Lest We Forget - 'Nancies' and the 'Lame Duck'

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

But after making repairs, NC-4 caught up with the other two, delayed at Newfoundland because of bad weather. All three took to the skies again on 16 May and ventured into the vast reaches of the Atlantic. During the night they passed over the first of 21 destroyers that had been strung out across the ocean as navigation waypoints. But troubles began at dawn, when Tower, in NC-3, mistook a cruiser returning from Europe for one of the waypoint destroyers.

This error took him off the intended track and eventually forced him to put down short of his goal. NC-3 finished the voyage as a boat rather than an aircraft. NC-1 fared even worse, also getting lost and eventually succumbing to heavy seas. Fortunately all aboard were rescued by a Greek freighter before the aircraft sank.

Ironically, it was the Lame Duck, a Navy aircraft piloted by a Coast Guard officer, that triumphantly arrived on the far side of the Atlantic. The Duck landed first at the Azores, then at Lisbon, and finally at Plymouth, England, on 16 May, after a 3,925-mile flight. Archie Stone and the other courageous crewmembers in NC-4 had accomplished an early milestone in aviation history that would set the standard for many more pioneers to follow.

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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