‘Best-of’ Pearl Harbor ship namesakes

Rear Adm. Brian Fort
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

(Editor’s Note: This is a “greatest hits” of the Pearl Harbor surface ship namesake blogs published by Rear Adm. Fort over the past year. To see all of Fort’s blogs, visit NavyLive: https://go.usa.gov/xP6me.)

On April 24, 1778, Capt. John Paul Jones, aboard Ranger, captured HMS Drake after thunderous fusillades of cannons and muskets and bloody close combat with cutlasses and boarding pikes. We remember John Paul Jones for his courage and tenacity against all odds. His heroism aboard Bonhomme Richard and his bold attacks against the British homeland are well known. He owned the fight.

Our Navy’s forward presence began with the ship’s namesake, Commodore Edward Preble, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, hero of Tripoli and mentor of a generation of leaders. Preble and his protégés — Stephen Decatur, Charles Stewart, Isaac Hull, William and Joseph Bainbridge, David Porter, Isaac Chauncey and others — demonstrated tough, bold and relentless warfighting at Tripoli.

Early in the Civil War, the Battle of Port Royal was part of a strategy to seal ports in the South and provide a vital refueling station — a key need in the days of coal. The battle was carried out by federal Navy steam-powered wooden warships and gunboats in a war that would introduce steel-hulled ships and showed how, partnering with the Army and Marine Corps, the Navy could forge a powerful amphibious sea power. Victory at Port Royal showed the world the ideal of “E Pluribus Unum” was worth fighting for: “Out of many, one.”

Sen. John Chafee epitomized integrity. He was a 19-year-old sophomore at Yale on Dec. 7, 1941. Two months later he enlisted as a private in the United States Marine Corps. Six months later he was in combat with the original invasion force at Guadalcanal. In 1950 Chafee returned to service as a captain and a company commander with the 1st Marine Division. His young Marines loved him because he led with integrity. Chafee became Secretary of the Navy in 1969. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1976.

Forged from the sea and seasoned in war, Rear Adm. Gordon Paiea Chung-Hoon participated in some of the fiercest fighting in the war in the South Pacific, including in the Solomons. As commanding officer of USS Sigsbee, Chung-Hoon rose to the challenge in a crisis. He adapted, overcame and persevered. Rather than abandoning his damaged ship (after a kamikaze attack), he chose to save it and the Sailors he led.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey’s motto is a quote from Adm. William “Bull” Halsey, “Hit hard, hit fast, hit often.” In 1942, Halsey was the right leader at the right place at the right time. If our call comes to fight tonight, we will need bold leaders like Adm. Halsey who can inspire and lead warfighters.

Seventy-five years ago, Lt. Cmdr. Richard O’Kane set the standard of our Navy warfighting culture. As executive officer of USS Wahoo (SS 238) and then, in 1943, as commanding officer of USS Tang (SS 306), O’Kane earned an unequaled record of victories against the enemy, destroying their warships and supply lines. O’Kane went into harm’s way focused and committed to the mission.

Rear Adm. Grace Hopper rose to the challenge and found solutions. When her chance came in 1943, she signed up with the U.S. Navy Reserve and went to work as a wartime problem solver — one of our first pioneers in modern computer programming. She and her team took a systematic approach to coding: finding effective, accurate and universal ways for humans to communicate with machines and vice versa. Think about that the next time you talk to your smartphone, tablet or voice-controlled home speaker.

Sen. John S. McCain, another naval aviator imprisoned with Rear Adm. William P. Lawrence at the “Hanoi Hilton” for nearly six years, said of his shipmate, “He’s probably the greatest man I’ve known in my life.” For Lawrence and other prisoners of war, mental toughness led to survival and the will to live despite torture, deprivation, darkness and numbing hardships. Mental toughness is an important component of both physical and moral courage. Lawrence was and is remembered for his inspirational leadership and quiet humility.

Nearly all Sailors – and many civilians – know the story of Lt. Michael Murphy and his awesome courage as he fought and died to save his fellow SEALs in Afghanistan, June 28, 2005. Outnumbered and severely wounded in combat he purposely exposed himself to enemy fire to call in assistance for his team. For his unwavering selfless courage Murphy received the Medal of Honor, awarded posthumously. We honor and remember his toughness — and fairness.

USS Wayne E. Meyer is named for Rear Adm. Wayne E. Meyer, considered the Father of Aegis, our Navy’s centralized, automated, command-and-control radar and computerized weapon control system. With the arrival of USS Wayne E. Meyer in Pearl Harbor we see a dedicated commitment to integrating and maintaining the most technologically advanced ships in the Pacific with updated and advanced capabilities.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • RSS

Category: Commentary