FOUR NOUS NORTHWEST COMPANIONS ATTEND COMMISSIONING CEREMONY FOR USS PORTLAND, (LPD 27)
Terminal Two at the Port of Portland was the site for commissioning the Navy vessel of the city’s namesake: USS Portland (LPD 27).
Attending the commissioning were (front row above, left to right) Companions Solon Webb, Mark Thompson and Bill Boardman. (Not available for the photo was David Todd, USS Portland Commissioning Committee Treasurer.) Also attending was Tom Collier, (back row above, right) who also attended our brunch at Naval Station, Everett on 14 April.
Check out Navy Live at Portland Commissioning to enjoy a complete video replay of the festivities. There, you can see “Bonnie Amos, wife of the 35th commandant of the Marine Corps, retired Gen. James F. Amos, serv(ing) as the ship’s sponsor. In a time-honored Navy tradition, she (gave) the order to ‘man our ship and bring her to life!'”
APRIL BRUNCH AT NAVAL STATION EVERETT, WA
On 14 April, NOUS Northwest companions gathered for brunch at the All American Restaurant at Naval Station Everett. Following a great meal of the restaurant’s specialty, omelettes, the group settled down as shown in the photos below for a session of almost 2 1/2 hours of engaging maritime history.
The principal theme of the day was “The Doolittle Raid on Tokyo”, presented by Companion CAPT Joe Valenta (USN-Ret.).
Joe set the stage by presenting a timeline to give attendees a sense of sequential actions taken by the US Navy (and Army Air Force in the case of the Doolittle Raid) within only six months following the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Below is a slide which Joe used for this orientation-in-time
Joe initially described the Doolittle Raid as follows: On Dec 21, 1941 President Roosevelt gathered in his study with his advisors: US Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, Army General George C. Marshall, and Lt. General Henry H. Arnold to review the grim situation in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. The President concluded that nothing short of bombing Tokyo would lift the American spirits, turn the tide of Japanese victories, and show the enemy that we could strike their homeland and win the war! Less that 4 months later Colonel Jimmy Doolittle would lead that American effort and the amazing events that followed on April 18, 1942… Joe continued to describe how a foolish idea turned into a mission that also became the subject of a movie, MGM’s “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” starring Van Johnson, Spencer Tracy and Robert Mitchum. The amazing fact is that the movie was released in November 1944, two and a half years after the raid and nine months before the war ended in the Pacific. We watched excerpts of “Thirty Seconds” as part of the day’s presentation. During the movie, we also concluded that some “very real footage” must have been provided by Navy photography from the actual day of the raid.
Below is one such photograph of the launch phase, “An Army Air Force B-25B bomber takes off from Hornet at the start of the raid.” (Official Navy photo, 80-G-41196 courtesy of the National Archives.)
In addition to Joe’s presentation on the Doolittle Raid, attendees were given an outstanding overview by Commandery Historian Floyd Kershner on Naval Ship Design: Tumblehome vs. Flared Hulls. Floyd’s extensive understanding of vessel characteristics as well as their historical employment added an extra dimension to his presentation. Note: A more complete overview of Floyd’s discussion can be found as a blog entry on the home page of this website.
After the final presentation, the group continued to mill about the dining hall, discussing the day’s events. See photo below. This was indeed a very informative and worthwhile time spent.
So why not plan on attending the next brunch on 23 June when we will continue our annual tradition of commemorating the Battle of Midway.
WELCOME HOME VIETNAM VETERANS DINNER
NOUS Northwest companions met for dinner at Arnie’s Restaurant in Mukilteo, WA on Friday, 30 March in recognition of the commandery’s Vietnam Veterans. This event coincided with the national “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” described in the home page blog.
During the evening we had the opportunity to hear many recollections of companions’ service spent while on duty in Vietnam as shown below:
Prospective companion TMC John Gerten, (USN-Ret.), USS Stoddard, (DD-566); USS King (DLG-10). (See additional photo at the end of this post.)
Dick Griffin, US Naval Liaison to Republic of Vietnam Navy Vessel, RVNS Doan Ngoc Tang (HQ-228)
David Todd, USS Knox (DE-FF 1052)
Joe Valenta, USS Oklahoma City (CLG-5)
Solon Webb, not pictured, also recounted his two vessels in Vietnam service, USS Persistent, (MSO-491) and USS Molala, (ATF-106)
During the evening, we also heard from others present about their respective military service and family legacies to the Naval Order.
Mark Thompson provided a great summary of items that can be ordered from the NOUS national Ships Store, which can be accessed through THIS LINK.
Finally, Curt Maier, gave a very positive membership report with numerous prospective members showing interest in joining NOUS Northwest. Below is a photo of John Gerten (at left) submitting his application form to Curt during the meeting!
Overall it was a very enjoyable evening at Arnies as the commandery gave recognition to our Vietnam Veterans: “Welcome Home.”