Mission: Execute Navy Birthday events in a manner that brings honor and respect upon our service.
1. Primary: Internal − Sailors and Veterans
2. Secondary: External − American Public
Goal: Garner esprit de corps among current Sailors through the celebration of the Navy’s 244th Birthday by honoring the heroism and action during the Battle of Leyte Gulf and demonstrating Navy’s critical role in our nation’s defense then and now.
Tone: Respectfully Celebratory
Background: Leyte Gulf, lasting three days, was the largest sea battle in modern history and gives today’s Sailors multiple examples of heroism in action as we again face great power competition. From October 23-25, the U.S. Navy’s goal was to take back the Philippines from Japan and secure their hold in the Pacific theatre. What ensued was multiple, smaller, widely-separated engagements that made up the larger Battle of Leyte Gulf around the Philippine islands. While there were several lessons to learn, losses and defeats, the Battle of Leyte Gulf had one common thread: heroism in action. The Sailors’ service in harm’s way ultimately led to Japan’s defeat.
The theme "No Higher Honor" draws upon the extraordinary service and sacrifice of the Sailors who fought the greatest sea battle in history with a particular focus on the heroism of the crew of USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413), during Leyte Gulf’s Battle off Samar. As a final stand, on October 25, 1944, during the invasion of the Philippines, USS Samuel B. Roberts, commanded by LCDR Robert W. Copeland, Roberts and her crew, along with a small group of accompanying destroyers known collectively as Taffy 3, bravely charged into a line of Japanese battleships to protect American forces landing on the islands. The American destroyers were decimated in the action; Roberts in particular suffered multiple direct hits from the battleship Kongo before Copeland was forced to abandon ship. Roberts sank around 1007 the same day she entered battle. Although the American destroyers were thoroughly routed, their actions prevented the enemy forces from concentrating fire on the landing forces. As a result, ground troops were able to establish beachheads on the islands and eventually retake the Philippines─a major objective on the road to victory.
Commander Copeland would later recount the Battle of Leyte Gulf extolling the valor of his crew in the face of such overwhelming odds, stating that there was "no higher honor" than to have the privilege to command such a crew.
In addition to the heroism of the crew of Samuel B. Roberts, Commander Ernest Evans and his crew also put the mission first during the battle. Commanding officer of USS Johnston (DD-557), Evans told his crew at commissioning, "This is going to be a fighting ship. I intend to go in harm’s way, and anyone who doesn’t want to go along had better get off right now." When the Japanese were closing in on Taffy 3, Evans stayed true to his word and led Taffy 3’s charge into the fight with the Japanese battleships in the face of overwhelming odds. Commander Evans ultimately went down with his ship, but succeeded in meeting his objective─Taffy 3 had successfully turned back the Japanese, secured the Philippines from the enemy, and ended the threat posed by the Imperial Japanese Navy.
Theme: No Higher Honor
- The service of our WWII shipmates cemented the Navy’s legacy: there is no higher honor than to serve and to do so in harm’s way.
- Sailors today carry on this legacy of toughness, initiative, integrity, and accountability.
- Heroism in action takes on many forms. From cyber to submarines, the actions of our Sailors, both past and present, prove there is no higher honor than to serve in the U.S. Navy.
- Maritime superiority begins with our ethos: We defend our Nation and prevail in the face of adversity with strength, determination, and dignity on, above, and below the sea.
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Required Fleet Public Affairs Support:
- ALL – Plan and execute command level Navy birthday celebrations, participate in local and regional Navy birthday events, and report those efforts to NHHC (email@example.com subject line: Report of Local Navy Birthday Celebration/Participation) no later than COB November 15, 2019.
- Reports should include any public engagements, interviews, and attendance numbers for your commands’ individual events. If you share POD notes with Sailors or distribute stories and messaging over 1MC or other public address systems, please include a general number of Sailors receiving those messages.
Measures of Performance/Measures of Effectiveness:
Background Information Links:
The Battle of Leyte Gulf—A short overview of the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
The Battle off Samar: The Sacrifice of “Taffy 3”—A synopsis of the Battle off Samar which includes a description of the ships within the Taffy 3 unit and a handful of images from the battle.
H-Gram 010/H-010-4—Director Cox discusses the USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) at Samar and the ship's namesake, a Navy coxswain posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for actions at Guadalcanal
Surface Warrior – Remembering Ernest Evans—A blog post by Director Cox where he discusses the Battle of Leyte Gulf while also describing Ernest Evans and his contributions as the commanding officer of USS Johnston (DD-557).
Commander Ernest Edwin Evans Medal of Honor Citation —This page showcases the exact Medal of Honor citation posthumously given to Ernest Evans.
Facebook Live Video with Captain Paul Rinn, captain of Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58)
USS Johnston (DD-557)
USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413)