Thursday, February 28, 2013

Artifact Spotlight: Medals of Lt. William C. Roy, 1946

---Kiersten Tibbetts, Curatorial Intern

W. Roy's Silver Star
Yesterday was the anniversary of the loss of the submarine USS Grayback (SS-208). Launched in 1941, Grayback was very successful in combat and even rescued six survivors from a crashed B-26 on an island in Munda Bay. The submarine sailed from Pearl Harbor for her tenth and final patrol on 28 January 1944 bound for the East China Sea. Ordered home on 25 February she was expected to arrive at Midway on 7 March but never reached her destination. On 27 February, a direct hit from a Japanese plane sunk the submarine and nearby vessels dropped depth charges on the location.  USS Grayback received eight battle stars and two Navy Unit Commendations. She sunk fourteen vessels and 63,835 tons of shipping.  The museum collection holds the medals of the submarine's first lieutenant William Charles Roy.

W. Roy's Purple Heart
Lieutenant Roy was born on 15 December 1919 in Allen, Indiana. At the time of his death he was residing in Berkley, California with his wife.  For his service to the United States Roy received an American Defense Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Navy Unit Commendation Award, Submarine Combat Insignia, a Silver Star, and a Purple Heart.

The Silver Star is the third highest award for valor in the United States Armed forces.   The citation for the medal states “Lieutenant Roy’s courageous conduct and steadfast devotion to duty under extremely perilous conditions were an inspiration to the officers and men with whom he served and in keeping with the highest tradition of the United States Naval Service.”

The President of the United States awards the Purple Heart to those wounded or killed in service. Preceded by the Badge of Military Merit established by George Washington in 1782, the medal was revived in 1932 as the Purple Heart award. The Submarine Combat Patrol Insignia is a pin worn by members of the Navy Submarine Service who have completed successful war patrols. Lieutenant Roy’s pin has three gold stars for three successful war patrols.

Submarine Combat Patrol Insignia

Gifts of Judy Roy                                                                                    2011.22

Friday, February 22, 2013

Artifact Spotlight: USF Constellation Model, 1985

---Kiersten Tibbetts, Curatorial Intern

The United States Frigate Constellation, launched in Baltimore on 7 September 1797, was one of the first six frigates constructed by the United States Navy. Constellation was designed by Joshua Humphreys, Josiah Fox, and William Doughty in 1795 and built by David Stodder the following year.  The frigate was the first U.S. Navy ship to win a battle. During the Quasi-War with France, the ship, under the command of Thomas Truxton, captured the French frigate L’ Insurgente.

Constellation has had an interesting and confusing history since its launch in 1797. In 1853 the frigate was broken up at the Gosport Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia. Decades later there was a controversy over the sloop of war named Constellation whose keel was laid the same year the frigate was broken up. Many believed the original frigate was rebuilt as the sloop. After a century of service in the U.S. Navy, the sloop of war was saved and brought into Baltimore Harbor for preservation as a historic ship. She was soon chosen to be the focal point of the city's new Inner Harbor in 1955. This controversy fascinated the designer of the Inner Harbor, Thomas Todd, who researched and built this model in 1985.
Stern Detail

The scale of the model is one-quarter centimeters to one inch. Todd had many challenges building this model because of the controversy and because much of the information on the frigate's design was not recorded. Todd chose to use the design from Howard I. Chapelle’s American Sailing Navy and studied a 1797 article from the Baltimore Gazette which described the ship and the carvings by William Rush. Even with these resources, information was still needed. For example, the color of the ship and the figurehead ornaments were not known. Todd used the resources mentioned above and his knowledge of  late eighteenth century ship building practices to portray these pieces. He used white pine and bass wood for the hull, planking, and decks. The carvings, ornaments, and figures are box wood. Birch dowels were used for masts and spars, linen for rigging, bass wood for the boats, and   box wood for the anchors.

The model is currently part of an exhibit at the Naval War College Museum. This exhibit, Navies in Miniature: Ship Models from the Naval War College Museum Collection, will be open until 3 May 2013. The exhibit showcases many models, including war gaming models by Fletcher Pratt and a model of the Continental frigate Hancock by Jim E. Plante, among others.  

Gift of Thomas Todd                                                                                                        2008.08.01

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Artifact Spotlight: Army Distinguished Service Medal, c.1943

---Kiersten Tibbetts, Curatorial Intern

Admiral Henry Kent Hewitt (1887-1972) was highly decorated during his service with the United States Navy. His various honors included two Navy Crosses, two Navy Distinguished Service Medals, and various foreign decorations, including Great Britain's Order of the Bath.  In addition to these honors, Admiral Hewitt was one of a select group of naval officers to receive the Army Distinguished Service Medal.

Admiral Hewitt's naval career began in 1907 with the Great White Fleet’s cruise around the world and ended with his retirement in 1949. He achieved international recognition for his role in the Allied victory of World War II. As Commander, Amphibious Force Atlantic Fleet, Admiral Hewitt established Army troops ashore at North Africa during Operation TORCH.  This operation led to the surrender of the Axis Powers in French North Africa, thereby securing the Mediterranean Sea for future operations by the Allied Powers.  Hewitt then served as Commander of the Eighth Fleet and led amphibious forces during the invasion of Sicily and the landings at Salerno in 1943. While still in command the following year, he played an integral part in Operation DRAGOON, the landing of the Seventh Army for the invasion of Southern France. This operation forced the German Army to abandon that region.

Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson presents VADM Hewitt
with the Army DSM on January 6, 1943. Admiral Ernest J.
King (center) and General George C. Marshall are in
attendance. NWC Naval Historical Collection
Admiral Hewitt was awarded two Army Distinguished Service medals for his vital roles in Operation TORCH and Operation DRAGOON. The Army Distinguished Service Medal is awarded to any member of the United States Army who showed "exceptionally meritorious service to the Government in a duty of great responsibility.” Out of a total 1,458 Army Distinguished Service medals awarded during World War II, Admiral Hewitt was one of only thirty recipients from the U.S. Navy. The medal, authorized by Presidential Order on January 2, 1918, can be awarded to other service members, but only in wartime and under exceptional circumstances. The bronze medallion bears the Coat of Arms of the United States and hangs from a red, white, and blue ribbon.  This was a great honor and demonstrated the vital role Admiral Hewitt played in several large Army operations during the war. The first award was presented by Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson in January 1943. In lieu of a second medal, a bronze oak leaf cluster was given.

Admiral Hewitt’s awards and decorations, including this medal, are on display in the museum's Naval War College exhibit. Hewitt had a long and close relationship with the college. He lectured on naval gunnery in 1924 and 1925 and after graduating with the senior class of 1929, taught as a member of the Department of Operations, Strategy, and Tactics. He addressed the college on Operation TORCH in 1945. From 1946 to 1947, he served on special assignment and lectured on his wartime experiences. His contributions were honored when the college named the library and classroom building in his honor in 1976.

Gift of Mrs. Floride Hunt Hewitt                                                                                          73.01.03