Mustin: A Naval Family of the Twentieth Century / Edition 1

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Three generations of a distinguished naval family are profiled in this biography whose publication coincides with the commissioning of the USS Mustin (DDG-89), the U.S. Navy's newest Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyer. The family's story intertwined with the history of the U.S. Navy as it rose through the century to become the preeminent maritime player on the international stage. Key participants in many of the major naval events of the twentieth century, the Mustins dealt with tremendous technological and historical change, from the rise of the battleship and naval aviation to the introduction of missiles, nuclear submarines, and atomic weapons. Henry Mustin is acknowledged as one of the fathers of naval aviation. His son Lloyd followed a career in ordnance and gunnery, becoming proficient in everything from small arms to nuclear weapons testing. Lloyd's son, Hank, was a key figure in the restoration of the surface navy in the 1970s and one of the first to execute the maritime strategy of the 1980s. Hank's brother, Tom, was a decorated brown-water warrior in the Vietnam War.

Drawing on oral histories, interviews, and family letters, papers, and photographs, the book profiles the careers of these four men. For both the general reader and sea-service professional, it features firsthand accounts of many important naval actions, including the Philippine Insurrection, Vera Cruz, Guadalcanal, and Operation Game Warden. The chapters dealing with the Vietnam War, in particular, afford multi-faceted insight into that tragic conflict from three perspectives: Lloyd serving in Washington, Hank on the Pacific Command staff, and Tom in the Mekong Delta. Many will recognize the complex waysthat technology and bureaucracy intersected in the Mustins' careers.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591144922
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 491
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.14 (d)

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Copyright © 2003 United Defense L.P.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1591144922

Chapter One

The Academy Years


Henry Croskey Mustin was born in Philadelphia on 6 February 1874 at 3908 Spruce Street, the home of his father, Thomas Jones Mustin, and before him, his grandfather, John Mustin. The Mustins were descendants of a French Huguenot family, originally Mostyn, that had come to the United States via England in the late eighteenth century. Through most of the nineteenth century, the family had prospered in textiles, and they long had been active in the church life of west Philadelphia. The family patriarchs of the day were described in the local press as "all foremost in Church work" at Philadelphia's Fifth Baptist Church. Said one church member, Thomas Mustin was "one of the most active and useful of our Tabernacle members, a man whom we all held in high esteem."

Henry's mother was the former Ida Croskey, a very capable woman who herself came from a distinguished Philadelphia line through Capt. John Ashmead V, her great-grandfather and a first cousin to Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Ashmead was a heroic, swashbuckling, but nonetheless religious naval commander of the Revolutionary War who later became Philadelphia's harbormaster.

Henry was the first of two sons. He and his younger brother, John Burton, were very alike in character, both possessing fierce determination. At a very early age, Henry applied himself to music, learning to play piano by ear and becoming a church organist. Notwithstanding his father's deep involvement with the church, he credited his Episcopalian mother with having taught him how to pray, and he would carry both parents' faith with him throughout his career. Thomas and Ida instilled in their boys the belief that honor is a key attribute of a person's character, and that prized family value was a continuous inspiration.

Thomas Mustin was a vigorous man whose example clearly encouraged Henry and Burton. He prompted both to excel in athletics, and as they grew older they often competed together in track and field events in the Philadelphia area. Henry in particular devoted himself to what then was called physical culture. In the summers, Thomas would take his family to Atlantic City, which was easily accessible by train from Philadelphia. The boys enjoyed active summers in New Jersey and often sporting winters as well. An extraordinarily busy man who commuted to the city during the week, Thomas would dedicate Sundays to his sons, taking them sailing or fishing. Occasionally, they would accompany some of the local men, whom Henry later remembered as a "hard drinking and riotous crowd" who "loved and admired" his dad.

The boys were devoted to their father. On summer mornings, young Henry would walk his dad to the train station to see him on his way to Philadelphia. In the afternoons, he would wait seemingly for hours for his father's return. Some evenings, the elder Mustin would arrive early, and he and his son would head to the beach, where they would swim in the surf until dark. Henry later would recall one occasion, after he had put considerable effort into developing his young biceps, when he stripped for the sea and flexed his muscles proudly for his dad. His father smiled and removed his own shirt to reveal a powerful chest and stomach before diving into the surf, leaving the young Henry with the resolve to build for himself a body just like his dad's.

Thomas Mustin must have promoted in his sons a familiarity and self-reliance around water. Among his early memories, Henry would recall with pride his first "very wonderful day" as perhaps a ten-year-old, spent by himself in a sailboat. He also would recollect saving a boy from drowning a year or two later, for which the youth rewarded him with a large watermelon.

In January 1888, the elder Mustin had finished organizing the Stratford Knitting Mill, which would be his own family business. All that remained was to distribute samples, but before doing so, he wanted to take time with his sons, so the three repaired to New Jersey, probably to hunt. During their return, their train hit a ferocious blizzard and stalled on the track. The temperature inside the compartment dropped precipitously, and to keep his two sons warm, Thomas removed his coat and sweaters and wrapped them tightly around the pair. Rescue was not immediately forthcoming. Despite his vigor, the elder Mustin succumbed to the bitter cold, caught pneumonia, and died shortly thereafter. Henry was fourteen.

Years later, at sea with the Great White Fleet, Henry wrote to his new bride of the kind of father he aspired to be, observing that if his dad had lived, he would have made him a "better man."

So it was that Ida Croskey Mustin was left with two young sons and a mill to open and run. Fortunately, she was well connected in Philadelphia circles, within which was John Wanamaker, the nation's preeminent department store magnate and probably also a customer of Mustin textiles. The leading light of the city's Young Men's Christian Association, Wanamaker also was a prominent Republican.

Ida did not remain a widow for long. Within three years, she married William S. Lloyd, another prosperous Philadelphian, who proved to be a devoted and generous stepfather to Henry and Burton. Lloyd subsequently bought and improved the Stratford Mill.

In early 1891, Henry turned seventeen. Drawn perhaps by adventure, he was interested in a Naval Academy appointment. Ida petitioned directly to John Wanamaker, who, with the 1888 election of Benjamin Harrison, had become postmaster general, then a key cabinet position. In February, Wanamaker arranged for Henry and his mother to meet with Secretary of the Navy Benjamin E Tracy, while he continued to work in Washington on their behalf.

The Republican Party was the party of the navalists at a time when the U.S. Navy was entering an era of expansion. Benjamin Tracy, a retired army general and wounded Union veteran, had little naval background, but he proved to be a great naval proponent. Largely through the influence of the famed Civil War commander Rear Adm. David Dixon Porter and the up-and-coming naval strategist Capt. Alfred Thayer Mahan, Tracy valued forward-looking naval strategy as a means to enable an expansionist-minded United States to flex its muscles overseas. Perhaps his greatest achievement in office was driving the 1890 legislation that provided for the U.S. Navy's first true battleships-the Indiana, Massachusetts, and Oregon-arguably the act that launched the so-called new navy.

In spite of the Wanamaker entree, Henry's middling career as a student undid his chances for an 1891 Naval Academy appointment. At the time, appointments to the battalion-sized academy were especially competitive, and sons of naval officers often had the advantage. Fearing the lad might be discouraged, Wanamaker urged Henry to keep him informed of his progress in school. Henry needed no encouragement to stay the course, for events abroad told him that the U.S. Navy offered a heroic life of challenge and adventure, more to his taste than running a family textile business.

American jingoism was at fever pitch in 1891. Revolution in Chile had prompted a U.S. naval presence in Chilean waters. On 16 October, several sailors got into a drunken brawl with locals and police at the True Blue Saloon in Valparaiso. Two Americans died, and several suffered serious injuries. Through the winter and into 1892, President Harrison and Secretary Tracy blustered for war.

For Henry, naval heroes were front-page news. One of the sailors killed, Boatswain's Mate Charles W. Riggin, came home to lie in state at Philadelphia's Independence Hall. The press wrote profiles of such naval officers as Capt. Robley "Fighting Bob" Evans, commander of the units off Valparaiso. These were the larger-than-life celebrities of the day, embodiments of valor, strength, and independence. Henry knew what he wanted to be-an officer in the U.S. Navy. He would continue his studies and persist in his quest for admission to the Naval Academy.

Late that summer, on 6 September, he attained the prize: an appointment from Secretary Tracy. He would go as a naval cadet (the term midshipman was not revived until 1901) from the First District of Tennessee, a fact that reflected some political doing as, of course, he was Pennsylvanian.

The year started officially on 1 October 1892, and Henry entered as a member of the seventy-seven-man class of 1896. The popular Civil War commander Capt. Robert L. Phythian was superintendent. Among his staff was Lt. William S. Benson, who would advance to be the first chief of naval operations. Henry would find the U.S. Navy a close and very small world of men, with whom, for whom, and later over whom, he would serve. Reputations and friendships were made early, beginning in Annapolis, and would form the foundation on which he would build his career.

Mustin was one of the latecomers. Part of the class of 1896 had taken the three-month summer cruise and thus entered the academic year with some firsthand knowledge of leadership and matters naval. It would be a challenging year of adjustment for Mustin. He and the rest of his class soon were knocked into shape by the colorful sword master of the day, A. J. Corbesier of the Ordnance and Gunnery Department. Evidently, however, Henry had a lot of stuffing left, for the record shows he got into plenty of trouble his plebe year: whistling loudly during study, skylarking on drill, throwing water in corridor, creating disturbance after taps, talking in ranks, careless in performance of duty as section leader, crossing grass, and the more serious offense, smoking.

Although not a large youth, Mustin soon become known for his physical strength and great interest in athletics. On 20 May 1893, at the academy's spring athletic meeting, Mustin and another cadet tied in the pole vault at 9'3/4", setting an Annapolis record.

After his plebe year, Mustin took his first summer cruise on the forty-year-old Constellation, the U.S. Navy's last all sail-powered warship. She had served as training vessel for the Naval Academy since 1871, and this cruise would be her last at the Yard. Leaving Annapolis on 6 June, 123 cadets headed first to Old Point Comfort, Hampton Roads, Virginia-where they got the chance to "spoon" with the belles of Norfolk for two nights-and then across the Atlantic to Horta on the island of Fayal in the Azores. Mustin and his classmates participated in drills of all kinds, notably the dangerous ones aloft in the rigging, where, rain or shine, they handled the sails. In this work, Henry could draw on his sailing experience with his father on the Jersey shore. He may have been too full of himself, however. During the cruise, he received demerits for "unwarranted assumption of authority."

The Constellation arrived in the Azores on 2 July, another "very wonderful day" for Mustin, who marked it as the first time he had "set foot in a foreign land." For four days, the cadets sampled the local wine in quantity before sailing to Funchal, Madeira. They arrived on 11 July and left on the nineteenth for a "three-day windjammer" to Hampton Roads, the Constellation's last run under sail before being towed to Newport to serve there as a naval training station and receiving ship. The ship remained off Fort Monroe for several days before arriving in Annapolis on the twenty-ninth and debarking her cadets for well-earned leave.

By the time Mustin returned to the academy on 1 October 1893 as a third classman, his class had defined itself, having been both to sea and on liberty, and had formed impressions of each of its members. The class of 1896's fiftieth anniversary book speaks tantalizingly of "fast riding" at Bay Ridge, then a major regional resort on the Chesapeake Bay, five miles from the academy. The editors-speaking for their class-wrote that "they also indulged in spooning, as far as was permissible, and at that early stage showed evidences of the very great development they have later reached in that most important part of their functions." They tagged Henry as "Corkscrew Mustin, Baltimore street pilot, and man with the gold plated smile, open for all engagements."

Unfortunately, his plebe year academic achievements had been unimpressive. Among a class that had dwindled to fifty-eight, Mustin stood forty-ninth in order of merit and fifty-fifth in discipline. Yet, he continued to make his mark in athletics, and in his youngster (third-class) year became quarterback of the class football team.

Academy football was building momentum and was especially magnetic for a feisty cadet such as Mustin. The 1893 season was noteworthy for a particularly intense gridiron clash between the two service rivals, Army and Navy. It was the fourth such contest, and Navy went into the game with a series record of two to one. After a hard fight, the Navy team won a narrow victory with a score of six to four. As was characteristic of the time, the intensity spread to the fans.

In the excited aftermath, a retired brigadier general and a rear admiral got into a fistfight that reportedly escalated into a duel with firearms at Washington's Army and Navy Club. Following a letter from the West Point superintendent to the secretary of war, Army-Navy football and the duel were discussed at cabinet level. In the interest of good order and discipline, the War and Navy Departments decided to prohibit any further Army-Navy football games. The rivalry did not resume until 1899, at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, thought to be a less provocative venue than the playing fields of either academy.

Off the football field, Mustin would have a boisterous year. Significant demerits during his youngster year included those for pitching a football against a building, fighting, snowballing in the vicinity of Old Quarters, using insulting language to another cadet, breaking a window with a snowball, and "throwing water from a window of Number 4." Among his cohorts in a number of these high jinks was his classmate and close friend Amon Bronson Jr. Mustin and Bronson had much in common. Raised by his widowed mother, Bronson also was a less than satisfactory student and a smoker. The two of them were put on report by a number of different officers, most frequently by Lt. De Witt Coffman, one of the drill officers in the commandant's office. On 29 May, Coffman caught Bronson smoking in Mustin's room. In July, both were on report for food fights at dinner.

In the spring of I894, the academy published the first Lucky Bag yearbook, and Mustin's class moved from Old Quarters, the nine pre-Civil War attached dormitory buildings along Stribling Row, to the postwar New Quarters. These quarters would remain the cadets' primary residence until 1904, when Bancroft Hall was completed.


Excerpted from Mustin by JOHN FASS MORTON Copyright © 2003 by United Defense L.P.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction xi
Part I. The Aviator
1. The Academy Years: A Philadelphian Joins the Tide 3
2. An Ensign Goes to War 12
3. Command in the Philippines: From Oyster to Pirate 20
4. The Gunner Finds His Mascotte 34
5. With the Great White Fleet: Almost Better than My Honor 47
6. Into the Air 65
7. A High Type in Vera Cruz 82
8. A Warrior at War Within and Without 96
9. Returning to the Game 110
10. Aviation in the Pacific 121
11. BuAer and Henry Croskey's Legacy 129
Part II. The Gun Boss
12. Growing Up a Navy Junior 139
13. The Academy Years: It Isn't Luck, It's Skill 147
14. On the Asiatic Station: By the Slop Chute on the Ol' Whangpoo 158
15. The Making of a Gun Boss 173
16. First Blood on the Atlanta 183
17. At War, at Speed with Pete and Ching 203
18. Coming to Terms with the Postwar Missile Navy 217
19. First Command: A Love You Could Taste 222
20. Early Exposure to Pentagon Politics: Nothing but Logic 229
21. A Destroyerman at Home in the Pacific 237
22. From Argus to Berlin: An Operational Flag Officer in the Strategic Realm 245
23. Operation Dominic: Shooting Swordfish in a Fish Desert 257
24. J-3 and Vietnam: Wrestling a Fine Italian Hand 269
25. Career's End and Retirement: Never Better 285
Part III. The Surface Warriors
26. Hank Mustin: Childhood and USNA--Grooming for the A Team 297
27. The Young Destroyerman in the Cavalry 305
28. Brown-Water Operations in Vietnam: Terry and the Pirates 319
29. On the Gun Line: Destroyer Command 330
30. First Duty at OpNav: A Polecat at a Beach Party 336
31. Introduction to NATO: The Frocked Captain in Sleepy Hollow 345
32. Driving Surface Warfare 357
33. Bagging the Carriers: A Two-Star in the Penalty Box 364
34. Commander, Second Fleet 372
35. The Ops Baron 384
36. Tom Mustin: Swashbuckling from Wardroom to Courtroom 401
Appendix 415
Source Notes 427
Index 437
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