Monday, November 28, 2016

Don't give up the ship

We've all heard this phrase bandied about, sometime accompanied by a pat on the shoulder or a hug. But the true meaning meant to defend the ship until you were dead or mortally wounded or the ship went down. Sounds a little bit more impressive from that standpoint. 

During the War of 1812, Captain James Lawrence, commanding the 49-gun frigate U.S.S. Chesapeake, was attacked off Boston Harbor by the British ship H.M.S. Shannon.

In less than 15 minutes, Lawrence's crew was overwhelmed. Mortally wounded, Lawrence shouted, "Tell the men to fire faster and not to give up the ship; fight her till she sinks!" True to his words, every officer in the Chesapeake's chain of command fought until they were either killed or wounded.

In honor of Captain Lawrence, a group of women stitched the words "DON'T GIVE UP THE SHIP" into a flag that was presented to Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, who commanded a new ship named after Captain Lawrence in the summer of 1813.

 Perry and the U.S.S. Lawrence went on to capture an entire squadron of British ships in the Battle of Lake Erie, although not before every officer on the ship, except for Perry and his 13-year-old brother, was either killed or wounded.

Lawrence's words became the motto of the U.S. Navy, which has since named numerous ships in his honor, and Perry's flag now hangs in a place of honor at the United States Naval Academy.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Remembering the Edmund Fitzgerald

The haunting song The Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot, is born of sorrow and tragedy. 

The Edmund Fitzgerald
June 1957 to November 1975 

The large cargo vessels that roamed the five Great Lakes were known as lakers, and the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald was, at the time, the biggest ever built. Weighing more than 13,000 tons without cargo, it was christened on June 8, 1958, and made its first voyage on September 24 the same year. 
                                                           The HOMES

According to Michael Schumacher’s The Mighty Fitz, with the commissioning of the Fitzgerald, Northwestern Mutual became the first American insurance company to build its own ship—at a cost of $8.4 million.

It was named after the head of the company, and the ship's main job was hauling iron ore. 
Its impressive size made the ship popular with boat-watchers, and
over the years it garnered many nicknames, including “The Queen of the Great Lakes,” and “The Toledo Express,”
 Crowds would watch as the massive freighter moved through the
locks at Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The “Soo” Locks, which connect Lake Superior to Lake Huron, allowed the Fitz to reach ports on the lower Great Lakes.

November is a brutal month on the Great Lakes with frequent storms and hurricane-force winds. On November 9, the Fitz was loaded up at the Burlington Northern Railroad Dock in Superior, Wisconsin with 26,116 tons of iron ore pellets  It left at 2:30 p.m. A second ship, the Arthur M. Anderson, sailed 10-15 miles behind the Fitzgerald as a precaution, and the two ships remained in radio contact until just after 7 p.m. on November 10.

  As swells reached 35 feet and winds raged at nearly 100 mph, the ship contacted Coast Guard officials in Sault Ste. Marie and said they were taking on water. Later, a blizzard obscured the Fitz on the Anderson’s radar.

   At 7:10 p.m., Captain Ernest McSorley assured a crew member of the Anderson “We are holding our own.” It was the last anyone heard from the Fitzgerald or Captain McSorley, who was on his final voyage before retirement, 

The ship was approximately 15 miles north of Whitefish Point
when it seemingly vanished with nothing on radar, and no radio contact. Captain Cooper, on the Anderson, was in contact with the Coast Guard and made it to Whitefish Point sometime after 8 p.m.. Captain Cooper bravely turned the Anderson back into the storm to search for the ship, but found only a pair of lifeboats and debris.

     The Captain and all 28 crew members died. Most crew members were from Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Minnesota. There is still no definitive explanation for the ship sinking. With help from the Canadian Navy, the National Geographic Society, Sony, and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians—The ship's bell was retrieved.
    Their is an annual Edmund Fitzgerald memorial ceremony at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point. The recovered and restored bell tolls 29 times for each member of the Fitzgerald's crew, and a 30th for the estimated 30,000 mariners lost on the Great

 Go here for interview with the brave Captain who tried to help.    Through the eyes of Captain Cooper  

 Go here for more info
      Thanks to for several bits of info.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Veteran Exempts flag of 1812

  The Veteran Exempts, was a group made up of veterans of the American Revolution who were otherwise exempt from military service because of their age. By forming the Veteran Exempts they enabled the younger militia men to go off to war while the older men stayed to protect the local settlements. 
                Their group was formed in July of 1812.

  Their impressive flag, started with the Don't tread on me wording, and the coiled snake with the Colonies represented by 13 stars, and 13 rattles in the snake's tail. But that wasn't enough for these guys. Thy will be done, was added giving it a religious overtone. And then wow, the skull and crossbones, very intimidating, and seemingly quite the opposite. 

They participated in the Battle of Plattsburgh, on lake Champlain, in Sept. of 1814. It is reported Captain Melvin L. Woolsey received the flag of truce that the British sent on shore before the main landing.     
   Unfortunately, other activities are poorly noted, but it is most likely the Veteran Exempts turned out for other alarms. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Gadsden and Culpeper flags

As Sheldon Cooper would say, "Let's have fun with flags!" 
          The rattlesnake was the favorite animal emblem of the Americans even before the Revolution. In 1751 Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette carried a bitter article protesting the British practice of sending convicts to America. The author suggested that the colonists return the favor by shipping a cargo of rattlesnakes to England, which could then be distributed in the noblemen's gardens.                 

The Gadsden Flag
In 1775, Colonel Christopher Gadsden was in Philadelphia

representing his home colony of South Carolina at the
Continental Congress, where he presented this new naval flag to the Congress. It became the first flag used by the sea-going soldiers who eventually would become the United States Marines.
Image result for pictures of gadsden flag
This flag first saw combat under Commodore Hopkins, when Washington's Cruisers put to sea for the first time in February of 1776 to raid the Bahamas and capture stored British cannon and shot. It was raised by John Paul Jones.

Although replaced by the Jack flag (fifty white stars on a blue field) the First Navy Jack was used in recent history during the
United States' Bicentennial year, 1976, when all commissioned naval vessels were directed to fly it while moored or anchored for the entire year. In 1980, Secretary of the Navy directed that the warship or fleet auxiliary with the longest active status shall display the First Navy Jack until decommissioned or transferred to inactive service. Then the flag will be passed to the next ship in line (not including the USS Constitution.)

The Culpeper Minutemen (a militia group that formed around 1775 in the district near Culpeper, Virginia) were inspired by the Gadsden flag, but took it a step further. Their company flag portrayed the coiled snake with the famous “Don't Tread On Me” slogan, but the minutemen decided that was not enough. They raised another defiant fist in the air and added the message “Liberty or Death” to their flag.     

Recently the Gadsden and Culpeper flags have come under criticism by leftist groups who see it as a radical symbol or a threat, rather than a symbol of freedom. The Navy Seals still wear the patch proudly on their uniforms. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

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