Navy Yarns



Navy Yarn Pic

Army Special Order 625-10-5

When I arrived in BuPers in 1950, people were still laughing at the Army’s Special Order 625-10-5, recently promulgated over the signature of General Omar Bradley, Chief of Staff. It dealt with “Administrative and Training Positions in the Women’s Army Corps“.

The first paragraph provided for the assignment of women officers to such billets.

The second read: “The nine officers designated a Women’s Army Corps Staff Advisor for the six armies, the Military District of Washington, and the overseas commands may be used by the commanding general concerned in any other positions which he deems necessary”.

The day after that order appeared, General Bradley received a note from Admiral Louis Denfeld (USNA ’12), Chief of Naval Operations. It read: “How about standing up in a canoe!”.

Author: Captain Roy C. Smith III, U.S. Navy (Ret) – Captain Smith was an accomplished author, former editor of Shipmate magazine, and former Director of the U.S. Navy Museum. Source: United States Naval Institute Naval History magazine, June 1997


– Figurehead –

MastHead pic

Archaeologists have found evidence that man has been decorating his ships and boats for several millenia. Among the artifacts found associated with the burials of pharaonic Egypt are craft with eyes painted on their prows. along with other decorations. In some areas of the maritime world today, eyes continue to appear, giving the craft both personality and, it is hoped, the ability to find their way in safety.

Between 1650 and 1750, bows, sterns, and even sides were adorned with magnificent examples of the woodcarver’s craft, often painted in brilliant colors or blinding with huge amounts of gold leaf. Such vessels were intended to awe other nations’ leaders with the wealth and power such displays implied.

A principal element of this decoration was that placed at the bow, under the bowsprit, usually a statue in Greco-Roman style of heroic proportions that, directly or indirectly, symbolized the ship’s name. When skillfully done and dramatically colored, it could inspire its ship’s company with pride in their ship and a belief in her power. And when seen by an adversary, it was hoped it would inspire awe and dampen opposition.

Such opulent decoration is rarely seen today, but memory of it lingers on, especially among our nonprofit cultural organizations, which often resort to inviting a well-known personality to e titular leader of the organization, even though that person may totally lack skills related to the organization’s purpose. That person, like the statue of earlier times, is said to be a ” figurehead.