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June 15, 2018 / iDriveWarships

Shaping The Flag: The US Navy’s Influence on Old Glory

This week we celebrated Flag Day (June 14) – a national day of observance for the adoption of the official “Stars and Stripes” we now call the Flag of the United States of America. Every U.S. Navy warship in the fleet today flies a uniform flag, but this was not always the case. The early days of the American flag were marked by a number of variations and design changes. This evolution was significantly influenced by Naval activities on several occasions.

In 1776, the “Betsy Ross” variant of the American flag made its debut on the battlefields of the Revolutionary War. A year later, shortly before the newly formed Congress passed the Flag Resolution, naval flag designer Francis Hopkinson submitted his own design for the country’s flag. Hopkinson, a New Jersey native and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was also the Chairman of the Continental Navy Board’s Middle Department under the Continental Marine Committee.

He claimed that he designed a flag for the U.S. Navy, asking Congress that he specifically be paid for “designing the great Naval flag of the United States.”

The Betsy Ross flag design, 1776

The Francis Hopkinson flag design, 1777








The Flag Resolution, which had been passed on June 14, 1777, specified only,

“That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
– The Flag Resolution, June 14, 1777

Due to the lack of specifications in the Flag Resolution regarding the balance of red and white stripes, Hopkinson took the liberty of placing seven red stripes, and six white ones, on his flag design. Given his naval background, he knew the predominance of red stripes would make the naval flag more visible against the sky on a ship at sea – an important aspect for ensuring that other nation’s vessels were able to properly identify a U.S. ship. At the time, other designs called for six red stripes and seven white stripes, and some even included blue stripes, but to this day, the Flag of the United States maintains Hopkinson’s dominant red stripe design.

On the high seas, the American flag was making its presence known as early as 1778. Captain John Paul Jones, while sailing the sloop Ranger in the Quiberon Bay near France, received the first salute from a foreign navy recognizing the ship’s colors. In doing so, France also recognized the fledgling country, represented by the stars and stripes.

The following year, when Capt. Jones captured HMS Serapis at the Battle of Flamborough Head, the importance of flying a recognized national flag on a warship was demonstrated. After Jones’ ship, Bonhomme Richard, sank during the battle, he sailed the captured Serapis into a neutral Dutch port, only to be accused by the British ambassador of sailing a ship with no known national ensign. A hoisted flag clearly communicated the nationality of vessels to other ships on the high seas; those without a national ensign were deemed pirates. In response to the British accusation, Jones ordered the immediate production of a recognizable flag derived from Benjamin Franklin’s design featuring red, white, and blue stripes. The Dutch accepted this flag as representing the United States and the pirate claim was rescinded.


The Serapis Flag, 1779

The flag continued to evolve after the tumultuous events of the American revolution and early years of American independence. More stars and stripes were added as more states joined the Union. The second flag act signed January 13, 1794 expanded provision for 15 stripes and 15 stars, and once more, Naval events significantly contributed to the history of the American flag.

The flag flown above Fort McHenry during the naval portion of the Battle of Baltimore in 1814 inspired American lawyer Francis Scott Key to pen the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” It was later titled “The Star Spangled Banner,” and adopted as the United States National Anthem.


The flag flown above Fort McHenry in 1814

Four years after the Battle of Baltimore, the flag was normalized with 13 stripes and one star representing each state. This standardization was about the same time the United States, as a newly founded country, began growing in world influence.

Over the next century, the country and the flag evolved to include 50 states and throughout the years the expansion of the United States’ influence was aided by the Navy’s ability to represent the nation abroad. The latter half of the 19th century witnessed the American flag present when Commodore Matthew Perry opened Japan to the West in 1854 and when our country intervened on behalf of Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam during the Spanish-American War in 1898. By the time the early 20th century came the United States flag was a familiar site across the world.

Today, American-flagged ships are distributed across the globe to protect freedom of maneuver, to secure the

The American flag flies from the mast of the Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) during a photo exercise for exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018, June 9. BALTOPS is the premier annual maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic region and one of the largest exercises in Northern Europe enhancing flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations.sea lanes for global trade and economic growth, and to defend key interest of the United States.

For more information about the U.S. Flag, visit


June 8, 2018 / iDriveWarships

Surface Warfare: A Running Fix

In case you missed it…

This week, Commander, Naval Surface Forces Pacific spoke about the current status of Surface Warfare. Check out the full version of this article here.

Our nation’s civilian and military leadership have employed the U.S. Navy for 242 years to maintain freedom of movement on the high seas, to protect the flow of goods and services on the world’s oceans, to defend maritime chokepoints, and to preserve a stable environment in which all law-abiding nations can flourish.


110216-N-7293M-005 RED SEA (Feb. 16, 2011) Fire Controlman 1st Class Douglas McQueen, left, junior officer of the deck aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Ponce (LPD 15), discuss navigation details with Cmdr. Etta Jones, commanding officer of Ponce, as the conning officer, Ensign Timothy Paul, keeps an eye on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65), off Ponce’s starboard bow. Ponce is participating in a combined formation of the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group and the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathanael Miller/Released)

A team able to deliver those far-reaching and wide-ranging results must be properly manned, trained, equipped, and well-led. Persistent, demanding, global operations last year exposed vulnerabilities in these areas, which led to the Comprehensive Review (CR) and Strategic Readiness Review (SRR). This “running fix” describes our progress.

The Destination

Operating in a dynamic and increasingly complex environment is unforgiving. Every officer and sailor who goes to sea must be a professional mariner and a skilled warfighter. Leadership within this environment demands thoughtful compliance with exacting standards, continuous improvement of processes, and brutally honest self-assessment of both individuals and teams.

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training”

We owe it to the American people to ensure our surface force is ready to do the nation’s business. Winning is the only acceptable outcome. That’s our destination.

So to reach that goal, we pick waypoints to ensure we are on course and speed. These waypoints gauge our progress, inform adjustments to our course, and deliver us to our destination, ready to take on any challenge and win.

First waypoint: Individual level skills

Our surface forces afloat and ashore require surface warfare officers (SWO) of competence and character to lead them. There is no doubt that sea time contributes to the strength of an SWO’s professional foundation. However, a continuum of formal education and experience is also vital to building expertise over time by reinforcing and enhancing the skills learned in ships.

Career progression


161118-N-N0443-0040 NEWPORT, R.I. (Nov. 18, 2016) Students at Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS) train on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Full Mission Bridge (FMB) simulator. The LCS Full Mission Bridge simulator is a full-sized trainer that uses the same software as the FMB and Conning Officer Virtual Environment (COVE). The LCS trainer has every Navy homeport modeled and allows the student to navigate in and out of designated ports using the highly sophisticated controls of a littoral combat ship. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Surface warfare is an exacting profession where character, competence, judgment, skill, and experience are blended throughout a career at sea. The SWO career path must produce commanding officers who are warfighters and leaders of character. It focuses on driving the ship as a division officer, “fighting the ship” as a department head, managing the ship as the executive officer, and commanding the ship as the captain. Moreover, it will develop a commanding officer who possesses a full array of warfighting skills, including shiphandling, operations, tactics, combat systems, engineering, and damage control. This career progression will blend classroom training, simulators, shipboard experience, rigorous assessments, and candid feedback.

The first stop along the SWO career path is service as a division officer. Division officers will serve a combined 48 months at sea in ships. Revised schooling and assessments will occur in between the first and second tour or at around the 30-month point (for those officers completing a single longer tour). This new career path affords approximately 38 percent more sea time for these junior officers.

Department head and command-level training will continue in Newport, Rhode Island and Dahlgren, Virginia with revised assessments and defined go/no-go criteria. Similar to division officer tours, department heads will serve a single longer 36-month tour in one ship or complete two 18-month tours in two ships. The length of time between department head and executive officer will be shortened as the force evaluates the XO and CO progression. But one thing will not change — a forceful emphasis on the principles at the heart of command: authority, responsibility, accountability, and expertise.

Command is the foundation upon which our Navy rests

– Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations


To build officers immediately ready to stand watch, we will augment the nine-week Basic Division Officer Course (BDOC) with a rigorous six-week Officer of the Deck (OOD) bridge watch standing course centered on International Convention on Standards of Training and Watchkeeping (STCW) requirements. A second phase three-week OOD course will be attended prior to commencing the Advanced Division Officer Course (ADOC) focusing on Bridge Resource Management (BRM) and team building. This course must be passed in order to continue to a fleet-up tour on the same ship or a second division officer tour. Taken together, this new training model will increase formal schoolhouse instruction for first and second tour division officers from 14 weeks to 23 weeks.

We are also re-evaluating the content and quality of the courses. Improvements include operational risk management (ORM) education at every training milestone; requalification requirements due to reassignment or shipboard reconfigurations; and yard patrol craft employment in all officer accession programs.

Better simulations will inject shipboard emergencies, changing environmentals, and high-density shipping into these scenarios to ensure training is spent preparing junior officers for the challenging conditions they will face.

These courses are difficult — not all will pass. This cycle of training, assessment, and experience will continue throughout an officer’s career at every afloat milestone.

Second waypoint: Unit level readiness

Of course, individual mastery is by itself insufficient. These units must demonstrate proficiency across a wide array of mission sets spanning from internal damage control to long-range anti-air warfare and everything in between.

Team building

To better challenge our crews for complex environments, we are creating maritime skills training centers (MSTCs) in Norfolk and San Diego that will support high fidelity individual and team training and facilitate assessments and feedback discussions. New watchbill instructions will offer adequate periods for rest. Administrative tasks that do not directly contribute to combat readiness will be reduced. And finally, navigation check-rides presided over by immediate supervisors in command (ISIC) will evaluate the proficiency of the ships and crews to safely navigate in a range of scenarios after extended maintenance periods and before a ship deploys.


160728-N-ZE250-033 MEDITERRANEAN SEA (July 28, 2016) Ensign Thibaut Delloue, left, officer of the deck under instruction, and Ensign Logan O’Shea, conning officer, monitor the surface picture in the pilothouse aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) while on patrol in the Mediterranean Sea July 28, 2016. Carney is conducting a routine patrol in the U.S. 6th fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Weston Jones/Released)

Unit readiness necessitates a disciplined process to plan, brief, execute, and debrief shipboard training drills, special evolutions, and real-world events to absorb lessons and apply best practices. The Surface and Mine Warfare Development Center (SMWDC) and the creation of warfare tactics instructors (WTI) have been instrumental in this regard, emphasizing the role of doctrine, championing data-driven analytic training approaches, and inculcating a warfighting mentality within our wardrooms and combat information centers.


Finally, unit readiness is a function of the systems and the crew’s proficiency to operate them. Consequently, we:

  • released a comprehensive Fleet advisory on safe operation of all variants of steering systems;
  • completed a survey of all ships with integrated bridge systems for feedback and lessons learned;
  • established standards for use of the Automatic Identification System when transiting high traffic areas; and
  • evaluated existing “redline” policies with respect to navigation, radar, steering, and propulsion.

Third Waypoint: Fleet level employment

Fleet certification

As the Surface TYCOMs produce and deliver properly manned, trained and equipped ships, the two numbered fleet commanders (3rd Fleet and soon to be 2nd Fleet) produce carrier strike groups, expeditionary strike groups and independent deployers through intermediate and advanced training. During the intermediate training phase, SMWDC is now two years into conducting surface warfare advanced tactical training (SWATT) specifically designed to increase the warfighting capability prepare them for the high end Advanced Training and Certification phase during COMPTUEX. Following that, fleet commanders can employ those units within the scope of their training and skill sets to increase our competitive advantage.

For FDNF-J, 7th Fleet is developing intermediate and advanced training exercises similar to SWATT and COMPUTEX.


140401-N-CH661-095 MEDITERRANEAN SEA (April 1, 2014) Lt. j.g. David B. Connell, assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage (DDG 61), observes the ship’s course and speed while standing watch as the conning officer in support of exercise Noble Dina, an annual multinational training exercise conducted with the Hellenic and Israeli navies. Ramage is on a scheduled deployment supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jared King/Released)

Command and control

Additionally, working hand-in-hand with OPNAV and Fleet leadership, we have taken action to bolster the readiness of our rotational and forward-deployment ships. We are

  • more closely assessing actual readiness across the fleet;
  • adjusted overseas presence based on future overseas homeporting and strategic laydown plans;
  • evaluated all current operational requirements in the Western Pacific against available resources;
  • developed a force generation model for ships based in Japan addressing operational requirements while preserving maintenance, training, and certification windows;
  • restored the U.S. Seventh Fleet’s deliberate scheduling process.

Voyage summary

The strategic environment in which we sail is fast-paced, increasingly complex, and oftentimes uncertain. Make no mistake: as the National Defense Strategy clearly states, the competition is on for maritime superiority.

We must build teams with the requisite training, skills, and equipment to be effectively employed to fight and win any battle, against any challenge. Our three fixed waypoints (mastery of individual skills, unit level readiness, and fleet employment and leadership) will help to achieve that balance even as we retain maritime superiority.

This is the job of the surface type commanders — we own this and are underway at flank speed.

June 1, 2018 / iDriveWarships

Navies Ready for RIMPAC 2018

RIMPAC Harbor Aerial Photos

PEARL HARBOR (July 1, 2016) An aerial view of ships moored at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for Rim of the Pacific 2016. Twenty-six nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971. (U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Mass Communication Specialist First Class Ace Rheaume/Released) 160701-N-SI773-291

This month 26 countries will assemble in U.S. 3rd Fleet area of operation for the 26th Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise. RIMPAC is the world’s largest international maritime exercise. It provides a unique training opportunity, helping participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.

From June 27 to Aug. 2, 47 surface ships, five submarines, 18 national land forces, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel will have active roles in the exercise, spanning from the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands to the Southern California coast.
As the ships arrive in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii leading up to the exercise, they are nested (or moored side by side) three-abreast along the piers. For ground forces, companies of Marines from numerous countries camp out on the windward side of Oahu at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows (Bellows Beach) and Marine Corps Base Hawaii. The size of the exercise is impressive, and the coordination required for such a large influx of personnel equally so.
The planning for RIMPAC begins more than a year before the event, with the final planning conference occurring two months before kickoff. In early April, more than 1,000 personnel attended the conference, where final preparations for the exercise were streamlined across four days. Topics included accommodations, security, logistics, communications, and an evaluation of materiel requirements for the exercise.
During the summer exercise, RIMPAC participants can expect to undergo relevant and realistic training, to include amphibious operations; gunnery, missile, anti-submarine, and air defense exercises; counter-piracy operations; mine clearance operations; explosive ordnance disposal; and diving and salvage operations. These scenarios support the participating nations’ disaster relief and maritime security operations, sea control, and complex warfighting capabilities.
In the past, highlights of the RIMPAC exercises have included a “SINKEX,” where ships, aircraft, and submarines deploy missiles to sink a decommissioned vessel; amphibious assaults; missile shoots; and a multi-national group sail formed by more than 40 ships and submarines, 200 aircraft, and 20,000 personnel.
Through the years the exercise has remained an impressive and remarkable event, and continues to grow. But how did it originate?
USS Coronado (LCS 4) Launches Harpoon Missile During RIMPAC

USS CORONADO (July 19, 2016) USS Coronado (LCS 4), an Independence-variant littoral combat ship, launches the first over-the-horizon missile engagement using a Harpoon Block 1C missile. Twenty-six nations, 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Bryce Hadley/Released) 160719-N-ZZ999-007

The first RIMPAC, held in 1971, was a partnership exercise involving forces from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Australia, Canada, and the United States have participated in every subsequent RIMPAC. Originally, it was an annual event from 1971-1973. In 1974 due to its large scale, the exercise became a biennial event. With each iteration, new countries get added to the roster of participants, further mirroring fleet operations and expanding the impact of the exercise. This year’s exercise will include first-time participants Brazil, Israel, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. As well, several observer nations are invited each year; these countries send military representatives but do not send ships.

The following countries will participate in this year’s RIMPAC:
● United States Navy
● Royal Navy
● Royal Canadian Navy
● Royal Australian Navy
● Royal New Zealand Navy
● French Navy
● German Navy
● Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
● Republic of Korea Navy
● Royal Netherlands Navy
● Philippine Navy
● Royal Thai Navy
● Royal Tongan Navy
● Republic of Singapore Navy
● Chilean Navy
● Peruvian Navy
● Colombian National Navy
● Sri Lankan Navy
● Brazilian Navy
● Vietnamese People’s Navy
● Israeli Navy
● Mexican Navy
● Royal Malaysian Navy
● Indian Navy
● Royal Brunei Navy
● Indonesian Navy
RIMPAC offers an unparalleled opportunity for the world’s maritime forces to build lasting, collaborative relationships in order to maintain readiness on an international scale. Participants have a chance to conduct exercises in ship-sinking and torpedo usage, as well as test new naval technologies and debut naval vessels. Exercises like RIMPAC allow for expanded cooperative maritime relationships which enhance interoperability practices in preparation for being called upon to respond to crisis, whether in time of war or in humanitarian assistance/disaster
response efforts.
To follow RIMPAC, please check out the following social media:
May 25, 2018 / iDriveWarships

Celebrating USS Manchester (LCS 14)

Tomorrow is the big day! The U.S. Navy‘s newest littoral combat ship will be commissioned in a ceremony at at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Pre-commissioning Unit Manchester will come to life as USS Manchester and officially become part of Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. We’ve been getting ready for the commissioning by sharing facts about the ship and its namesake city via the Surface Warriors Twitter account this week. Click through the graphics below and get to know a little bit about the future USS Manchester (LCS 14) and the city it’s named for. Then tune in at 10:00 am EST May 26, 2018 and watch the ceremony LIVE at:






May 18, 2018 / iDriveWarships

Celebrating 106 Years of Marine Corps Aviation

F-35B lands on USS Essex (LHD 2)

The pilot of an F-35B from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron-211, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), begins landing procedures aboard the Wasp-class Amphibious ship USS Essex (LHD 2) March 28, 2018 The Essex Amphibious Ready Group and 13th MEU fully integrated for the first time before their summer deployment. Amphibious Squadron, MEU integration training is a crucial pre-deployment exercise that allows the Navy-Marine Corps team to rapidly plan and execute complex operations from naval shipping. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. A. J. Van Fredenberg)

Next week will mark the 106th birthday of Marine Corps aviation, an integral piece of the Navy and Marine Corps team’s combat capability. Since 1912, the Marines and the Navy have worked together to support a host of combat and humanitarian aid/disaster relief missions using a variety of platforms.

Most recently, the Navy and Marine Corps team implemented the F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, a fifth generation fighter jet with significantly enhanced capabilities, aboard USS Wasp (LHD 1) and USS Essex (LHD 2). The new aircraft replaces the legacy AV-8B Harrier II, which have been deploying on U.S. Navy amphibious ships for more than three decades.

Marine signals F-35B to launch onoard USS Essex

U.S. Marine Sgt. Maj. Allen Goodyear, the squadron sergeant major for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, signals for an F-35B Lightning II to launch from the flight deck of the USS Essex (LHD 2) during Exercise Dawn Blitz, Oct. 24, 2017. Goodyear is one of a few individuals qualified to direct aircraft without the military occupation skillset of an aviation boatswain’s mate (aircraft handling). Exercises such as Dawn Blitz 2017 provide realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. April L. Price)

The deployment of the F-35B Lighting II is new, with both Essex and Wasp only months into the integration process with the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). Challenges leading up to their introduction in the Fleet included updating the logistics supply chain for the new aircraft, as well as physically altering the structure of the flight deck to support the additional weight of the F-35B and the increased exhaust temperature they produce.

With stealth capabilities, an increased weapons envelope, increased on station time, longer range, and more accurate weapons delivery, the F-35B is an impactful enhancement to the Marine aviation toolbox. In nearly all ways, the F-35B heralds a new age of aviation capabilities for the Navy and Marine Corps team to launch power ashore from the sea.

In honor of Marine Corps aviation’s history and 106th birthday, let’s take a look at some of the aircraft and pioneering servicemembers that played a major role in developing the Marine Corps aviation element into what it is today.

The Marines’ first pilots began their training in Annapolis, Maryland; 1st Lieutenant Alfred A. Cunningham reported to the aviation camp on May 22, 1912, which is regarded as the birthday of Marine Corps aviation. After just two hours and 40 minutes of instruction on the Curtiss seaplane, he completed a solo flight and was designated Marine Aviator No. 1 (and with that, he also became Naval Aviator No. 5).

Alfred Austell Cunningham

Alfred Austell Cunningham, the Marine Corps’ first aviator. Photo pulled from:

Five years later, Cunningham established the Marine Corps Aviation Company onboard the Philadelphia Navy Yard as part of the Advanced Base Force (ABF), which had been established in 1910 as a training command for the Marines. The ABF’s aviation company became the first permanent aviation element in the Marine Corps.

The new Marine pilots, which then included 1st Lieutenant Bernard L. Smith, 2nd Lieutenant William M. McIlvain, 1st Lieutenant Francis T. Evans, and 1st Lieutenant Roy S. Geiger, were the foundation on which Marine aviation was built. Decades later during WWI, Marine Corps aviation found itself split between two missions: anti-submarine patrols in support of the Navy, denying enemy submarines ready access to maritime convoy routes; and reconnaissance and artillery spotting for ground troops in France. These were the pioneering years of what was to become close air support.

In the years between WWI and WWII, Marine aviation grew under the administration of Major General Commandant Lejeune, in both squadron size and aircraft development. During this period of operations, in flight tactics were developed, including dive bombing. In the mid-1920s, Marine squadrons qualified aboard fleet carriers and in 1931, the Pacific Fleet received two scouting squadrons assigned to operate as component units.

By the time of the Pearl Harbor attack (December 1941), Marine aviation had transitioned from the biplane to modern aircraft and included 13 squadrons consisting of 204 aircraft. In training, the Marine pilots grew to become an integral part of amphibious exercises. Marines flew in defense of Navy ships during the Battle of Wake Island, Battle of Midway, and many others thereafter. The Solomons campaign saw Marine Aviation assume the role of overall aviation command, augmented by the Army Air Corps and allied squadrons from Australia and New Zealand, as well as Navy pilots.

Corsair aircraft over USS Boxer
F4U’s (Corsairs) returning from a combat mission over North Korea circle the USS Boxer as they wait for planes in the next strike to be launched from her flight deck. A helicopter hovers above the ship. Pulled from:

Marine aircraft continued to operate with Navy ships during Korean War and Vietnam War, deploying from aircraft carriers and destroyers to conduct both fixed-wing and rotary-wing operations. The F-4U Corsairs of Marine Corps Fighter Squadron 214, flown from USS Sicily (CVE-118), flew the first Marine aviation mission at Pusan during the raid against North Korean installations, and were joined by Marine Fighter Squadron 323, flying from USS Badoeng Strait (CVE-116).

In 1962, the F-4 Phantom entered the Marine Corps, becoming the fastest, highest-flying, longest-range fighter in the U.S. military. The F-4 saw combat in both the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm. And then in 1985, the Marine Corps welcomed the AV-8B Harrier II to its ranks. The Harrier is still used today, although it’s expected to be replaced entirely by the F-35B in coming years.

Through the years the role of Marine aviation has expanded to include humanitarian assistance and disaster response relief efforts,  as well as international efforts to enhance interoperability with allied nations, called theater security cooperation.

From its humble beginnings more than a century ago in the Curtiss seaplane to the latest marvel of modern aviation, one thing has remained constant: the collaboration of the Navy and Marine Corps to create a cohesive team that accomplishes a critical warfighting mission at sea, in the air, and on land.

Happy Birthday, Marine Corps Aviation!


May 11, 2018 / iDriveWarships

Appreciating Our Navy’s Military Spouses

USS Sterett Returns from Deployment

180511-N-IA905-1095 SAN DIEGO (May 11, 2018) Fire Controlman 2nd Class Bryce Klein, assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104), greets his wife upon returning from deployment. Sterett was deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations with the Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group conducting maritime security operations and theater cooperation activities. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Morgan K. Nall/Released)

This morning, the San Diego harbor was busy as U.S. Navy warships pulled back into port. The piers were just as engaged with activity as families and loved ones of the crew stood by eagerly awaiting their Sailors’ return, which was especially fitting as today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. On this day, as many of San Diego’s Sailors are reunited with their spouses, we recognize the significant challenges overcome and sacrifices made by those spouses in their absence.

Megan Lisherness is married Drew Lisherness, a Fireman assigned to USS Dewey (DDG 105). Today marked the completion of their first deployment as a couple.

“The hardest part was that I didn’t know anyone here,” said Megan. “My advice to military spouses is talk to people, get out and meet people.”

Megan and her husband Drew met in high school in Kingman, Arizona.

Other spouses on the pier today had already held a few deployments under their belts.

Mandy Noza, wife of Andee Noza, the Antisubmarine Warfare Officer aboard Dewey, stood by with the Noza family.

USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) arrives in San Diego

180508-N-ND254-1095 SAN DIEGO (May 8, 2018) Family members eagerly await the arrival of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) for a homecoming celebration in San Diego, Calif. Bonhomme Richard, which had been forward-deployed since 2012 as the Amphibious Force 7th Fleet flagship, has completed a homeport shift and arrived to San Diego where it is scheduled to undergo upgrades to operate the F-35B Lightning II. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nancy C. diBenedetto/Released)

“He was forward deployed in Japan before this tour, and I stayed here in the states, so this isn’t our first time apart. But this one was harder, although shorter – we had a lot of life changes recently. It was stressful to handle those things by myself, but it made me more independent and stronger.”

The Nozas are both from the San Diego area.

Kim Woelky, wife of Alex Woelke, an Information Technology Specialist First Class on the ship, commented that “every deployment is different. The crew of the Dewey worked hard to keep their tempo, and we are all very proud of our spouses on the ship.” Kim has experienced three deployments with her husband.

Homecomings are in some ways the perfect opportunity to see some reward for the sacrifices military spouses make – Ashley Puga, wife of Humberto Puga, an Electronics Technician First Class, is newly pregnant, and did a gender reveal at the pier in celebration of her husband’s homecoming. This will be their first child.

When commenting on the importance of spouses to our military, Admiral Richardson, the Chief of Naval Operations said, “We just could not do our business without our spouses. (They) stand shoulder to shoulder with us. By virtue of the oath that they’ve taken to one another, they are drawn into this oath that we take to support and defend the Constitution.”

His counterpart on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Neller, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps acknowledged in this year’s Military Spouse Appreciation Day message that, “the life of a military family is one of unique challenge and sacrifice coupled with opportunity and experience that most people cannot imagine.  No one understands the requirements of this life better than a U.S. Navy spouse. The selfless contribution of our military spouses provides a stability that enables mission and family readiness.”

military spouse (1)

Military Spouse Appreciation Day is the Friday before Mother’s Day each year.

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed the first proclamation officially recognizing Military Spouse Appreciation Day. This formal recognition showed the importance of the role the military spouse has in the readiness of our military forces. The Department of Defense then standardized the date by declaring the Friday before Mother’s Day every year as Military Spouse Appreciation Day. In 1999, Congress officially made Military Spouse Appreciation Day a part of National Military Appreciation Month.

You need not go further than the waterfront during a homecoming to see that the military spouse exudes grace, strength, and devotion despite the fluid and dynamic environment of military life.

May 4, 2018 / iDriveWarships

True Americanism: Navy’s New Warship Highlights an Asian American Hero from WWII

Young Daniel K. Inouye.

Young Daniel K. Inouye.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month provides the opportunity to highlight the achievements of our Armed Forces that identify as Asian American and/or Pacific Islander. U.S. Navy ships host namesakes highlighting our heroes, and currently, USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) is the only active commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy named after someone of Asian American and/or Pacific Islander descent. That distinction is about to change. In the coming years, the Navy will christen and then commission USS Daniel K. Inouye (DDG 118), named after the late Senator and former Army Captain Daniel Inouye.

So, who was Daniel Inouye, and what is his legacy?

Inouye was born in Honolulu in 1924 when Hawaii was still just a territory of the United States. His parents had emigrated from Japan, and as a young man in a world where tensions were increasing with Japan, Inouye faced significant discrimination as a Japanese American. Curfews were enforced, and discussions of internment camps in Hawaii were shut down only due to a heavy reliance on Japanese American business within the local economy. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Inouye attempted to enlist in the U.S. Army and was questioned about his patriotism. He was initially prevented from enlisting because of his status as a Japanese American. Instead, Inouye studied pre-medicine at the University of Hawaii. In 1943, when the Army dropped its enlistment ban on Japanese Americans, Inouye dropped his studies and enlisted into the Army as a private.

Daniel Inouye was part of a group of individuals called the Nisei who volunteered, many from internment camps elsewhere in the country. The Nisei was a segregated regimental combat team made up of second generation Japanese Americans. He shipped out to Italy in 1944 and was commissioned in the field as a second lieutenant shortly thereafter. Although his unit earned a reputation well before 1945, Inouye’s most famous moment came that spring.

On April 21, 1945, Inouye was faced with an uphill battle as his unit attempted to take the Colle Musatello Ridge, a German strong point in Northern Italy. He single-handedly used machine guns and grenades to thwart enemy forces under heavy fire, sustaining significant injuries to his right arm. In spite of the crippling wounds, which included a shredded arm, a few bullets through the abdomen, and a bullet through his leg, he refused evacuation, and remained at the head of his platoon until they broke through the enemy and seized the ridge. Inouye’s arm worsened following the battle and surgeons eventually amputated it. His personal losses, however, came with a significant strategic victory for the Allied forces.

In 1947, Inouye retired as a Captain in the U.S. Army. He then finished his studies at the University of Hawaii in 1950, ultimately graduating from law school in 1952.

And although his military service had concluded, his service to country had not.

Daniel Inouye

Daniel Inouye poses proudly before the 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team’s colors, the regimental motto, “Go for Broke,” just visible amidst the folds of the standard. (Undated or attributed Library of Congress Photograph, ‘Pain and Patriotism’ Daniel Inouye Describes Personal Saga, Library of Congress)

Following his service in the military, Inouye practiced prosecuting law in Honolulu. Although Hawaii was still just a territory, he was elected to the Territorial House of Representatives in 1952 and the Territorial Senate in 1956. When Hawaii became a state in 1959, he served as the state’s first congressional representative, making him the first Japanese-American in Congress. In 1962, Inouye was elected to the 86th Congress and proceeded to spend the next four decades serving as a Senator from Hawaii, where he also obtained the distinction of being the second-longest serving Senator in the history of the United States. His time as a Senator was marked by supporting the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and Hawaii’s interests in Washington. He played an important role in the Watergate Scandal investigation in 1973 and the Iran-Contra affair in 1987.

Inouye’s legacy is well known throughout Hawaii, heralded as a man of the people. Recently, the Honolulu International Airport was renamed the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. The NOAA Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center on Ford Island is also named in his honor. The University of Hawaii’s College of Social Sciences is developing the “Daniel K. Inouye Initiative for Democratic Leadership” program, as well.

Fifty-five years after the battle to take Colle Musatello Ridge, Inouye was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions alongside 21 other Asian-American veterans on June 21, 2000.

In 2012, Inouye passed away, leaving behind a wife and one son.

Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated “Americanism is not and has never been a matter of race or color. Americanism is a matter of mind and heart.” Inouye embodied true Americanism, dedicating his lifetime to committed service to the American people. From enlisting in the U.S. Army in spite of intense discrimination, to serving in the U.S. Senate for almost 40 years, Inouye’s legacy is unparalleled.

His legacy will continue on in the crew of USS Daniel K Inouye (DDG 118); no longer limited to the buildings in Hawaii, it will stretch across many oceans, representing our nation’s interests– just as he did 75 years ago.

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