Forged and Ready: Chung-Hoon Legacy

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By Rear Adm. Brian Fort
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

Those who adapt can overcome.

Consider the namesake of our Pearl Harbor-homeported USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), Rear Adm. Gordon Paiea Chung-Hoon.

Forged from the sea and seasoned in war, Chung-Hoon was a lieutenant assigned to USS Arizona (BB 39), Dec. 7, 1941. He was on a weekend pass that Sunday when Oahu was attacked and his ship was sunk.

In 1942, Chung-Hoon served aboard the light cruiser USS Honolulu (CL 48) and participated in some of the fiercest fighting in the war in the South Pacific, including in the Solomons.

Gordor Pai'ea Chung-Hoon
Gordor Pai’ea Chung-Hoon

In 1944, Chung-Hoon took command of USS Sigsbee (DD 502), a destroyer assigned with Carrier Task Force 58 off the coast of Japan.

On April 14, 1945, Sigsbee – along with seven Fletcher Class destroyers, steamed to picket stations, making them prime targets for nearly two dozen kamikaze (“divine wind”) suicide planes that attacked their ships.

One kamikaze got through Sigsbee’s fierce antiaircraft guns, missed the bridge, but smashed into the ship’s stern. The massive explosion destroyed a big section of the stern, knocked out the port engine and steering, and caused flooding in the aft third of the ship. In the midst of the chaos, Skipper Chung-Hoon’s loud voice came through, according to one witness: “Steady, gang.”

He led the crew in response to the attack, jettisoning damaged equipment and personally leading a repair crew to assess damage and seal and shore the after solid bulkhead. Twenty-two Sailors were killed that day, and 75 were wounded.

Chung-Hoon rose to the challenge in a crisis. He adapted, overcame and persevered. Rather than abandoning his damaged ship, he chose to save it and the Sailors he led. His Sailors kept up a steady rate of “prolonged and effective gunfire,” as described in his Navy Cross citation.

Today, USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) continues to build on their namesake’s legacy of toughness and sustainability. In the last two years, DDG-93 won the Secretary of the Navy Safety Excellence Award for afloat units, a Battle “E,” and a Green “H.”

PHILIPPINE SEA (March 29, 2016) Sailors from supply department aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) form an "E" on the flight deck to commemorate their earning of the Supply "Blue E" award. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marcus L. Stanley/Released)
PHILIPPINE SEA (March 29, 2016) Sailors from supply department aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) form an “E” on the flight deck to commemorate their earning of the Supply “Blue E” award. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marcus L. Stanley/Released)

Sailors aboard USS Chung-Hoon are excelling in performance, and it shows in promotions. Three Sailors were picked up for officer programs in 2017, and this year one senior chief frocked to master chief, five chiefs to senior chief, and 28 petty officers frocked to their next paygrade.

Last month, Chung-Hoon completed their naval surface fire support. Undersea warfare self-assessments will soon be underway executing their final certifications.

Most importantly, Chung-Hoon Sailors are focused on the main thing, warfighting readiness. They, like our other ready Sailors on the Pearl Harbor waterfront, have a sense of urgency.

They know they can adapt and overcome.

Rear Adm. Chung-Hoon, who fought both in World War II and in the Korean War, was part of a tough generation who helped freedom triumph over fascism.

His Sailors knew him for his calm humility and mastery of his ship’s systems, committed to the essentials of seamanship.

Chung-Hoon was born July 25, 1910. He became the first American admiral in the United States Navy of Chinese and Native Hawaiian ancestry and the first of his heritage to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy. After a distinguished military and civilian career of service, he died one day before his 69th birthday, July 24, 1979, and is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, “Punchbowl.”

On September 18, 2004, the Navy commissioned USS Chung-Hoon here at Pearl Harbor.

U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Walter F. Doran said, “This is truly a great day for the United States, for the United States Navy, for the State of Hawaii and, I know, for the Chung-Hoon family. I’m confident the officers and men of this ship will be ready for any challenge.”

Rear Adm. Chung-Hoon’s niece, Michelle Punana Chung-Hoon, a good friend of the Navy, gave the commissioning order: “Sea warriors, man our ship and bring her to life!”

World War II Medal of Honor recipient Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, a leader who knew about adapting and overcoming adversity, served as keynote speaker at the commissioning.

“It is fitting that the ship that carries his name will be home-ported here in the same harbor where the Arizona memorial commemorates his fallen shipmates,” Inouye said.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 19, 2015) Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) heave line during an underway replenishment. Chung-Hoon was undergoing a composite training unit exercise and joint task force exercise, the final step in certifying to deploy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marcus L. Stanley/Released)
PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 19, 2015) Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) heave line during an underway replenishment. Chung-Hoon was undergoing a composite training unit exercise and joint task force exercise, the final step in certifying to deploy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marcus L. Stanley/Released)


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Forged and Ready: Chung-Hoon Legacy

Reserve F-16 Pilot Helps Squelch Wildfires Across West

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A small and maneuverable Beech King Air, like the one flown by Lt. Col. Paul Delmonte while on the job with the U.S. Forest Service, pulls away after leading a tanker to a retardant drop spot over a wildfire. During peak fire season, May to October, forest service lead plane pilots can assist in putting out as many as 60 fires. (Courtesy photo)

By Kari Tilton
419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Air Force Reserve F-16 pilot Lt. Col. Paul “Buster” Delmonte flies several types of aircraft as part of his full-time civilian job, but instead of dropping bombs he delivers an entirely different kind of weapon.

Delmonte, the 466th Fighter Squadron commander, is an aerial firefighter and aviation safety manager with the U.S. Forest Service. Between May and October each year, he flies above fiery mountain ranges to drop smokejumpers and direct the delivery of fire retardant.

He’s currently in Durango, Colo. with more than 1,400 forest service personnel to extinguish the West Fork Complex Fire, which as of today has consumed more than 83,000 acres. He’s also working alongside Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard aircrews deployed there with specially equipped C-130s that are dropping thousands of gallons of retardant on the blazing wilderness area.

Just like flying in a combat zone, conditions above wildfires are often rough and the drop zones are always challenging.

“Typically, we drop the smokejumpers over tight clearings in the forest canopy,” Delmonte said. “It takes about 30 minutes to empty the plane and it can be challenging to maneuver through narrow canyons while steering clear of trees and other obstacles.”

“If the fire is big, often times smoke combined with the angle of the sun will make it extremely difficult to see,” he added.

When transporting smokejumpers, Delmonte flies either a DHC-6 or DC3-TP aircraft. Both are known for their ability to fly at slow speeds and in tight circles. The smokejumpers jump from the aircraft, parachuting into rugged terrain to reach areas that are hard to access by road.

When fire retardant is the weapon of choice, Delmonte flies as “lead plane” in a Beech King Air, a smaller, highly maneuverable aircraft. His role is to orchestrate the location and timing for large forest service tankers to drop the retardant, foam or water.

“We have a smoke generator onboard – similar to airshow aircraft – so we can mark the start point and designate the best course for the tankers,” Delmonte said. “Piloting the lead plane is much like being an F-16 FAC-A (forward air control – airborne). I get the objectives and priorities from the ground incident commander and then go to work sequencing other aircraft over the target.”

The forest service can send Delmonte anywhere in the U.S., but he typically covers hot spots in the western U.S. like New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho, Montana and California where wildfires are most common in the hot, dry summer months.

During a busy season, a lead plane pilot can assist in putting out as many as 60 fires, he said. So far this year, he’s been called to New Mexico, California, Idaho and Colorado.

But with weather reports calling for a record-setting heat wave across the western U.S. this weekend, things are likely just warming up.

“I expect I’ll get busier real soon, as July and August are typically our biggest months,” he said.

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Original article:

Reserve F-16 Pilot Helps Squelch Wildfires Across West