Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Navy's Essential Role in Our History

Enroute to North Africa 1942

Off Fox Green Beach June 6, 1944

Getting close-in June 6, 1944

Tsunami, 2004

USS Mercy, 2008

Dental clinic USS Mercy, 2008

This week marked the kickoff of Operation Valor IT at Soldier's Angels. Right now the Navy is bringing up the rear in the joint fundraising efforts of the service branches, Army, Marines and Air Force. I am going to devote this post by reminding all, of the essential role the Navy has played in not only supporting but protecting the other services in the wars of the last century.

Prior to the 20th century it was our Navy was the diplomatic mailed fist that ensured safe sea routes to our fledgling country. The Army was confined to the North American continent in a constabulary role confronting Native Americans and securing the borders. The Marines, served aboard our navy ships to provide security to the ships company and act as a segoing infantry to lead naval operations ashore.

The 20th Century saw our Army, and Marines being sent overseas, carried and protected by U.S. Navy ships. It is in this century that the role of the Navy as the essential service came into it's own.

When the U.S. Army struck back at the Axis in North Africa,Operation Torch it was the Navy led by Rear Admiral Henry K. Hewitt who safely carried the largest armada to date,(1942) across the Atlantic and successfully deposited the army on the shores of Morocco and Algeria.
Hewitt then went on to lead the navy in the invasion of Sicily, Italy and Southern France.

Meanwhile in the Pacific, the Navy was busy trying to stop Japanese advances. The sacrifices of the Asiatic Fleet Battle of Balikpapan (1942) and Battle of Sunda Strait bought time for the United States to reinforce Australia. Almost half the fleet of 40 vessels (19) were sunk in battle during this time.

During the Guadalcanal Campaign, the Marine Corps made history. But more sailors (5213), died protecting the beachhead during the campaign than Marines (1831). At Midway, the land based air assets proved ineffective against the oncoming Japanese forces. It was the Navy who turned the tide and stopped the advance of Japan.
As the U.S. ground forces battled their way back across the Pacific in a two pronged attack, it was the Navy who not only deposited the forces onshore, but blunted any attempt at counter-attack.

When the invasion of Europe became a reality, it was again the Navy that at the most critical time turned the tide of battle during the Normandy Landings when navy destroyers came in close to shore and provided direct fire to destroy German positions.

The efforts of the Navy were repeated again and again in the Pacific as they led and then held their positions to support the troops ashore. During the Battle of Okinawa , the United States lost 7,373 men killed and 32,056 wounded on land, while at sea, 5,000 were killed and 4,600 wounded with a loss of 36 ships from relentless air attacks.

Today, the current war in Afghanistan involves primarily our ground forces, with the Navy providing mostly a supporting role of essential air cover, medical aid and supply. But this doesn't mean that the United States Navy has been sitting back resting on it's laurels. They have continued to maintain the original role of maintaining security of the sea lanes and offshore protection while adding a new dimension of "soft power" to their toolbox like Navy Humanitarian Service Groups.

This century has seen it's share of natural disasters, like the Indian Ocean earthquake in 2004 where the United State Navy led the efforts to bring aid to stricken millions. This past year has seen the Navy involved in humanitarian operations like the voyage of the USS Mercy Hospital ship to Southeast Asia last summer.

More recently, the Navy responded across the Western Pacific providing aid to countries suffering from the effects of typhoons and earthquakes. Navy Supports Relief Efforts in Northern Mariana Islands, Military Provides Rescue, Humanitarian Support in Pacific, Marines, Sailors Bring Aid to Philippines.

As you finish reading this review of the role that the United State Navy has played in protecting our nation by being a stable force that can not only fight but lay down the gauntlet and offer a hand to a troubled world in time of need.
So in a take-off on the immortal words of Marine Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly, C'mon you sons-of-b's. Do you want to sit by and watch the Navy lose? Grab your credit card and join the fight!

1 comment:

MaryR said...

OOH RAH WOOF! Sergeant Major Jiggs, virtually a symbol of the Marine Corps, is ready for a 1924 training flight at Quantico, Virginia. Of decidedly blue-blood background, Jiggs née King Bulwark, was whelped in Philadelphia on 22 May 1922. Upon his enlistment in the Corps on 14 October 1922, he outranked the Commandant. Brigadier General Smedley Butler, who signed the enlistment papers “for life,” sensibly demoted the King to private and preserved the chain of command. Jiggs moved rapidly up the ranks. He was a corporal two and a half weeks after induction and a sergeant by New Year’s Day 1924. That June he was promoted to sergeant major. Jiggs died before his time on 9 January 1927. He lay in state in a Quantico hangar, flanked by two Marine guards and banks of flowers. His passing was mourned throughout the Corps.

From the 2009 November Issue of Proceedings