Lest We Forget: Joseph K. Taussig Jr.; USS Langley (CV-27)

By Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired), and A. D. Baker III

Besides a Purple Heart and Navy Cross, Taussig twice earned the prestigious Civilian Distinguished Public Service award. But the honor he most treasured was a Service Dress Blue jacket with captain’s stripes on one sleeve and a chief petty officer’s rating badge on the other, given to him when he was made an honorary CPO.

In the early 1950s, he served as Secretary-Treasurer of the Naval Institute—raising hell in that job much as he did when serving as the Navy’s safety czar. The Naval Institute’s CEO office, which overlooks the Naval Academy cemetery where Captain Taussig now rests, today bears his name to honor his personal courage, honor, and commitment to sailors, and much of his memorabilia is on display there, including his prized service dress blue jacket.

—Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired)

USS Langley (CV-27)

The Independence -class light fleet aircraft carrier Langley (CV-27, later CVL-27) was originally authorized as a Cleveland -class light cruiser, the Fargo (CL-85). Reconfigured with a hangar and flight deck above the cruiser hull, the ship was initially renamed the Crown Point, but with the loss of the Navy’s first carrier, the Langley (CV-1), the name was changed in her honor. Commissioned on 31 August 1943, the 622-foot, 14,220-ton Langley and her crew of 1,400 played a major role in pioneering the techniques of fleet air defense by employing shipboard radars to direct fighter interceptors. Throughout her World War II service, the ship’s air group consisted of two dozen Hellcat fighters and nine Avenger torpedo bombers, with the latter employed primarily as bombers.

Assigned to Admiral Marc A. Mitscher’s Task Force 58, the Langley first used her Avengers in the bombing of airfields on Wotje Island during the January 1944 invasion of Kwajalein, while her radar-directed Hellcats provided air cover at the end of April at Truk, where Langley -based VF-32 shot down 21 Japanese fighters in 15 minutes. The ship participated in strikes on Saipan, Rota, and Guam during the summer of 1944 and from September to the end of the year was in action against Japanese forces in the Philippines and on Truk and Formosa. In January 1945, the Langley assisted in air strikes against Tokyo, and the next month her aircraft began a long period of counter-kamikaze defensive duties. March and April saw the Langley heavily involved in strikes on the Japanese home islands and Okinawa, where the following month her aircraft supported troops ashore. The Langley departed the combat area in May of 1945 for a refit, seeing no further combat under the U.S. flag. The ship’s intensive and highly effective operations, however, had won her a Navy Unit Commendation and nine Battle Stars. Placed in reserve during February 1947, the carrier was transferred to France in 1951 as the La Fayette ; she performed valuable service in support of French forces in Vietnam during the 1950s and was returned to U.S. control in 1963 and scrapped.

—A. D. Baker III

Thomas J. Cutler is a retired lieutenant commander and former gunner's mate second class who served in patrol craft, cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft carriers. His varied assignments included an in-country Vietnam tour, small craft command, and nine years at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he served as Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Seamanship & Navigation Department and Associate Chairman of the History Department. While at the Academy, he was awarded the William P. Clements Award for Excellence in Education (military teacher of the year).

He is the founder and former Director of the Walbrook Maritime Academy in Baltimore. Currently he is Fleet Professor of Strategy and Policy with the Naval War College and is the Director of Professional Publishing at the U.S. Naval Institute.

Winner of the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Naval Literature, the U.S. Naval Institute Press Author of the Year, and the U.S. Maritime Literature Award, his published works include NavCivGuide: A Handbook for Civilians in the U.S. Navy; A Sailor's History of the U.S. Navy [one of the books in the Chief of Naval Operations Reading Program]; The Battle of Leyte Gulf; Brown Water, Black Berets: Coastal & Riverine Warfare in Vietnam; and the 22nd, 23rd (Centennial), and 24th editions of The Bluejacket's Manual. His other works include revisions of Jack Sweetman's The Illustrated History of the U.S. Naval Academy and Dutton's Nautical Navigation. He and his wife, Deborah W. Cutler, are the co-editors of the Dictionary of Naval Terms and the Dictionary of Naval Abbreviations.

His books have been published in various forms, including paperback and audio, and have appeared as main and alternate selections of the History Book Club, Military Book Club, and Book of the Month Club. He has served as a panelist, commentator, and keynote speaker on military and writing topics at many events and for various organizations, including the Naval History and Heritage Command, Smithsonian Institution, the Navy Memorial, U.S. Naval Academy, MacArthur Memorial Foundation, Johns Hopkins University, U.S. Naval Institute, Armed Forces Electronics Communications and Electronics Association, Naval War College, Civitan, and many veterans' organizations. His television appearances include the History Channel's Biography series, A&E's Our Century, Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, and CBS's 48 Hours.

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Events and Conferences

Guest Lecturer
12:30pm, “Shifley Lecture Series,” U.S. Naval Academy Museum, 118 Maryland Ave., Annapolis, MD /... Read More
Videotape Interview
10:00am, “Veterans Oral Histories Series,” American Veterans Center, 1100 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington,... Read More


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