Sunday, July 29, 2012

Worth a Read: Antrim, Forrestal, Olympics

By Bill Doughty

Some quick-takes this week on Navy Reads:
Rear Adm. Richard Antrim in 1942
Suggested by U.S. Naval Institute Press: an essay by Michael Mink of Investor’s Business Daily, on Navy Reads by permission of the author.  Read about the courageous life of a Medal of Honor recipient, Prisoner of War, warrior leader and admiral:
“Richard Antrim always put the welfare of his men above his own.
“That commitment in World War II earned him the Medal of Honor among other decorations for self-sacrifice and courage.
“In April 1942, at a Japanese prisoner of war camp in the Dutch East Indies, U.S. Navy Lt. Antrim (1907-69) and his fellow prisoners were routinely subjected to sadistic cruelty from the guards...”
Mink’s essay, which includes liberal excerpts from Antrim’s MOH, Navy Cross and Bronze Star citations, reads like a short movie synopsis.  Antrim’s story, courage and humility are inspiring.
USS Forrestal in 1967
The Navy remembers the tragedy and heroic response aboard USS Forrestal 45 years ago during the Vietnam War, in which 134 crew members were killed.  A video on provides rare photos and images of the explosions that occurred when a Zuni 5-inch rocket accidentally fired.  “We remember our shipmates.”  
Navy History and Heritage Command provides a comprehensive history of Forrestal and a detailed account of the tragedy that occurred on July 25, 1967.
“Within five seconds, the fire, fed by a ruptured 400-gallon fuel tank, rapidly enveloped the Skyhawks on either side of the wounded aircraft. Barely two minutes into the unfolding holocaust the first of many high and low level detonations erupted as the heat started to cook-off bombs, rockets and 20 mm rounds. An explosion shattered the windows of Primary Flight Control...
“Seven major explosions shook the ship during the first four minutes of the horrific crisis, and some 40,000-gallons of JP-5 jet fuel from aircraft on deck spread the inferno. Huge clouds of black smoke billowed upward, blinding crewmembers racing to battle the flames, which engulfed the fantail and spread to below deck on the 01, 02 and 03 levels, touching off ordnance, trapping some men and wreaking havoc with the crew and ship...” (read more
London Olympics in 2012
“..but strong in will, To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” from Tennyson’s “Ulysses” is one of the inscriptions of poetry on sculptures in the Olympic Park.  The Athenians and Spartans of ancient Greece are remembered for their military bearing, love of learning, warrior spirit and poetry.
Poetry was part of the Olympics up until 1948, and literature seems to be back in fashion.  Oxford-educated London Mayor Boris Johnson commissioned and recited an Olympic ode in ancient Greek and English.
National Public Radio, New York Times and Huffington Post, among others explore the history of the Olympics and poetry.  The Wall Street Journal is publishing poetry about the Games.
Books, reading and readers were a big part of this weekend’s London Olympics opening ceremony -- with Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling’s Lord Voldemort, J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” and Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” taking center stage. 
To read about Olympics achievements of U.S. naval olympians, visit the Naval History and Heritage Command site.

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