Welcome to Navy History Matters—our weekly compilation of articles, commentaries, and blogs related to history and heritage. Every week, we’ll gather the top-interest items from a variety of media and social media sources, and then link you to related content at NHHC’s website (history.navy.mil), your authoritative source for Navy history.
Compiled by Brent Hunt, Naval History and Heritage Command’s Communication and Outreach Division
Operation Enduring Freedom Began—20 Years Ago
In response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Operation Enduring Freedom began on Oct. 7, 2001. F-14 Tomcats and F/A-18C Hornets—launched from USS Enterprise and USS Carl Vinson—struck preplanned targets in and around Kabul, Herat, Shindand, Shibarghan, Mazar-i-Sharif, and the southern Taliban stronghold of Kandahar with laser-guided bombs, Joint Direct Attack Munitions, the AGM-84 Standoff Land Attack Missiles–Extended Range, and the AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon. Strike aircraft were supported by accompanying F-14 and F/A-18 fighter sweeps and by electronic jamming of Taliban radar and communications transmissions by EA-6B Prowlers. Strike missions from Enterprise and Carl Vinson covered distances to targets of 600 nautical miles or more, with an average sortie length of more than four and a half hours and a minimum of two inflight refuelings each way. USS McFaul, USS John Paul Jones, USS O’Brien, USS Philippine Sea, and USS Providence, as well as two British submarines, HMS Triumph and HMS Trafalgar, fired 50 Tomahawk missiles against fixed, high-priority targets in Afghanistan. President George W. Bush addressed the nation in a televised address, “On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al-Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. These carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime.”
USS Cole Memorial Dedicated—20 Years Ago
On Oct. 10, 2001, the Navy dedicated a memorial at Naval Station Norfolk, VA, to the 17 Sailors killed on Oct. 10, 2000, in a terrorist attack on guided-missile destroyer USS Cole in Aden, Yemen. The memorial honors those who were killed in the attack and the crew for their heroic actions to save the ship. Its design began as a vision of Cole crewmembers and, through contributions from across the country, was a gift from the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society to the U.S. Navy. It consists of three sections. The main plaza of the memorial contains three 10-foot monoliths that represent the three colors of the American flag. Encircling the monoliths are 17 low-level markers that represent the victims of the bombing. Three plaques are placed at the monument. The two outside pillars contain the names of the Sailors killed during the bombing and the center pillar contains the USS Cole emblem and an inscription that reads, “In lasting tribute to their Honor, Courage and Commitment.”
Preble Hall Podcast
In a recent naval history podcast from Preble Hall, NHHC’s Guy Nasuti talks about Rear Adm. Draper Kauffman and the underwater demolition teams that served during World War II. Kauffman, who served as the 44th superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, organized the first U.S. Navy combat demolition units from which the SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) would evolve. The Preble Hall podcast, conducted by personnel at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum in Annapolis, MD, interviews historians, practitioners, military personnel, and other experts on a variety of naval history topics from ancient history to more current events.
SEAL Team 1 Paid Tribute to its First Commanding Officer
Members of SEAL Team 1 gathered recently to commemorate and honor SEAL Team 1’s first commanding officer, Capt. David Del Giudice, during a ceremony at San Clemente Island, CA. He passed away in May at the age of 88. Del Giudice’s wife, sons, and former Naval Academy roommate joined the team. They visited SEAL training areas and exchanged memories of the legendary leader. “The Naval Special Warfare community lost a treasured teammate and one of SEAL Team 1’s consummate professionals with the passing of Dave Del Giudice,” said Rear Adm. H. W. Howard, commander of U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command, according to a Navy news release issued shortly after Del Giudice’s death. “He will be remembered as a quiet professional, one who shaped our history, upholding the tenants of our ethos and serving as an inspiration to those he led.” At the memorial service, members of SEAL Team 1 spread his ashes as they swam off the coast of San Clemente Island. In addition, they gave Capt. Del Giudice’s wife a folded U.S. flag, SEAL Trident warfare badge, and SEAL Team 1 command coin once they returned to shore. For more, read the article.
“Hold On to Something!”—A Moment That Shifted the Fate of USS Samuel B. Roberts’ Crew
On April 18, 1988, the frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts had already escorted several oil tankers out of the Persian Gulf during the war between Iraq and Iran, but by late afternoon the situation changed. Master Chief Gas Turbine Specialist Alex Perez had just come off watch and was sitting in the chief’s mess when he suddenly felt a rumbling and vibration coming from a propeller shaft. It was a good indication that the ship’s main engines were slowing down, and he could feel the ship coming to an abrupt stop. Capt. Paul Rinn, commander of Samuel B. Roberts, announced that the ship had just entered a minefield. He called general quarters—an order to man battle stations—and Perez, like everyone else, headed to their station. When he got to the main engine room, he secured the doors behind him and manned the auxiliary local operating panel. The crew received word that the captain was going to try to back the ship out of the minefield, and everyone should move to the upper spaces of the engine rooms. “Hold on to something!” Perez yelled, as the ship continued to back out of the minefield. He grasped the rail of the local console in front of him and braced for anything that might happen. After a minute or so, he felt and heard an eerie screeching sound of metal hitting metal coming from behind him near the bottom of the ship. Just across from his station, an Iranian mine then detonated, and lifted and shook the ship like a rag doll. The explosion created a 20-foot hole along the bottom of the hull under the Alpha main engine. Perez saw a ball of flame and felt a rush of hot air on his face and arms. For more on his experience, read the article. For more on the American response to the mine strike, visit the Operation Praying Mantis page at NHHC’s website.
On Oct. 8, 1955, the sixth USS Saratoga was launched. In 1972, she was reclassified as a multipurpose aircraft carrier and received the designation CV-60. On May 18, 1972, Saratoga arrived at “Yankee Station” and before year’s end was on station in the Tonkin Gulf for the first of seven times. During the period of Sept 2–19, 1972, Saratoga’s naval aviation assets flew more than 800 combat strike missions against targets in North Vietnam. On Oct. 30, 1972, the ship’s aircraft flew 83 close air support sorties in just six hours in support of a force of 250 South Vietnamese territorials beleaguered by the North Vietnamese. Saratoga received one battle star for service during the Vietnam War. In the early 1990s, Saratoga participated in Desert Shield/Desert Storm as well. During that deployment, her VA-35 A-6E crews used night vision goggles in battle for the first time in the squadron’s history during initial strikes against the Iraqis. In 1994, after nearly 40 years in service, Saratoga was decommissioned.
Curator of Ship Models Established
On Oct. 5, 1945, the position of curator of ship models was established by the Bureau of Ships, along with a “Models and Special Training Devices Section” headed by the curator. Cmdr. Joseph Appleton was the first curator. Since 1883, the U.S. Navy’s Bureau of Construction and Repair had a policy of constructing and retaining exhibition-type models for most new classes of warships. Rear Adm. David W. Taylor, known as the bureau’s founder, is credited with constructing the first experimental towing tank ever built in the United States. Since 1942, the program has operated out of the David Taylor Basin in West Bethesda, MD. NHHC and the curator of ship models cooperate closely, sharing the ship model collection with the fleet and the American public. The National Museum of the U.S. Navy displays the largest numbers of the curator’s models.
VCNO Directs End of Diving on Houston
On Oct. 5, 1973, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. James L. Holloway III directed the end of diving on the wreck USS Houston, which was lost with nearly 650 of her crew in 1942 during the Battle of Sunda Strait. Holloway directed an end to diving out of respect for the wreck’s status as a war grave. In 2014, after receiving reports of unauthorized disturbance, NHHC and other organizations collaborated with the Indonesian navy to assess the wreck’s state of preservation. Dives revealed evidence of illicit salvage. NHHC implemented strategies to actively preserve the site and raise awareness, ensuring the service and sacrifice of the “Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast” is not forgotten. For more, check out the USS Houston, Then and Now story map at NHHC’s website.
Webpage of the Week
In preparation for the 246th birthday of the U.S. Navy on Oct. 13, this week’s Webpage of the Week is the Navy Birthday toolkit. On this page, you will find information and commemoration resources to help prepare for this year’s celebration. Included on this page are Navy logos, digital resources, Navy history and imagery, and archived content. This year’s theme is “Resilient and Ready,” which speaks to the Navy’s history of being able to shake off disaster, such as the loss of a ship or a global pandemic, and still maintain force lethality and preparedness. It allows messaging to showcase readiness, capabilities, capacity, and, of course, the Sailor—all while celebrating our victories at sea and honoring our shipmates who stand and have stood the watch. The goal of this year’s celebration is to inspire esprit de corps among all naval personnel through the celebration of the Navy’s 246th birthday. Make your event special. Use the resources NHHC has to offer, and celebrate the world’s greatest Navy!
Today in Naval History
On Oct. 5, 1945, Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, a Fredericksburg, TX, native, was given a parade in his honor through downtown Washington, DC. After leading American forces in the Pacific to victory during World War II, Nimitz relieved Fleet Adm. Ernest J. King as Chief of Naval Operations. When Nimitz took over as CNO, he was faced with the perplexing problem of maintaining an effective fleet to carry out extensive operational commitments throughout the world. In the Pacific, naval vessels were engaged in Operation Magic Carpet, which brought home more than two million American service members. Nimitz, who was also a World War I veteran and a 1905 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, served as CNO for two years. He was extremely active in educational, cultural, and community affairs after he retired from the Navy. He died at his quarters at Yerba Buena Island, San Francisco, CA, on Feb. 20, 1966. Nimitz is buried in the Golden Gate National Cemetery.
For more dates in naval history, including your selected span of dates, see Year at a Glance at NHHC’s website. Be sure to check this page regularly, as content is updated frequently.
- Underwater Activities--Diving-Construction-Salvage
- Monuments & Memorials
- Theater of Operations--Pacific
- Global War on Terror
- Boats-Ships--Aircraft Carriers
- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Desert Storm
- World War II 1939-1945
- Vietnam Conflict 1962-1975
- Chief of Naval Operations (CNO)
- SEALs (Sea, Air, and Land Teams)
- Image (gif, jpg, tiff)