When I take an out-of-town trip, I always try to squeeze in at least a brief visit to a historical site—be it a museum, ship, or battlefield. Naval History readers, I suspect, try to do the same.
To help you plan trips to historic nautical destinations, or just to take you on an armchair visit to them, we publish Museum Report in each issue. The one-page articles often can only scratch the surface of a particular location's naval history, but in this issue, we're giving you more.
Tom Huntington's article about the Charlestown Navy Yard and the USS Constitution is the first of periodic longer feature stories that will delve into the history of a particular travel destination while providing the logistical information to help you plan a visit there. The former editor of Historic Traveler and American History magazines, Tom has vast experience in mixing history and travel, and the Boston area—home of the Constitution and the navy yard—is arguably America's maritime heritage hotbed. Complementing Tom's article is frequent Naval History contributor retired Commander Tyrone Martin's account of his stint as a modern-day captain of the Constitution, which is the world's oldest commissioned warship still afloat.
While Commander Martin is one of the leading authorities on the Constitution, Dr. James Bradford and retired Navy Reserve Rear Admiral Joseph Callo are noted experts on John Paul Jones, who was memorialized by President Theodore Roosevelt and other dignitaries at the U.S. Naval Academy 100 years ago. Dr. Bradford marks the centennial of that event with an article about what a present-day Roosevelt might say about Jones and his life's lessons, and Admiral Callo recounts the naval hero's service in the Russian Navy and how he fared in battle against the Turks. Admiral Callo's biography of Jones, John Paul Jones: America's First Sea Warrior, is due out in March from the Naval Institute Press.
Another noteworthy Naval Institute Press release is Black Shoe Carrier Admiral: Frank Jack Fletcher at Coral Sea, Midway, and Guadalcanal, by World War II naval aviation expert John Lundstrom. The book is scheduled to be released in May, but you can get an early look by reading the excerpt in this issue about the tension-filled morning of 7 May 1942 that climaxed with the sinking of the Japanese aircraft carrier Shoho.
Finally, this issue marks the arrival on the Naval History staff of Senior Designer Kelly Erlinger and the return of former Editor-in-Chief Fred Shultz. Fred left the Naval Institute in March 2005, and after trying his hand at editing less engaging material, he's back home. Most of his work time is now devoted to the Naval Institute's Proceedings, but he'll be helping with Naval History as time allows. Besides Fred's sharp editing skills, his sage advice will greatly help me ensure that Naval History maintains and exceeds the high standard of quality he helped establish.
When I came aboard Naval History nearly three years ago, one of my first goals was annually to feature a package of articles about a specific type of U.S. Navy ship. The first effort, in February 2006, featured destroyers, and a year ago, it was battleships.
This year's package is about the least visible U.S. warships—submarines. Because of a pair of articles in our story bank, the choice seemed natural. In late 2006, Paul Stillwell brought us an exclusive: an article based on unpublished recollections and recently declassified documents about what was likely the Vietnam War's only U.S. nuclear submarine combat patrol. "The Sculpin's Lost Mission" was written by two retired Navy officers who participated in the patrol: Admiral Charles R. Larson and Captain Clinton Wright. Paul assisted them by paring the original 7,000-word manuscript to 4,500 words.
World War II submarine veteran Captain Charles Rush, U.S. Navy (Retired), meanwhile, visited the Naval Institute and discussed story ideas with Senior Editor Fred Schultz. The captain later submitted "One-Boat Wolfpack," about a daring late-1942 USS Thresher patrol in which he participated.
The package's third element, "From One-Man Submersible to High-Tech Behemoth," started small, as a two-page graphic, but grew into an engaging seven-page pictoral history of submarines. Sub expert Norman Polmar wrote the informative captions and provided most of the images, and Design Director Kelly Erlinger created the eye-grabbing layout.
Our final submarine component also came courtesy of Paul Stillwell: his "Looking Back" column about the USS Dolphin, the last of the U.S. Navy's diesel boats. To read more about these fascinating subs and their Sailors, check out Paul's latest book, Submarine Stories: Recollections from the Diesel Boats (Naval Institute Press, 2007).
An unfortunate reality for magazine authors is that after their articles are accepted for publication they often must wait a long time for them to appear in print. Further frustration can come when tentatively scheduled articles are bumped to later issues.
With that in mind, this issue's Writer Patience Awards go to Commander Tyrone Martin, U.S. Navy (Retired); Dr. Harold D. Langley; and Abbott Sparks. Commander Martin's article, "A Gentlemanly Munity," about a blemish on the USS Constitution's stellar record, was accepted way back in 1999 but figuratively fell through a crack in our story bank. Accepted more recently, in 2004, Dr. Langley's story about Charles Oscar Paullin, "Remembering a Forgotten Naval Historian," was scheduled for publication only to be postponed several times.
Finally, Abbott Sparks' remembrance of his longtime friend Joe Artman's service as a World War II frogman, "Water Ballet Off Iwo Jima," was due to run in last February's issue but was shelved a year. This article illuminates an aspect of Iwo Jima often overlooked: the key reconnaissance conducted by brave Underwater Demolition Team Sailors two days before the Marines went ashore. I hope you enjoy it, as well as this issue's other offerings.