Lest We Forget: The 50th

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

Whether I succeeded or not is for others to judge, but I believe few will argue that this is not a worthwhile endeavor, and it is Fred Rainbow who deserves our appreciation for it.

But we owe Fred our thanks for so much more as well. In those many years that he was on the Naval Institute staff, Fred's driving dedication to make Proceedings one of the nation's most important magazines was perpetually evident in its pages. He was determined, above all, to make the magazine an open forum where the free exchange of ideas could ultimately make the services stronger—a blend of the best of two worlds: the military with its dedication to defense, and democracy, where free speech is both an essential element and one of those tenets of that Constitution we service people are tasked to defend. 

One of my favorite lines from the Broadway play and movie 1776 occurs when John Adams, in frustration at his colleagues' excessive caution, declares, "It's a revolution, damn it; we're going to have to offend someone!" While Fred was not plotting revolution, his pursuit of the open forum sometimes offended someone. . . or many. But Fred never let that intimidate him—in fact, I suspect that a side of him relished it, because it was one of the measures of success: if someone is angry it means they are reading the magazine; if someone is angry enough, he or she will respond, and an ongoing dialogue is one of the great attributes of this unusual periodical. 

Fred's willingness to "rabble-rouse" did not mean that he was not completely dedicated to the services and their ideals. Like the parent who sometimes scolds the errant child, Fred "scolded" the services he loves by ensuring that the pages of Proceedings often provoked people into facing realities they might otherwise ignore. He was qualified to criticize because Fred was a wielder of the sword as well as the quill, having served in the U.S. Navy for several years during the turbulent Vietnam War era before coming to the Naval Institute. 

Fred has moved on to serve in another important capacity. Miraculously, we have found a suitable replacement for him, but Fred's long watch at the helm of Proceedings made an indelible mark on this magazine, the Institute, and those it serves. 

Lest We Forget: a special thanks to Fred Rainbow.

Lieutenant Commander Cutler is the author of several books, including A Sailor's History of the U.S. Navy   and Brown Water, Black Berets .

 

 

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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