Lest We Forget

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

Once the honors and ceremonies associated with the ambassador's return had been carried out with appropriate pomp and solemnity, a more festive mood took hold as the Turks embraced (both figuratively and literally) the visiting Americans as potential allies and friends. A large sign with the words "Welcome Missouri" appeared on a prominent harbor lighthouse, and soon souvenirs with images of the battleship were being sold in the marketplaces. Sightseeing Americans were greeted with much amity, and several banquets were held—complete with after-dinner bouts of belly-dancing performed to the "Missouri Waltz"!

Of greater interest to many members of the ships' crews—and a stark example of how times have changed—the Turkish government ordered several blocks in the city's red-light district cleaned and renovated, and Turkish medical personnel checked the "workers" there to ensure they were unencumbered by consequential maladies. As Paul Stillwell describes it in his landmark book Battleship Missouri, "it was something akin to the Good Housekeeping seal of approval." In an even more appreciated gesture of friendship, the visiting customers were not charged for services rendered! Further, Turkish military personnel and American shore patrolmen were authorized to turn away all local would-be patrons so that the Americans would have exclusive use of the attractions.

Lest there be concern that all of this frivolity had no greater purpose than recreation, Missouri 's visit coincided with threatened Soviet interloping in Greece, Turkey, and Iran and was seen as a tangible manifestation of American power that served as a countermove to those threats. This powerful warship's showing of the flag in that troubled part of the world—previously a British rather than American sphere of influence—has since been viewed as the U.S. Navy's official entry into the Cold War and as a fledgling step toward the creation of the powerful Sixth Fleet that would stand toe-to-toe with the Soviet navy in decades to come. Her visit was an early tactical move in an overall strategy of containment that ultimately lifted the Iron Curtain and ended the tyranny of Soviet communism.

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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Guest Lecturer
12:30pm, “Shifley Lecture Series,” U.S. Naval Academy Museum, 118 Maryland Ave., Annapolis, MD /... Read More

 
 

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