The crew of USS Samuel B. Roberts leaves their ship for the last time on May 22, 2015.
It’s been a very Sammy B Memorial Day weekend. The third USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) was decommissioned on Friday, accompanied by the typical pomp and circumstance the Navy affords its ships on the day they leave active service.
Here are some photos, stories, op-eds, and other remembrances that were published over the weekend:
Update: Op-ed: On May 27, Navy Times published my op-ed laying out the case for naming a fourth ship after the World War II coxswain.
Photo gallery: My best photos from the decommissioning ceremony, wrapped up in a Storify. The decommissioning was also covered by WJXT (video) and First Coast News (story).
Op-ed: The Naval Institute published my op-ed arguing that FFG 58, now slated for scrapping, should instead be brought to the Washington Navy Yard to replace the aging destroyer Barry as the centerpiece of the Navy’s main museum.
Tweetstorm: Defense One gathered up my tweets about the history and legacy of FFG 58 and used it to make a case for naming a fourth U.S. warship after Roberts.
Longform: Navy Times’ David Larter tells the story of FFG 58 anew in this longform piece that includes video interviews of former CO Paul Rinn and current crewmen and an audio interview with me.
Article: USNI also republished my 2013 Proceedings article about the mining of the Samuel B. Roberts and the crew’s fight to save her from fire and flood.
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.”
If you happen to seek the book elsewhere, kindly remember that you’re looking for the Cheap Jewelry Canada “No Higher Honor” by me and not the one by Condoleeza Rice. (No, I’m not mad that her 2011 memoir used the title; my book was hardly the first book by the name.) Also, you’re looking for the 2013 paperback edition, not the 2006 hardcover, which Amazon generally insists upon selling at truly ridiculous prices. (By the way, mine is far from the only book to attain such Pandora Bracelets Canada crazy valuations; here’s a 2011 article about the phenomenon, which seems to be linked to various booksellers’ computers comparing each other’s prices rapidly and repeatedly.)
Anyway, I’m grateful to the Naval Institute Press for reissuing No Higher Honor, and to Paul X. Rinn for encouraging them to do so. I occasionally hear from sailors whose ships or schools have made the book mandatory reading; this new edition will make it easier for everyone to get a copy of their own.