At the Helm of USS America

The Aircraft Carrier and Its 23 Commanders, 1965–1996


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SKU: 9780786476565 Categories: , , ,

About the Book

Only the best officers are given command of U.S. Navy ships, and only the elite of these are selected for aircraft carriers. The USS America was the third of four Kitty Hawk–class super-carriers. Commissioned in 1965, decommissioned in 1996, she served three times in Vietnam, and once each in Libya, the Persian Gulf and Bosnia. This book profiles the 23 men who commanded the America and her crew of 5,000 during 31 years. Most of them were combat veterans—World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Mayaguez Rescue Operations, Lebanon, Haiti, Libya, Bosnia, and Desert Storm. Four were Naval Academy graduates; seven were test pilots; one became Inspector General of the Navy; one wore both Navy wings and submariner dolphins; and one was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for nearly six years. Two retired as admirals—one was Chief of Naval Operations—five as vice admirals, and 11 as rear admirals. Each profile gives a career account based on official biographies, published memoirs, and interviews with the commanders or their families.

About the Author(s)

The late James E. Wise, Jr., a retired Navy captain in Alexandria, Virginia (d. 2013), wrote many books on history and the performing arts. He served as an intelligence officer aboard USS America during the 1967 Six Day War in the eastern Mediterranean and later in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War.
Scott Baron, Vietnam era Army veteran and former law enforcement officer, teaches United States history in Salinas, California.

Bibliographic Details

James E. Wise, Jr. and Scott Baron
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 252
Bibliographic Info: 47 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7656-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1568-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi

Preface 1

Scuttling of a U.S. Naval Super Aircraft Carrier 5

USS America (CVA-66) Joins the Fleet 8

The Skippers: Profiles of Extraordinary Men

Capt. Lawrence Heyworth, Jr. (January 1965–July 1966) 10

Capt. Donald D. Engen (July 1966–July 1967) 17

Capt. Frederick C. Turner (July 1967–October 1968) 39

Capt. Richard E. Rumble (October 1968–December 1969) 44

Capt. Thomas B. Hayward (December 1969–November 1970) 54

Capt. Thomas B. Russell, Jr. (November 1970–April 1972) 60

Capt. Burton H. Shepherd (April 1972–April 1973) 65

Capt. Thomas H. Replogle (April 1973–September 1974) 70

Capt. Daniel G. McCormick III (September 1974–April 1976) 84

Capt. Robert B. Fuller (April 1976–April 1978) 87

Capt. William F. Meyer (April 1978–August 1979) 104

Capt. Rene L. “Sam” Leeds (August 1979–February 1981) 108

Capt. James F. Dorsey, Jr. (February 1981–July 1982) 119

Capt. Denis T. Schwaab (July 1982–February 1984) 123

Capt. Leighton W. “Snuffy” Smith, Jr. (February 1984–July 1985) 125

Capt. Richard C. “Sweetpea” Allen (July 1985–February 1987) 139

Capt. James Lair (February 1987–August 1988) 149

Capt. John J. Coonan, Jr. (August 1988–October 1989) 165

Capt. John J. Mazach (October 1989–February 1991) 169

Capt. Kent W. Ewing (February 1991–August 1992) 185

Capt. William W. Copeland, Jr. (August 1992–February 1994) 202

Capt. Ralph E. Suggs (February 1994–September 1995) 205

Capt. Robert E. Besal (September 1995–September 1996) 208

New USS America (LHA-6) 223

Appendix A: Early Ships Named USS America 227

Appendix B: Flight Deck Colors 234

Appendix C: Career Summary of Medals Won by the Captains 236

Bibliography 237

Index 239

Book Reviews & Awards

“impressive…a good read and is recommended.”—The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord.