Category Archives: United States Navy

Six Little Known Facts about Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona

December 7, 1941

As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of this “date which will live in infamy,” as President Franklin D. Roosevelt described it on December 8, 1941, explore six little known facts about the USS Arizona and the attack that plunged America into war.

  • At 6:54 a. m. (Hawaii Time) The USS Ward sunk a Japanese midget submarine near the entrance to Pearl Harbor.

At the12595402_1 USS WARD beginning of World War II, Captain William Outerbridge skippered the USS Ward, a re-commissioned ship built during the World War I period.  Reportedly in his first command and on his first patrol off Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, Outerbridgemosaic1 and the USS Ward detected a Japanese two-man midget submarine near the entrance to Pearl Harbor. The USS Ward detected the midget sub at 6:45 AM and sank it at 6:54 AM, firing the first shots in defense of the U.S. in World War II. Captain Outerbridge was reportedly awarded the Navy Cross for Heroism.

(Sub was located 2002 exactly at location in Outerbridge’s report.)

  •  At 7:55 a.m. (Hawaii Time) – The United States of America was plunged into World War II

e6006e4164fe5efebc2c5f7dc06fdde0 ArizonaAt 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time (12:55 p.m. EST) on December 7, 1941, Japanese fighter planes attacked the U.S. base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, launching one of the deadliest attacks in American history. The assault, which lasted less than two hours, claimed the lives of more than 2,500 people, wounded 1,000 more and damaged or destroyed 18 American ships and nearly 300 airplanes. Almost half of the casualties at Pearl Harbor occurred on the naval battleship USS Arizona, which was hit four times by Japanese bombers.

  • Twenty-three sets of brothers died aboard the USS Arizona.

There were 37 confirmed pairs or trios of brothers assigned to the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941. Of these 77 men, 62 were killed, and 23 sets of brothers died. Only one full set of brothers, Kenneth and Russell Warriner, survived the attack; Kenneth was away at flight school in San Diego on that day and Russell was badly wounded but recovered. Both members of the ship’s only father-and-son pair, Thomas Augusta Free and his son William Thomas Free, were killed in action. Though family members often served on the same ship before World War II, U.S. officials attempted to discourage the practice after Pearl Harbor. However, no official regulations were established, and by the end of the war hundreds of brothers had fought—and died,—together. The five Sullivan brothers of Waterloo, Iowa, for instance, jointly enlisted after learning that a friend, Bill Ball, had died aboard the USS Arizona; Their only condition upon enlistment was that they be assigned to the same ship. In November 1942, all five siblings were killed in action when their light cruiser, the USS Juneau, was sunk during the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.

  • The USS Arizona’s entire band was lost in the attack.arizona band

Almost half of the casualties at Pearl Harbor occurred on the naval battleship USS Arizona, which was hit four times by Japanese bombers and eventually sank. Among the 1,177 crewmen killed were all 21 members of the Arizona’s band, known as U.S. Navy Band Unit (NBU) 22. Most of its members were up on deck preparing to play music for the daily flag raising ceremony when the attack began. They instantly moved to man their battle positions beneath the ship’s gun turret. At no other time in American history has an entire military band died in action.

  •  Fuel continues to leak from the USS Arizona’s wreckage.

December 6, 1941, the USS Arizona took on a full load of fuel—nearly 1.5 million gallons—in preparation for its scheduled trip to the mainland later that month. The next day, much of it fed the explosion and subsequent fires that destroyed the ship following
its attack by Japanese bombers. While the USS Duncan was in at Pearl Harbor for refitting and repairs, Roy Boehm, a 17 year old Navy hardhat diver, was tasked with salvaging the sunken USS Arizona and diving to recover corpses and ammunition. (Boehm would continue in the Navy and eventually be asked by President John F. Kennedy to form the SEALs, thus becoming the First SEAL.)
However, despite the raging fire and ravages of time, some 500,000 gallons are still slowly seeping out of the ship’s submerged wreckage: Nearly 70 years after its demise, the USS Arizona continues to spill up to 9 quarts of oil into the harbor each day. In the mid-1990s, environmental concerns led the National Park Service (NPS) to commission a series of site studies to determine the long-term effects of the oil leakage.
HIOP153 Arizona oil slickSome scientists have warned of a possible “catastrophic” eruption of oil from the wreckage, which they believe would cause extensive damage to the Hawaiian shoreline and disrupt U.S. naval functions in the area. The NPS and other governmental agencies continue to monitor the deterioration of the wreck site but are reluctant to perform extensive repairs or modifications due to the Arizona’s role as a “war grave.” In fact, the oil that often coats the surface of the water surrounding the ship has added an emotional gravity for many who visit the memorial and is sometimes referred to as the “tears of the Arizona,” or “black tears.”

  • Some former crew-members have chosen the USS Arizona as their final resting place.

The bonds between the crew-members of the USS Arizona have lasted far beyond the ship’s loss on December 7, 1941. Since 1982, the U.S. Navy has allowed survivors of the USS Arizona to be interred in the ship’s wreckage upon their deaths. Following a full military funeral at the Arizona memorial, the cremated remains are placed in an urn and then deposited by divers beneath one of the Arizona’s gun turrets. To date, more than 30 Arizona crewmen who survived Pearl Harbor have chosen the ship as their final resting place. Crew-members who served on the ship prior to the attack may have their ashes scattered above the wreck site, and those who served on other vessels stationed at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, may have their ashes scattered above their former ships. There are 6 living survivors as of today, 28 Sep 2016. Several have decided to be buried on the Arizona.

After the USS Arizona sank, its superstructure and main armament were salvaged and reused to support the war effort, leaving its hull, two gun turrets and the remains of more than 1,000 crewmen submerged in less than 40 feet of water. In 1949 the Pacific War Memorial Commission was established to create a permanent tribute to those who had lost their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbor, but it was not until 1958 that President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation to create a national memorial. The funds to build it came from both the public sector and private donors, including one unlikely source. In March 1961, entertainer Elvis Presley, who had recently finished a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, performed a benefit concert at Pearl Harbor’s Block Arena that raised over $50,000—more than 10 percent of the USS Arizona Memorial’s final cost. The monument was officially dedicated on May 30, 1962, and attracts more than 1 million visitors each year.pearl-harbor

Pearl Harbor: Firing the First Defensive Shot

Photo103237It was at last my senior year in high school. We were so excited to be graduating at the end of this school year. We had several new teachers that year because the school had enlarged. One of the new teachers was a Chemistry teacher named Mr. Outerbridge.  None of us knew at the time he would change our lives as he had the lives of many others 30 years prior.

Let me introduce you to Mr. Outerbridge. He was an older gentleman probably about mid 70’s in age. He always had a lot of neat stories to tell when we completed our chemistry lessons for the day. William Woodward Outerbridge was born in Hong Kong, China, on 14 April 1906. He matriculated at MMI from Middleport, Ohio, and graduated from the high school program in 1923. A member of “E” Company, he was a cadet private and held membership in the Yankee Club and, ironically, in the Stonewall Jackson Literary Society. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, in the Class of 1927.

One day in December he told us we would take a break from Chemistry. He needed to tell us a true story about himself and Pearl Harbor. Of course all of us thought we knew all about Pearl Harbor since we have been taught about that since our earliest memories. Little did we know we had a true war hero in our midst. That man was Captain William Woodward Outerbridge, Captain of the USS Ward. The Ward was advised by the USS CONDOR that a mini-sub was headed to the entry channel of the port of Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii.

At the beginning of World War II, Captain Outerbridge skippered the USS Ward, a recommissioned ship built during the World War I period.  Reportedly in his first command and on his first patrol off Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, Outerbridge and the USS Ward detected a Japanese two-man midget submarine near the entrance to Pearl Harbor. The USS Ward detected the midget sub at 6:45 AM and sank it at 6:54 AM, firing the first shots in defense of the U.S. in World War II. Captain Outerbridge was reportedly awarded the Navy Cross for Heroism.

Noted for firing the first shots in defense of the United States during World War II – just prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor – then Captain William W. Outerbridge served as the skipper of the destroyer USS Ward. He reported the action and the sinking of the submarine before the attack by Japan.

During World War II, Captain Outerbridge served in both the Pacific and the Atlantic, taking part in operations at Pearl Harbor, Normandy and Cherbourg, France, and at Ormoc, Mindoro, Lingayon Gulf and Okinawa.  He also participated in the carrier task force strikes against Tokyo and the Japanese mainland.
Outerbridge later both attended and taught at the Naval War College; he also taught at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. William Outerbridge retired from the Navy in 1957 as a Rear Admiral (RADM).2309755

RADM Outerbridge married the former Grace Fulwood of Tifton, Georgia.  They were the parents of three sons.  The Admiral died on 20 September 1986.  His last address was Tifton, Georgia.

In 2002, the submarine was discovered in 1200 feet of water off Pearl Harbor with the shell holes in the coning tower confirmed Outerbridge’s report.

(This information is presented from this author’s personal conversations with RADM Outerbridge, from her notes and from personal research. Additional information may be located in the Eisenhower Library Papers, the USN Archives re: investigation of the sinking of the mini sub.)

Have We Forgotten Our Heroes? Chapter 19

rear%20adm%20bob%20shumacherName: Robert Harper Shumaker
Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy
Unit: Fighter Squadron 154
Date of Birth: 11 May 1933
Home City of Record: La Jolla CA (USN says New Wilmington PA)
Date of Loss: 11 February 1965
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F8D

Born in New Castle, PA, on 11 May 1933 to Alva and Eleanor Shumaker, Rear Admiral Robert Shumaker ’56, USN (Ret.), grew up attending local public schools and spent a year at Northwestern University before entering the Naval Academy. Following graduation, he completed flight training and flew the F-8 Crusader with fighter squadron VF-32. Around this time, Shumaker was considered for astronaut training by NASA, but unfortunately his selection was blocked due to a short-term physical ailment.

By early January, 1965, following two significant military defeats at the hands of North Vietnamese guerrilla forces, the Army of the Republic of South Vietnam was near collapse; U.S. options were either to leave the country or increase its military activity. President Johnson chose to escalate. Plans were authorized for a “limited war” that included a bombing campaign in North Vietnam.

The first major air strike over North Vietnam took place in reaction to Viet Cong mortaring of an American advisor’s compound at Pleiku on February 7, 1965. Eight Americans died in the attack, more than one hundred were wounded, and ten aircraft were destroyed. President Johnson immediately launched FLAMING DART I, a strike against the Vit Thu Lu staging area, fifteen miles inland and five miles north of the demilitarized zone (DMZ).

Thirty-four aircraft launched from the USS RANGER, but were prevented from carrying out that attack by poor weather, and the RANGER aircraft were not allowed to join the forty-nine planes from the USS CORAL SEA and USS HANCOCK, which struck the North Vietnamese army barracks and port facilities at Dong Hoi. The strike was judged at best an inadequate reprisal. It accounted for sixteen destroyed buildings. The cost? The loss of one A4E Skyhawk pilot from the USS CORAL SEA and eight damaged aircraft.

FLAMING DART II unfolded 11 February 1965 after the Viet Cong blew up a U.S. enlisted men’s billet at Qui Nhon, killing twenty-three men and wounded twenty-one others. Nearly one hundred aircraft from the carriers RANGER, HANCOCK and CORAL SEA bombed and strafed enemy barracks at Chanh Hoa. Damage assessments revealed twenty-three of the seventy-six buildings in the camp were damaged or destroyed. One American pilot was shot down — LCDR Robert H. Shumaker.th

LCDR Robert Shumaker was flying an F-8-D Crusader (assigned to Fighter Squadron 154 on board the USS Coral Sea) when he was hit by 37 mm. cannon fire, which forced the jet out of control. He ejected and his parachute opened a mere 35 feet from the ground. The impact broke his back and he was captured immediately, placed in a jeep and transported over the rutted roads to Hanoi. Upon arrival in Hanoi a white smocked North Vietnamese gave him a cursory examination before dozens of photographers, yet did not give him any medical attention.  His back healed itself, but it was six months before he could bend.

Shumaker was the second Navy aviator to be captured.  For the next 8 years, Shumaker was held in various prisoner of war camps, including the infamous Hoa Lo complex in Hanoi. Shumaker, in fact, dubbed this complex the “Hanoi Hilton”.

Shumaker, as a prisoner, was known for devising all sorts of communications systems and never getting caught. Like other POWs, he was badgered to write a request for amnesty from Ho Chi Minh, which he refused to do. As punishment, the Vietnamese forced Shumaker to stay in a cell with no heat and no blankets during the winter.

In the torture sessions he continued to hold out for his beliefs. His back healed, but was reinjured two years later in a torture session because he refused to play the part of a wounded American in a propaganda movie. After beating him they used him for the part anyway.

He was known as one of the “Alcatraz Eleven” because he spent nearly three years in solitary confinement, much of the time clamped in leg irons. He would often think of his young son, Grant, who was just a baby when he was shot down. That little boy was eight years old when he saw him again.

As stated previously, Commander Shumaker originated the name “Hanoi Hilton” for the prison. The famous name was the ultimate in satire since the prisoners were tortured, starved and insulted rather than treated with hospitality.  Through his entire imprisonment of over eight years, CDR Shumaker maintained himself as a military man. He states that “When we were released, we marched to the airplanes to show we were still a military organization.”

Shumaker was released in Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973. He had been promoted to the rank of Commander during his captivity.  Upon arrival at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, CDR Shumaker stated: “I simply want to say that I am happy to be home and so grateful to a nation that never did forget us. We tried to conduct ourselves so that America would be as proud of us as we are proud of her. I am very proud to have served my country and pleased that we can return with honor and dignity.”

Speaking of his time in Vietnam, RADM Shumaker stated:

Paradoxically, I learned a lot about life from my experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Those tough lessons learned within a jail cell have application to all those who will never have to undergo that particular trauma. At some point in life everybody will be hungry, cold, lonely, extorted, sick, humiliated, or fearful in varying degrees of intensity. It is the manner in which you react to these challenges that will distinguish you.

When adversity strikes, youve got to fall back with the punch and do your best to get up off the mat to come back for the next round. Realize that a person is not in total control of his destiny, but you need to know what your goals are, and you have to prepare yourself in advance to take advantage of opportunity when that door opens. Some important tools on the road to success include the ability and willingness to communicate, treating those around you with respect and courtesy no matter what their station in life might be, and conducting your life with the morality and behavior that will allow you to face yourself forever, in the end, you alone must be your own harshest critic.

Rear Admiral Shumaker retired from the U.S. Navy on 01 February 1988. After retiring from the Navy, Shumaker became an assistant dean at George Washington University and later became the associate dean of the Center for Aerospace Sciences at the University of North Dakota. He is married to the former Lorraine Shaw of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. In April 2011 he was presented with the Distinguished Graduate Award from the U.S. Naval Academy. He has one son, Grant.

Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive today. These reports are the source of serious distress to many returned American prisoners. They had a code that no one could honorably return unless all of the prisoners returned. Not only that code of honor, but the honor of our country is at stake as long as even one man remains unjustly held. It’s time we brought our men home.

Rear Admiral Joseph James Clark, United States Navy, Cherokee

thOne of Oklahoma’s distinguished, high ranking personnel in the forces of the United States in World War II, Rear Admiral Joseph James Clark, is a native Oklahoman of Cherokee descent. His outstanding service record compiled by the Navy Department is as follows:

Rear Admiral Clark was born in Pryor, Oklahoma, November 12, 1893, and prior to his appointment to the Naval Academy, he attended Willie Halsell College, Vinita, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma Agriculture and Mechanical College, Stillwater, Oklahoma. While at the Naval Academy he played lacrosse and soccer. He graduated with the Class of 1918 in June 1917, and during the World War served in the U.S.S. North Carolina which was engaged in convoying troops across the Atlantic. From 1919 to 1922 he served in destroyers in the Atlantic, in European waters and in the Mediterranean, and during the latter part of that duty served with the American Relief Administration in the Near East.

In 1922-1923 he had duty at the Naval Academy as instructor in the Department of Seamanship and Navigation, and qualified as a naval aviator at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, on March 16, 1925. Later that year he joined the Aircraft Squadrons of the Battle Fleet and assisted Commander John Rodgers in preparing navigational data for the first West Coast-Hawaii flight in 1925, and received a letter of commendation for this service.

In 1926 he joined the U.S.S. Mississippi and served as her senior aviation officer and during the following year was aide on the staff of Commander, Battleship Division Three, and served as Division Aviation Officer.

From 1928 to 1931 Rear Admiral Clark was executive officer, Naval Air Station, Anacostia, D.C., and during the next two years was commanding officer of Fighter Squadron Two attached to the U.S.S. Lexington. He was the aeronautical member of the Board of Inspection and Survey, Navy Department, from 1933 to 1936 and during the next tour of sea duty July, 1936 to June, 1937, served as the Lexington‘s representative at Fleet Air Detachment. U.S. Naval Air Station, San Diego, California, and later as Air Officer of the Lexington. He was executive officer of the Fleet Air Base, Pearl Harbor, from July, 1937, to May, 1939. During the months of June and July he had additional duty with Patrol Wing Two, and, until the end of the year, was executive officer of the Naval Air Station at Pearl Harbor, afterwards serving as inspector of naval aircraft at the Curtis Aircraft Corporation, Buffalo, New York.

He was executive officer of the Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida, from December 1940, until May 1941, when he reported for duty as executive officer of the old U.S.S. Yorktown, and in that carrier participated in the raid on the Marshall and Gilbert Islands. After detachment from the Yorktown he had duty in the Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department, Washington, D.C., from February 28 until June 20, 1942. He fitted out an auxiliary aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Suwanee, and commanded her from her Commissioning.

For his service in this command during the assault on and occupation of French Morocco, he received the following Letter of Commendation by Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll, U.S.N., Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet:

“The Commander in Chief, United States Atlantic Fleet, notes with pleasure and gratification the report of your performance of duty as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Suwanee during the assault on and occupation of French Morocco from November 11, 1942. The Commander in Chief, United States Atlantic Fleet, commends you for the high efficiency, outstanding performance and skillful handling of the U.S.S. Suwanee and attached aircraft which contributed so notably to the unqualified success attained by the Air Group during this operation. Your meritorious performance of duty was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Naval Service.”

On February 15, 1943, he reported to the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Newport News, Virginia in connection with fitting out the U.S.S. Yorktown and commanded her from commissioning until February 10, 1944. For his service in this command during the operations against Marcus, Wake, Mille, Jaluit, Makin, Kwajalein and Wotje, he has been awarded a Letter of Commendation by Vice Admiral John H. Towers, U.S.N., Commander, Air Force, Pacific Fleet, and a Silver Star Medal, with the following citations:

Letter of Commendation:

“For extraordinary performance and distinguished service in the line of his profession as commanding officer, U.S.S. Yorktown during the operations against Marcus Island on 31 August 1943 and against Wake Island on 5-6 October, 1943. On the first mentioned date, the air group of the Yorktown was launched at night and after a successful rendezvous was sent to Marcus Island and delivered the first attack before dawn. In this attack, the enemy was taken completely by surprise and all aircraft were destroyed on the ground. The subsequent attacks delivered by his air group contributed to the destruction of approximately eighty per cent of the installations on the island. On 5 October, 1943, his air group repeated a successful and effective attack on Wake Island before dawn. During this attack, eight enemy airplanes were destroyed in aerial combat and five were strafed on the ground. Eight additional airplanes were destroyed in the air by his air group in the following attack and eleven on the runways. Repeated bombing and strafing attacks were effectively delivered against all assigned objectives on that date. On 6 October, additional airplanes were strafed on the runways during a pre-dawn attack and severe damage wrought by dive bombing and strafing attacks on anti-aircraft and shore battery emplacements, fuel dumps, barracks, shops and warehouses. A total of 89 tons of bombs were dropped by his air group on assigned objectives. His outstanding leadership, his exceptional ability to organize and his courageous conduct throughout these engagements contributed immeasurably to the destruction of the enemy forces on these islands. His performance of duty was in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.”

Silver Star Medal

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Yorktown, during operations against enemy-held islands in the Central Pacific Area, from August 31 to December 5, 1943. Skillfully handling his ship during these widespread and extended operations, Rear Admiral (then Captain) Clark enabled aircraft based on his carrier to launch damaging attacks on enemy aircraft, shipping and shore installations on Marcus, Wake, Jaluit, Kwajalein and Wotje Islands. During the day and night of December 4, when the Yorktown was under severe enemy attack, almost continuously for one five-hour period at night, he maneuvered his vessel so expertly that all attacks were repelled without damage. By his devotion to duty throughout, he contributed materially to the success of our forces and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

The U.S.S. Yorktown was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for her heroism in action in the Pacific from August 31, 1943, to August 15, 1945. As her commanding officer during the first part of this period, Rear Admiral Clark received a facsimile of, and the ribbon for, this citation. The citation follows:

Presidential Unit Citation – USS Yorktown

“For extraordinary heroism in action against enemy Japanese forces in the air, at sea and on shore in the Pacific War Area from August 31, 1943, to August 15, 1945. Spearheading our concentrated carrier-warfare in forward areas, the U.S.S. Yorktown and her air groups struck crushing blows toward annihilating the enemy’s fighting strength; they provided air cover for our amphibious forces; they fiercely countered the enemy’s savage aerial attacks and destroyed his planes; and they inflicted terrific losses on the Japanese in Fleet and merchant marine units sunk or damaged. Daring and dependable in combat, the Yorktown with her gallant officers and men rendered loyal service in achieving the ultimate defeat of the Japanese Empire.”

On January 31, 1944, he was appointed Rear Admiral to rank from April 23, 1943. From February 1944 through June 1945 Rear Admiral Clark served as a Task Group Commander operating alternately with the First and Second Fast Carrier Task Groups of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, with the U.S.S. Hornet as his flagship. During this period he also was Commander of Carrier Division 13 (later redesignated Carrier Division 5). For his services during this period, Rear Admiral Clark was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Distinguished Service Medal, the Navy Cross, and the Legion of Merit. He also received a facsimile of and the ribbon for, the Presidential Unit Citation to the U.S.S. Hornet. The citations follow:

Distinguished Service Medal:

”For exceptionally meritorious service to the Government of the United States in a duty of great responsibility as Commander of a Task Group of Carriers and Screening Vessels in operations against enemy Japanese forces in the Pacific Area from April through June 1944. Participating in our amphibious invasion of Hollandia on April 21 to 24, Rear Admiral Clark’s well-coordinated and highly efficient units rendered invaluable assistance to our landing forces in establishing a beachhead and securing their positions and later, at the Japanese stronghold of Truk, helped to neutralize shore installations and planes both on the ground and in the air. By his keen foresight and resourcefulness, Rear Admiral Clark contributed in large measure to the overwhelming victories achieved by our forces against Japanese carrier-based aircraft, task units and convoys during the battle of the Marianas and attacks on the Bonin Islands. His indomitable fighting spirit and heroic leadership throughout this vital period were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

Navy Cross:

“For distinguishing himself by extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Commander of a Task Group in the vicinity of the Bonin Islands on 4 August, 1944. Upon receipt of information that an enemy convoy had been sighted proceeding in a northerly course enroute from the Bonins to the Empire, he immediately requested and received permission to organize an interception. He forthwith proceeded at high speed to lead his forces into Japanese home waters and intercepted the convoy, sinking five cargo vessels, four destroyer escorts and one large new type destroyer, while aircraft launched on his order searched within two hundred miles of the main islands of Japan shooting down two four engined search planes and one twin engined bomber as well as strafing and heavily damaging a destroyer and sinking three sampan type patrol vessels, and later in the day a light cruiser and an additional destroyer. By his professional skill, high personal courage, and superlative leadership, he inspired the units under his command to exceptional performance of duty in close proximity to strongly held home bases of the enemy. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Naval Service.”

Legion of Merit:

“For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as Commander of a Task Group of the Fast Carrier Task Forces during the period from 24 March to 28 March 1945. On 24 March, he aggressively attacked a Japanese convoy of eight ships near the Ryuku Islands. By swift decisive action he directed planes of the Task group so that they were able to sink the entire convoy. On 28 March a sweep of Southern Ryuku was initiated by the Task Group Commander and resulted in the destruction of one Japanese destroyer and a destroyer escort, in addition to numerous Japanese aircraft. His quick thinking, careful planning and fighting spirit were responsible for a maximum of damage done to the enemy. His courage and devotion to duty were at all times inspiring and in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

Gold Star in lieu of Second Distinguished Service Medal

“For exceptionally meritorious service to the Government of the United States in a duty of great responsibility as Commander Task Group Fifty-Eight Point One during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Tokyo Area and the Ryukyus, and in supporting operations at Okinawa, from February 10 to May 29, 1945. Maintaining his Task Group in a high state of combat readiness, Rear Admiral Clark skillfully deployed the forces at his disposal for maximum effectiveness against the enemy. Directing operations with brilliant and forceful leadership, he was responsible for the swift interception of Japanese air groups flying in to attack our surface units and by his prompt and accurate decisions, effected extensive and costly destruction in enemy planes thereby minimizing the danger to our ships and personnel. As a result of his bold and aggressive tactics against hostile surface units on March 24 and 28, the planes of Task Group Fifty-Eight Point One launched a fierce aerial attack against a convoy of eight enemy ships near the Ryukyu Islands to sink the entire convoy during the first engagement and a hostile destroyer and destroyer escort in the second. Courageous and determined in combat, Rear Admiral Clark served as an inspiration to the officers and men of his command and his successful fulfillment of a vital mission contributed essentially to the ultimate defeat of the Japanese Empire.”

Presidential Unit Citation – USS Hornet

“For extraordinary heroism in action against enemy Japanese forces in the air, ashore and afloat in the Pacific War Area from March 29, 1944, to June 10, 1945. Operating continuously in the most forward areas, the USS Hornet and her air groups struck crushing blows toward annihilating Japanese fighting power; they provided air cover for our amphibious forces; they fiercely countered the enemy’s aerial attacks and destroyed his planes; and they inflicted terrific losses on the Japanese in Fleet and merchant marine units sunk or damaged. Daring and dependable in combat, the Hornet with her gallant officers and men rendered loyal service in achieving the ultimate defeat of the Japanese Empire.”

Returning to the United States in June 1945, Rear Admiral Clark resumed duty as Chief, Naval Air Intermediate Training Command, with headquarters at Corpus Christi, Texas, on June 27, 1945, and served in this capacity until September 1946. On September 7, 1946, he assumed duty as Assistant Chief of Naval Operations (Air), Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

In addition to the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal with Gold Star, the Legion of Merit, the Silver Star Medal, the Commendation Ribbon, and the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon with two stars, Rear Admiral Clark has the Victory Medal, Escort Clasp (USS North Carolina), and is entitled to the American Defense Service Medal with Bronze “A” (for service in the old USS Yorktown which operated in actual or potential belligerent contact with the Axis Forces in the Atlantic Ocean prior to December 7, 1941); the European-African-Middle Eastern Area Campaign Medal with one bronze star; the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal with twelve bronze stars; the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one bronze star; and the World War II Victory Medal.

After retirement, Admiral Clark was a business executive in New York. His last position was Chairman of the Board of Hegeman Harris, Inc., a New York investment firm. Clark was an honorary chief by both the Sioux and Cherokee nations. He died 13 July 1971 at the Naval Hospital, St. Albans, New York, and is buried in Arlington National Cemeteryat Section 3, Site 2525-B.

Source: “Notes and Documents: Rear Admiral Joseph James Clark, United States Navy, Native Oklahoman.” Chronicles of Oklahoma 25 (1947): 154-158

Have We Forgotten Our Heroes? Chapter 11

JamesAMulliganJames Alfred Mulligan, Jr.
Captain O-6, U.S. Navy
Veteran of:
US Navy 1944-1949, 1950-1952, 1956-1975
US Naval Reserve 1949-1950, 1953-1956
World War II 1944-1945
Cold War 1945-1975
Bay of Pigs Invasion 1961
Cuban Missile Crisis 1962
Vietnam War 1965-1973 (POW)

James A. Mulligan, Jr. was born in 27 March 1926 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the Naval Aviation Cadet V-5 Program on February 6, 1944, and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy and designated a Naval Aviator on August 16, 1947.

After completing transition training in the AD Skyraider, ENS Mulligan served as an AD-3 and AD-4 Skyraider pilot with VA-8A and VA-75 at NAS Oceana, Virginia, from April 1948 to November 1949, followed by service in the Naval Reserve with VF-913 at Squantum, Massachusetts, from November 1949 until he was reactivated in July 1950.

He then served as an AD-3W pilot with VC-12 at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, from August 1950 until leaving active duty in August 1952. LTJG Mulligan re-joined the Naval Reserve in January 1953, serving with VF-917 at South Weymouth, Massachusetts, until returning to active duty in January 1956.

LCDR Mulligan next served as a flight instructor at NAS Pensacola, Florida, from January 1956 to January 1959, followed by service as an A4D Skyhawk ph0001001rflight instructor with VF-21 and VA-43, the A4D Replacement Air Group, at NAS Oceana, Virginia, from January 1959 to November 1960. His next assignment was as an A-4 pilot and Operations Officer with VA-72 at NAS Oceana from November 1960 to December 1962, and then as a staff officer on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations in the Pentagon from January 1963 to July 1964.

CDR Mulligan attended Armed Forces Staff College from July 1964 to January 1965, and then was Executive Officer of VA-36 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65) deployed to Southeast Asia from January 1965 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on March 20, 1966. He was to have become Commanding Officer of the Squadron on April 1 1966.

When talking about his experiences in North Vietnam, CPT Mulligan states:

I was Executive Officer of VA-36 on board USS Enterprise and scheduled to become Commanding Officer on 1 April 1966 but I was shot down near Vinh in North Vietnam on 20 March 1966. I had flown more than 80 missions over North Vietnam when my A4 was shot down. I was injured on ejection, receiving a broken shoulder and cracked ribs.

My prison itinerary was as follows:  Hanoi Hilton (Heartbreak Hotel and New Guy Village) from 27 March to 23 April 1966; the Zoo from 23 April 1966 to 26 January 1967; Las Vegas from 26 January 1967 to 25 October 1967; Alcatraz from 25 October 1967 to 9 December 1969; Las Vegas from 9 December 1969 to 25 December 1970; Camp Unity (or “No OK Corral”) 25 December 1970 to 12 February 1973. I was in solitary confinement for 42 3/4 months.

I spent more than 30 months in leg irons. I was the senior officer on the 3rd plane out of Hanoi in the first release on February 12, 1973. I was lucky enough to be the 1st POW cleared for release from Clark Air Force Base to the States on February 14, 1973. I was awarded 2 Silver Stars, 8 Air Medals, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and 2 Purple Hearts, as well as the POW medal.

mulligan02After captivity I earned my MBA degree in Public Administration. In 1975 after 31 1/2 years of service, I retired from the United States Navy as a Captain. (01 August 1975)

He has written a book regarding his time in Vietnam entitled, “The Hanoi Connection.” James and his wife Louise have 6 sons, (Jim, Kevin, Terry, Mark, Sean and Neil) and 17 grandchildren. James had a personal note on his update — “I share 6 POW grandchildren with Sam Johnson via his daughter Gini and my son Jim.”

His 2nd Silver Star Citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while interned as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam – In January 1969, his captors, completely ignoring international agreements, subjected him to extreme mental and physical cruelties in an attempt to obtain military information and false confessions for propaganda purposes. Through his resistance to those brutalities, he contributed significantly toward the eventual abandonment of harsh treatment by the North Vietnamese, which was attacking international attention. By his determination, courage, resourcefulness, and devotion to duty, he reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces.

Information contained in this article has been gleaned from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, published sources, interviews, and oral history.

Have We Forgotten Our Heroes? Chapter 7

Jeremiah-DentonFormer U.S. senator Adm. Jeremiah Denton, who died at age 89 on 28 March 2014, was interred at Arlington National Cemetery in a service highlighted by the reading of a letter from George H.W. Bush, the appearance and testimonies of fellow Vietnam POWS and attendance by two U.S. senators and a member of the House who shared time with him at the “Hanoi Hilton,” the infamous torture chamber that Denton defied. He wrote a classic – “When Hell Was in Session” that included accounts of his later service in the U.S. Senate with President Ronald Reagan.

Among those in attendance were Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.; Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, a fellow POW; and Capt. Red McDaniel, author of “Scars and Stripes” and also a fellow POW at the Hanoi Hilton.
Bush’s written tribute said: “We do have heroes … Adm. Jeremiah Denton … was a hero in the truest sense of the word.”
Denton was laid to rest not far from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

He survived nearly eight years in captivity in Vietnam, including time in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” after his Navy A-6A Intruder jet was shot down on a bombing mission in 1965.thZV40IUMA

Four of those years in incarceration were in solitary confinement where he endured starvation and torture in horrendous conditions.

He tells the story in his book “When Hell Was in Session.”

In 1980, he became the first Republican elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama since Reconstruction. He was a strong supporter of the traditional family and chaired a subcommittee on internal security and terrorism that focused on communist threats.

Reagan, who relied on him for advice on foreign policy, lauded Denton in his 1982 State of the Union address.
“We don’t have to turn to our history books for heroes. They are all around us. One who sits among you here tonight epitomized that heroism at the end of the longest imprisonment ever inflicted on men of our armed forces,” Reagan said.

“Who will ever forget that night when we waited for the television to bring us the scene of that first plane landing at Clark Field in the Philippines – bringing our POWs home? The plane door opened and Jeremiah Denton came slowly down the ramp. He caught sight of our flag, saluted, and said, ‘God Bless America,’ then thanked us for bringing him home.”

He died in Virginia Beach, Virginia, at Sentara Hospice House, said his son, Jeremiah A. Denton 3rd. He is also survived by his second wife, Mary Belle Bordone, four other sons, William, Donald, James and Michael; two daughters, Madeleine Doak and Mary Beth Hutton; a brother, Leo; 14 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

In “When Hell Was in Session,” Jeremiah Denton, the senior American officer to serve as a Vietnam POW, tells the amazing story of nearly eight years of abuse, neglect and torture. This historic book takes readers behind the closed doors of the Vietnamese prison to see how the men fought back against all odds and against all kinds of evil. It’s available today at a special price.

Denton achieved widespread recognition during his imprisonment. In an internationally televised press conference in 1966 staged by the North Vietnamese for propaganda purposes, he answered the interviewer’s questions while simultaneously blinking, in Morse code, the message “T-O-R-T-U-R-E.” The message confirmed to the U.S. for the first time that U.S. POWs were being tortured in captivity.

Further, he shocked his captors when answering questions about what he thought of U.S. actions.

“I don’t know what is going on in the war now because the only sources I have access to are North Vietnam radio, magazine and newspapers, but whatever the position of my government is, I agree with it, I support it, and I will support it as long as I live.”

When he returned on Feb. 12, 1973, he landed at Clark Air Force Base, walked to a waiting microphone and said: “We are honored to have the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our commander-in-chief and to our nation for this day. God bless America.”

He explained how he survived when so many didn’t. “My principal battle with the North Vietnamese was a moral one, and prayer was my prime source of strength,” he said.

The Navy Cross was among the recognitions for his service.

Reagan showed profound respect for Denton.

“Jerry and I came into office in the same year, 1981, and for the last four-and-a-half years, he’s been a pillar of support for our efforts to keep America strong and free and true,” Reagan said. “He’s been rated the most conservative senator by the National Journal. That’s my kind of senator,” Reagan said. “His voting record has been rated 100 percent by the American Conservative Union, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Conservatives Against Liberal Legislation – I like the name of that one – The National Alliance of Senior Citizens, the Christian Voters Victory Fund, and some others.”

Reagan also noted a poll by the magazine Conservative Digest ranked Denton as the second most admired senator. “Now, knowing Jerry, he’s probably wondering where he slipped up,” Reagan quipped.

His humanitarian work, however, began in his Senate years with the Denton Program, which allowed the U.S. military to haul humanitarian aid on a space-available basis at no cost to the donor. The program now is administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the State Department and Defense Department.

His foundation summed up his life in a statement last year.

“It is his belief in, and knowing of God, that is his pillar. This is the central guiding force in his life not only today, but throughout his life,” the foundation said. “Especially in the small, dark jail cell as a POW … for over seven years during the Vietnam war.”

Family man

Born in Mobile, Alabama, on July 15, 1924, his mother and father divorced in 1938. That experience, he said, was one reason why he became such a strong advocate for the nuclear family. ”

He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1946 and earned a master’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University in 1964.

He married his first wife, the former Kathryn Jane Maury of Mobile, in June 1946, and had seven children with her.
In 2007, they moved from near Mobile to Williamsburg, Virginia, to be closer to some of their children. Mrs. Denton died Nov. 22, 2007, at 81.

His book, “When Hell was in Session,” begins with the shock he experienced upon his return to the United States in 1973 to find his beloved nation had drastically changed since his capture in 1965.

“I saw the appearance of X-rated movies, adult magazines, massage parlors, the proliferation of drugs, promiscuity, pre-marital sex, and unwed mothers.”

That scenario, he wrote, was coupled with “the tumultuous post-war Vietnam political events, starting with Congress forfeiting our military victory, thus betraying our victorious American and allied servicemen and women, who had won the war at great cost of blood and sacrifice.”

Reagan’s ‘amazing lift’

Denton wrote that when he began his Senate service he was not optimistic, recognizing he was “joining a Congress that had voted to sell out the freedom-loving people of South Vietnam, a Congress that voted, in spite of our military victory, to abandon Southeast Asia to the Communists.”
But he received an “an amazing lift” to his “morale and hopes” when President Reagan took him aside to tell him of his great admiration and respect and to invite him to call on him personally if he had anything he believed the president needed to hear.

Denton took up Reagan on his offer, hatching a plan to thwart the rise of communism in Latin American led by Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega, who was riding a wave of popularity in U.S. media and academia even as he worked to spread revolution to El Salvador.

Denton secured permission from the State Department to divert a scheduled trip to El Salvador and, instead, fly to Nicaragua to put Ortega’s boasts of freedom and democracy to the test.

Denton described his ambitious venture as a nervy game of single-hand poker with Nicaragua’s leadership. With confidence borne from dealing with “similar people” during his eight years of communist captivity, he held his own, warning Nicaragua’s startled regime, face to face, that any further acts of aggression would be met with a “reaction from the United States under President Reagan different from what you found under President Johnson in North Vietnam.”

Later, Denton found himself in the Oval Office with Reagan, proposing a comprehensive strategy for confronting communism in Latin America that the president accepted and successfully implemented.

‘Misinformation campaign’

Denton observed that since Reagan’s time, “things have not gone as well.”

“One malady continues to worsen: the on-going influence exerted by the misinformation campaign waged by the liberal media/academic community continues to confuse the citizenry,” he wrote.

In an interview in 2009, Denton said one of the problems he saw at the time was the disdain for “ideology” by many of the nation’s most influential leaders and lawmakers. “They are acting like ideology shouldn’t be the point for any discussion of policy,” he said, with energy in his voice belying his 85 years. “[Balderdash!] Ideology is the basis for which you evaluate any policy.”

The most basic principle that distinguishes America as a nation, he said, is the Declaration of Independence’s assertion that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with inalienable rights. “Nobody is interpreting rights now in terms of the Creator,” he said. “He endowed the rights.”

President Obama, Denton contended, was usurping the rights of God, “as did Hitler and Stalin and the emperors of Rome.”
“They all had gods – but when they didn’t have good enough gods to constitute a culture, they went to hell,” Denton told WND. “And we are too, if we continue to believe that man, all of us individually, or our government, can determine what the rights are and set up everything else to match that. We’re done.”

Denton said he believed the U.S. is in its worst security position since World War II, when Hitler was sweeping across Europe.

He explained that in the aftermath of that war, the U.S. didn’t have to worry as much about its conventional weapons and forces because of its nuclear might and the doctrine of “mutually assured destruction” with the Soviet Union.

But now, he said, with a decreasing percentage of America’s GDP devoted to defense – coupled with China’s and Russia’s buildup of conventional forces – America’s security is at risk.

“If Russia were to take over first Georgia, then Ukraine – and maybe China moves into India – we couldn’t go there with a conventional force and stop that, and we wouldn’t have the guts to use nuclear, for good reason,” he said. Denton said that while the military leaders with whom he spoke agreed with his analysis, President Obama didn’t recognize the problem. “We don’t really have the proper national intelligence the way we used to have,” he said. “We had people like Clare Boothe Luce and brilliant people from many different fields come in, but we don’t do that anymore. It’s done on a haphazard basis.”

Have We Forgotten Our Heroes? Chapter 22 – Roy Boehm

Boehm3_737878903LCDR Roy H. Boehm was born in Brooklyn New York. Boehm enlisted in the Navy in April 1941 at the age of seventeen and saw action in the Pacific theater of operation during WWII from February 1942 until the conclusion of the war in 1945. He participated in recovery of corpses and munitions from the USS Arizona while his ship, the USS Duncan, was being repaired and refitted at Pearl Harbor. He is a survivor of one of the largest “all surface” sea engagements of World War II, the Battle of Cape Esperance at Guadalcanal. Boehm was serving on the destroyer Duncan (DD 485) when the ship received fifty-eight 6″ and 8″ shell hits at point-blank range before going down. He saved a teammate from burning to death by jumping in the ocean and later he had to fight off sharks which eventually killed the sailor he saved. Boehm also participated in the following campaigns and engagements: Battle of the Coral Sea, Bouganville, Truk, Green Island, Emeru, Saipan, Tinian, and Guam. He was engaged in supplying ammunitions to the guerrillas in the Philippines and saw action in Kerama Reto and Okinawa. LCDR Boehm also saw action in the Korean conflict and the war in Vietnam.

While serving in the US Navy, Boehm attained the following qualifications: unlimited deep-sea diving, deep submergence rescue chamber operator for submarine rescue, experimental diving, and salvage diving. He is a qualified Underwater Demolition Expert, and was test pilot for underwater swimmer propulsion units. Boehm is a graduate of Airborne and Ranger Training. In early 1961, under a Presidential Two priority received from President John F Kennedy, Boehm developed, designed, implemented, and led the Navy’s commando organization known as the SEALs. He was the first Officer in Charge (OIC) of SEAL Team Two.

Boehm assisted in the design and implementation of the Navy’s first counterinsurgency course, for which he received the Navy Achievement Medal. Following this, he was named head of the Navy’s River Patrol Craft Division. There he developed tactical procedures, organized, and trained River Patrol Boat sailors for Operation Gamewarden in Vietnam.

LCDR Roy Boehm is authorized to wear the following medals and awards: Bronze Star with combat “V”, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Presidential Unit Citation (1942), Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation (1967), Navy Good Conduct Medal with 3 Stars, China Service Medal, American Defense Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal w/1 Silver Star/1 Bronze Star/ 1 Arrow Head, Victory Medal WW II, WWII Occupation Medal Navy, National Defense Service Medal with 1 Bronze Star, Korean Service Medal w/2 Bronze Stars, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, US Vietnam Service Medal, Philippines Presidential Unit Citation, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, Philippine Liberation Medal, United Nations Korean Medal, United Nations Medal, RVHJ Campaign Medal with Date, USN Expert Rifle Medal, USN Expert Pistol Medal.

Roy Boehm passed away at the age of 84 on December 30, 2008. Roy’s last wish, that his death not be publicized. He wanted no obituary, no funeral service and no fanfare over his death. Boehm was most proud of a plaque mounted on his wall: “Roy Boehm, Man-O-Warsman.” That honor was bestowed on him by the men who served under his command. “It’s the highest compliment you can get,” Boehm had said.First SEAL by Roy Boehm

LCDR Roy Boehm is frequently mentioned in Richard Marcinko’s books. Boehm can be seen in the video program “The Tides Of Specwar”. Roy Boehm and Chuck Sasser have written Roy’s autobiography. “FIRST SEAL” is published by Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books division. It is one of the best autobiographies I have ever read. It was a pleasure to read and was written so one could visualize the actions while reading.

(Some of this information was retrieved on 10.17.2013 from www.navysealteams.com, and Wikipedia, along with my own reading of his autobiography and our private personal correspondence from 2001.)