What We Do

Three Tales (while not recent are worth the read!)

Sam Underhill Plants the Cap!

At '54's graduation in Halsey, the 5th and 6th Companies were able to get to Herndon sooner than most. Upon arrival I watched the melee from near the bandstand as more classmates joined. Suddenly, out of the blue, I spontaneously peeled off my jacket and ran to join the fray. The base had begun to form. Being lighter than most, I climbed to the top of the pile standing on someone's shoulders. (Look at page 130 of our Lucky Bag). {WM Note:See Below} At this point there were several feet to get to the top, but I was high enough to wrap my arms around Herndon. Based on my 3 years of high school wrestling and our plebe year, I was fairly strong and shimmied up using my arms and knees. I grabbed the '56 hat and tossed it down to the cheers of the increasing crowd. Someone passed me a '57 hat which went on the top of Herndon to a great roar of the crowd.

At this point the base essentially dissolved leaving me high and greasy. Getting weak, I began to slip down until Herndon was too big to hold on to and fortunately fell on some classmates without anyone getting hurt. It was a huge achievement thanks to all of the classmates who participated. And now you know the rest of the story! There are some things in life that one never forgets!! And, oh, despite the tradition, I never made Flag😊.

Some have stated the effort took over 2 hours I don't think so based on the time I was involved. In fact there were several who arrived late and could not believe it was over. However, someone may have been watching the clock and could confirm it.

Sam and Herndon

Frank Parker et al Cheat Death at Sea

On the 4th of July, 1970 my wife Nina and I invited another couple to sail with us from Seabrook, TX to Galveston on our Cal-30, where we planned to anchor out overnight and sail back to Seabrook the next morning. Well, we sailed back to Seabrook the next morning, but not exactly in the manner we had planned. After a lazy afternoon sail down the bay to Galveston, we headed out between the jetties marking the entrance to Galveston Bay. We rounded the north jetty, where we would anchor for the night, on the lee side of the jetty, sheltered from the southerly wind. It was about 5 pm and we had furled the sails on deck, put up the awning and were having a sundowner, when we noticed flashes of lightning through the hazy sky toward the north. From that moment, until the north wind was so strong that we could only hang on and pray, no more than fifteen minutes had passed. The sky parted and a big black squall line headed for us. We tried to get the awning down, but it was too late. The wind took it down for us, and threw it over the side. We headed below, to keep from being blown overboard. I started the engine and put the motor in low gear, trying to keep the tension off our anchor line, since we were now being blown in the direction of the jetty rocks - about 100 yards behind us. The wind, according the Coast Guard station, measured 90 mph at the height of the squall. While we were being tossed about on the anchor line, the wind snapped the ties on our sails and hoisted both the main and the jib to full height, proceeding then to whip them back and forth until they were ripped to shreds and carried away. All that was left of the jib were the brass jib hanks that slide on the head stay. The spinnaker pole was also wrested from its stowage on deck and lost overboard. We thought the mast would go, but after the sails carried away, the mast was spared. At one point I saw a 44 ft. ketch go sailing by with no sails, but heeled over with the rail in the water, just from the force of the wind on the mast. Later I would learn that the skipper of that ketch saved about 20 people who were clinging to the jetty rocks after their cabin cruisers had been destroyed. Luckily for us our anchor line held, and we only suffered damaged nerves, and for the girls aboard - empty stomachs due to all that tossing about. The boat looked like a hurricane had hit it, which is exactly what had happened, if you look at the force of the wind. We got underway around 9 pm and motored back to Galveston, watching the storm march off out to sea, with lightning playing all over the night sky. We tied up at a marina and got off the boat for the night, (luckily there were motels nearby) having no desire to begin the cleanup until we could see what we were doing. The next morning it dawned bright and sunny, and we motored back up the bay to Seabrook, noticing several sunken boats along the way, with their bows sticking up out of the water. The newspaper said that over 50 boats were sunk that day in Galveston Bay by a killer thunderstorm which formed over Baytown and rapidly moved down the bay and out into the Gulf of Mexico. What a day we picked for an overnight outing. Galveston hasn't had another squall like that in the 47 years since it happened. I figured I would never get my wife to go sailing with me again, but I was wrong. We put that experience behind us and continued to enjoy the boat on day sails in the bay. My insurance got me back in business with a new set of sails.

Robert Phillips’s Recollections of DaNang, RVN

Story of DaNang_pages

selected slides

Navy Lacrosse Ladies Defeat North Carolina Ladies!!
May 20, 2017
By Charles R. Hall III

A few months ago I was advised that my next-door neighbor’s daughter was engaged to a fine young lad and that they would be married in Duham, NC in the spring. Shortly thereafter, I received a very nice invitation and I was honored to be included so I sent in my RSVP card. I, of course, labored over an appropriate gift and was naturally overwhelmed since all that stuff was Audrey’s bailiwick and hers alone. Fortunately, Harriet Hellewell, an Associate Member of the Glorious Seventh, came to my rescue and saved, not only the day, but my whole Spring.

So the day before the wedding arrived and I set out to join the merry bunch in Durham, NC. Along the way, I stopped in Lynchburg, VA and enjoyed a fine lunch with Jack and Harriet Hellewell. Harriet completed her Indoctrinal Phase of her appointment as the Hall Wedding and Other Special Occasions Gift Consultant by wrapping my gift so very elegantly that I almost did not give it to the about-to-be-married couple.

After that I journeyed on to Durham and as I was entering the hotel, I noticed a sign in the lobby that read “Welcome to the United States Naval Academy” and so I came to believe that my hosts had fore-warned the hotel that I would be attending and the hotel had rendered appropriate honors. That feeling was shortly dashed to earth as, upon entering the elevator, I met several young ladies in Navy Midshipmen uniforms and so I asked them if they were USNA and, of course, they were. I then learned that they were in Durham for a national quarterfinal Lacrosse game with the North Carolina ladies who were defending National Champs. Later on I met the Team Officer Rep a Navy Captain Naval Aviator of the helicopter persuasion. We shared a few stories and it turned out that he had flown the Navy SH-60, an aircraft for which I had led the Full Production Decision Cost and Operational Effectiveness Analysis that led to approval by the Powers That Be (Were) back in the early eighties. He also shared with me some of the team’s successes. Ladies Lacrosse at USNA is a fairly recent arrival, starting as a club in 2007 and joining the Patriot League shortly thereafter. They have had some success in the League and been to the NCAA tournament several time but this has been their best so far.

I met a few of the other ladies during the afternoon and evening and they treated me very nicely, ignoring they fact that I was, indeed, the old codger from way back when. I was unsuccessful in convincing them that it was far tougher in our days that currently even when I told them that we had no hot water in our showers and electricity was rationed.

I managed to get a couple of photos of the Officer Rep and a few of the ladies before they boarded their bus for the game.

Pasted Graphic

I also managed to get myself in one photo.

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Their bus is shown below and is a far cry from the cattle cars that took us to Philly for the Army Game.

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Just before they departed I gave them some useful strategy for the afternoon, based on my sterling athletic career at Navy (meaning that I was never on the Sub or Weak Squads but came close a couple of times!). I stroked my chin and then said, gravely, “Go kick their butts!!” to which they all said “Yes, Sir or some such!” And off they went to do just that!!

As it turned out, my strategy worked well. Navy won 16-14 and will play Boston College on Friday, May 26 on ESPN 3 about 1930. I captured the write-up of the game from the local fish-wrapper for your reading pleasure.

As it turned out our Ladies lost a hard-fought battle to BC 16-15 on Friday, May 26th. I’m sorry that I was not able to get this on the site before now but I’ve had a battle of my own with the various computers between me and the final resting place of our Web Site.

Ladies Lacrosse

Nick Lambert visits our own Jim Eddins, Maker of fine wines in Southern Alabama!!

Nick and his lovely wife, Kate, were visiting friends in Mobile, Alabama and took a day to inspect Jim’s winery at Perdido, AL. Jim also took them for a short tour that included the location of the once-upon-a-time Ghost Fleet of the Tensaw River. Jim is providing Nick with a three-picture composite of the Ghost Fleet that shows the ships way back when they still existed. As I understand the history, they were first moth-balled in case of a war with the Soviet Union and, later on, scrapped. The composite is destined for the wall of the office of our Professor of Naval Heritage. Below is a photo of Nick, Kate, and Jim.


Jim provided me with a copy of one of his writings that deals with the liquor business in Alabama from a slightly humorous and satirical perspective. I enjoyed it and thought that Classmates would enjoy it also and so I’ve published in pdf format below.


NOTE: I have a Video of our own Racing Legend, Robert Phillips, but have not yet conquered the art of inserting video in the Website.

However, as an interim move, you can see him in action at these URLs:

Looking Good, Robert!!

Oarsmen of the First Water, B’Gum!!

Our own Rowing Stalwarts, Art Wright and Roger McPherson, journeyed afar to take part in the World Rowing Masters Regatta(WRMR) in Copenhagen during the week of 5 September. Art organized the “Geezer” teams called the “Octos of 80”. There are 6 rowers in the category from the US and many more from Europe. Our guys rowed eights, quads, and doubles during the three days of competition. They have provided some photo proof so that all us scoffers must bow down to athletic skill and endurance. Shown below are two such proofs. The Quad consists of Art Wright, Ancient Mariners Rowing Club, Seattle, WA; John Davies, Royal Chester Rowing Club, Chester, UK; Roger McPherson, Rat Island Rowing & Sculling Club, Port Townsend, WA; and Don Tanhauser, Lake Casitas Rowing Association, Ventura, CA. The Double is Art and Roger.

Herewith their report. “Roger and Art were in 4 or 5 races each in the 80-year-old bracket (Doubles, Four with Cox, Four without Cox, Quad, and Eight) but no Gold Medals. Roger was edged out by a nose for a Gold in a Four with Cox and Art had two long seconds. Next year in Slovenia we’ll do better. There are some tough old guys in our age group. But a lot of fun! We would love to have a few other ’57 rowers join us in Bled next September.”

Quad at World

Double at World

Guest Lecturer at USNA
Reported by Charlie Hall

After a series of e-mail transactions between myself and the Distinguished Holder of our Chair in Naval Heritage, one Doctor Nick Lambert, a Brit by birth, a decorated historian (with military family connections) by education, and a delightful fellow in person, I offered to do a presentation to one of his classes in honor of Admiral Lord Nelson’s Victory over the Combined Fleets of France and Spain at Trafalgar. Trafalgar Day is celebrated in the UK on October 21st but the battle foreplay (if I may use that term in a historical sense) actually commenced on the previous day. I have, in the distant past about the time the earth began to cool, employed Nelson’s strategy that forced the battle and allowed British seamanship and gunnery to win the victory as the basis for the analytical approach to a Cost-Effectiveness Study for a C4ISR System called Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS), also known as Link 16 for F/A-18. Our own Classmate, Rear Admiral Bob Ailes, was the system sponsor and was the chief audience for our progress reports. The study may very well have been the first credible effort to link a C4ISR system to military combat effectiveness using high level Measures of Effectiveness, bombs to target and US aircraft losses. C4ISR systems, such as MIDS, make their contribution to combat effectiveness by allowing Force Commanders to do something that they could not do prior to the incorporation of the C4ISR system, i.e. employ new tactics. The new tactics then lead to improved combat effectiveness that can be calculated (estimated?) by standard methods.

And so on the Glorious 19th of October I journeyed to Annapolis, dined in splendor at the restaurant chosen for the Combined 7th and 8th Companies Friday Evening Dinner next April, and arrived at the Farm at the appointed hour on Thursday, October 20th. Climbing the stairs of Sampson Hall was nowhere as easy as I recall, but luckily, I was not required to chop. Nick and I swapped stories for a bit over coffee and then proceeded to the Museum and a conference room which had been not available until Nick told the Director’s Secretary that a Member of 1957 was coming as a Guest Lecturer at which point the wheels began to turn and the room became available. She might also have alerted the Corpsmen just in case.

The Midshipmen arrived, having proceeded independently from Mother Bancroft and sat around the Maury Table, a gift from old Matthew Fontaine’s widow. I thought about asking for Straggler’s Chits but decided not to pursue that avenue. When the class start time arrived, the senior Mid called “Attention” and all stood smartly. Doctor Nick then turned to me and said, “Sir, the Class is yours!” and I, temporarily nonplussed, waved a hand and said please sit. In a turnabout maneuver, I opened my rolling case and brought forth a bag of Honey-Crisp apples, fresh from West Virginia trees, and passed them out to all. Apples from, not for, the teacher!!

I naturally had sent Vugraphs ahead which was good because thumb drives never see the light of day inside the yard, a hanging offense, I’m told. And so I went thru two aspects of C4ISR systems in combat, Nelson’s Battle Plan and MIDS. The midshipmen were attentive and one of them actually saw beyond the message I sought to deliver when he asked me a question that went at least one level beyond my presentation. Nick told me later that he was probably the sharpest one in the class.

After class, (70 minutes long, hard to imagine after a noon meal of Hamburg and Spaghetti, Corn Fritters, and Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce) I was treated to lunch at the Officer’s Club along with three of the members of the class. We had a delightful visit over a tasty lunch with discussions that included the Old Days as well as the New Days! A fine time was had by all and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. I strongly suggest that any who can make it arrange to sit in on one of Nick’s classes. The Midshipmen have progressed well beyond the “plug the formulas” level and actually are operating at a level fairly close where I was after Post-Grad School. I left them a handout containing the below suggested Reading List:

A Suggested Reading List for Young Naval and Marine Officers
(If ever there is time to read non-official material!)
Charles R. Hall III
USNA 1957

John Keegan was a British Historian who wrote a number of books about warfare, some general and some specific. I will not give you a complete list of his works but you can’t go wrong reading anything he wrote. Some of my own favorites are:

“The Price of Admiralty – The Evolution of Naval Warfare”, 1988 (Admiralty here means “sea power “ or “rule over the seas”. See Kipling’s “Song of the Dead” “… if blood be the price of admiralty, Lord God, we ha’ paid in full …” Four of the most significant and important naval battles in history.

“The Face of Battle”, 1976 (What it must have been like to be a soldier at Agincourt or Waterloo and other such battles.)

“A History of Warfare”, 1993 (A sweeping view of the place of warfare in human culture over the ages.)

Wayne Hughes is a retired Naval Officer of the USNA Class of 1952 and a Classmate of mine from Naval Postgraduate School, Ops Research 1964. He is probably the smartest man I have met over my entire Naval and Civilian Careers and applies that brain in dealing with many matters, military and otherwise. Again, you can’t go wrong reading anything he ever wrote. Highly recommended are:

“Fleet Tactics –Theory and Practice”, 1986 (The first book about tactics in Naval Warfare since the early days of the 20th Century. Includes discussions of Missile Warfare at sea.)

“Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat”, 2000 (The Second Edition of the above book. Includes much new material on combat in the missile age and discusses littoral operations.)

Admiral Sir John “Sandy” Woodward, GBE, KCB was the British Admiral entrusted with the Task Force sent to rescue the Falkland Islands from Argentine capture in 1982. His account of that whole adventure is well worth the read. I learned from one of my good friends, a British Officer on duty in MOD UK at the time, that the Military Staff had been given some 13 planning parameters for the future and that they violated over half of them in the first few days of organizing for the rescue.

“One Hundred Days – The Memoirs of the Falklands Battle Group Commander”, 1997 (The whole story from the beginning to the end of the most recent Naval Operations and maybe the last of its kind? BTW: The last submarine destroyed in actual combat was done in by British helicopters!! You could look it up!!)

I am attaching the PowerPoint Slides below for those who might be interested and will be happy to discuss this further over drinks and/or coffee if anybody is so inclined.

Oct 2016 USNA Pitch