Naval Institute Foundation

Shortly before graduation and commissioning I heard from my cousin, W. R. Smedberg III, Naval Academy Class of 1926 (and a future vice admiral). Smeddy was then serving in the Bureau of Naval Personnel. He was about to take command of the USS Lansdowne (DD-486), and wanted to know if I'd like to be assigned to his ship, on the understanding that no one was ever to learn of our relationship. I fired back an enthusiastic yes, reported aboard as the junior ensign, and became assistant gunnery officer. The secret was kept.

My 18 months in the Lansdowne , primarily in the Solomons, were active and nerve-wracking. No incident more so than the hours following the torpedoing of the carrier Wasp (CV-7) by a Japanese submarine on 15 September 1942. Our ship dropped her two 26-foot wooden motor boats, and I found myself the officer in charge of one of them. For many hours we hauled survivors from the water, dropped them off at the closest destroyer, and returned for more. The official capacity of the boat was 16; on one trip, with 36 on board, I felt the ocean filling my shoes as I heaved on board an oil-covered Sailor. I had to let go, assuring him and others we had to pass by that they would be picked up on our next trip—and they were. As we worked our way closer to the Wasp , the injuries became more severe. I hauled some badly burned men over the side whose skin came off in my hands, a bit like the outer shell of a toasted marshmallow. It was dreadful.

Beyond saving, the Wasp was put down by torpedoes from my ship. Years later, surviving members of the crew of the Japanese submarine that had attacked her were invited to a reunion of the USS North Carolina (BB-55), also torpedoed that day but not sunk. A subsequent article in Proceedings about the exchange of information between the former enemies made for most interesting reading.

I thoroughly enjoy Proceedings and Naval History magazines. The continuation of their robust health is a major reason why I have, over many years, given as generously to the Naval Institute as I could—and I will continue to do so. I might add that in 1944 I was a commissioning officer in the USS Barton (DD-722). My assistant gunnery officer was Ensign B. B. "Beetle" Forbes, fresh from Annapolis, who went on to have a distinguished naval career and retired as a vice admiral. Last year, the Naval Institute completed his oral history, and it gave me much pleasure and satisfaction to help underwrite the project. I take great pride in being both a member and a supporter.

The 1873 Society

The Naval Institute enjoyed the support of a record number of major donors in 2008. Our thanks to the following individuals whose generosity placed them in our top annual giving society last year:

RADM Joseph F. Callo and CAPT

Sally McElwreath

CAPT Earnest G. Campbell*

SMAJ Charles W. Godwin*

Peter A. Gudmundsson

Thomas M. Gunn

Mark W. Johnson

H. F. Lenfest

J. P. London

ADM James M. Loy

HON Robert C. McCormack

Rosa L. McDonald*

Merrill D. Martin

Christopher P. Michel

Edward and Joyce Miller

CAPT Randell H. Prothro

VADM Norman W. Ray

The John J. Schiff Family

COL Willard B. Snyder

RADM Sidney A. Wallace

MGEN Thomas L. Wilkerson

Dr. John Durfee Winslow*

Anonymous Donor

* Deceased

For information about the Naval Institute's major-donor societies or to support the Institute through a tax-deductible contribution, please contact Sue Sweeney at (410) 295-1054 or at ssweeney@usni.org . Gifts can also be securely made online at www.usni.org (click on " Support USNI ").

 

 
 

Conferences and Events

Defense Forum Washington 2014

Thu, 2014-12-04

Newseum - Knight Conference Center

Defense Forum Washington will take place December 4, 2014 at the Newseum - Knight Conference Center in Washington, DC.

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From the Press

Guest Lecturer

Mon, 2014-11-24

CDR Youssef H. Aboul-Enein, USN

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