Friday, July 10, 2015

Fullbore Friday

Often, people will make the statement about others, "He totally lacks self-awareness." OK, what does it mean then to be "self-aware."

John over at The-20 outlines perfectly what it means to be self-aware. To know what service is - to know not just the big picture, but your place in it.

I offer to you CAPT John P. Cromwell, USN;
Thanks to a top secret program codenamed ULTRA, the U.S. Navy knew the locations of Japanese naval and merchant vessels and, armed with this information, American submarines were able to wreak devastation on the enemy’s merchant fleet and tonnage. ULTRA, which was based on the decryption of Japanese naval codes and ciphers, was the indispensable element in the American submarine campaign against Japan, although very few personnel knew this.
Captain Cromwell was fully “read on” for ULTRA and understood its importance to the secret war against Japan.
Its effort to attack a Japanese task force on the morning of 19 November was cut short by a faulty depth gauge, which led to the Sculpin surfacing right in front of the Japanese destroyer Yamagumo. While the submarine managed to dive again, numerous enemy depth charges forced Sculpin to the surface, into a one-sided gunfight with the Japanese destroyer. While Sculpin put up a good fight, cannons on the Yamagumo blasted her decks clean, killing most of the command group. The surviving deck officer made the decision to abandon ship and scuttle the submarine.

Some forty-one sailors from the Sculpin managed to escape the sinking vessel and were taken prisoner by the Japanese, but Captain Cromwell was not among them. When the word went out to abandon ship, John Cromwell stayed on the sinking submarine. The forty-two year-old husband and father knew he had no choice but to go down with the Sculpin. Not only had he been briefed on the impending invasion of Tarawa, but more importantly, he knew about the ULTRA secret, the U.S. Navy’s unmentionable ace in the hole against Japan.

Knowing he could not let the enemy, who was prone to torturing prisoners, find out about ULTRA, Captain Cromwell elected to go down with the boat; according to all survivors’ accounts, he did so calmly, stoically. The full story of John Cromwell’s heroism and sacrifice only became known to the U.S. Navy after the war, when Sculpin survivors emerged from Japanese captivity.
Attention to citation;
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commander of a Submarine Coordinated Attack Group with Flag in the U.S.S. Sculpin, during the Ninth War Patrol of that vessel in enemy-controlled waters off Truk Island, November 19, 1943. Undertaking this patrol prior to the launching of our first large-scale offensive in the Pacific, Captain Cromwell, alone of the entire Task Group, possessed secret intelligence information of our submarine strategy and tactics, scheduled Fleet movements and specific attack plans. Constantly vigilant and precise in carrying out his secret orders, he moved his underseas flotilla inexorably forward despite savage opposition and established a line of submarines to southeastward of the main Japanese stronghold at Truk. Cool and undaunted as the submarine, rocked and battered by Japanese depth-charges, sustained terrific battle damage and sank to an excessive depth, he authorized the Sculpin to surface and engage the enemy in a gun-fight, thereby providing an opportunity for the crew to abandon ship. Determined to sacrifice himself rather than risk capture and subsequent danger of revealing plans under Japanese torture or use of drugs, he stoically remained aboard the mortally wounded vessel as she plunged to her death. Preserving the security of his mission at the cost of his own life, he had served his country as he had served the Navy, with deep integrity and an uncompromising devotion to duty. His great moral courage in the face of certain death adds new luster to the traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

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