Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan 1890-1942

Seventy years ago today Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan was killed in action aboard the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco during the Night Battle of Guadalcanal

During the night of November 12-13, 1942, Callaghan’s task force of 13 ships, with Rear Admiral Norman Scott as second in command on the light cruiser USS Atlanta, engaged a Japanese armada of 17 warships, including 2 enemy battleships. Admiral Callaghan and his flag staff were on board the San Francisco during the fierce fighting. During the battle both Callaghan and Scott were killed when direct hits destroyed the bridges of their respective flagships. The Captain of the USS San Francisco, Cassin Young, was also killed.

As the highest ranking surviving officer, Lieutenant Commander Herbert Schonland assumed command of the ship. Lieutenant Commander Bruce McCandless conned the ship from the immediate battle area. Callaghan, Schonland, McCandless, and Boatswain’s Mate 1st class Rheinhardt Keppler would later receive the Medal of Honor for their actions during the battle. The awards to Callaghan and Keppler were posthumous. Rheinhardt Keppler’s Medal of Honor is on permanent display at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum.

During the battle 107 men aboard the USS San Francisco lost their lives. After returning to Mare Island for repairs the ship returned to the war zone and played an important role throughout the rest of World War Two. 

Daniel J. Callaghan and Norman Scott are the only two admirals to lose their lives in surface ship combat in U.S. Navy history. The battle damaged bridge of the USS San Francisco stands today in the city of San Francisco as a permanent monument to the ship and her crew. In Vallejo, Admiral Callaghan Lane was named in honor of the Rear Admiral.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Vallejo Garden Tour 2012: New Beginnings

      “New Beginnings” is the theme for the ninth annual Vallejo Garden Tour scheduled for Sunday, May 20th from 10:00 to 3:00.  Garden Tour organ- izers are highlighting the theme of rejuvenation and raising awareness about Vallejo’s “New Beginnings” after the past few difficult and challenging years.  Focusing on the future, positive growth, and a fresh start, the gardens on this year’s Tour are truly exceptional. 
      Tour participants will be inspired by gardens   that bloom year- round, and by an 1800 square    foot “deck garden” that grows so much food using built-in planters and garden pots that the family    has to freeze, can,  or give away many of their vegetables.  Another garden is set in Vallejo’s old downtown and features two separate grassy areas that look real but are actually environmentally reinvented faux grass secured with shredded tires!  Yet another garden began life as solid concrete.  The gardener got tired of amending the clay soil and producing bonsai plants so they built raised garden beds and now every year their garden produces food for the entire neighborhood!  Or you may find yourself at the garden on the hill with Tahoe rock and a tiered deck that includes carefully placed “doggie” areas for two French Bulldogs who make themselves at home under the canopies next to the hot tub!  There is something on this year’s Tour for everyone.  Purchase your tickets early because the Tour is sure to be a sell out. 
       The Vallejo Garden Tour is the largest annual fundraiser to benefit the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum.  Advance tickets are $30 for the general public and $25 for Museum members.  All tickets on the day of the Tour are $35. A buffet luncheon is part of the price of admission and is served from 11:30 to 2:30 at the Museum.  While waiting to be seated at the luncheon, Tour guests and the general public can stroll through the nearly 30 + vendors who will be set up in a Garden Faire along the street in front of the Museum selling their wares. 
        Tickets may be purchased at Zoey June Gift and Garden, 1426 Tennessee Street, the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum, 734 Marin St., Mid-City Nursery, 3635 Broadway in American Canyon, and at the Vallejo Convention and Visitors Bureau, located at the Vallejo Ferry Terminal.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Vallejo's Last Civil War Veteran Dies

On this day in 1939 the last Civil War veteran living in Vallejo passed away at age 92. This is how the Vallejo Evening Chronicle reported the story:

   "Vallejo's last remaining veteran of the Civil War - Nelson W. Brown, 92 - succumbed to a short illness today at the Vallejo General Hospital, where he had been undergoing treatment for the last week.
   "A native of Mansfield, Penn., Mr. Brown had made his home in Vallejo for years, and took an active part in fraternal affairs. He was the husband of the late Julia W. Brown, the father of Mrs. J.S. Jewett of Carson City, Nev., and the grandfather of Mrs. Juanita M. Nichols of Tremontan, Utah, and Mrs. May Harlan of Van Nuys, Calif.
   "He was a past noble grand of the Odd fellows, No. 7, of Seattle, Wash.; a member of the silver star chapter, No. 3, O.E.S., of Porter Post, No. 169, of Oakland, and of the G.A.R. No. 30.
   Funeral Services will be conducted at 11 o'clock Friday morning at the J.J. McDonald Mortuary by Henry W. Lawton Camp, No. 1, United Spanish War Veterans, assisted by Rev. Charles G. Zierk of the Methodist Church. Interment will be made in the Presidio National Cemetery in San Francisco.
   "Brown was born in Mansfield, Tioga County, in the north central part of Pennsylvania, on March 4, 1847. His parents were farmers.
   "When the war broke out, he enlisted with his brothers in the Union army, giving his age as 18 although he says he did not look it. He really was only 16 but at the moment recruiting officers were not so particular as he remembers.
   "He was assigned to the same company as an older brother, Company E of the Fifth New York Heavy Artillery, serving with the First Brigade of the Second Division in Virginia throughout the war.
      In Harper Battle

    "He saw action at Harper's battle and saw 26 of his comrades  shot down by Confederate bullets.
    "During the first days of the war one of his brothers died from poisoning in a plot which was laid to a Union colonel charged with placing calomel in his men's meat.
   "Brown was mustered out in June, 1865, at Harper's ferry, receiving an honorable discharge. Later he came to California, moving to Vallejo in 1900, where he entered the sheet metal shop at Mare Island navy yard. He was retired May 28, 1913.
    "From 1913 to1915, he moved to Oakland, where he was married and later separated.
    "He was a member of D.D. Porter Post, No. 169 G.A.R. in Oakland, and an honorary member of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Friday, March 30, 2012

"Gone With The Wind" Premiers in Vallejo

The world premier of the classic film "Gone With The Wind" was held in Atlanta in December, 1939. But in smaller cities like Vallejo, the movie didn't open until early 1940. On this date in 1940 "Gone With The Wind" had its Vallejo premier at the Hanlon Theater on Virginia Street. The next day, Vallejo Times-Herald reporter Will Stevens described the event:

    "Quite a few Vallejo folks who for quite a few good reasons weren't in Atlanta the night "Gone With The Wind" opened there - and might have later wondered how the show, Vivien Leigh, Hattie McDaniel, Victor Fleming and half a dozen other GWTWers grabbed all those first place Oscars - last night got a chance to discover the reasons for themselves.

    "Reviewing the show now, after the millions of words written following its premier, would be almost like telling the people who won the Civil War. Everybody knows who won the Civil War. And everybody knows that "Gone With The Wind" is perhaps the greatest picture ever filmed.

    "Inasmuch as this was the same show that made the folks and all the critics rave in Atlanta, it remains only to record here that no startling or sensationally newsworthy changes were apparent in the show's premier at the Hanlon last night. It's still the same "Gone With The Wind."

    The continuity since the Atlanta premier hasn't been changed to make the South victorious. Vivien Leigh is still playing Scarlett O'Hara just as though she were really Scarlett O'Hara and not Vivien Leigh at all. And Clark Gable, the old rascal, is still playing Rhett Butler.

    "The boys down in Hollywood haven't shoved another Union general into Sherman's place, and Hattie McDaniel is still playing "Mammy" with perspiring gusto and infinite charm.

    "And amid scenes of breathless beauty, in technicolor, Olivia de Haviland's Melanie makes everybody love her and hate Scarlett worse than they hated her in Margaret Mitchell's book, and Leslie Howard's job on Ashley Wilkes is the same excellent job that everybody saw in the Atlanta premier.

    "In fact, it would seem necessary at this time to merely record what everybody must have known at this time; that "Gone With The Wind" is at the Hanlon, on schedule, and will remain for a week, with most of the big crowd that saw it last night already planning to see it again."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

USS Wahoo (SS 238)

On this date in 1942 the submarine USS Wahoo (SS 238) was launched at Mare Island. Wahoo was the first sub launched at the Shipyard following the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Vallejo Times-Herald reported on the launching:

“Mare Island Navy Yard wrote new history [today]. A very dramatic history, too, with the launching of its first submarine since the declaration of war – the first submarine launched from the new building ways – the first submarine in the U.S. Navy to bear the name USS Wahoo.

“Nor did the sturdy Wahoo’s ‘firsts’ escape the notice of Rear Admiral W. L. Friedell, commandant, who told assembled guests and workmen during the launch-ing ceremonies: ‘With so many firsts to her credit, we may rest assured that Wahoo’s officers and men will see to it that she is first in the performance of her missions and first in her credits for enemy craft.’

“It was another perfect launching for Mare Island. One second, gay flags flying over her decks, the Wahoo was poised high on the ways beside her sister ship, the Whale… another second and beautifully, down sailed Wahoo to the waters of Mare Island channel.”