Tomorrow marks a quarter-century since Operation Praying Mantis, the one-day campaign of retribution launched by the United States against Iran for the April 14, 1988, mining of the USS Samuel B. Roberts.
Naval Institute Proceedings is marking the anniversary of Praying Mantis, the U.S. Navy’s largest surface battle since World War II, by publishing in its April issue an interview of mine with the Roberts’ first chief engineer, Gordan Van Hook. USNI’s other magazine, Naval History, published a brief retelling of the Roberts story in its March issue. As well, the Naval Institute Press chose this week to release a Kindle version of No Higher Honor, my book about the Roberts.
Many of the sailors who helped save the Roberts marked the anniversary with a weekend reunion in Jacksonville, Fla. The frigate is homeported at Naval Station Mayport, and the current captain and crew threw open their ship to the visiting former sailors. For many of the several dozen Roberts shipmates in attendance, it was the first time they had been aboard in more than two decades. “The ship seems a lot smaller than I remember,” was the comment I heard most as the former sailors walked around the ship, finding their racks and old duty stations. But by Sunday night, when the friends and former shipmates compared notes on the Sammy B mine-blast survivors’ Facebook group, more than one had posted, “This is the best weekend of my life.”