out said no. I went to two butchers, both of which had no ham bones to give me. Finally, I found a shop that served nothing but ham. They had to have it. Thankfully they did. I don’t know how readily available ham bones are in the U.S. Navy, but they are scarce in civilian life. I thanked them profusely on the phone and went to pick up the bones. Each of the bones were monstrous. I made the decision to substitute two bones for one of the bones that would make Fred Flintstone blush. That way, I only needed two ham bones for the full recipe (ham stock and soup).

The quarter recipe was as follows:

Ham Stock:

2 small or 1 large ham bone
2 gallons water
1 chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 and 1/4 cup carrot
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf

Soup Preparation:

1.5 pounds Navy Beans
1.25 gallons Ham Stock (above)
1 onion, chopped
1 large ham bone (optional)
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/2 cup flour
2 cups water

Cooking: The Smell of Ham Everywhere

Before I could begin to make the Navy bean soup, I had to make the stock. By my calculations, I needed at least a gallon and a half of stock to accommodate a quarter order of soup. After some slicing of vegetables customary for stock, I added the ham bone into the vat of water and let it do its things over the course of three hours. The smell of ham wafted out from my kitchen into the entire house. I’m not sure they make meat candles, but I imagine a ham flavored one would smell like my house as of late.

When the stock was strained, I set it aside so I could wash and soak my pound and a half of Navy beans. Once they were property soaked and plump to the touch, I added the beans and another ham bone into the stock and let simmer for two hours. An onion and a small amount of cloves were also added. After two hours, some the beans appeared to be mashed and very tender. The soup was almost ready.

I added a slurry mix of flour and water into the soup to help it thicken up. Bringing it back to a boil, I lowered the temperature and served it. Bon appetit, Navy style.

The Taste Test

Admittedly, the taste was much more pleasant than the S.O.S. I previously ate. The ham flavor was strong, but not enough to be overwhelming. My wife also enjoyed it, commenting how the flavor was reminiscent of good southern soul cooking. Make sure you have a glass of water on hand and dig into this great Navy recipe.

The full video and recipe is shown below:

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BOOK REVIEW – Before Jutland: The Naval War in Northern European Waters, August 1914—February 1915

Before JutlandBy James Goldrick, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis MD (2015)

Reviewed by Phillip G. Pattee. Ph.D.

James Goldrick, the author of several books and articles on topics of naval and defense interest, including naval history, is a retired Rear Admiral in the Royal Australian Navy. In 1984, as a Lieutenant, Goldrick published his first book, The King’s Ships were at Sea: The War in the North Sea August 1914—February 1915. His research for that book still forms the backbone for his latest book, Before Jutland: The Naval War in Norther European Waters, August 1914—February 1915. For that reason, if you have not read The King’s Ships were at Sea you could pass on it and read his latest work. On the other hand Before Jutland represents more than just a revision of the previous work so even if you have read The King’s Ships were at Sea, you will find ample reason to read Before Jutland.

There are three reasons Goldrick gives for revisiting his previous work. First, much increasingly sophisticated work by historians and defense experts using archival material not available in1984 had caused Goldrick to update some of his ideas regarding the complexity of the problems faced by navies of the era. Second, the analysis produced over the last thirty years had become increasingly technical having the unintended consequence of diminishing an appreciation of the operational knowledge of the First World War. This is knowledge gained by consulting veterans of the conflict who are almost all gone. What is left is there memoirs, letters, and interviews. Finally, he matured both as an historian and as a naval officer, serving in assignments of increasingly responsibility globally. That experience has tempered his conclusions about the early stage of the First World War. These three dynamics combined such that Goldrick reassessed his judgments, both in the manner that reflecting on history informed the operational problems of his day, and also with respect to the insights his experience gave him into the problems faced by those a hundred years ago. This review looks at how Goldrick addressed each of the above reasons in Before Jutland.

Revisions throughout the book acknowledge and incorporate recent scholarship and recently available archives, which is also reflected in a greatly expanded bibliography. Before Jutland includes new insights on both British and German naval developments, leadership, and the political landscape. Goldrick also covered these topics in a new chapter on the Russian naval situation. This gives a richer and fuller appreciation of the dramatic changes leaders struggled with during the era. The chapter on Russia was intended to help the reader understand that the German/Russian dynamic in the Baltic Sea factored into German decisions over what could reasonably be risked with respect to naval action against the Royal Navy in the North Sea.

Goldrick makes the case that the Germans had a choice between retaining naval superiority against the Russian foe in the Baltic Sea, and with that maintaining trade with Sweden, or weakening naval forces in the Baltic in favor of attempting to change the balance against the Royal Navy in the North Sea. On page 71, Goldrick indicates Germany had made a clear choice early in the war that the priority must be the North Sea. That should have driven Germany’s naval strategy but, given that German Naval leadership was splintered with power divided among several factions, Germany never committed to that course and hedged, often placing much of German naval power in the Baltic. That incoherence in national strategy led Germany to experiment with mine warfare, submarines, and air power—all in attempts to attrite the British fleet, whose numbers the Germans would never match.

Goldrick also took the British to task for an incoherent national strategy. That being said, the Royal Navy’s problems lay more in its inability to execute naval operations. The British struggled with coordinating the movements of large fleets consisting of new and old ships with varying technology causing them to miss opportunities to defeat the Imperial German Navy when it did sortie. Moreover, the Royal Navy had much difficulty determining the extent of the threat posed by submarines and mines, initially underestimating the threat and then when some ships were lost overestimating the danger to the fleet. Goldrick does a commendable job highlighting the experimental nature of naval warfare at the time and the challenges it presented in not only in understanding developments in warfare but also in devising practical solutions. In all of this, Russia comes off as a minor character, which the author acknowledges. The book is German and Anglo centric. Baltic operations and the part Russia played were included to enhance understanding of what transpired in the North Sea. Goldrick has this balance right for his purposes and his book succeeds here.

Before Jutland includes a chapter on operational challenges. Goldrick’s description of the conditions at sea, the difficulty of navigation and coordination between ships given the technology available, and the toll exacted on ships and men is brilliantly done. The reader is left with a clear context that Goldrick leverages to help explain decisions made and outcomes that emerged throughout the operations described in the remainder of the book. This is most evident when Goldrick discusses the Battle of Dogger Bank near the end of the book. On his second reason for writing, Goldrick again delivers.

Another new chapter on war plans disappointed. In his notes, Goldrick acknowledges the new scholarship and the divergent opinions in scholarly circles concerning war plans. He ably summarizes these ideas but fills much of the pages with background biographical information on British and German senior naval officers that offer no real insights on war planning. What I hoped for was Goldrick’s assessment on what ought to have been the plans based on his understanding of the historic context. Given his professional naval experience, Goldrick is in a position to render judgments here that most historians could not do as well. I would particularly have desired Goldrick’s opinion as to whether the German’s choice to make the North Sea the primary theater over the Baltic was prudent strategic risk given their naval inferiority compared to the British and relative superiority to Russia. At any rate, he succeeded in getting me to think about that choice. He could have placed such an assessment in his Summa, which includes many such appraisals that do not flow naturally from the evidence presented throughout the chapters.

One understands that these are the practical professional judgments of a senior naval officer gleaned over years of naval duty in various geographies, honed by a reflection on history. The value of the Summa is that the reader benefits from the insights that he has taken from history to inform his decision making and how his wealth of professional experience helps him understand the context of decisions made at the time. This is a veritable gold mine for professional naval officers so the book also delivers on Goldrick’s third reason. I just found myself wishing the vein went deeper.

I recommend the book to anyone interested in the First World War and naval history, whether professional historian, professional naval officer, or popular history enthusiast. I expect that the book will have more appeal to the first two rather than the latter. It is a commendable work that does much to fill in the details of the early war.


Dr. Pattee is Associate Professor, Dept. Joint Interagency Multinational Operations, Army Command and Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth.

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BOOK REVIEW – Devotion

DevotionBy Adam Makos, Ballantine Books, New York, NY (2015)

Reviewed by Rear Adm. Arthur N. “Bud” Langston, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Devotion is the account of an incredibly selfless heroic attempt by Lt. (JG) Tom Hudner to rescue Ens. Jesse Brown after his Corsair was hit by small arms fire forcing him to make a crash landing in sub zero weather in the mountains surrounding the Chosin Reservoir. It is also the story of the tumultuous retreat and escape of Marine/Army/UN ground troops who had temporarily defeated North Korea, as over a million Chinese troops entered the Korean War against UN forces.

Written by Adam Makos, a journalist who specializes in World War II stories of heroism, I was curious about the author’s seven year intense commitment to investigating the Tom Hudner /Jesse Brown story and his intent in writing about this incredible story of heroism while flying close air support strikes over the skies of the Chosin Reservoir in 1952. I wondered if his purpose was an historic documentary, an account based on a true story, or possibly just a good read written with light editing from real life events. So I was delighted when Adam Makos accepted my invitation to dinner where I enjoyed first-hand his most passionate account of the story behind the research for this book. I also learned how Adam, at 15 years old, enthralled with the World War II stories he heard from both his grandfathers, started a newsletter with a few friends which was made up of their interviews of Vets from the Greatest Generation. As the newsletter gained readership and notoriety, Adam began his career as a journalist specializing in telling stories of World War II veterans. 

Devotion is his first book written about veterans outside of World War II. The larger story surrounding Adam’s extreme research and extensive interviews make up all of the side bars for ‘the rest of the story’ concerning this epic event that could be a wonderful book in itself. It was a most memorable evening discovering Adam’s passion, sincerity and unusual effort that went into getting the story told accurately. Also apparent in our discussion, was the deep friendship and admiration Adam held for Tom Hudner. This fondness developed during multiple interviews with Tom and Georgea Hudner, and many of Tom’s ship and squadron mates over the better part of a decade. This close relationship between Tom and Adam continues today with regular visits, well after the success of Devotion as a best seller, and the completion of a movie script.

The narrative concept that Adam designed for writing the story captures not just the legacy of these great men, but also a rich and romantic account of the risks and challenges endured in Naval Aviation circa 1950’s and TacAir’s unique and bold culture. For all the aficionados of military and aviation jargon you’ll have to forgive the author for purposely leaving it out. This story’s narrative is written so all readers can experience the exhilaration from the dialog of the story itself, not to be disturbed by trying to understand the context of vernacular or disruptions from use of the Dictionary of Naval Terminology.

It would be an heroic story for any war, but the prism of racism in American culture in the early 1950’s, to include the Navy’s own time-honored segregation, provides the story with far more historic prominence because Ens. Jesse Brown is the Navy’s first African American carrier pilot and the flight lead, and  Lt. (JG) Tom Hudner is his wingman, a white New Englander ‘to the manner born’. Going beyond the ethnicity differences between the aviation duo, the story documents the incredible bond of VF-32 squadron aviators during a life-changing crucible flying combat sorties to aid enemy encircled ground troops. It also documents the Band of Brothers phenomenon where common values of duty, honor, courage, responsibility for oneself, selfless commitment to mission and each other, perseveres over racism and fear. Adam Makos’ Devotion provides great insights into the fabric of Naval Aviation heritage. On one of Adam’s interviews, he asked Tom if he would have done the same for others in the Air Wing. Tom replied, ‘I would have done it for any of the pilots in VF-32.’

For his actions in North Korea, Hudner was the first Navy recipient of the Medal of Honor since World War II, presented on 13 April 1951 by President Truman at the White House. As the Navy prepares to honor Tom Hudner with the christening of the USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116) next year, it will not surprise the readers of Devotion that Tom Hudner has written to the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Malbus, requesting an Arleigh Burke class destroyer also be named for Jesse Brown.

Devotion has no expiration date.


A former Tac Air pilot, Rear Admiral Langston is the new president of the Naval Historical Foundation


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BOOK REVIEW – From Versailles to Mers-el Kebir: The Promise of Anglo-French Naval Cooperation, 1919-1940

2796_001By George E. Melton, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD (2015)

Reviewed by Alan Harris Bath, Ph.D.

On 3 July 1940, at the direction of Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill and the British War Cabinet, the Royal Navy bombarded a major portion of the French Fleet then in port at Mers-el Kebir in French North Africa. There has been general agreement among historians that this unprecedented attack on a former ally was necessitated by the British government’s fears of the French Fleet falling into German hands following the defeat of France, and was successful in seeing that this did not happen. In his thoughtful and well researched study, author George E. Melton, French naval and diplomatic historian, takes issue with this conclusion, arguing that the attack was neither necessary nor successful.

At the outset, Professor Melton points out that the world’s naval balance of power changed significantly in the period between the two World Wars, brought about in great part by the Versailles treaty that severely restricted the size of the German navy, and by international  inter-war arms limitation agreements. At the end of the First World War the Royal Navy was the world’s most powerful, with protection commitments to an empire that encompassed the globe. The French navy, by comparison, was small, obsolete, and unable to defend its equally far flung colonial holdings.

The inter-war period witnessed a decline in the capability of the Royal Navy, brought about by neglect and by budgetary shortages that permitted no modernization, only replacement of obsolete ships. For their part the French navy, recognizing its inability to protect its Asian colonies, tended to look toward the Mediterranean. There, it saw the Italian navy as a potential enemy and embarked on a construction program of smaller, modern units to counter the threat.

In the 1930s, it would seem then that an alliance of the Anglo-French navies would offer greater protection to both countries against the resurgent German navy and its Italian potential ally. This, however, was made difficult, more by political than military considerations. When operational interests coincided, the French and British naval staffs were able to cooperate successfully, as was demonstrated during the Spanish Civil War against the – presumably Italian “pirate” air and naval units that were attacking  neutral nations’ shipping in Spanish waters.

In the early days of the Second World War, Dr. Melton sees an Anglo-French divergence in both diplomatic and military goals. The British sought to appease Hitler through diplomatic moves such as the Munich agreement, whereas the French chose to confront the threat more directly. The Royal Navy recognized that the German navy was too weak to commit to a major sea battle like Jutland in the First World War, and that it would probably concentrate on commerce raiding throughout the Atlantic Ocean with its new construction “pocket” battleships.

Again, the French Navy was more concerned with the Italians in the Mediterranean than the Germans in the Atlantic. Despite differing strategic objectives, more apparent at the senior governmental level, the two staffs continued extensive staff planning for Anglo-French naval operations. In these discussions, as in earlier international conferences, Dr. Melton wisely gives us an overall picture of the military and political issues involved without burdening us with the minutiae of the negotiations.

With the defeat of France in June 1940, French navy commander in chief, Admiral Darlan, issued orders to the fleet to proceed to French colonial ports, or to British ports, or to prepare to destroy themselves should the terms of the armistice order the fleet to be turned over to Germany. At the same time he assured the British that he would never allow the fleet to fall into German hands, but would safeguard it for France. By this time Churchill had replaced Chamberlain as head of the British government and was taking a much stronger position concerning the fate of the French navy.

It is Dr. Melton’s contention that Churchill did not accept Darlan’s assurances and began urging consideration of force to neutralize the French fleet, an option not favored by the senior officers of the Royal Navy. However, Churchill’s view prevailed and Operation Catapult against the French squadron at Mers-el Kebir was launched.

The attack had two unfortunate outcomes from the British point of view. First, the bombardment failed to destroy the French squadron, a significant portion of which was able to escape to sea. Second, the loss of 1,297 French sailors in the attack turned the remainder of the French fleet into an enemy. There followed, according to Dr. Melton, a concerted effort on Churchill’s part to put a favorable “spin” on what was an avoidable mistake.

In the vast outpouring of studies on the Second World War and its origins, little attention has been paid to Anglo-French naval relations. Dr. Melton’s admirable study, drawing as it does on both British and French archival sources, goes far to rectify this oversight.


Dr. Bath is a retired Navy Captain intelligence specialist turned historian, specializing in 20th century military history, and author of Tracing the Axis Enemy: The Triumph of Anglo-American Naval Intelligence. (University Press of Kansas).

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BOOK REVIEW – Embassy to the Eastern Court: America’s Secret First Pivot Toward Asia 1832-1837

2804_001By Andrew A. Jampoler, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD (2015)

Reviewed by John Grady

Having spent a great deal of time reading accounts and logbooks from the voyages of Thomas ap Catesby Jones, John “Mad Jack” Percival, John Downes, William Bolton Finch, Charles Wilkes, et al., of American encounters in the Pacific, in Asia, in Africa and “Arabia,” I came to Andrew A. Jampoler’s work a bit skeptical about what I would find new. I found plenty in the Embassy to the Eastern Court, America’s Secret First Pivot Toward Asia 1832-37.

I was especially taken with Edmund Roberts, the struggling diplomat [almost without portfolio] trying to open these faraway markets to legal and regularized trade with the United States and his treatment ashore by foreign potentates.

Potentates weren’t his only official obstacle.

Afloat there were often tensions with highhanded Navy captains, who were to “required to take my orders,” one of his cavalier predecessors told a senior sea service officer. As Roberts wrote about what needed to be clarified between the senior diplomat and officer once they were under way were the rights of “the agent or envoy” including cabin space.

Two-thirds of Roberts’ salary came from State and one-third from the Navy, and the Navy had to transport him to his far-off duties.

Twice, Roberts, from Portsmouth, N.H., and relative by marriage to Navy Secretary Levi Woodbury, set out aboard Peacock to put an official American stamp on trade in these waters. Merchant mariners from Salem, Mass., in particular, [the original “Yankee traders”] had been cruising around the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn risking all for profit — in tea, sandalwood, etc. — almost since the founding of the Republic.

What they succeeded in trading had no official sanction, but their boldness in trying to sell what they had on board for what they could carry back home.

Even before there was a United States, the Royal Navy had proven to be no stranger to those waters and ports; and before the dawn of the 19th century were handling chieftains, omans, etc., pieces of parchment to sign giving Great Britain either exclusive [preferred in Whitehall and the Admiralty] or most preferred trading status, if they couldn’t wheedle the “only” clause into the agreement.

The British were following in the wake of the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and racing alongside the French in wresting concessions of every kind imaginable.

Secretary of State Edward Livingston’s instructions to Roberts on the first voyage were simple.  They concluded about his pending negotiations with the rulers of Cochin China [Vietnam], Siam [Thailand] and Arabia [actually Omam which also ruled Zanzibar and controlled other Indian Ocean ports and territories] with this:

“An important point is to obtain an explicit permission to trade, generally with the inhabitants, for it is understood that at most, or all of the ports, the Mandarins or other officers, now monopolize the commerce, permitting more of the inhabitants to trade with foreigners.”

Later directives to men like Roberts from State and to Jones and Finch from the Navy secretary included caring for sick or injured merchant mariners, freeing sailors being held by pirates and disposition of cargo salvaged from shipwrecked vessels.

Much easier written than done, although Roberts did succeed in concluding treaties with Siam and Oman covering many of these areas.

This set of diplomatic initiatives was coming from the administration of President Andrew Jackson was, shall we say, “slow,” to put a premium on foreign affairs — even the sprawling Oregon Territory jointly administered with Great Britain for most of its time in office. This was the administration that put on hold — for years, the Navy’s Great South Seas Exploring Expedition proposed John Quincy Adams in his first State of the Union message because it would cost too much. Wilkes was eventually named its commander, and the flora and fauna gatherings that scientists amassed on this voyage forms the Smithsonian Institution’s first natural history collection.

Jampoler’s Embassy is rich in personalities, such as Roberts, and he puts them in perspective to the time. For Roberts’ family the story ends sadly when finally overcome by sickness and the travails of months at sea, especially in the tropics, claimed his life.  He is buried in Macao, at the time a Portuguese-controlled island off the coast of China, far from his New England home.

Jampoler, the author of six other books, does a first-rate job of delineating the Navy at this time, the world stage at the time — Great Britain, France and the Netherlands competing for footholds and trading posts far from their homeland and provides wonderful color of the ports along the Pacific-Indian oceans rim.

He did in this work on diplomacy, maritime trade and the Navy’s role in both what he did so very well in Sailors in the Holy Land,” the entryway to the American age of exploration.


John Grady is an experienced journalist and volunteer with the Naval Historical Foundation.    

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BOOK REVIEW – The Bridge to Airpower: Logistics Support for Royal Flying Corps Operations on the Western Front, 1914-18

2797_001By Peter Dye, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD (2015)

Reviewed Larry A. Grant

“In war we must expect a casualty list of 100% every three months in men and material and must be prepared to replace all our pilots, observers and machines at this rate….” Brig. Gen. Robert Brooke-Popham

“Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics.” Gen. Robert H. Barrow, USMC

Gen. Barrow’s division of the world into two groups would certainly list Gen. Brook-Popham, who made the remark above three years prior to the outbreak of the First World War, among the professionals. Peter Dye, Air Vice-Marshal (RAF ret.) and former Director General of the RAF Museum, also belongs to that company as The Bridge to Airpower: Logistics Support for Royal Flying Corps Operations on the Western Front, 1914-18 amply demonstrates.

Dye’s purpose in this writing study is to supplement and extend other work he has done in which he has argued that the principles and practices of First World War aviation logistics on the western front formed the foundation for strategic success in the Second World War. Further, he hopes to correct some of the neglect of “the strategic and operational dimensions of logistics” by military historians. As he notes, “The critical role of production, supply, maintenance, and repair in the birth of three-dimensional warfare remains unexplored, even though the ‘modern style of warfare’–in the form of indirect, predicted artillery fire–only emerged because the RFC was able to secure and sustain air superiority.” (xiii)

Dye’s interest in aviation logistics reflects a successful career as a Royal Air Force logistician. He can even boast of a family connection to the specific business of First World War aviation logistics through his grandfather. The Bridge to Airpower is derived from Dye’s 2013 University of Birmingham doctoral thesis with only minor changes. It is replete with tables, graphs, and illustrations that offer proof of the thorough research and thoughtful analysis that has gone into the writing of the book.

Dye defines ‘aviation logistics’ as “the varied activities that procure, store, move, sustain, maintain, and repair the systems, associated components, and equipment employed by air forces.” These processes, he continues with catholic expansiveness, also “include technical development, manufacture, testing, modification, and salvage as well as the building of airfields and the recruiting and training of technical personnel, with the product known as the ‘supply chain.’”(2)

World War I was an artillery war, and “In operational terms, the RFC’s main contribution on the western front was undoubtedly artillery cooperation. The deployment of new, war-winning firepower techniques depended entirely on aircraft operating in conjunction with artillery….” For that reason, the number of aircraft available to frontline formations assumed great importance, and it was to be expected that great efforts were made to provide the necessary resources to keep planes in the air. “The critical development in this achievement was the creation of a system that enabled delicate, often temperamental, and constantly evolving machinery to be supported under the most testing operational conditions and in the face of wastage that averaged more than 50 percent of frontline strength per month. In addressing these problems, the RFC found innovative solutions that provided a template for other air services and established best practices that continues to be relevant in the delivery of contemporary airpower.” (8)

Dye ably captures the enormity of the task faced by logistics experts who must turn always inadequate information into a concrete plan for production, transport, storage, repair, and replacement. “Predicting demand levels is fraught with difficulty,” he writes. “Analysis of aviation logistic systems deployed in the Second World War, suggests that logistic planning, however detailed, cannot anticipate the changes brought about by new tactics, new weapons, technological shifts, or altered strategic circumstance.” He deduces the characteristics he believes necessary in a logistic system able to manage uncertainty. These qualities include coherence (i.e., an operational alignment), flexibility, the ability to learn, technological competence, and administrative excellence combined in an information-driven organization.

By modifying various USAF metrics, Dye then develops a matrix that allows him to measure the RFC’s overall logistic performance (Table 1, pg. 17). These indicators–e.g. total manpower employed, total sorties generated, serviceability rates, enemy batteries destroyed, and similar–are employed to examine the effectiveness of the RFC’s logistic arrangements and to see how it changed over the course of the war by comparing performances during three specific episodes: the Somme; Arras and Third Ypres; and the Hundred Days. Dye focuses his analysis on the RFC as a whole treating the RFC and its logistic arrangements as a single interconnected entity.

The Bridge to Airpower opens with a lengthy introduction that provides a brief bibliographic review of some of the best known works in logistics studies including Martin van Creveld’s Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton. Dye notes that “the existing literature largely ignores the substantial technological, economic, and industrial foundations required by air forces.” This is followed by seven chapters, the first three of which provide the reader with the context needed to appreciate the three case studies that follow.

The first chapter begins with a survey of the early development of aviation in Great Britain and traces the evolution of air operations on the western front. Anyone familiar with the British army in the summer of 1914 will not be surprised to learn that British aviation was unimpressive when compared to its continental counterparts. Primarily a consequence of political limitations, British aviation’s doctrine and technical base in 1914 were much less well established than either its major ally, France, or its principle opponent, Germany. As Dye shows, the British would draw heavily on the French for both air technology and doctrine during the first months of the war.

The second chapter focuses on “The Royal Flying Corps’ Logistic System, 1914-18,” and reviews the arrangements to keep the fighting front supplied with airframes and engines. Dye traces the establishment and expansion in France of the various depots, the necessary infrastructure, the manning, and the practices and procedures needed by the RFC to keep its forces operating in wartime. This was not only effective, he concludes, but established the basis for RAF operations in the Second World War.

In the third chapter, “The Supply of Aircraft and Aero-engines, 1914-18,” Dye explores the logistic arrangements developed during the war, both in Britain and in France. Dye employs two case studies to illustrate his discussion of the expansion of the British aircraft industry during the war and of its ability to provide the principle components of the air war, aircraft and engines. These studies follow on the development and production of the R.E.8 aircraft used for artillery cooperation and the development and the Hispano-Suiza airplane engine produced by the French and purchased by the British to fill shortfalls in their own wartime engine production.

Having established a suitable context for the reader, Dye presents the three case studies, one each in subsequent chapters. Chapters four, “1916–The Somme,” and five, “1917–Arras and Third Ypres,” look at the RFC’s logistics performance during those essentially static engagements, and chapter six shifts focus to the operations of logistics on the move following the restoration of mobile warfare with the Hundred Days offensive that began on Germany’s ‘black day’ and carried on until and after the Armistice.

It is interesting that chapter six, which demonstrates the RFC’s shift in mission away from artillery fires support to direct aircraft attacks, also presents the use of aircraft as flying artillery, a function perfected by the Luftwaffe a little more than twenty years later. This use became a necessity, since presumably the batteries could not always keep pace with and provide effective fire support to the advancing formations.

Dye’s final chapter presents his conclusions and summarizes from his study “the enduring lessons and the degree to which the logistic principles established in the First World War influenced RAF planning for the Second World War as well as presaging the global supply chain and best practice in contemporary logistic management.” Dye also evaluates the RFC’s performance against the principles for logistics laid down by US Army logistics historian James Huston in his 1966 work, Sinews of War: Army Logistics 1775-1953.

Historically , Dye says British “logistics competence” was “instinctive rather than inspired.” No British general “operating on a foreign shore would ignore supply in the way that Napoleon was able to abandon some of the more static aspects of the line of communication and free himself (to a degree) from reliance on depots and distribution centers.” This was, he writes, largely a consequence of the interaction with contractors forced on the British army by the government in lieu of providing it with its own permanent supply organization and a consequence of its repeated experience in carrying out operations in remote regions from the center of the British Empire. (3-4)

This aspect of the British way of war was forced by circumstances to change radically during the First World War, and those hard-won lessons were not entirely forgotten two decades later. Now, seven decades after that second conflict, the lessons are not only crucial to modern warfare, they have changed modern societies around the world. Citizens of modern societies rarely give much thought to logistics. All of that activity happens behind a curtain. At best they see only the fully-stocked shelves and give no thought to how the items displayed there reached their destinations, let alone much attention to how they were produced or how they transited the distance in between.

At the same time, it seems perfectly normal to consumers nowadays that they are able to demand–and very often get–cutting edge technology that performs without a hiccup from the first day it is introduced without giving any thought to its origins or the means by which it traveled from it birthplace to their pocket. As Peter Dye demonstrates, this was not always so, and its achievement was greatly facilitated by a wartime revolution. This book is well worth the attention of the serious student of the history of warfare.


Grant is a retired U.S. Navy commander and independent scholar who lives in Charleston, SC.

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BOOK REVIEW – The Court-Martial of Paul Revere: A Son of Liberty and America’s Forgotten Military Disaster

Court Martial of Paul RevereBy Michael M. Greenburg, University Press of New England, Lebanon, NH (2014)

Reviewed by Rear Adm. James D. Cossey, USN (Ret.)

The Court-Martial of Paul Revere is a ‘three-fer’ book: a biography of Paul Revere, the story of the American Revolution and the early struggles of the Republic, and a detailed account of the 1779 Penobscot Expedition/Battle of Penobscot Bay, when forces from Massachusetts set out to eject the British from a newly established fort in Maine and failed miserably. The book culminates with the court-martial of Paul Revere, a court-martial persistently sought by Revere himself, to resuscitate his reputation following the disaster at Penobscot Bay, part of which was, according to the author, “the worst American naval disaster prior to Pearl Harbor.”

Revere, known by all of modernity from Longfellow’s “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” and his connection to the “one if by land and two if by sea” warning of the British move against Concord and Lexington, is revealed not only as a true Patriot and artisan, but also a complex, self-absorbed individual.  He had a strong but unfulfilled desire to be a part of the Continental Army fighting the British. Unable to achieve that end, he lobbied for, and eventually was, appointed to a military position as a Major – later rising to Lieutenant Colonel – in the Massachusetts Militia in charge of the Artillery Detachment on Castle Island in Boston harbor.  The principle function of this unit was to defend Boston Harbor. As eager as Revere was to serve as a military man and as accomplished as he was as a Patriot and tradesman, his military service was considerably less than distinguished.

When the British took advantage of America’s non-presence – except for settlers – in Maine, then a part of Massachusetts, by establishing a fort built from scratch at a high point of the headlands in Penobscot Bay, Massachusetts petitioned the Continental Congress to mount a response. Unwilling to divert its limited forces for such action, Massachusetts took it upon itself to organize a military operation against the British at Penobscot Bay. The expedition was fundamentally an amphibious landing against an in-the-process-of-being-built British fort. This operation involved almost 1,000 men and 18 ships.

Despite opportunities for success, the assault descended into chaos. Every ship was lost and the officers, soldiers and sailors were left to fend for themselves and find their way home through the Maine wilderness.

Revere’s role in this disaster was, at best, poor. He was balky, sometimes insubordinate, protected his baggage almost as a first priority, and preferred dining and sleeping on the ship carrying his artillery detachment and supplies. In this expedition, leadership and initiative were not strong suits of the naval and artillery commanders.

Revere’s reputation suffered accordingly, and the investigations that followed the failed foray in Maine caused Revere’s reputation to plummet. A proud man, he spared no effort to resurrect it and insisted on the court-martial. Despite detractors, the court-martial took place in 1782, and Governor John Hancock approved its findings that were not fully satisfactory to Revere.

The dollar cost to Massachusetts of this failed military expedition was severe, and it took 14 years to get some relief ($1.25M) from Congress. Revere’s reputation mostly recovered, and he achieved well-deserved success as a silversmith and industrialist.  He died in 1818.

This book is well researched and thoroughly explores the times and travails of Paul Revere. It is a superb review and a great story about this important figure and his role in the early days of the Republic. The book includes various illustrations that are photos of charts and other documents. However, some of these illustrations are difficult to understand, the various events described in the book would have been better served with simpler, modern diagrams of the geography and actions.


Rear Admiral Cossey served 33 years with several tours in submarines. He retired on January 1, 1993. 

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BOOK REVIEW – The Most Dangerous Moment of the War: Japan’s Attack on the Indian Ocean, 1942

2802_001By John Clancy, Casemate Publishers, Oxford, UK (2015)

Reviewed by Michael F. Solecki

Naval activities in the Indian Ocean during World War II are rarely talked about in U.S. historical circles as it was primarily a British theater. In 1942 when the war broke out, Ceylon (modern day Sri-Lanka) was home base to the British Eastern Fleet. After his devastating attack on Hawaii in December 1941, Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo was ordered to the Indian Ocean. By March 1942 he was ready to set the stage for an eventual meet-up with German forces invading from the west. Even though the meet-up never came to pass, Nagumo did manage to devastate the British Eastern Fleet, giving Nagumo’s already swollen ego another pump.

The British naval forces in the Indian Ocean consisted of mainly battleships and cruisers as the capital ships. They did have an aircraft carrier. With minimal and antiquated aircraft, the carrier was not yet considered “capital” and rightfully so when compared to the Japanese. As the British experienced here and as recently did the Americans, the naval air-force proved to be the wave of the future in naval warfare.

Known as Operation C by the Japanese Imperial Navy, the Indian Ocean campaign put the British Navy on the defensive, if not evasive. The commander of the Eastern Fleet was Vice Admiral Sir James Somerville. Warned by signals decrypts of the impending Japanese encroachment, he secretly moved most of the ships, aircraft and maintenance facilities to the Maldives in an attempt to preserve what he can. The Japanese were on station in the Ceylon area for only a few weeks. Despite Somerville’s defensive and evasive posture and the base remaining secret until the end of the war, the British Eastern Fleet lost the bulk of their war and supply ships and antiquated aircraft to air attack.

The author provided ample detail explaining the losses and issues associated with the Indian Ocean Campaign for both sides. Included are several personal accounts, interviews and photographs. Unlike many other narratives of this type, he did not dwell on making excuses for the mistakes made by the fleet command nor beat them down for their decisions. He put it out there for the reader to decide. He also interjected the political side as well as Sir Winston Churchill’s concerns throughout the scenario. The book is fairly short and worth reading.


Michael F. Solecki, is an independent naval historian, holds a Master of Arts in Military History degree from Norwich University and is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and NOAA where he acquired, processed and disseminated environmental intelligence for Anti-Submarine and Anti-Aircraft Warfare and developed consequence management plans for Weapons of Mass Destruction. He is currently an Enforcement Officer and Incident Commander for the U.S. Government and he performs technical peer reviews for several publishers of U.S. and Japanese naval history.


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BOOK REVIEW – Striking the Hornet’s Nest: Naval Aviation and the Beginnings of Strategic Bombing in World War I

Striking the Hornets NEstBy Geoffrey L. Rossano and Thomas Wildenberg, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD (2015)

Reviewed by David F. Winkler, Ph.D.

With the centennial of America’s entry into World War I just over a year away, the Naval Institute Press could not have timed the publication of this book any better. It’s understood that World War I introduced new technologies to warfare such as submarines and aircraft. It also introduced the concept of strategic bombing and the authors assert that the U.S. Navy was the first American military force to implement this new doctrine. In doing so, the U.S. Navy followed a path developed by the Royal Naval Air Service that fell short due to lack of resources. To come to this conclusion, which would have Billy Mitchell, Hap Arnold, and Curtis LeMay rolling in their graves, the authors not only examined primary source materials, but also revisited much secondary source literature of the immediate post-war period.

The title of the book is extracted from an exhortation made by a frustrated President Woodrow Wilson to officers gathered in the battleship Pennsylvania in August 1917: “We are hunting hornets all over the farm and letting the nest alone.” The hornets were German U-Boats and the nests were the German submarine pens located in occupied Belgium. With the transport of hundreds of thousands of doughboys and armaments to France pending in the coming months, the U-Boat threat weighed heavy on the president’s mind.

Rossano and Wildenberg argue that the Navy, typically portrayed in that era as a conservative organization with a Mahanian focus on big-gun battleships, in fact embraced naval aviation as the solution to the problem. Striking the Hornets’ Nest offers a reevaluation of Secretary Josephus Daniels and the first CNO Admiral William S. Benson regarding their embrace of naval air power. Both men fully supported the initiatives that were taken to create what would be known as the Northern Bombing Group – squadrons of land-based day-bombing and night bombing squadrons that would continuously assault the German naval infrastructure in Belgium.

Getting there proved to be the near insurmountable challenge. The authors provide detailed analysis of the recruitment, training, transportation, and acquisition of aircraft. In the end, the acquisition of aircraft proved to be the long-pole in the tent. The American industrial base was not capable of producing a domestically produced bomber and the Navy Department had to depend on the British and Italians to acquire Handley Page and Caproni bombers – in direct competition with the War Department. Indeed, Captain Hutchinson Cone, who ran naval aviation in Europe from his headquarters in Paris, found one of the obstacles to acquiring Caproni bombers was a young Army Captain named Fiorello La Guardia, a Congressman and future Mayor of New York, who was sent to Italy to negotiate contracts for the Army.

One area the authors could have delved more into was alternative solutions to the problem. There is a reference to surface ship vulnerability in the narrative, but to what? As it turns out, the British did pursue alternative plans as highlighted by Deborah Lake in The Zeebrugge and Ostend Raids which is also reviewed in Naval Historical Foundation’s Naval History Book Reviews.

That shortfall aside, the authors examination of the challenges that had to be overcame makes Striking the Hornets’ Nest worthy for selection to be added to the CNOs reading list for mid-grade officers as the book chronicles how the staff work of lieutenants and lieutenant commanders cut through bureaucratic obstacles and inter-service rivalries. Rossano and Wildenberg highlight the work of Naval Reserve Lieutenant Robert Lovett who did much of the staff work to put in place the infrastructure to support the bombing campaign. While his efforts, in the end, did little to contribute to the ultimate outcome of the war, the lessons-learned would pay dividends over two decades later when he was the Assistant Secretary of War for Air.

This book should also be considered for inclusion in the Commandant’s reading list as it dedicates chapters to the development of Marine Corps aviation, a military force that sought a mission and found it with Northern Bombing Group. Alfred Cunningham is portrayed as a brilliant organizer and advocate to get Leathernecks into the fray.

In the months leading to the Northern Bombing Group operations, Navy and Marine Corps aviators gained valuable experience though assignments to Royal Air Force fighter and bombing units. Indeed, the Navy’s first and only ace during World War I, David S. Ingalls, earned his victories while flying a Sopwith Camel for the British. Rossano and Wildenberg have produced a most readable narrative with and excellent illustrations that is highly recommended.


Dr. Winkler is the Director of Programs for the Naval Historical Foundation.  

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