Saturday, November 21, 2015

[for Paris] Enlightening 'Mother of Exiles'

by Bill Doughty
(Navy photos courtesy and Naval History and Heritage Command)

The Statue of Liberty stands as a symbol of enlightenment. France bequeathed the sculpture to the United States in the late 1800s. Lady Liberty has inspired U.S. Sailors and Marines, veterans, and people "yearning to breathe free" for more than a century.

131108-N-XQ474-108 NEW YORK CITY (Nov. 8, 2013) A Sailor and Marine man the rails of the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) as it transits past the statue of liberty. New York departed Naval Station Norfolk to conduct training operations and participate in Veterans Week New York City to honor the service of our nation's veterans. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Andrew Schneider/Released)

According to the National Park Service, "In 1865, a French political intellectual and anti-slavery activist named Edouard de Laboulaye proposed that a statue representing liberty be built for the United States. This monument would honor the United States' centennial of independence and the friendship with France. French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi supported Laboulaye's idea and in 1870 began designing the statue of 'Liberty Enlightening the World.'"

The statue had to be shipped in pieces and reconstructed. It arrived aboard the French Navy ship, Isère. For more than a century U.S. Navy ships have paid tribute, sailing past in New York Harbor.

The Statue of Liberty is framed between the smokestacks of USS Boston in 1889, a protected cruiser and one of the first ships constructed from steel, part of the "modern Navy" of the late 1800s.

USS Leviathan sails with escorts past the Statue of Liberty in 1917. The former German passenger liner Vaterland was seized by the United States during World War I and renamed USS Leviathan in September 1917, serving as a troop transport to Europe, where troops fought with the people of France and England. According to the Naval Historical Center, "Leviathan (was) an appropriate name considering that she was then the largest ship in the U.S. Navy, and in the World. The Navy would not operate a bigger ship until 1945, when the slightly longer and heavier aircraft carrier Midway entered service."

Jerome Agel writes in "Words that Make America Great" (Random House, 1999), "America was the objective of the largest migration of people ever seen on the planet. This extraordinary flow shaped us as a nation. The newcomers came for different reasons ... But most of them considered America a haven, a refuge, a country of the second chance."

Agel reprints the sonnet "The New Colossus," written in 1886, noting that the last five lines of the poem are part of the 150-foot-high pedestal that supports the sculpture.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB-42) Passes the Statue of Liberty while en route to Bayonne New Jersey from the New York Navy Yard 16 November 1945.
SSN 696 emblem designed in 1977. USS New York City (SSN-696) was commissioned March 3, 1979 and served till April 30, 1997.
131213-N-KG934-298 NEW YORK (Dec. 13, 2013) The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, pilots fly in the world-renowned Delta Formation past the New York City skyline. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Terrence Siren/Released)
121001-G-TG089-038 NEW YORK - The guided-missile destroyer Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Michael Murphy (DDG 112) makes its way through New York Harbor in preparation for its commissioning Oct. 6, 2012. The new destroyer honors the late Lt. (SEAL) Michael P. Murphy, a New York native, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in combat as leader of a four-man reconnaissance team in Afghanistan. Murphy was the first person to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan, and the first member of the U.S. Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War. #murph (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Erik Swanson/Released)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

You & WWII: Bonejarring 'Wake of the Wahoo'

Review by Bill Doughty

Ever wonder what it would be like to step into the shoes of a World War II veteran back in the 1940s? 

Former Navy Yeoman Forest J. Sterling helps us smell the diesel, feel the pressure changes and taste the salty air when his submarine surfaces after a tense, bonejarring attack. "Wake of the Wahoo" takes the reader across the breadth of the Pacific for "The Heroic Story of America's Most Daring WWII Submarine, USS Wahoo" and shows the spirit of shipmates at war.

With a foreword by retired Vice Adm. Charles A. Lockwood, the people are real, the action is intense, and the life on the boat and on liberty rings true, whether the crew is playing cards, eating sardine sandwiches, dealing with bum torpedoes or dodging Layson Albatross ("Gooney") birds on Midway in between missions.

Captain Dudley "Mush" Morton is shown to be an innovative and tough but caring leader who placed the welfare of his crew above his own. Lt. Cmdr. Dick O'Kane, who would one day be awarded the Medal of Honor and go on to become a rear admiral, is depicted as an intense and dedicated warfighter.

Sailors experience the extreme and the mundane.

Sterling writes about heading out for deployment from Wahoo's homeport in Hawaii:
"Wahoo backed clear of the pier and turned. She shook as the screws reversed, stopped and then headed proudly out of Pearl Harbor Channel. On the pier, the spectators were straggling off to their routine jobs, and on the Wahoo, I stood watching with my stomach churning in excitement. There was a sudden silence about the ship, and I noticed everyone who was topside had done likewise. Krause was two-blocking the Colors, after having dipped the flag in a Wahoo salute. I found myself wishing that on this patrol Wahoo would in some small way help to atone for the sacrifice made by the men still entombed aboard the Arizona."
He describes fear and determination during a depth charge attack from above:
"Wahoo was searching frantically for the bottom, piling tons and tons of protective water over her back. 'Rig for depth charge, rig for depth charge.' I felt Wahoo's decks level off and at that instant Pandora's box opened and all hell broke loose. Three depth charges went off in succession, seemingly right on deck over the crew's messroom. We were plunged into complete darkness, and a loose piece of metal shooting through the void struck my left ear, causing it to sting sharply. Dishes stacked on the tables were lifted and thrown about. Loose knives and forks flew about at random, their screaming lost in the blasts of the depth charges. Patches of cork showered down, followed by a ventilationless room full of smoking dust."
More action topside as the deck gun and twenty millimeters fired on an armed enemy motor launch, with Sterling standing watch and observing:
"Whenever the deck gun went off, I flinched from the shock wave that followed. There would be a blinding flash of yellow, which I saw from the corners of my eyes against the binoculars, the shock jarring my whole body, followed by a cloud of acrid white with brownish tints and pale blue colors drifting into view on the starboard side of the ship. A sharp explosion of a shell going off near the twenty millimeters caused me to jump. I looked down and saw the barrel pointing in the air and Gerlacher staggering dazedly away from the gun. Glinski was sitting on deck and looked stupidly at his right foot. The shoe leather was brutally torn and I could see blood spurting from a wound onto the deck. I resolutely returned to scanning the ocean."
This is a personal account of submariners who, according to Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, played a critical role in achieving victory in the war. Nimitz, himself, stepped aboard Wahoo to present the crew with the Presidential Unit Citation signed by Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox after the sub's third war patrol.

Wahoo took on Japanese freighters, destroyers, troop transports, and other submarines, sinking 21 ships of 62,963 tonnage.

Sterling is a good writer because he was a good reader, describing how he and his shipmates would read magazines like Look, Reader's Digest and periodicals about the American West. They read newspapers and studied atlases when they weren't playing pinochle or eating, another favorite pastime. On the menu aboard the submarine: mincemeat pie, chili con carne, "Dagwood sandwiches," corned beef and cabbage, fried chicken and apple pie with a slice of cheese.

In the book's preface, Sterling says the story and life aboard the ship "can only be told by someone who was there." Just prior to the Wahoo's last fateful mission, Sterling was suddenly transferred to a school to help him become a better yeoman and make Chief. (He would rejoin the Pacific War and participate in landings at Saipan, Tinian, Guam and Leyte before rejoining the Silent Service.)

Wahoo ship's bell recovered and on display.
Sterling shares poignant memories of seeing Wahoo sail from Pearl Harbor one last time. He closes the book with a recommendation about O'Kane's book "Wahoo" and ends with this message to shipmates:

"Sorry, fellows. I should have been with you. I can never understand why Captain Morton changed his mind and transferred me at the last moment. My spirit has been with you all these years." Sterling died in 2002 and is interred at Biloxi National Cemetery.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert congratulates new CNO Adm. John Richardson Sept. 18, 2015. (USNI)
This book was a personal recommendation from Adm. Jon Greenert, who served from Sept. 2011 to Sept. 2015 as Chief of Naval Operations. Greenert, like current CNO Adm. John Richardson, is a submariner. While Greenert commanded the U.S. Seventh Fleet out of Japan, an international team discovered the remains of USS Wahoo in 2005 in the Soya Strait.

At different times Greenert and Richardson commanded USS Honolulu (SSN 718) in Pearl Harbor earlier in their careers – in the wake of the Wahoo.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Japan For Kennedy – 'PT 109'

Review by Bill Doughty

Naval officer Lt. John Fitzergald Kennedy became president of the United States in large part because of his heroism in the Solomon Islands – despite the "fouled up" battle plan in the Battle of Blackett Strait.

Lt. j.g. John F. Kennedy in 1942
That's the contention of author William Doyle in the new and updated account of Kennedy's service: "PT 109: An American Epic of War, Survival, and the Destiny of John F. Kennedy" (HarperCollins 2015).

Doyle also shows how the Kennedy family contributed to the strong friendship America built with Japan after the war and in the seven decades since.

The "creation myth" of JFK's heroism began when a Japanese destroyer, Amagiri, captained by Kohei Hanami, rammed the small torpedo boat, killing two men and sending others overboard as the boat exploded and sank.
"A hundred-foot-high fireball rose from the crash site, fed by thousands of gallons of fuel that spilled into the water from the crippled boat. Despite the night's poor visibility, the inferno was visible for mlles. The crash propelled seven of the thirteen men into the blazing ocean, most of them wearing life jackets and helmets ... They fell into a world of horror – a black, shark-infested ocean punctuated by pockets of flaming gasoline, lethal fumes, and muffled shouts and screams, with their boat nowhere to be seen. As they struggled in the water and gulped salt water and gasoline, they had every reason to believe they could very soon be drowned, consumed by fire, or eaten alive from beneath."
The sinking of PT 109 was a symptom of the failure of the Battle of Blackett Strait, caused by bad Mark VIII torpedoes, poor communications, weak leadership and a lack of command and control. In a conversation with author John Hersey, Kennedy would later compare it to the Bay of Pigs fiasco in Cuba.

Rescuer Eroni Kumana, who died in 2014
In the wake of the sinking of PT 109 Kennedy showed his mettle, swimming three-and-a-half miles leading his men "over open water, behind enemy lines in broad daylight, fully exposed for four hours to any Japanese lookouts or pilots who happened to look his way."
"All the while, he bit on to a strap and towed a badly burned sailor along with him. Simultaneously he was charged with leading nine other men, including several injured and several non-swimmers, toward safety. It was a performance Kennedy would rarely talk about publicly, but it was an astonishing feat that his crewmen never forgot. On this day, his leadership and example delivered them the hope, however slim, that salvation may be on the the horizon."
Kennedy's subsequent leadership ensured the sailors' survival and rescue, with help from local islanders Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana. The story was compared to Joseph Campbell's "hero's journey" mythology.

After the war, the Kennedy family's ties to Japan strengthened, despite some challenges.

Doyle recounts JFK's visit in 1950, marked by his near-death illness, and brother Robert Kennedy's visit in 1962 as Attorney General, tarnished by demonstrations against America's policies in Cuba and Vietnam.

In 1957 JFK was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for "Profiles in Courage." That same year daughter Caroline was born. Today Caroline Kennedy is U.S. Ambassador to Japan. Doyle shows how on March 5, 2015 Ambassador Kennedy met the widow of Kohei Hanami, the man who captained Amagiri and sank PT 09.

JFK had planned to meet Kohei Hanami on a trip to Japan in 1964, a trip that didn't happen due to Kennedy's assassination.

Packed with great photos and new information, "PT 109" is an enjoyable and informative read, profiling John F. Kennedy's "stubborn, indomitable courage" and showing how the Navy contributed to his character and core values.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Happy Birthday Navy: "Sea of Glory"

Review by Bill Doughty

Charles Wilkes captained Exploration Expedition 
Some historians say the United States Navy was "born again" during the War of 1812, which ended two hundred years ago this year, a war which brought great heroes such as David Porter, Stephen Decatur, William Bainbridge, Isaac Hull, Oliver Hazard Perry and Charles Stewart.

A young man who came of age at the end of the War of 1812, Charles Wilkes, was inspired by British naval hero James Cook and by the U.S. Navy heroes of 1812-1815 (especially Porter and Decatur) to join the Navy. Aboard his flagship, sloop-of-war Vincennes, Wilkes would lead the "Ex.Ex.," the nation's historic Exploring Expedition to Antarctica and around the globe.

But there was something wrong with Wilkes.

Nathaniel Philbrick, a favorite author of Navy Reads, examines Wilkes's psyche while presenting an epic telling of the adventure by six ships carrying sailors, scientists and surveyors. Philbrick's "Sea of Glory" (Viking Penguin Books, 2003) is another work of art about the sea.

As the Navy prepares to celebrate its birthday this week, "Sea of Glory" is a good way to reflect on the mind-boggling significance of Ex. Ex. to history and science. Wilkes and his team of explorers discovered Antarctica; explored of volcanoes in Hawaii; and surveyed Fiji, Pearl Harbor, the Columbia River, and swaths of the Pacific. They brought back unprecedented numbers of plant, animal and mineral species.
"By any measure, the achievements of the Expedition would be extraordinary. After four years at sea, after losing two ships and twenty-eight officers and men, the Expedition logged 87,000 miles, surveyed 280 Pacific islands, and created 180 charts – some of which were still used as late as World War II. The Expedition also mapped 800 miles of coastline in the Pacific Northwest and 1,500 miles of the icebound Antarctic coast. Just as important would be its contribution to the rise of science in America. The thousands of specimens and artifacts amassed by the Expedition's scientists would become the foundation of the collections of the Smithsonian Institution. Indeed, without the Ex. Ex.,  there might never have been a national museum in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Botanic Garden, the U.S. Hydrographic Office, and the Naval Observatory all owe their existence, in varying degrees to the Expedition."
Vincennes in Disappointment Bay, Antarctica
"Sea of Glory" is captivating for its description of hazardous life at sea, interactions with native populations, and the sunset of the age of discovery. It also shows how far America has evolved from the days of wooden ships, whaling and the trade of otter and seal skins, sandalwood and sea slugs. Yes, sea slugs.

The Wilkes expedition would influence Charles Darwin, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, and other writers and thinkers and spawn Civil War leaders, including the great William Reynolds (Wilkes's opposite and ultimate antagonist), who would claim the Midway Atoll/Islands for the United States, instrumental to the new steam-powered Navy. Surveys of the Pacific by Ex. Ex. would be used by the U.S. Navy in planning the invasion of Tarawa in WWII.

But what was wrong with Wilkes?

"Sea of Glory" is filled strange happenstances of history, strange characters and warped personalities, none more warped than Wilkes himself, described as "arrogant," "insecure," "egotistical," "vain," "impulsive," "cruel," "duplicitous" and "manipulative" – stretched beyond his capabilities."

"The less control he felt, the more he became fixated on the issue of rank," Philbrick writes. Wilkes, in fact, was literally a self-promoter who thought he deserved the rank of Captain rather than Lieutenant, so he put on the epaulets and uniform of the senior rank during the expedition, an "audacious, even outrageous act, without precedent in the U.S. Navy."

Philbrick and RADM Richard Gurnon, USMS (ret.), former president of Mass. Maritime Academy.
It's no wonder Wilkes fell out of favor with a host of senior officers and Secretaries of the Navy, including SECNAV Gideon Welles.

As a leader, Wilkes believed in blind obedience, harsh discipline and public humiliation of subordinates. When envious or angry he turned to excessive and extreme violence. After the expedition, the Navy court-martialed Wilkes for excessive flogging of Sailors and Marines, among other charges, but he ultimately redeemed himself in the Civil War. He later devoted his life to his legacy while others dedicated themselves to the significant scientific discoveries of his expedition.

Philbrick notes that "science in America was forever changed by the Ex. Ex." However, because of a shift in focus from the Pacific to the American West, among other reasons, the Exploration Expedition has been obscured despite its influence.
"[Wilkes] had once dared to assume that if he should successfully complete his mission, a grateful nation would shower him with praise and recognition. He had fashioned out of disaster one of the largest, most sophisticated scientific and surveying enterprises the world had ever seen. He had found a new continent, charted hundreds of Pacific islands, collected tons of artifacts and specimens, and explored the Pacific Northwest and the Sulu Sea. And he had now returned to find that nobody in New York, Washington, or, it seemed, the entire nation apparently cared."
While attention in coming weeks will understandably be focused on Philbrick's terrific "In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex," readers interested in naval history are wise to include "Sea of Glory" or "The Last Stand" for Philbrick's good studies about leadership, life-and-death challenges and the depths of human nature.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

World War III – & Questions Raised

Review by Bill Doughty

Is war with China possible? If it were to occur, how would it likely be fought and where?

These questions are posed in a work of fiction by P.W. Singer and August Cole, working in the big shadow left by Tom Clancy but with some cyber-subversiveness inspired by William Gibson ("Neuromancer").

"Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War" (an Eamon Dolan Book, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) says the war would be fought largely by the U.S. Navy, centered in Hawaii. 

Understandably, the book opens with a disclaimer: "The following was inspired by real-world trends and technologies. But ultimately, it is a work of fiction, not prediction."

But as unbelievable the action and scenarios seem, the technology is real, according to the authors: rail guns, lasers, cyber, drones, and a "metal storm" swarm of weapons.

Singer and Cole paint in bright colors on a wide canvas.
QM3 N. Wylie launches PUMA II UAV aboard USS Gonzalez
(DDG 66) Sept. 3, 2015. (Photo by MC2 D. C. Ortega)
"Captain Jamie Simmons stood in the lee of the helicopter bay and scanned the blue sky. Even with the chill that grew as they moved farther north, the rhythmic rise and fall of the following Pacific swell made the moment wholly pleasant. It was the kind of beauty that unexpectedly wormed its way into the experience of war."
Their book opens "243 miles above the earth's surface" then plunges 2 miles below sea level in Mariana Trench before ultimately centering on Hawaii.

There are some weird moments: Alice Cooper pirates, psychosexual spies, "Battle of Kamehameha Highway," air war over Kaneohe, boarding party in space, and Walmart warfighters. But most of the book is straight ahead techno-thriller – with riveting descriptions of surface naval warfare aboard USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), the physics of air battles, the cool effectiveness of Navy SEALs and what the future might be for unmanned vehicles in combat.

Richly developed characters act out strong themes of honor, courage and commitment, with a complicated father-son relationship and an accurate description of the sacrifices of military families. Throughout – the influence of Mahan and especially Sun Tzu.

This Sun Tzu quote opens Part 1: "You can fight a war for a long time or you can make your nation strong. You cannot do both."

Lieutenants Ken Taylor and George Welch, U.S. Army Air Corps, 1941. 
History is remembered, especially in the primary setting for this novel, Hawaii. The authors describe the heroics of two young U.S. Army Air Corps pilots at Wheeler airfield during the attack on Oahu of December 7, 1941:
"Ignoring the usual pre-takeoff checklists, each pilot climbed into a P-40 Warhawk fighter plane and took off down the airstrip. Only once they were in the air did they figure out they were about to take on over three hundred enemy aircraft. Undeterred, Welch and Taylor plowed straight into the second wave of of the Japanese attack. They didn't stop the attack, but they did manage to shoot down six planes before they ran out of ammunition. More important, the two pilots put up enough of a fight that Japanese planners assumed there were far more defenders in the air. They decided against sending in a final, third attack wave designed to pummel Pearl Harbor's fuel storage, maintenance, and dry-dock repair yards, an attack that would have set back the American war effort at least another year."
Static display of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), Sept. 9, 2015. (Photo by MCC James E. Foehl)
No question that Adm. (Ret.) James Stavridis enjoyed this book. The endorsement by the former supreme allied commander of NATO, now dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, reads, in part: "...Singer and Cole lay out a plausible, frightening, and pitch-perfect vision of what such a war could look like. This page-turning marvel is the best source of high-tech geopolitical visioneering since Tom Clancy's 'Red Storm Rising' and Sir John Hackett's 'The Third World War.' A startling blueprint for the wars of the future that needs to be read now."

The ultimate questions generated by "Ghost Fleet" are these: Can our idealism, morality and ethics catch up with advances in technology? Can we evolve beyond our natural tendencies to act out of greed, violence and mistrust? Can we remain vigilant and ready?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Nature of War, War on Nature – 'Talking Peace'

Review by Bill Doughty

"As a submarine officer in the U.S. Navy ..."

That's how former Commander in Chief and President Jimmy Carter begins his 1993 book for young people, "Talking Peace: A Vision for the Next Generation."

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1977.
The book, published eight years before 9/11, is surprisingly still relevant and timely – beginning with the first chapter, "Peace in the Middle East." Carter describes how peace was achieved between former mortal enemies Egypt and Israel via his Camp David process.

Carter acknowledges the dangers presented by displaced Kurds and Shiites. His text is accompanied by a maps of the region and a map of the world highlighting free countries and regions without conflict. He concludes:  "In the Middle East, many issues remain resolved. What happens to the people of his troubled region will have a direct effect on our own lives ... as with disturbances in other regions, our nation could once again be dragged into armed combat." Those words were written in the 1993 first edition.

Carter explains the causes of war in simple language meant for young readers:
"The reasons for going to war are many and varied. Battles may occur because a piece of land that has long been related to one group is taken over or controlled by another. Nations struggle over natural resources, including access to seas and oceans. Historically, ideas also have led to war. When one group has no tolerance for the religious opinions, race, or ethnicity of its neighbors, violent conflict can erupt. A change in the politics of a government that harms the average citizen's quality of life may inspire war. An oppressive regime's abuse of the people may eventually incite protest or outright rebellion."
A "notable graduate" of the U.S. Naval Academy. Courtesy of USNA.
Quoting Thomas Paine, he explains when and why war is necessary: "It is the object only of a war that makes it honorable," Paine wrote. Carter concludes, "Few Americans today would criticize the military actions our forefathers took to liberate America from British rule and to support democratic ideals for all people."

"Protecting the Environment" is the title of another chapter that includes short essays on "global warming," "loss of biodiversity" and "overpopulation":
"Another way in which humans have fundamentally altered the balance of nature is by reproducing. The number of people in the world is growing at an explosive rate, even as the numbers of many other species dramatically decline ... Our resources – food, water, shelter, and gainful employment – are already taxed and will not be able to keep pace with this phenomenal growth."
Pope Francis addresses the United States Congress Sept. 24, 2015.
Carter's passion about the environment was echoed last week by Pope Francis in his historic address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress. Francis said: "I call for a courageous and responsible effort to redirect our steps and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity... Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a culture of care and an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature."

Pope John Paul II is hosted by then-President Carter Oct. 6, 1979.
That "culture of care" is at the heart of Carter's lifetime of work. Carter hosted Pope John Paul II for a visit to the White House Oct. 6 1979. The White House issued a statement that day about their private meeting in the Oval Office: "The Pope and the President agreed that efforts to advance human rights constitute the compelling idea of our times."

"Talking Peace" is a book filled with the former naval officer's views on world peace, democracy, health care and human rights, showing how all are interrelated.

As in his other writings, Carter credits his mother for his views about human rights and equality for all. Later, he was further inspired during his service in the Navy, he says.

"...As a submarine officer I was influenced by the policies of President Harry Truman, who sought to abolish racial discrimination in the United States armed forces," Carter writes. He expands his views about equality, including income equality, and efforts at conflict mediation in more recent books such as "A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power," 2014; and "A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety," 2015.

This book was published by Dutton Children's Books, a division of Penguin Books, with profits donated to the Carter Center. It has been updated since the first edition from 1993. President Carter is a recipient of the Gold Medal of the International Institute of Human Rights, the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize and the Liberty Medal, among other honors.

Nine years after this book was published Jimmy Carter received the Nobel Prize for Peace.

In his 2002 Nobel acceptance speech, Carter said, "I am not here as a public official, but as a citizen of a troubled world who finds hope in a growing consensus that the generally accepted goals of society are peace, freedom, human rights, environmental quality, the alleviation of suffering, and the rule of law."

Carter said he remained hopeful despite the rise of fundamentalism, extremism and terrorism. "The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices."

Kings Bay, Ga. (Aug. 11, 2005) - Former President Jimmy Carter speaks with former Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Vice Adm. Charles Munns, as they ride out to sea on the bridge aboard the Sea Wolf-class attack submarine USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23). U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Mark Jones (RELEASED)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Civil War, "The Race Problem" and "Black Lives Matter"

by Bill Doughty

PBS will air a restored "The Civil War" series in ultra HD this week, 25 years after it first aired.

Those who tune in will hear haunting music and see the sacrifice, sadness and devastation caused by a war about freedom: The Union fought for human rights, national unity and the freedom of all people regardless of race and gender; the Confederacy fought for the freedom to enslave others. "States' rights" meant the right to treat people as less than human.

Over the past quarter century, America's renowned historian-documentarian Ken Burns took some flak from other historians for his stately portrayal of both sides in the conflict without, in their opinion, delving deeply enough into the racial disharmony before, during and after the war. 

On Face the Nation several weeks ago, Burns made it clear about the "centrality" of the cause – slavery as the "coiled serpent," in which the the Ku Klux Klan was a "homegrown terrorist organization," portrayed as noble and heroic in popular culture for decades (even in the movie "Gone With The Wind").

A slave family moving to Federal lands. (Library of Congress)
“It’s no wonder that Americans have permitted themselves to be sold a bill of goods about what happened," Burns said, but "the reason why we murdered each other ... was over essentially the issue of slavery.”

As the documentary re-airs this week, readers may be tempted to reach for the monumental works of Shelby Foote, James McPherson or Eric Foner. Each historian describes the land and naval battles, strategies and technologies that led to victory for the Union.

Foner, most of all, provides the context for why the war was fought and the results of slavery's racial divide.

Frederick Douglass as a young man.
But Frederick Douglass provides not only context but also a first-person account as a former slave. Twenty-five years after the war Douglass spoke about the aftermath in a speech to the Bethel Literary and Historical Association. Douglass addressed the terms of the day for the racial divide – "The Negro Problem" and "The Race Problem" – precursors for what's expressed by some today as "Black Lives Matter."*

In his remarks of 1890, Douglass lays out the case for understanding, respecting and speaking truth about the legacy of slavery:
"Truth is the fundamental, indispensable, and everlasting requirement in obtaining right results. No department of human life can afford to dispense with truth. The carpenter cannot join his timbers without having the parts of contacts perfectly true to each other. The mason cannot build a wall that will stand the test of time and gravitation without applying the plumb and making the wall vertical and true. No train or cars [are] safe on the road where the relations of the rails are not true. No shot is certain of its aim where the gun-barrel is not true. As in mechanics, so in politics, morals, manners, metaphysics, and philosophies, nothing can stand the test of time and experience that does not stand on the unassailable, indestructible, unchangeable, foundation of true. Considering how important this truth is, it seems strange that falsehood should hold such sway in the world. One main advantage by which error is able to darken, blight, and dominate the minds of men is the skill of its votaries in using language deceitfully, in pandering to prejudice by misstating and misapplying terms to the existing relations of men."
Douglass examines the reality of the republic as Emancipation unfolded and blacks were left out of the new "harmony" between North and South.
"Now that the Union is no longer in danger, now that the North and South are no longer enemies: now that they have ceased to scatter, tear, and slay each other, but sit together in halls of Congress, commerce, religion, and in brotherly love, it seems that the negro is to lose by their sectional harmony and good will all the rights and privileges that he gained by their former bitter enmity."
Douglass then reveals the real "problem" – not a race problem, but:
"The true problem is not the negro, but the nation. Not the law-abiding blacks of the South, but the white men of that section, who by fraud, violence, and persecution, are breaking the law, trampling on the Constitution, corrupting the ballot-box, and defeating the ends of justice. The true problem is whether these white ruffians shall be allowed by a nation to go on in their lawless and nefarious career, dishonoring the Government and making its very name a mockery. It is whether this nation has in itself sufficient moral stamina to maintain its own honor and integrity by vindicating its own Constitution and fulfilling its own pledges, or whether it has already touched the dry rot of moral depravity by which nations decline and fall, and governments fade and vanish. The United States Government made the negro a citizen, will it protect him as a citizen? This is the problem. It made him a soldier, will it honor him as a patriot? This is the problem. It made him a voter, will it defend his right to vote? This is the problem. This, I say, is more a problem for the nation than for the negro, and this is the side of the question far more than the other which should be kept in view by the American people."
Douglass's moral logic would resonate into the next two centuries. His words bridge the Civil War through the Civil Rights movement and into the civic discourse today in communities riven by racism. The sampling of quotes above, is just a taste of what readers can find in his collected works. In today's distracted Twitter and Instagram society, books can still offer deep and thoughtful perspective, cured over time. 

So can documentaries like "The Civil War."

"We live in a world in which we are being buried in an avalanche of information that comes from this mere constant present moment. And if you live in the present, in a disposable present, nothing else matters. We are desperate, though, for meaning. We're desperate for curation," Burns said.
A black regiment, circa 1861-65. Officers and civilian volunteers taught reading and writing. Some of the soldiers hold primers. (Library of Congress) 

* Regarding the term "Black Lives Matter," post Ferguson and Charleston, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in a recent Time essay offers a carefully considered way of thinking about the term, echoing some of the same sentiments as Frederick Douglass. Abdul-Jabbar writes: "Most Americans are already in agreement that all life matters – it's just that blacks want to make sure they are included in that category of "all," which so many studies prove is not the case. In the future think of "Black Lives Matter" as a simplified version of "We Would Like to Create a Country in Which Black Lives Matter as Much as White Lives in Terms of Physical Safety, Education, Job Opportunities, Criminal Prosecution and Political Power." 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Poisonous Legacy of China Mirage

Review by Bill Doughty

The first shocker revealed in James Bradley's "The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia" (2015; Little, Brown and Company) is how much the Delano/Roosevelt family fortune was based on opium smuggling in China in the 1800s.

Other revelations: President Theodore Roosevelt's strong ties with Japan and support for Imperial Japan's incursions in Korea; FDR's simultaneous support for the China Lobby and Japan (before Dec. 7, 1941); and the Nationalist Chinese connection threading through World War II, Korea War and Vietnam War.

Bradley, author of "Flags of Our Fathers," shows how earlier administrations were led to believe – and became convinced – that millions of Chinese wanted to be "Americanized." That mirage led to misunderstanding, misinterpretation and war, he contends, and made America (with strong influence by Time magnate Henry Luce) to choose between Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong.
"American misunderstanding of China caused the nation to support Southern Methodist Chiang, bring on a world war that didn't have to be, oppose the bandit Mao, and go on to fight two bloody Asian wars. About one hundred thousand Americans died in World War II in the Pacific. About fifty-six thousand Americans died in Korea, and another fifty-eight thousand in Vietnam. The total cost of America's wars in Asia is staggering. Millions of lives terminated, trillions of dollars devoted to rifles, airplanes, and napalm, rather than to roads, schools, and hospitals. America's fabric was stretched and then torn by the latter two Asian wars, which challenged its citizens' belief that their country was a beacon of freedom."
Commodore Matthew C. Perry
The passion runs deep in the pages of this book. Bradley's father, John Bradley, was one of the six men in the iconic photograph showing the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima in World War II. His brother was nearly killed in Vietnam.

This book is bound to be upsetting to people who see the world in black-and-white, but it's a must-read for those who want to understand the nuances of diplomacy, human nature and lessons of history. And it's helpful to see how other nations see us.

Japanese artist depiction of Perry.
Bradley reminds readers how Commodore Matthew C. Perry, father of the steam-powered United States Navy, opened Japan and helped the feudal Japanese government begin industrialization. Bradley describes how American missionaries traveled to China and attempted to convert so-called "heathen" Asian nonbelievers.

Sen. Joseph McCarthy
There are few heroes in this book. Among those depicted in a positive light are John Service and John Davies, persecuted by the FBI for speaking truth to power but later vindicated. The outright "villains" include Joseph McCarthy, Luce, Chiang, members of the Soong family and Dean Acheson, among others.

Acheson, in particular, is revealed as having a role in bringing about three wars. While FDR secretly tried to keep Japan's moderates in power by supplying Nippon with oil, Acheson found a way to impose a total oil embargo, thinking it would make Imperial Japan bow to the United States, according to Bradley. 

But: "Instead of empowering moderates in Tokyo, Washington's demands resulted in the fall of the moderate government and the military taking full control. The chief of the mad dogs, General Hideki Tojo, now became Prime Minister."

President Truman and Acheson, an architect of war in Korea.
Acheson next lobbied for war in Korea, which would eventually pit Douglas MacArthur against Mao and set McCarthy against Truman, leading to an inevitable one-term presidency of Harry Truman and cries by McCarthy and others of "Who lost China, Who Lost Korea?" Acheson's machinations for war in Vietnam would lead to another one-term presidency, that of Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Bradley quotes David Halberstam, author of "The Coldest Winter": "Acheson urged Truman not only to go to war in Korea with no congressional consultation, but also to send covert military aid to the French in Indochina for their war against Ho Chi Minh."

Another revelation: How much Harvard University was a hub into – and eventually away from – the China Influence. Connected to Harvard: Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Baron Kaneko (friend of T.R.), T.V. Soong (friend of FDR), Thomas Corcoran (ran FDR's covert operation), McGeorge Bundy (stepson of Dean Acheson and advocate for expanded war in Vietnam under LBJ), Henry Kissinger (eventually led efforts toward normalized relations with China), and Daniel Ellsberg (who "revealed his evidence of executive war crimes and his belief that in a democracy the public had a right to know.")

Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon each warned about the spread of Communism causing a "domino effect" in the region, something that did not happen.

Opium is not the only poison contributing to the mirage of the true believers. The China Lobby was tied to Southern Tobacco, and the War in the Pacific was brought on by an embargo of crude oil. Thoroughly researched and annotated, this book contributes to a sober understanding of how blind faith and hubris can lead to war and more war.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Ten Sterling Insights in Life of Pearl Harbor Survivor

Review by Bill Doughty

Another Pacific Historic Parks (2014) booklet focuses on "A True American: The Story of a Pearl Harbor Survivor, World War II, Korean and Vietnam War Veteran." Here are ten insights in a remarkable life of a member of the "Greatest Generation" narrated by Sterling R. Cale to his son Sterling V. Cale.

1.  Medical: Cale served as a Pharmacist's Mate, forerunner to Navy Hospital Corpsman. Early in his career he passed out during a circumcision when the patient, supposedly anesthetized, started screaming. He thought of himself first as a farm boy from Illinois, but he had dreams of one day becoming a surgeon, dreams that were cut short later in life when he injured his thumb.

2.  Dec. 7, 1941: Cale worked the night shift at the Pearl Harbor naval dispensary, a shift that ended in the morning of Dec. 7. He walked outside to witness Japanese planes attacking Battleship Row. He broke into the armory and helped hand out Springfield rifles to fellow Sailors.

Cale salutes during a wreath presentation in 2010.
3.  Rescue: During the attack, Cale rushed toward USS Oklahoma and helped with the rescue of Sailors from the waters of Pearl Harbor. "Some of them were already dead, some burned, some wounded and some were just tired," he remembers.

4.  Recovery: After the attack, he was assigned – along with 10 other men – to "ride out to the USS Arizona and start recovering bodies." Cale climbed into a heavy suit and diver's helmet, something out of Jules Verne's "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea." His description of what he finds beneath the surface is disturbing and haunting.

5.  Risk: Cale took risks. He was written up for breaking into the armory (even though Pearl Harbor was under attack). And he was court-martialed (but cleared) for keeping a war diary. " I meticulously recorded the precise location of every item and body part" to help with identification. He eventually earned commendation instead of condemnation; luckily, common sense would trump military bureaucracy.

6.  Action: During World War II he served with the 1st Marine Division at Guadalcanal, then saw action at Saipan, Tinian, Bougainville and Espiritu Sato, later serving aboard USS Panang (AG 41), named for "the U.S. gunboat that had been sunk [by Imperial Japan's military] in Chinese waters."

7.  Love: Sterling Cale met beautiful Victoria Vienna Ventula in Honolulu in 1941. They courted, married and started a family. "We managed to live with two children on my $21 monthly military salary," he said. Cale shares poignant family photos in the booklet.

Marines in Korea.
8.  Korea: Cale left the Navy for the Army "with no break in military service" and headed to Korea with the 5th Regimental Combat Team serving with the 24th (later 25th) Infantry Division as a field medic. "The North Koreans booby trapped everything: cans, bodies, vehicles and foxholes ... I remember sleeping with a grenade in each hand because North Korean soldiers would come in to the sleeping areas to slit throats." It's no wonder that Cale was affected.  "Later in life, my family could not touch me when I was asleep or I would jump up, prepared to kill them." He faced and overcame "post traumatic stress disorder."

9.  Vietnam: Like the war itself, Cale's involvement in Vietnam was complicated. It started in 1955 and continued through the 60s, with assignments that included military advisor, intelligence, logistics, medic and hospital administrator. Cale briefly discusses his work in Da Nang and support missions to the Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

With Naval Academy Women's Glee Club aboard USS Arizona Memorial, 2012.
10. Legacy: "A True American concludes with an epilogue from Sterling Cale that shows his acceptance of the realities of life. "Pearl Harbor haunted me, but I did my best to put the past behind me, focus on the present and be positive about everything. Today, Sterling Cale volunteers at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center where he can talk about his role in the Pacific War and other wars in the Pacific.

This booklet offers other interesting tidbits about Sterling Cale's life: as an orphan, working with the Tom Mix circus, book binding and repair at the public library, musician (trumpet and drums), Eagle Scout, Navy "frogman" training, partying with "gold hair" tobacco heiress Doris Duke Cromwell aboard her yacht, and serving as NCOIC of the honor guard and burial detail at Punchbowl National Cemetery of the Pacific.

Thanks, once again, to YNCM (ret.) Jim Taylor, Pearl Harbor Survivors Liaison and honorary USS Utah Survivor, for recommending this read. See a related Navy Reads post about another PHVC volunteer, Uncle Herb Weatherwax: "From Street Gang to WWII Veteran."

Sunday, August 9, 2015

WWII Companion: How Peace Was Achieved 70 Years Ago

Review by Bill Doughty

Starting in the aftermath of the First World War, when the world lived in "interesting times" – economically, politically and socially – David M. Kennedy shows how the fumes of discontent and aggression exploded into war. 

How and why the Allies won in Europe and the Pacific in 1945 is explained in Kennedy's encyclopedic "The Library of Congress World War II Companion" (Simon & Schuster, 2007).

Kennedy provides fascinating context alongside hard facts and historical photos in this 982-page book that shifts chronologically from East to West and back with timelines, lists, and profiles of people, places, battles and concepts.

Interesting "Times" July 26, 1940 reporting FDR's embargo on oil to Japan.
Timeline entries show how the war began, with tensions growing in 1940 after President Franklin D. Roosevelt embargoed oil and other materials to Japan in January  "in retaliation for Japan's continuing aggression in China." Volatility increased into the summer:
"July 26: Attempting to restrain Japanese expansionist policies, the United States embargoes shipments of high-octane aviation fuel and premium scrap iron and steel."
Kennedy shows the perspective from all sides, including Japan's. In a separate textbook "The American Pageant" written with Thomas A. Bailey, Kennedy and Bailey refer to the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into the war as "Japan's hara-kiri gamble in Hawaii."

Among the topics in "Companion": mobilization, operations, tactics, instruments of war, and how war affected the homefront. Kennedy compares Allied teamwork, cooperation and coordination with the Axis powers' backstabbing, subterfuge and war crimes.

Japanese officers turn in their swords to the Allies in 1945.
This week marks the 70th anniversary of the end of war in the Pacific, when "Tenno Heika" Emperor Hirohito announced Japan would surrender, signifying the end of theocratic divine rule, male dominance over society, and military control of the government.

As to how the United States led efforts in the the Pacific to bring freedom, equality and democracy to Japan, Kennedy lists the "Keys to Victory: Why the Allies Won." He has lists for both the European War and Asian-Pacific War. In the case of Asia-Pacific:

  • Allied Industrial Production. The United States quickly overcame the damage done to the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, while Japan had neither the population nor the resources to match Allied industrial output. The intense rivalry between Japan's army and naval branches greatly limited the country's production capabilities
  • Intelligence. Allied intelligence gathering, code breaking, and analysis was far superior; after the war, Japan's chief of army intelligence, Lieutenant General Seizo Arisue admitted, "We couldn't break your codes at all." The Japanese in fact broke some, but to little effect.
"VJ celebration at sea" – photo from Louis Forrisi collection, NHHC.
  • Battle of Midway. After the war, all Japanese naval officers questioned by U.S. interrogators cited the defeat at Midway as "the beginning of total failure." Japan could not make up for the tremendous loss of aircraft, warships, or experienced pilots. In 1943-1944, Japan produced seven aircraft carriers; in that same period, the United States produced ninety.
  • Island Hopping Strategy. By skipping over many fortified Japanese-held islands, the Allies isolated and kept large Japanese forces out of the fight (as at Truk and Rabaul); the strategy also kept the Japanese guessing as to where the Allies would strike next.
  • Combined Operations and Amphibious Landings. The Allies mastered these techniques to successfully capture the islands necessary for an eventual attack on Japan.
  • Destruction of the Imperial Navy. At the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944, U.S. forces destroyed nearly all that remained of the Japanese navy, which was "tantamount to the [subsequent] loss of the Philippines," the Japanese naval minister said after the war. "When you took the Philippines, that was the end of our resources."
Surrender aboard USS Missouri Sept 2, 1945 aboard USS Missouri (BB 63)
  • Conventional and Atomic Bombing of Japan. Bombing from spring 1945 to August destroyed more than 2 million buildings and demolished about 40 percent of the country's urban areas. The destruction and Allied blockades put Japan on the verge of starvation.

One could argue that other key reasons deserve special recognition: the impact of submarines and inspirational naval leadership, such as that provided by Fleet Adm. Nimitz, for example. 

Balanced with the joy of victory and end of suffering, Kennedy also shows the tragic aftermath of war. He writes of a U.S. Marine, Eugene Sledge, who was on Okinawa August 14, 1945 and who remembers poignantly the Marines' reaction:
"We received the news with quiet disbelief coupled with an indescribable sense of relief. We thought the Japanese would never surrender. Many refused to believe it. Sitting in stunned silence, we remembered our dead. So many dead. So many maimed. So many bright futures consigned to the ashes of the past. So many dreams lost in the madness that had engulfed us. Except for a few widely scattered shouts of joy, the survivors of the abyss sat hollow-eyed and silent, trying to comprehend a world without war."
Today, Japan and the United States share the same values of an open and free society based on democratic principles. A commemoration in Pearl Harbor this week presented by sister cities Nagaoka and Honolulu and hosted by the U.S. Navy celebrates "70 Years of Peace."

Last week, Japan Self-Defense Force soldiers and sailors paid their respects aboard USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor.

50804-N-IU636-024 PEARL HARBOR (August 04, 2015) Japanese soldiers assigned to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and sailors assigned to Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH 181), destroyer JS Ashigara (DDG 178) and amphibious tank landing ship JS Kunisaki (LST 4003) render honors during a wreath-laying ceremony at the USS Arizona Memorial during a scheduled port visit at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The ceremony was meant to pay respect to those who lost their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. The JDMSF ships are scheduled to participate in the multilateral exercise Dawn Blitz 2015 in San Diego. Dawn Blitz is a scenario-driven exercise led by U.S. Third Fleet and I Marine Expeditionary Force that will test participants in the planning and execution of amphibious operations through a series of live training event. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Johans Chavarro/Released)