Tag 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

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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.

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 9

Name: James Bond Stockdale11298509_112062220909
Rank/Branch: O5/US Navy, pilot
Unit: CAG 16, USS ORISKANY (CVA 34)
Date of Birth: 23 December 1923
Home City of Record: Abingdon IL
Date of Loss: 09 September 1965
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 193400N 1065800E (WG839635)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4E
Missions: 202+

By midsummer 1964 events were taking place in the Gulf of Tonkin that would lead to the first clash between U.S. and North Vietnamese forces. In late July the destroyer USS MADDOX, on patrol in the gulf gathering intelligence had become the object of communist attention. For two consecutive days, 31 July-1 August, the MADDOX cruised unencumbered along a pre-designated route off the North Vietnamese coast. In the early morning hours of 2 August, however, it was learned from intelligence sources of a possible attack against the destroyer. The attack by three North Vietnamese P-4 torpedo boats (PT boats) materialized just after 4:00 p.m. on August 2. The MADDOX fired off three warning volleys, then opened fire. Four F-8 Crusaders led by Commander James B. Stockdale from the aircraft carrier USS TICONDEROGA, also took part in the skirmish. The result of the twenty-minute affair saw one gunboat sunk and another crippled. The MADDOX, ordered out of the gulf after the incident concluded, was hit by one 14.5mm shell.

A day later the MADDOX accompanied by the destroyer USS C. TURNER JOY, received instructions to re-enter the gulf and resume patrol. The USS CONSTELLATION, on a Hong Kong port visit was ordered to join the TICONDEROGA stationed at the mouth of the gulf in the South China Sea. The two destroyers cruised without incident on August 3 and in the daylight hours of August 4 moved to the middle of the gulf. Parallel to the movements of the C. TURNER JOY and MADDOX, South Vietnamese gunboats launched attacks on several North Vietnamese radar installations. The North Vietnamese believed the U.S. destroyers were connected with these strikes. At 8:41 p.m. on August 4 both destroyers reportedly picked up fast-approaching contacts on their radars. Navy documents show the ships changed course to avoid the unknown vessels, but the contacts continued intermittently. At 10:39 p.m. when the MADDOX and C. TURNER JOY radars indicated one enemy vessel had closed to within seven thousand yards, the C. TURNER JOY was ordered to open fire and the MADDOX soon followed. For the next several hours, the destroyers, covered by the TICONDEROGA’s and the CONSTELLATION’s aircraft, reportedly evaded torpedoes and fired on their attackers.

Historians have debated, and will continue to do so, whether the destroyers were actually ever attacked. Most of the pilots flying that night spotted nothing. Stockdale, who would later earn the Medal of Honor, stated that a gunboat attack did not occur. The skipper of the TICONDEROGA’s Attack Squadron 56, Commander Wesley L. McDonald, said he “didn’t see anything that night except the MADDOX and the TURNER JOY.”

President Lyndon B. Johnson reacted at once to the supposed attacks on the MADDOX, ordering retaliatory strikes on strategic points in North Vietnam. Even as the President spoke to the nation, aircraft from the CONSTELLATION and TICONDEROGA were airborne and heading for four major PT-boat bases along the North Vietnamese coast. The area of coverage ranged from a small base at Quang Khe 50 miles north of the demarcation line between North and South Vietnam, to the large base at Hon Gai in the north.

On August 5, 1964, Stockdale led a flight of sixteen aircraft from the TICONDEROGA on the Vinh petroleum storage complex at 1:30 p.m. in response to the presidential directive to destroy gunboats and supporting facilities in North Vietnam which the President indicated were used in the attack on the MADDOX. The results saw 90 percent of the storage facility at Vinh go up in flames. Meanwhile, other coordinated attacks were made by aircraft from the CONSTELLATION on nearby Ben Thuy Naval Base, Quang Khe, Hon Me Island and Hon Gai’s inner harbor. Skyraiders, Skyhawks and F8s bombed and rocketed the four areas, destroying or damaging an estimated twenty-five PT-boats, more than half of the North Vietnamese force.

Air wing command was usually placed in the hands of an individual who had completed a tour as squadron commander of an attack or fighter unit. The CAG was typically a better than average pilot with a solid record of performance, and more than likely he was a pretty fair politician. By another definition, he’d survived in a profession unforgiving of error.

On his second Vietnam tour, CDR James B. Stockdale was the commander of Air Wing 16 onboard the USS ORISKANY. He had led the successful strike off the TICONDEROGA against the petroleum storage facility at Vinh on August 4, 1964. On one mission, he had the canopy blown off his aircraft and had to ditch in the Gulf of Tonkin where he was rescued. Then on September 9, 1965 flying an A4E Skyhawk, he led another strike mission over North Vietnam. A major strike had been scheduled against the Thanh Hoa (“Dragon Jaw”) bridge, and the weather was so critical there was a question whether to launch. Finally the decision was to launch. Halfway through, weather reconnaissance reported the weather in the target area was zero, and Stockdale had no choice but to send the aircraft on secondary targets.

Stockdale and his wingman, CDR Wynn Foster, circled the Gulf of Tonkin while another strike element departed to look for a SAM site at their secondary target. Had anything been found, Wynn and Stockdale were to join them. After fifteen minutes or so, the other group came up empty. The group made the decision to hit a secondary target, a railroad facility near the city of Thanh Hoa.

CDR Stockdale’s aircraft was hit by flak and he ejected, landing in a village. His wingman saw the parachute go down, but could not see what was happening to Stockdale on the ground. On a low pass, Foster saw that the villagers were brutally beating Stockdale. There was nothing he could do. The village was an unauthorized target. Throughout the rest of the war, Foster carried the guilt of being unable to do something to help CDR Stockdale.

James Stockdale was captured by the Vietnamese and taken to Hanoi, where he spent the next seven and one-half years as a prisoner of war. He had briefed his pilots during the period he was CAG on the ORISKANY that the Code of Conduct would apply to anyone captured. There had been some dispute about the validity of the Code in Vietnam, an undeclared war. American POWs who had flown with Stockdale had no doubt as to what was expected of them as prisoners. The knowledge, however, was a two-edged sword–on one hand, the captives were glad to understand the guidelines. On the other, when they “broke” (which inevitably they did), immense guilt and shame ensued. Eventually, as they communicated with one another, everyone understood that they had only to do their best.

It was not possible to resist utterly and survive. A few who cooperated with the enemy “above and beyond” what was considered appropriate, received special treatment from their guards in return. These men were despised by other POWs who were doing their best to adhere to the Code of Conduct. Upon his return, Jim Stockdale accused two POWs of mutiny. Official charges were never brought against these men, or any others similarly accused.

jamesstockdalepowDuring his captivity, Stockdale was considered to be a troublemaker by the Vietnamese. As a senior officer, Stockdale developed a policy of behavior for the POWs called “BACK US.” The policy provided guidance on such things as propaganda broadcasts, bowing to guards, and unity, thwarting the “obedience” the Vietnamese tried to extract from the American POWs. The POWs were shuffled from one camp to another, many times based on “unsatisfactory” behavior; many were held long periods in solitary confinement; many were tortured in “interrogation” sessions.

In early 1969, one of the POWs became ill and was in great pain at a camp known as Alcatraz, located some ten blocks from the famed Hoa Lo (Hanoi Hilton). The man was receiving no medical care, and fellow prisoners put the pressure on. What ensued might be called a prison riot. The efforts did bring a doctor to the ill POW’s cell, although the doctor did nothing to ease his pain. The next morning, Stockdale organized a forty-eight hour fast to demand medical attention for the ailing officer. The next evening each prisoner was interrogated and on the morning of January 27, Stockdale was taken away to another prison center. Finally, on February 12, 1973, Jim Stockdale was released from prisoner of war camps and sent home.

(Stockdale is second man on the left.)

In all, 591 Americans were released. 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. 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.

Retired Navy VADM James B. Stockdale, Medal of Honor recipient, former Viet Nam prisoner of war (POW), naval aviator and test pilot, academic, and American hero died July 5, 2005, at his home in Coronado, Calif.  He was 81 years old and had been battling Alzheimer’s disease.

11298688_112063781807

Have We Forgotten Our Heroes? Chapter 25

hopperGrace Murray Hopper was born Grace Brewster Murray in New York City. She was the oldest in a family of three children. She was curious as a child, a lifelong trait; at the age of seven she decided to determine how an alarm clock worked, and dismantled seven alarm clocks before her mother realized what she was doing (she was then limited to one clock). For her preparatory school education, she attended the Hartridge School in Plainfield, New Jersey. Rejected for early admission to Vassar College at age 16 (her test scores in Latin were too low), she was admitted the following year.

Young Grace’s diligence and hard work paid off when in 1928 at the age of 22 she was graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar College. She then attended Yale University, where she received an MA degree in Mathematics and Physics in 1930 and a Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1934. Hopper began teaching mathematics at Vassar in 1931 where her first year’s salary was $800. She stayed there until she joined the United States Naval Reserve in December 1943.

Upon graduation, she was commissioned a LTJG and ordered to the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project at Harvard University. There she became the first programmer on the Navy’s Mark I computer, the mechanical miracle of its day. Hopper’s love of gadgets caused her to immediately fall for the biggest gadget she’d ever seen, the fifty-one foot long, 8 foot high, 8 foot wide, glass-encased mound of bulky relays, switches and vacuum tubes called the Mark I. This miracle of modern science could store 72 words and perform three additions every second.

Grace’s love affair with the Mark I ended in a few short years when the UNIVAC I, operating a thousand times faster, won her affections.

In 1946, Grace Murray Hopper was released from active duty and joined the Harvard Faculty at the Computation Laboratory where her work continued on the Mark II and Mark III computers for the Navy. In 1949 she joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation in Philadelphia-later called Sperry Rand-where she designed the first commercial large-scale electronic computer called the UNIVAC I.

Grace Murray Hopper changed the lives of everyone in the computer industry by developing the Bomarc system, later called COBOL (common-business-oriented language). COBOL made it possible for computers to respond to words rather than numbers. Hopper often jokingly explained, “It really came about because I couldn’t balance my checkbook.”

Murray Hopper retired from the Naval Reserve with the rank of Commander at the end of 1966. She was recalled to active duty in August of 1967 for what was supposed to be a six-month assignment at the request of Norman Ream, then Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy for Automatic Data Processing. After the six months were up, her orders were changed to say her services would be needed indefinitely. She was promoted to Captain in 1973 by Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Jr., Chief of Naval Operations. In 1977, she was appointed special advisor to Commander, Naval Data Automation Command (NAVDAC), where she stayed until she retired.

In 1983, a bill was introduced by Rep. Philip Crane (D-Ill.) who said, “It is time the Navy recognized the outstanding contributions made by this officer (Admiral Grace Hopper) recalled from retirement over a decade and a half ago and promote her to the rank of Commodore.” Rep. Crane became interested in Grace Murray Hopper after seeing her March 1983 60 Minutes interview. He’d never met Hopper, but after speaking with several people, was convinced she was due the added status of being a flag officer. The bill was approved by the House, and at the age of 76, she was promoted to Commodore by special Presidential appointment. Her rank was elevated to rear admiral in November 1985, making her one of few women admirals in the history of the United States Navy.

On 27 September 1985, the Navy Regional Data Automation Center (now the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station), San Diego, broke ground on a 135,577 square foot data processing facility, The Grace Murray Hopper Service Center. The building contains a data processing center as well as training facilities, teleconferencing capabilities, telecommunications and expanded customer service areas. A small room-sized museum contains numerous artifacts, awards and citations that Hopper received during her lengthy career. The guest visitor’s book contains the names of some prominent people paying homage to the computer pioneer. There is also a Grace Murray Hopper Center for Computer Learning at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, where she spent her childhood summers.280px-Commodore_Grace_M__Hopper,_USN_(covered)

She retired (involuntarily) from the Navy on August 14, 1986. At a celebration held in Boston on the USS Constitution to celebrate her retirement, Hopper was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the highest non-combat decoration awarded by the Department of Defense. At the time of her retirement, she was the oldest active-duty commissioned officer in the United States Navy (79 years, eight months and five days), and aboard the oldest commissioned ship in the United States Navy (188 years, nine months and 23 days). (Admirals William D. Leahy, Chester W. Nimitz, Hyman G. Rickover and Charles Stewart were the only other officers in the Navy’s history to serve on active duty at a higher age. Leahy and Nimitz served on active duty for life due to their promotions to the rank of fleet admiral.)

Three hundred of her friends and admirers and thirty family members were there to watch as the end came to her 43-year Naval career. As then Secretary of the Navy John Lehman said in his speech, “I’m reminded of that famous story by P.T. Barnum. About the turn of the century, his principle attraction, the human cannonball, came to P.T. Barnum and said, Mr. Barnum, I just can’t take it any longer. Two performances a day and four on weekends are just too much. I’m quitting.’ Barnum said, You can’t possibly quit. Where will I find someone else of your caliber?’ They realized Hopper was irreplaceable.”

In her retirement speech, instead of dwelling on the past, she talked about moving toward the future, stressing the importance of leadership. “Our young people are the future. We must provide for them. We must give them the positive leadership they’re looking for…You manage things; you lead people.” It was at her retirement in 1986 that she was presented the highest award given by the Department of Defense – the Defense Distinguished Service Medal – one of innumerable awards she received from both the Navy and industry.

Other awards include the Navy Meritorious Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the National Medal of Technology, awarded last September by President George Bush. She also received the first computer sciences “man of the year” award from the Data Processing Management Association (DPMA) in 1969. Other achievements include retiring from the Navy as a Rear Admiral and the oldest serving officer at that time, and being the first woman to be awarded a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Yale University. For a CAPT Grace Hopper, Head of the Navy Programming Section of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OP-911F), at work in her office in August 1976. She was the first Naval Reserve woman to be called back to active duty.

Retirement didn’t slow Admiral Grace Hopper down. Shortly thereafter, she became a Senior Consultant to Digital Equipment Corporation where she was active until about 18 months before her death. She functioned in much the same capacity she did when she was in the Navy, traveling on lecture tours around the country, speaking at engineering forums, colleges, universities and computer seminars passing on the message that managers shouldn’t be afraid of change. In her opinion, “the most damaging phrase in the language is We’ve always done it this way.'”

Grace said in many of her speeches, “I always promise during my talks that if anyone in the audience says during the next 12 months, ‘But we’ve always done it that way,’ I will immediately materialize beside him and haunt him for the next 24 hours and see if I could get him to take a second look.” Embracing the unconventional, the clock in her office ran counterclockwise.

Grace’s favorite age group to address was young people between the ages of 17 and 20. She believed they know more, they question more and they learn more than people in what she called the “in-between years”, ages 40 to 45. She always placed very high importance on America’s youth. Hopper often said, “working with the youth is the most important job I’ve done. It’s also the most rewarding.” This seems perfectly natural since she spent all her adult life teaching others.

Grace Murray Hopper was a big hit at the Navy Micro Conference. She loved to tell the story of how the conference started because it supported her famous saying, “It’s always easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.”

Here’s the story:

A sailor in the Pacific fleet built a computer aboard ship. A picture of the computer appeared in Navy Times where a rear admiral saw it. He wrote the sailor a letter of encouragement. The sailor decided to answer the rear admiral directly, telling him exactly what was wrong with computers in the Pacific fleet and what could be done using microcomputers. (The computer mentality at that time was geared around mainframes.)

As events evolved, the sailor was transferred to the Navy Regional Data Automation Center (NARDAC) in Norfolk, Virginia (now called Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station LAN) where his technical expertise could be fully utilized. He was part of the team that birthed the first microcomputer conference in 1982. A five point plan was developed that centered around the microcomputer contracts. It provided other needed services for users, including the ability to communicate via a conference.

What started off as a small seminar for 400 people the first year has grown into a full-blown conference, averaging over a thousand attendees every year. It wasn’t until the third year that the conference became completely legal.

Grace Hopper was a keynote speaker for the conference in its earlier years, drawing a standing-room-only crowd. Although she had a standard keynote speech, stressing the same message over and over, people were fascinated by her. Her lectures challenged management to keep pace. The Navy Micro Conference still goes on today, alternating between the east and west coasts, still stressing Hopper’s unique message to the world: Be innovative, open minded and give people the freedom to try new things.

Hopper enchanted her audiences with tales of the computer evolution and her uncanny ability to predict the trends of the future. Many of her predictions came true right before her eyes as industry built more powerful, more compact machines and developed the operating systems and software that matched her visions. Some of her more innovative ideas include using computers to track the lifecycle of crop eating locusts, building a weather computer, managing water reserves so that everyone would have a fair share and tracking the waves at the bottom of the ocean. She also thought every ship should have a computer that the crew could play with and learn to use.

Admiral Hopper was observed at the Navy Micro ’87. She passed by with her entourage, smoking a filter-less Lucky Strike cigarette as she often did. People could be heard whispering, “There she is,” as she passed by. The initial impression of her was that of a friendly, grandmotherly-type woman who looked almost frail. Those words don’t exactly describe the public side of Grace Hopper. She was described by one reporter as a “feisty old salt who gave off an aura of power.” This held true in her dealings with top brass, subordinates and interviewers – always interested in getting to the bottom line.

Eighty-five-year-old Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper who dedicated her life to the Navy passed away on 1 January 1992. As a pioneer Computer Programmer and co-inventor of COBOL, she was known as the Grand Lady of Software, Amazing Grace and Grandma COBOL. She’ll be remembered for her now famous sayings, one of which is “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.”

Her insight into the future will stay with us even though she’s gone. Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper was laid to rest with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery, Section 59, lot 973.