In Naval History, People Arrive and People Depart

Last week, I was in Washington DC for a family visit. While there, I was witness to a significant “coming” and a significant “going” in Naval history.

Captain Henry J Hendrix II, USN

At the weekend, I attended the Naval Historical Foundation annual meeting. Introduced there was the new  (“interim”, or so he’s characterized on his LinkedIn page) Director  (as described on its website) of Naval History at the Naval History and Heritage Command,  Captain Henry J Hendrix II, USN. Captain Hendrix actually was appointed to his post in May. He told me he had a two-week in-brief by his predecessor, RADM Jay DeLoach before stepping in to the leadership role at the Navy’s flagship historical establishment. Captain Hendrix has Masters Degrees in National Security Affairs – Middle East (Naval Postgraduate School) and History (Harvard), and a PhD in War Studies (University of London). He’s an adjunct Assistant Professor at Georgetown, where he teaches a course in strategy, policy, technology and security in government. He’s written for the Naval Institute for more than 10 years, and recently, Captain Hendrix served on a board offering strategic advice to the Secretary of the Navy. All this seems good preparation to lead the organization that’s responsible for accessing, restoring and preserving an immense amount of documents, artifacts and (now) electronic records of historical importance to our Navy and Marine Corps.

Jan Herman

Also while in the DC, I attended a celebration for Jan Herman, who has retired after 33 years as Historian of the Navy Medical Department and editor-in-chief of its journal, Navy Medicine. Jan started his 42 years of federal service with a tour in the Air Force. He then joined the State Department as a public affairs writer and staff assistant.  After coming to the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Jan curated the organization’s then-headquarters, the Old Naval Observatory located in the Foggy Bottom area of Washington DC. During his tenure, Jan wrote several books including Battle Station Sick Bay: Navy Medicine in World War II; Frozen in Memory: U.S. Navy Medicine in the Korean WarNavy Medicine in Vietnam: From Dien Bien Phu to the Fall of Saigon; and The Lucky Few: The Story of USS Kirk. More recently, he has become a media magnate, having produced a six-part documentary Navy Medicine at War and The Lucky Few: the Story of the USS Kirk. Jan also oversaw the Navy Medical Department’s oral history project for more than 25 years. Despite his retirement from federal service, Jan insists that he will remain active in the history field. Right now he’s working on a novel about the Civil War and its aftermath.

On a personal note, this week I was installed as the first president of the newly chartered Rotary Club of Solano Sunset-Vallejo (California). I am humbled to have been elected to support our 30 mostly new Rotarians as they join 1.2 million other Rotarians throughout the world working to eliminate polio from the world through Rotary International’s “Polio Plus” program. In the 20+ years since Polio Plus was launched, the dread disease has been eliminated from every country in the world except Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Rotarians throughout the world also work to support local charities, international scholarships (where Rotary is larger by far than , for instance, the Fullbright program) and a huge variety of other projects both local and international.


©2012 Thomas L Snyder

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