WASHINGTON – Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson presented awards to the winners of the CNO 2019 Naval History Essay Contest at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy (NMUSN) July 17.
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Mutis A. Capizzi, Naval History and Heritage Command
Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson presented awards to the winners of the CNO 2019 Naval History Essay Contest at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy (NMUSN) July 17.
The judging panel chose five awardees from a group of 141 total submissions.
In support of “A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority,” Richardson directed the Naval History Essay Contest to further the understanding of how lessons from history can be used to inform the way ahead for the Navy today. Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC), United States Naval Institute (USNI), United States Naval Academy (USNA), Naval War College (NWC), and Office of Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) coordinated the essay contest.
Richardson gave the keynote remarks and made a point to give special thanks to the sponsors and the entire team who worked to make the history essay contest a success.
“I am honored to be here tonight,” said Richardson. “I do feel a keen sense of ownership of this and being here is very meaningful to me. You have only gotten the tip of the iceberg hearing the quick summaries of these essays tonight. I encourage you all to go out read them all. They are chock full of lessons from history for us today and they are very relevant lessons.”
Rear Adm. Samuel Cox (Ret), director of NHHC, opened the ceremony welcoming the winners and guests to the event. He thanked Richardson for all he has done in support of naval history during his time as CNO.
“This is the third year we have done the CNO’s history essay contest,” said Cox. “Since this contest has started, it has been a tremendous success due to the sheer number of entrants each year.”
Cox added that it was important to have both the Professional Historian and Rising Historian categories so those interested in naval history as enthusiasts would not be discouraged from entering the contest.
Over the past three years, more than 600 entrants answered the challenge of researching the sea services’ rich history, submitting essays on naval historical topics that relay lessons learned from history that can be applied in support of establishing and maintaining maritime superiority in today’s environment.
Vice Adm. Peter Daly, USN (Ret), chief executive officer and publisher of USNI, stated in his remarks that such a high number of entrants is well above average, noting that USNI has been doing essay contests continuously since 1879.
“The CNO’s direction for this contest; using history to form our way ahead, is great guidance,” said Daly. “I dare say that all our award winners this year and the past two years have done a terrific job picking out gems from naval history and showing how they apply to our present and future. Critical thinking, innovation and the open forum of ideas are foundational to the success of the Navy and I congratulate each of our award winners today who represent all those who dare to read, think, and write.”
Awards in the category of Professional Historian were presented to first and third place winner, Cmdr. Joel Holwitt, Ph.D., and second-place winner, Dr. Salvatore R. Mercogliano, Ph.D.
Awards in the category of Rising Historian were presented to first place winner, Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Vandenengel; second place winner, Lt. Cmdr. Ryan P. Hilger; and third place winner, Lt. Philip D. Mayer, JAGC.
Daly also thanked General Dynamics, who made it possible through their sponsorship of the contest to have cash prizes, as well as the judging committee, which was comprised of senior staff from USNI, USNA, NWC, Naval Post Graduate School, NHHC, and OPNAV. The panel agreed that many of the submissions were of such high quality that they will be published in a variety of forms throughout the year and that the best of the best were chosen to be honored at the ceremony.
The winners received cash prizes, plaques, pens and copper from USS Constitution. The first-place winners from both categories will have their essays published in Naval History Magazine and all winners will be published on NHHC's website.
“Reading about history is what led me into the Navy,” said Vandenengel, who is the weapons officer on USS Alexandria (SSN 757). “I was surprised and thrilled when I found out I had won. This contest is important because it encourages Sailors to think about naval history and how it applies to our everyday lives. Who better for the admirals and decision-makers to get input from than those who are on the ships, submarines and in the field making history.”
The Naval History and Heritage Command, located at the Washington Navy Yard, is responsible for the preservation, analysis, and dissemination of U.S. naval history and heritage. It provides the knowledge foundation for the Navy by maintaining historically relevant resources and products that reflect the Navy's unique and enduring contributions through our nation's history and supports the fleet by assisting with and delivering professional research, analysis, and interpretive services. NHHC is composed of many activities including the Navy Department Library, the Navy Operational Archives, the Navy art and artifact collections, underwater archeology, Navy histories, nine museums, USS Constitution repair facility, and the historic ship Nautilus.
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