The growth of the Russian Navy during the 1960’s was a matter of great concern for the United States and the American Navy.
During the last 14 months (April 1970 to May 1971) of my four years in the Navy, I helped inform the public about the Russian Navy, and other subjects of interest about the American Navy, as part of the Navy’s CNO Sea Power Presentation team.
The Russian Navy … covered in a program called The Soviet Sea Power Presence …
… was by far the most popular and and most often requested subject of our presentations.
My Dad, who was then nearing the end of his long and distinguished Navy career, was also a member of the CNO team. He and I had a spirited competition to see who would be the first member of the team to earn the Centurion Award for making 100 presentations. Dad won that competition, giving his 100th presentation on April 12, 1971, while I gave mine four days later.
The CNO team was formed by then Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Thomas H. Moorer. I was officially welcomed to the team by him in a letter dated March 23, 1970.
Not long after, on April 1st, I gave The Soviet Sea Power Presence presentation for the first of the 82 times … to the Sun City California Retired Officer’s Association.
Dad and I were the subjects of any number of news articles about these presentations, including a mention in Lou Copozzoli’s “Military Beat” column in the Santa Ana Register.
I traveled all over Southern California to give these presentations … speaking to groups in 40 different cities. The audiences included military units, school groups, political organizations, community groups, and service organizations, such as Kiwanis, Lions, Elks, Masonic, Sertoma, Optimist, Shriner’s and Rotary Clubs.
I have in my CNO Sea Power scrapbook a number of brochures and programs promotion these presentations …
… as well as photographs.
Dad and I did one TV program together, discussing The Soviet Sea Power Presence and showing many of the slides from the presentation. The program, called “Urban Forum”, was shown on KCOP-TV in Los Angeles.
On August 11, 1970, I did TV program solo on KHJ-TV on a daytime talk show called “Tempo”, which aired in Southern California and parts of Arizona and New Mexico. After each of our presentations, we submitted reports to the program coordinator in Washington DC. My report for this show notes that other guests that day were movie producer Otto Preminger, a Hollywood actress (whose name I did not record) and a pilot and executive from Continental Airlines. My report also notes (in the last line of the “General Interest” paragraph) that the host of the show was none other than a then little known host named Regis Philbin!
Depending on the available time, we used up to as many as 60 slides in the presentation about the Russian Navy. Among other things, they showed some of the Soviet ships …
… and the extent to which the Russians were exerting their sea power presence in crucial areas of the world.
My in-person audiences ranged in size from as few as 10 (the Alhambra Optimist Club) to as many 225 (the Long Beach Rotary Club and the State Convention of the California Republican Assembly (CRA), a very conservative political organization).
I did have an interesting experience with another Republican group, the Republican Women’s Club of Mission Viejo. A representative of the group contacted me about doing a presentation, the result of which I described in a memo to Navy Capt. Marr, the CNO team coordinator, on October 1, 1970.
Some things, it seems, haven’t changed much in the intervening 45 years! On the other hand, several Republican groups had no such reservations. Besides the state convention of the CRA mentioned above, I gave presentations to 10 other Republican organizations (most of them, unsurprisingly, in Orange County). I never was asked to speak to a group of Democrats.
In addition to the Centurion Awards, the Navy recognized the efforts of CNO Sea Power Presentation Team members with Certificates of Merit, of which I received five. Each came with a cover letter from the Chief of Naval Operations … by the time I received my first, Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., had become CNO and he signed each of the letters I received with my certificates.
For several months leading up to my 100th, I led my Dad by a small number of presentations. Then, for a variety of reasons … including my impending departure from the Navy … Dad caught up to and passed me. Capt. Marr sent me a note asking if I had let him beat me to the 100 mark on purpose. I replied with the following memo to him:
My kids will confirm that that aspect of my personality never changed … not even for them.
In any event, it was just over 45 years ago … July 29, 1971 … that Dad & I received our Centurion Awards from Rear Admiral Joseph W. Williams, Jr., the Commandant of the Eleventh Naval District. By that time, I had resigned my commission and left active duty.
Looking back through my CNO Sea Power Team files to write this blog reminded me just how invested I was in the program. I spent hundreds of hours preparing for, traveling to and from, and giving these presentations, many of which took place during off-duty hours. And I had forgotten how many memos I sent to Washington suggesting changes to the program and its presentations, asking for more information and new slides, and otherwise making a pest of myself.
I suspect that the two captains who supervised the team while I was a participant wondered exactly who that lowly lieutenant in Long Beach thought he was (in one memo, for example, I asked why other team members were not keeping up with the pace Dad and I were setting!).
On the other hand, I know they … and the admirals for whom I worked directly … appreciated the effort that I put into the program. My last Navy boss, Rear Admiral H. V. Bird, Commander of Naval Base Los Angeles – Long Beach, wrote a very nice farewell letter when I left active duty.
Three Dot … 128