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Reflecting on 245 years of U.S. Navy History

Rear Adm. Robb Chadwick

10/05/20 09:39 PM

By Rear Adm. Robb Chadwick
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

Since our Navy was born as the “Continental Navy” in 1775, Sailors have served with distinction to promote America’s interests and defend freedom throughout our 245-year history.  Those individual Sailors, and the commands that they served, achieved success by representing what have become the Navy’s core values of honor, courage and commitment. 

This year’s Navy birthday theme, Victory at Sea, is an appropriate recognition of why the U.S. Navy exists:  the effective and long-proven use of seapower to protect and promote security, stability and prosperity. Throughout our nation’s history – and in every war that the United States’ fought – Sailors have risen to the challenge to win battles, defend freedom and preserve peace. We are grateful for the Sailors who have served at sea from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, to the Civil War, World War I and World War II, Korea and Vietnam and the 21st Century conflicts related to the War on Terror.  In every instance, the U.S. Sailor has answered our nation’s call to selfless service.

Celebrating and honoring events like the Navy’s birthday serve as touchstones for reflection.  It has been said that “a legacy is the inheritance of a great example.”  Nowhere is that great example so vividly on display as it is here at Pearl Harbor. 

This year has been a year of great challenges and a year of significant milestones.  On Sept. 2, the nation and the world turned their eyes to the fantail of the USS Missouri, where veterans and guests commemorated the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.  Perhaps at no time in our nation’s history were the freedoms that we cherish so imperiled and the subsequent values of selflessness, valor and perseverance tried under fire in the defense of freedom. 

In a few months, we will commemorate the 79th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The actions of the Sailors, caught in the crossfire of a surprise attack, would set the example of courage under fire and the ability to rise to the challenge at the beginning of the long crucible of war that would provide an immediate and lasting legacy for the American people and frame a template for the securing of victory and peace. 

The example of our aptly christened “Greatest Generation” continues to inspire us and we must never lose sight of the legacy that we have inherited from them.  Being attentive students of the lessons that they learned will allow this generation to continue in the preservation of the peace that they won.  The memory of their commitment and love of freedom permeates our daily operations and inspires us to answer the bell if we are called upon to defend our nation once again.  We must remain ready to protect and promote American interests and values and to stand together with our allies around the world against those who would challenge our freedom.

That is the rich taproot of the Navy’s 245-year history.   

Happy 245th Birthday, United States Navy!



(Editor's note: Published in the Ho'okele magazine - October 2020 edition as a part of Navy Birthday)