Saturday, October 25, 2014

Inside the Icon: Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

Fort Rosecrans is located on the site of the Battle of San Pasqual in the Mexican–American War of 1846, in which 19 of Brigadier General Stephen W. Kearny’s men lost their lives.

Landscape Laws

While fresh flowers may be placed at gravesites, potted plants are only permitted during the five days before to five days after Easter and Christmas Day.

Landmark Territory

Located on more than 77 acres of land, it was named a California Historical Landmark in 1932.

Team Effort

There are a total of 21  employees between Fort Rosecrans and Miramar national cemeteries. Volunteers clean the gravestones throughout the year and assist with the annual Memorial Day and Wreaths Across America ceremonies. 

Family Matters

The burial benefit at Fort Rosecrans is extended to eligible veterans and their spouses and children. All share one gravesite or may have two adjoining sites.

By the Numbers

As of August 2014, there are 112,408 interments in a total of 86,769 gravesites.

Men of Honor

Many notable servicemembers are interred at Fort Rosecrans, including Major Reuben H. Fleet, World War I aviator, whose name adorns the Balboa Park science museum; and Major General Joseph H. Pendleton, for whom Camp Pendleton is named.

Closed for Now

The cemetery is currently closed to new interments, except for the burials of eligible veterans and their family members in existing gravesites.

A Naval Movement

Initially named Bennington National Cemetery, the site was renamed Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in 1934. A monument within the cemetery marks the deaths of 62 sailors in a boiler explosion aboard the USS Bennington in 1905.

World War One bombs a part of life in Belgium even 100 years on

World War One bombs a part of life in Belgium even 100 years on

YPRES Belgium Fri Oct 24, 2014 5:30am EDT
World War One bullets are seen from a British trench discovered during work to install new sewers in a street near Ypres, October 20, 2014. REUTERS-Francois Lenoir
1 OF 3. World War One bullets are seen from a British trench discovered during work to install new sewers in a street near Ypres, October 20, 2014. 
(Reuters) - Pondfarm in western Belgium is used to digging up an unusual crop.
"It's a fairly poor harvest," said Stijn Butaye, 26, as he looked at a haul of 28 World War One shells unearthed with potatoes and beet in the last two weeks and awaiting collection by Belgium's bomb disposal squad.

The 40-hectare (100 acre) Butaye family farm sits where - 100 years ago - advancing German forces pounded British lines, eventually setting up a base with a hospital and an aid station in two large fortified bunkers.
Belgian farmers who returned to the muddied battlefields after the war mostly just filled in the trenches and got back to work.
Butaye's grandfather sought in the 1960s to blow up the German bunkers he despised, but Butaye himself has developed such a love for war memorabilia he has unearthed over the past decade that he has set up his own museum. 
It is quite a haul: dozens of bottles, shells, two British rifles, a helmet and, at the entrance, the end section of an early British tank with metal tread and a book signed by visitors from as far away as Canada, South Africa and Australia.
"It is a hobby that has got a bit out of hand," confesses Butaye.
Centenary commemorations this year have spiked international interest particularly in the Ypres area, which saw some of the heaviest fighting and is now dotted with war cemeteries.
Some 65 million soldiers mobilized for the Great War, around 9 million were killed, 20 million injured and nearly 7 million taken prisoner. 
Belgium will hold ceremonies on Oct. 28 to mark the 100th anniversary of the First Battle of Ypres and the flooding of the Yser plain at Nieuwpoort - events that blocked the German advance and set up almost four years of trench warfare.
Local farmers have been ploughing the fields for generations, but bombs keep coming up, partly because the act of ploughing breaks up the soil and then because, in winter, ice formed around a metal object also nudges it higher.
Butaye says the harsher the winter, the larger the haul of shells and other war relics over the subsequent season.
More organized discoveries of World War One artifacts in Belgium have surged in the past decade, prompted by a 2004 change in the law requiring companies carrying out construction or infrastructure work to pay for any archaeological investigation required at their site.
According to the Flemish heritage agency, which oversees such work, there are some 600 test or full digs per year.
"That's 20 to 40 times more than we were doing before... And obviously the more you dig, the more you find," said agency archaeologist Sam De Decker.
One such project was on the outskirts of Ypres, prompted by excavation to replace the sewers. The site's potential might have gone unnoticed had local pensioner and war enthusiast Gilbert Ossieur not turned up with a plan showing where British forces had dug in along his street.
Archaeologist Marc Dewilde and his team spent the next weeks unearthing the raised duckboards that the British soldier learned to build to allow themselves to walk clear of the mud as well as steps dropping down to a deep underground passage, which probably led to sleeping quarters and storage rooms.
Dewilde's cache includes a satchel with spoon, fork and pipe, countless bullets, a can of "Yeatmans British Confectionery" as well as two bombs and a hand grenade.
Fatalities are rare but not exceptional. Experts says that about a quarter of all shells fired from both sides failed to go off. In March this year, though, two workers were killed by a bomb that exploded after being removed from a construction site in Ypres.
According to local historian John Desreumaux, 358 people have been killed and 535 injured in a total of 599 explosions in the Ypres area since World War One's end in 1918.
His list starts with a nine-year-old boy who had to have his left hand amputated in 1918 and concludes in 2008 with a 70-year-old blown up in his own garage while tinkering with a live shell.
The Belgian army's bomb disposal squad says it is called out about 3,000 times a year to defuse, unearth or simply collect live shells and other explosives from World War One and Two, the vast majority of it from the first war in the area around Ypres.
That's around 150 tonnes per year of potentially lethal shells and grenades.
Butaye says there is one meadow on his family's farm deemed too dangerous to plough. Sure enough, when Butaye passes his metal detector over a patch of grass just chewed by a cow, it beeps to indicate there is something beneath the surface.

Marine murder case reveals US-Philippine sore spot - (DoD Carelessness)

MANILA, Philippines — American forces are guarding Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton, yet a ring of Filipino troops surrounds them. The seemingly redundant security effort around the suspect in a Philippine murder case reflects Manila's uneasy ties with Washington, its former colonial master.
Pemberton, 19, is accused of killing Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old transgender Filipino, in a motel room Oct. 11 in the city of Olongapo. He was initially held on a U.S. Navy warship at the Subic Bay Freeport, northwest of Manila, but on Wednesday he was transferred to the Philippine military's main camp, where Filipino troops and two of his fellow Marines continue to guard him.
Here are some questions and answers about the tensions that result when U.S. troops are accused of serious crimes in the Philippines, whose love-hate relationship with Washington has been shaped over the decades by war, terrorism and now, jitters over China's rise:
What are the rules When a U.S. servicemember is accused of a crime in the Philippines?
A: Under the Visiting Forces Agreement, which the treaty allies signed in 1998, the Philippines can prosecute U.S. troops accused of crimes there. But the accord grants the U.S. custody over those troops "from the commission of the offense until completion of all judicial proceedings."
Left-wing groups and nationalists have demanded that the Philippine government take immediate custody of Pemberton, saying Americans continue to impinge on their country's sovereignty nearly 70 years after it gained independence. In a compromise between the two countries, the U.S. transferred Pemberton to Philippine soil but continues to guard him and officially has not given up custody.
How did the agreement come about?
A: After World War II, the U.S. maintained huge military bases in the Philippines for nearly a half-century, but those were shuttered in the early 1990s amid rising nationalism, virtually freezing military ties.
China's 1995 seizure of a contested reef, however, prompted Manila to reach out to Washington again. Three years later, the allies signed the Visiting Forces Agreement, allowing large-scale military exercises to resume in the country. It also gave the Philippines a clear right to prosecute U.S. troops who commit crimes, something it lacked previously.
Territorial disputes continue to simmer between China and the Philippines over islands in the South China Sea, and occasionally spark direct confrontations. In April, Manila and Washington signed a 10-year defense accord that will give American forces greater access to Philippine military camps.
With its anemic military, the Philippines aims to bolster ties with the U.S. to try to deter China. Washington, meanwhile, is strengthening its military in Asia after years of heavy engagement in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
What role has the Visiting Forces agreement played in past cases?
A: The highest-profile, and to many Filipinos most infamous, case was against Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, who was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison on charges of raping a Filipino woman in 2005. He was held at the U.S. Embassy in Manila until a Philippine appeals court overturned his conviction in 2009, allowing him to leave the country amid anti-U.S. protests.
In 2009, then-U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney advised Washington about the dilemma Smith's case created.
"It is imperative that we recognize that more than a legal case, the accusation against LCpl Smith struck at the very heart of Philippine historical animus toward its colonial past," Kenney wrote in a confidential diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks. "For the last three years, no story ... matched the headlines in column inches devoted to the sordid details" of his case, she wrote.
With Philippine officials dead set against a repeat of the circumstances of the Smith case, they reached a deal with the U.S. that allows both sides to say they have control over Pemberton.
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Wednesday that Washington "is fully aware that for the Philippine government, it will be totally unacceptable for them to detain Pemberton within the premises of the U.S. Embassy, as was done in the Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith case."
How else does history affect the U.S. military's relationship with the Philippines?
A: America's foray into the Philippines started when it defeated the Spanish fleet in the Battle of Manila Bay in 1898, ending more than three centuries of Spanish colonization. But the Philippines was ceded shortly after to the United States and only gained independence in 1946, a colonization that was disrupted by the Japanese imperial army's invasion.
Following U.S. forces' exit and return in the 1990s, the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks brought the two militaries closer. Filipino officials allowed hundreds of American counterterrorism troops to train Filipino forces fighting al-Qaida-linked militants in the south. U.S. counterterrorism forces began to scale down their presence in the south this year after helping weaken Abu Sayyaf extremists.
Could the Philippines decide to scrap the Visiting Forces agreement?
A: The murder case has reignited calls, even among some Philippine senators, for the repeal of the agreement. But that is unlikely because of the security implications: Abrogating the deal could effectively halt current U.S. troop presence and large-scale exercises in the Philippines. President Benigno Aquino III has strongly opposed calls from left-wing activists to scrap the pact, but the government is open to a review of the agreement, including provisions on criminal jurisdiction and custody.
Where does Pemberton's case go from here?
A: Laude's family has filed a murder complaint against Pemberton before prosecutors in Olongapo, the city northwest of Manila where she was killed. If prosecutors assess there is strong evidence, Pemberton will be indicted and face trial. Amid yells of "justice for Jennifer" by left-wing activists, Laude's remains were transported Friday by her family and dozens of mourners from a Roman Catholic church to a cemetery in Olongapo where she was laid to rest.

Exploitation of Captured Japanese Documents by the Far Eastern Section,Foreign Intelligence Branch, of the Office of Naval Intelligence(OP-16-FE), 1944-1946

Exploitation of Captured Japanese Documents by the Far Eastern Section, Foreign Intelligence Branch, of the Office of Naval Intelligence (OP-16-FE), 1944-1946

by  on October 24, 2014

Today’s post was written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Senior Archivist at the National Archives in College Park.
Most researchers dealing with the translation of captured and seized Japanese records are familiar with the primary organizations translating those records.  These would include the Pacific Military Intelligence Research Service (PACMIRS), the Allied Translator and Interpreter Section (ATIS), the Joint Intelligence Center Pacific Ocean Area (JICPOA), and the Washington Document Center (WDC).  Few researchers are aware that the U.S. Navy’s relatively small intelligence unit,theFar Eastern Section, Foreign Intelligence Branch, of the Office of Naval Intelligence (OP-16-FE), located in Washington, D.C., also translated captured and seized Japanese records.
During the first six months of 1944, the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) received approximately 130 large cases of Japanese records from JICPOA. In addition, ONI’s Far East Section received many documents for translation from the Hydrographic Office, the Naval Research Laboratory, the various Navy bureaus, and other offices.  The records included blueprints of Japanese equipment, charts, logs, war diaries, field manuals, and codebooks. The backlog of untranslated material accumulated rapidly.  The Navy responded in May 1944 by ordering approximately twenty recent graduates of the Navy School of Oriental Languages (at University of Colorado at Boulder) to report for temporary duty to work on translating the materials.  In September 1944, thirty more language officers, mostly WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), were assigned to permanent duty in the Translation Unit of Far East Section of ONI (OP-16-FE).  By February 1945, the unit consisted of ninety-five personnel.  Even with this large staff, it was insufficient to keep up with the task of processing, translating, evaluating, and disseminating the captured Japanese records.
The Far East Section (OP-16-FE) began publishing translations on June 10, 1944.  Twenty copies of these translations were distributed, with seven going to the Military Intelligence Division of the War Department, two to the Director of Naval Communications (OP-20), and one to ATIS.  The number of copies distributed would increase.  By the end of the year well over 100 translations had been published.  By April 1945 OP-16-FE had published well over 200 translations.  Given ONI’s naval interests it is not surprising that many of the translations related to Japanese naval and merchant vessels. There were translations related to warships and other craft, organization and personnel of the Japanese Imperial Navy, addresses and code addresses of naval units, naval regulations, naval construction, mine warfare, naval ordnance, and anti-submarine and aircraft defensive measures.  Many of the translations related to the Japanese merchant marine and convoys including anti-submarine measures, sailing directions, and Notices to Mariners.  There was even a translation relating to the German Submarine U-188 operating in the Indian Ocean.
Many of the translations related to airplanes, airfields, ordnance, and Kamikaze [Special Attack Units] operations, as well as to technical matters, including radar, echo-ranging gear, radio homing gear, direction finders, and range finders, communications equipment, and cameras and optical instruments.  Numerous translations related to gasoline and gasoline additives, engines, carburetors, fuel injector systems, magnetos, oils, and greases.  Weather data and forecasts and meteorological material made up a handful of translation.  Japanese air defense preparations, units, equipment, procedures and activities, were the source of numerous translations.  There were also translations relating to the Japanese population, including Korean residents; the Japanese character; evacuation of Japanese urban communities; railroads and transportation; factories and supplies, including supply methods, units, and shortages.
In addition, there were also translations relating to underwater obstacles for use against landing craft and amphibious tanks; poison gas warfare; disposition of Japanese forces; handling of Army secret documents; defects in the training of soldiers facing the Soviet Army; and, methods for the disposal of code books and code machines of the 3rd Southern Expeditionary Fleet.  Other translations included those of Japanese documents relating to Japanese views of American strength, plans, and tactics.  OP-16-FE also produced numerous translations of Japanese intelligence reports regarding Russian military matters, including military operations on the Eastern Front and at the Manchurian-Soviet border.
During the summer and fall of 1945, OP-16-FE began receiving captured records from the WDC and it was during the latter half of that year its translation work shifted dramatically to focus on occupation-related documents.  During the August 25-October 1 period it published numerous translations relating to prefecture information and government officials in different parts of Japan.  It also produced, during the late August-mid November period, translations related to the structure of the Japanese government and the various ministries.  Also translated were documents related to the emperor and his household estates and accounts.
The translation activities of OP-16-FE trailed off after mid-November 1945. On December 13, 1945 it published a translation related to the Japanese Special Naval Police Force and on January 2, 1946 it published a list of intelligence reports issued by the Japanese Naval General Staff.   Four more translations were issued in February and March and the last on April 1.
Altogether OP-16-FE (and its successor OP-23-F141) between June 1944 and April 1946 published 398 numbered translations of Japanese documents.  They can be found in boxes numbered 1-12 of the series Foreign Document Translations and Related Records, 1944-1948, Entry UD-8 (NAID 6789380), Far Eastern Section, Foreign Intelligence Branch, Office of Naval Intelligence, Records of the Chief of Naval Operations, Record Group 38.  The first box contains a numerical index to the translations.
The thirteenth box of the series contains two special translations based on documents acquired in Germany. They were published in July 1945. One was a 122-page report, dated February 26, 1945, by Vice Admiral Katsuo Abe (1891-1948) in his capacity as Japanese representative on the Tripartite Naval Affairs Commission to the Minister of the Japanese Navy and to the Chief of the Naval General Staff. The other was a 17-page report, dated December 31, 1944, from Baron Lt. Gen. Hiroshi Oshima (1886-1975), Envoy Extraordinary and Ambassador Plenipotentiary of the Japanese Empire in Germany to Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu.
The Abe report is a compilation of daily and monthly reports covering conferences with the highest German and Italian state and military leaders over the period extending from May 1943, when he was assigned to duties in Germany, until the end of January 1945.  Especially interesting, are some of Abe’s accounts of meetings with Hermann Goering, Benito Mussolini, Alfred Jodl (Chief of the Operations Staff of the German Armed Forces High Command), and other prominent Axis leaders.
Along with two military attaches, Abe met with Hermann Goering at Carinhall (his estate near Berlin) on the afternoon of January 13, 1945.  Abe reported two days later that Goering’s “complexion was good, he was less fleshy than formerly, and appeared in unusually good health.”  Goering told Abe the reasons why he believed the large Allied bomber formations were able to operate over Germany for long periods of time and expressed high praise for “the brave and incomparable deeds of the Japanese Army, and expressed great admiration for the planes used by our Special Attack Units, and for the effectiveness of their attacks.”  In the “Opinion” section of his report, Abe wrote:
The fact that the Marshal has completely changed at this time from his former appearance of importance with his big stomach, and presented the humble attitude described above, can only be viewed as showing his respectful admiration for the spiritual strength of our army. We easily perceived his intense feelings about Japanese cooperation, which pleased us.
The Marshal’s popularity has been reported as considerably weakened since the incident of 20 July, and news of his loss of position has been widely circulated. However, judging from the official treatment of him as a leader at this time and from other actual facts, his position remains unchanged, and particularly, his hold over the air force is considered to be exceptionally strong.
With regard to the state of the air force, it is a fact that his characteristic despotic tendency is strong, and the staff is extremely ineffectual; so that in the handling of important problems and the expression of opinions, it is difficult for us to accomplish anything unless we can influence the Marshal directly.
Abe met with Benito Mussolini at Gargnano, Italy, on December 29, 1943.  During of the course of this meeting Abe asked Mussolini about his thoughts about the Allies opening a Second Front in France.  Abe reported Mussolini’s response:
In view of the appointment of Eisenhower as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, it seems certain that the enemy will establish a second front in France.  Moreover, it will probably come in February or March of next year, somewhere in the English Channel area. The landing will be accomplished with the cover provided by an umbrella of a large number of aircraft and a great amount of bombs.
However, Germany is fully prepared, and should smash the enemy’s landing plans. Moreover, once such a landing operation has failed, it is practically impossible to make all the preparations again and carry it out a second time, so that this should bring about the ultimate defeat of England and America.
Germany is preparing secret weapons, and although I do not know for sure what they are, according to the information I have, they are along the line of rocket bombs…
Already thousands of rocket launchers have been constructed on the French coast of the English Channel, and tens of thousands of rockets can be launched in one night. However, Germany is evidently waiting until the assembly of American troops in England has been completed.
The Oshima report relates to the contributions made by the staff of the Imperial Japanese Embassy in Germany to support the Greater East Asia War.  Oshima’s report covers the period from February 1941 till the end of 1944.  He began his report discussing the duties of the embassy in Germany and followed with discussions about the duties and activities of the Political Affairs Division; the Commerce and Economic Division; the Culture and Propaganda Division; the Subcommittees on Education, Publications, and, Propaganda; and, the General Affairs Division.  After providing information about the divisions and subcommittees, Oshima reported on the activities of some forty-five individuals associated with the embassy.   Of interest are Oshima’s observations on the fallout caused by the British Royal Air Force’s attacks on Berlin in November 1943 and the destruction of the embassy and the embassy’s dealings with Indian Nationalist Chandra Bose.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Toxic, battalion commander returns to job despite recommendation offiring - (Poor Leadership)

(MCT) — The commander of a Fort Carson helicopter battalion objected when subordinates talked about a toxic command climate, according to documents obtained by The Gazette.
"You want toxic? I'll show you toxic," Lt. Col. Tammy Baugh allegedly told soldiers in the 1st Battalion of the 25th Aviation Regiment, documents said.
A 263-page Army investigation report released under the Freedom of Information Act portrays Baugh as a foul-mouthed boss who belittled soldiers, threw things during a meeting and sometimes stormed out of battalion gatherings.
Baugh and the battalion's command sergeant major were temporarily relieved in July, but later placed back in command despite the scathing report.
"Too many soldiers and leaders in the battalion, across all ranks, have been negatively impacted by her belittling, disrespectful and caustic interaction, and the results of that interaction have been detrimental to morale, effectiveness and climate of the organization and the morale and well-being of soldiers," the report says.
After complaints reached Fort Carson commanders, the investigation was ordered July 3 and Col. William McDonough was appointed to assess Baugh, Command Sgt. Maj. Derrick Merriwether and the command climate of the battalion.
Dozens of soldiers were interviewed, with most calling the climate bad, or worse.
Baugh told investigators she was misunderstood.
"My passion can sometimes be confused with anger," she wrote.
An 18-year veteran, Baugh earned the Bronze Star Medal during Iraq and Afghanistan deployments and was rated as a senior aviator in the AH-64 Apache attack helicopters used by the battalion.
Investigators found a climate of frustration and, to some degree, confusion in the battalion. One issue raised is the tangled chain of command above the battalion. The unit is technically part of the Hawaii-based 25th Infantry Division and falls under a brigade commander there. It also works closely with Fort Carson leaders and falls under the post's chain of command for issues including discipline.
In her statement, Baugh complained about her staff and that her unit has consistently had too few soldiers - with manning topping out at 86 percent.
"This not only generates stress, but has a negative impact on standards," she wrote.
Baugh's troops, though, say their commander was often near the boiling point.
"Her command style is toxic and it bleeds from the highest-ranking to the lowest, promoting contention among all members of the unit," a captain whose name was redacted from documents wrote in a statement to investigators.
Investigators found that Baugh erupted during meetings.
"She did, in fact, throw a flight schedule at an officer and she does abruptly leave meetings when she is not pleased," the report said.
Baugh's use of foul language was repeatedly documented in the report. The colonel confessed to using dirty words, but said they were never directed at any soldier in particular.
More than 70 percent of the soldiers interviewed by investigators reported that Baugh routinely left meetings when she was unhappy.
In his report, McDonough said Baugh failed to treat soldiers with "dignity and respect." The report blames Baugh for fostering a poor command climate and chastises Merriwether for failing to confront the colonel on the issues.
In a rare step, McDonough called for the firing of Baugh and Merriwether. Fort Carson commander Maj. Gen. Paul LaCamera didn't dispute what McDonough found, but declined to relieve the colonel.
"Findings are approved, recommendations will be taken under advisement," LaCamera wrote in response to the report.
A claim of toxic leadership in the Army can be a career-killer. Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno in 2013 pledged to weed out toxic leaders who bring down morale and don't meet character standards.
Fort Carson confirmed that Baugh returned to command, but didn't respond to questions on what steps were taken to change the command climate in her battalion.
"The suspension imposed on the leadership has been lifted and both have resumed command responsibilities," Fort Carson said in a statement Tuesday. "Neither the commander nor the command sergeant major are facing any disciplinary action and have been cleared of any wrong doing."
In her statement, Baugh said her critics are slackers.
"It seems that those who cannot meet the standard have the loudest voice," she wrote.
And the colonel denies that she belittled troops.
"I have made spot corrections," she wrote.
©2014 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

A Brief History of Grooming in the U.S. Navy

A Brief History of Grooming in the U.S. Navy


Military grooming standards made news this summer when African American women in the Army and Navy complained about revisions in the regulations governing hair. At least one sailor was discharged for a hairstyle that was unauthorized when the Navy said she couldn’t wear a gas mask properly.
The instance is the latest in a long line of revisions and controversies over military grooming standards in the U.S. Navy going back more than a century.
Most sailors in the early decades of the U.S. Navy stayed clean-shaven, pulling their long hair back into a tail. That had more to do with the fashion of the time rather than official regulations. It was common for American seafarers to adopt the British custom of dipping their tails in tar to keep them in place and out of the rigging—which may be the origin of “tars” as a nickname for sailors. It is also believed the practice led sailors to protect their uniforms from the improvised hair gel by adding a long collar to their shirts. The collar eventually was incorporated by the Navy and still exists today as the flap on the back of the distinctive “crackerjack” uniforms.tar2 cp
It was not until 1841 that the Navy began to issue service-wide regulations about grooming. Secretary of the Navy George Badger established that hair and beards had to be cut short, but whiskers could “descend more than one inch below the tip of the ear, and thence in line towards the corners of the mouth.” Whiskers had always been popular, but the Navy was now entering the era of epic sideburns.
Midshipman John G. Walker in 1853
Midshipman John G. Walker in 1853
Rear Adm. John G Walker in 1889
Rear Adm. John G Walker in 1889
The regulations were modified in 1852, banning officers from wearing mustaches and imperials, but Secretary James Dobbin later relaxed the ruled to allow men to wear “neatly trimmed” beards at their discretion.
Rear Adm. Stephen Luce in 1888
Rear Adm. Stephen Luce in 1888
Throughout the Civil War there was quite a broad interpretation of what constituted “neatly trimmed,” as evidenced by photos and illustrations from the period.
Rear Adm. Worden in 1873
Rear Adm. Worden in 1873
From the 1880s through the 1960s, sailors were required to keep hair, beards and moustaches short and trimmed, though there we often exceptions due to circumstance.
Barbershop onboard USS Enterprise
Barbershop onboard USS Enterprise
In 1893, midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy requested permission to grow longer hair. Their reasoning was that the extra tresses would serve as padding for their heads in their football game against Army. It had not yet occurred to anyone to wear a helmet for more effective protection.
1893 Army-Navy Football Game
1893 Army-Navy Football Game
Submariners were allowed to grow longer beards because their limited access to fresh water made shaving difficult. Sailors deployed to colder climates also were permitted to have fuller facial hair to protect them from the elements.
USS Pensacola proudly display their facial hair circa 1944
USS Pensacola proudly display their facial hair circa 1944
Beard-growing was often viewed as a sport on those deployments and a judge would decide who had the most impressive beard at the end of the cruise.
Beard growing contest onboard the USS Staten Island
Beard growing contest onboard the USS Staten Island
By the late 1960s, the military was struggling with a negative public perception because of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The conservative military appearance was also contrasting sharply with civilian fashion, making sailors feel like misfits in society.
The “Converted Mountaineers” of USS West Virginia in 1944
The “Converted Mountaineers” of USS West Virginia in 1944
Because of those developments, PXs on many bases experienced a boom in wig sales. Sailors were buying longer-styled wigs to better fit in and avoid derision when they were off duty. Conversely, their sons, who often had trendy long hair would buy short wigs in order to get jobs at the establishments that still maintained that “hippie-types” need not apply.
When Admiral Elmo Zumwalt became Chief of Naval Operations in 1970, he began issuing his famous “Z-grams” containing initiatives that he thought would help reduce racism and sexism in the ranks while improving the Navy’s image. He also reasoned that eliminating the more stringent policies would boost recruitment and retention.
Adm. Elmo Zumwalt with sideburns
Adm. Elmo Zumwalt with sideburns
In addition to allowing longer hair, beards and sideburns, Zumwalt dropped many uniform regulations. Dungarees that once were restricted to designated work areas could be worn anywhere. Sailors were also no longer required to wear dress white uniforms when entering port.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus during his tenure in the U.S. Navy.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus during his tenure in the U.S. Navy.
Zumwalt also recognized the importance of the Afro as symbol of black pride and identity, so African-Americans were no longer ordered to keep their hair “high and tight.”

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