Maybe there weren't enough stories. Our Spotlight section on the Coast Guard did contain five feature length stories. The popular "Nobody Asked Me, But. . ." column called for establishment of a Coast Guard historical center. Our back page, where we run vintage photos from the Naval Institute's Archive, was a striking picture of Guardsmen battling for their lives on a tanker struggling to survive a hurricane. Doesn't really seem like we shortchanged the Coasties.
Maybe our disgruntled reader suspected our Editorial Board of bias against his service. Actually, although we're the Naval Institute, we're pretty ecumenical. Three of the 12 members are Coast Guardsmen. Oh, and the chairman is Vince Patton, former Master Chief Petty Officer of the you-know-what.
So what was it? Okay, I confess, it was me, or rather my Editor's Page. No, it wasn't the picture of Admiral Thad Allen, the Coast Guard Commandant, or the portion of the page devoted to discussing the Coast Guard section. It was a sin of omission, not one of commission. To wit. . .
I failed to wish the Coast Guard a Happy Birthday.
So do I think our aggrieved reader overreacted? Do I consider it odd that he ignored all the many things that were there and instead homed in on something that wasn't there?
No. He was right. There's no excuse, none, for failing to wish the Coast Guard a Happy Birthday in August. So—
Belatedly and apologetically, but no less enthusiastically. . .
HAPPY 218th BIRTHDAY, COASTIES!
We lead off this issue with an important article by Navy Secretary Donald Winter, who, as he has in the past, provides Proceedings readers with a pungent analysis of a pressing naval issue, in this instance how his service must configure itself to accomplish the crucial global presence mission to which it has been assigned and, perhaps even more pertinent, how to pay for it.
As we do every September, we shine a spotlight on naval aviation. No, the birthday of naval aviation does not fall in September. As everyone knows, the naval air community dates back to 8 May 1911 when the Navy ordered its first two aircraft, Glenn Curtiss biplanes designed for speeds topping 45 miles per hour. The first was called Triad. The Navy, never accused of lacking imagination, later dropped that name, changing it to the more swashbuckling A-1. The price was $5,500. Each.
Our naval aviation section contains an eclectic array of articles. A new member of our Editorial Board, recently retired Navy Commander John Patch, weighs in with a fascinating tale of the puzzling bombardment by Navy jets of Saddam Hussein's gilt-edged luxury yacht shortly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Commander Patch gently raises the question "Why?" since it appears the yacht had no tactical value and might have been sold to benefit the Iraqi people for well over $35 million, the selling price of one of Saddam's smaller yachts.
Retired Rear Admiral Ernie Christensen, veteran of four Vietnam combat deployments as a naval pilot and a Blue Angel as well, offers an affectionate, inspiring, and altogether thrilling tale of his grandfather, Rasmus Christensen, a Danish immigrant who became part of the pioneering Navy crew that in 1919 made the first ever flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
The naval aviation theme is illustrated by the striking images of the late Tom Lea, one of the great World War II combat artists. Not only does this issue contain many of his paintings, but the cover illustration of the USS Hornet (CV-8) under attack in 1942 is Lea's as well.
Robert Timberg, Editor-in-Chief