Institute Authors Named as 2019 Knox Award Winners
At the 93rd annual meeting of the Naval Historical Foundation (NHF) held 8 June at the Washington Navy Yard, officials announced this year’s three recipients of the Commodore Dudley W. Knox Medal for naval history: David C. Skaggs; Commander Tyrone G. Martin, U.S. Navy (Ret.); and Norman Polmar. All three are Naval Institute Press (NIP) authors and longtime contributors to Naval History magazine.
Inaugurated in 2013, the Commodore Dudley W. Knox Medal annually acknowledges a lifetime body of work that embraces scholarship, leadership, and mentoring in the field of naval history.
Skaggs’ works for NIP include A Signal Victory: The Lake Erie Campaign, 1812–1813 (1997), Thomas Macdonough: Master of Command in the Early U.S. Navy (2003), and Oliver Hazard Perry: Honor, Courage, and Patriotism in the Early U.S. Navy (2006). In 2013, he was Naval History’s Author of the Year.
Martin, who served 26 years as a U.S. Navy surface warfare officer, is renowned for NIP’s classic USS Constitution history, A Most Fortunate Ship: A Narrative History of Old Ironsides (revised edition, 2003). Having served in Korea and Vietnam, Martin received orders in 1974 to the Constitution, where he would gain accolades for initiating and overseeing intensive restoration of the historic frigate. A Most Fortunate Ship, written after Martin’s retirement, received several awards and has been reprinted and revised. In 1997, Martin was named Naval History Author of the Year.
Polmar, who has been a consultant or adviser on naval-related issues to three U.S. senators, the Speaker of the House, and the Deputy Counselor to the President, has written or coauthored more than 50 books and numerous articles on naval, aviation, technology, and intelligence subjects. Some of his more recent NIP works include Project Azorian: The CIA and the Raising of K-129 (2010), the two-volume antisubmarine warfare history Hunters and Killers (2015, 2016), and Admiral Gorshkov: The Man Who Challenged the U.S. Navy (2019). He has been a perennial in Naval History as the author of the magazine’s “Historic Aircraft” column.
The 2019 Knox Medals will be presented at an awards banquet in Annapolis after the conclusion of the forthcoming McMullen Naval History Symposium at the U.S. Naval Academy on 19–20 September. Details on purchasing tickets for the banquet will be posted at www.navyhistory.org.
A Flag Comes Home
In a White House ceremony on 18 July, Smithsonian Institution Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III accepted a 48-star U.S. flag that had flown from Landing Craft, Control (LCC) 60 on D-Day, 6 June 1944. The 30-by-57-inch flag shows discoloration and staining from diesel exhaust along with general wear and tear sustained during its wartime use. A hole appears to have come from a German machine-gun bullet. The LCC-60 crew worked off Utah Beach and was led by Lieutenant (junior grade) Howard Vander Beek, a Dutch-American who kept the flag. Following a meeting between President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, Dutch art collector Bert Kreuk donated the flag to the Smithsonian. It is now on view as part of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s “D-Day, June 6, 1944” 75th-anniversary exhibit.
Court Orders Graf Spee Eagle Must Be Sold
The giant bronze Nazi eagle from the stern of the German cruiser Admiral Graf Spee, sunk off the coast of Uruguay after the 1939 Battle of the River Plate (see “A Battle Badly Fought,” August 2019, pp. 14–19), must be sold, a Uruguay court told its government in June.
The 800-pound eagle was salvaged in 2006. For years it has been kept out of view in a sealed crate in a Uruguayan naval warehouse, as it is a controversial artifact—beneath the eagle’s talons is a large swastika.
Options considered have ranged from exhibiting the relic to auctioning it to outright destroying it. The court ruled that it must be sold within 90 days, with the proceeds to be split equally among the backers of the original salvage effort. While the Uruguay government has the right to appeal the ruling, it had yet to issue an official comment at press time.
Risky but Required: Battleship Texas to Be Moved
The battleship Texas (BB-35), the last floating relic of the dreadnought era and a museum ship for more than seven decades, will be moved from her longtime location in the Houston Ship Channel near the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, in a desperate effort to keep her financially feasible and to save her rusting, deteriorating hull, officials announced in late May.
Bruce Bramlett, executive director of the Battleship Texas Foundation, told the Houston Chronicle that the ship “is a losing proposition and frankly the state is tired of pouring money into it. It needs to be somewhere where it’s going to track four or five times as many people.”
But before the 105-year-old ship’s new site is determined, her first stop will be Alabama for much-needed repairs. To keep her in her current location has become increasingly untenable. “If it stays there,” Bramlett said, “it’s going to die there. It just doesn’t work financially.”
Moving the aged vessel, however, is a perilous proposition. “The option is indeed risky and the main reason why a move has not been seriously considered before this,” said William Cogar, executive director of the Historic Naval Ships Association. “While not the last resort, it was a desperation move based on the belief that if something was not done this legislative session, the next session would provide funding to scrap her.”
High-risk as moving the ship might be, it at least gives her a fighting chance. “If she were not moved,” Cogar said, “if the trends continue, she would continue to leak more and more with a catastrophic flooding event a failed pump or two away.” Currently, some 350 gallons of water per minute are being pumped off the Texas, he noted.
Galveston ranks high on the list of likely relocation sites. With a larger tourist base and nearby Seawolf Park (berthing locale for the museum submarine Cavalla and destroyer escort Stewart), Galveston could be “the best option to save this battleship,” Texas State Representative John Cyrier told the Chronicle.
However it plays out, the bottom line is that saving the Texas is paramount. As Cogar put it, “She is indeed one of a kind, the last remaining ‘dreadnought.’ She was at the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima. She was the U.S. presence in World War I. She was, in the words of Paul Schubert, ‘the smartest man o’ war afloat, and the best. A hard, tough, salty, steamin’ shootin’ fool. A trophy grabber, a fighter, and a he-man battle wagon.’ And, I would add, one of the most significant museum ships in the world.”
‘Old Ironsides’ Sailors Honor D-Day Vets
The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) Outreach Team joined sailors and staff from the Tennessee State Museum in a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, honoring veterans of the Normandy invasion during Navy Week Nashville on 6 June.
The ceremony, which took place at the World War II Memorial in Bicentennial Mall & Capitol State Park, commenced with a color guard of sailors from the oldest commissioned warship afloat, the USS Constitution. An award ceremony followed, honoring World War II veterans Henry Camp Malone, U.S. Navy, and Jerry Neal, U.S. Army Air Corps. The event concluded with the wreath laying, a moment of silence, and a rendition of “Taps.”
Courtney Rogers, the commissioner of Veterans Services, presented Malone and Neal with certificates of recognition for their service during World War II. Meanwhile, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee declared 6 June 2019 as a day of recognition for Malone and Neal.
For more news from NHHC, visit www.history.navy.mil.
—Mass Communication Specialist Third Class Daemon Pellegran and Mass Communication Specialist Second Class Mutis A. Capizzi, NHHC