Council History

CHARLESTON COUNCIL NAVY LEAGUE HISTORY

By Jerry Nuss, based on records maintained by Edith Calliham
January 2000

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Navy Leagues have existed for more than 200 years before the birth of Christ when the Navy League of Rome built 250 ships and trained the sailors to man them. The Navy League of Great Britain was established in 1894, Italy's in 1897, Germany's in 1898 and numerous others since. The U.S. established its Navy League in 1902 with the encouragement and cooperation of President Theodore Roosevelt. The purpose of the Navy League as stated by President Roosevelt, was to educate the American public on the need for a strong Navy. The Navy League today conducts local, national and international educational programs aimed at garnering support and understanding for America’s maritime service and for the people that serve them. There are about 70,000 members in more than 330 councils around the world.

OUR COUNCIL

In 1947, the Charleston Navy League Council was officially chartered. But it had functioned informally prior to that time. During its years before chartering, the Mayor of Charleston served as President of the Council. When L. Mendel Rivers was elected to Congress, it was a big boost to the Council, leading to the chartering and establishment of a formal organization. Unfortunately, the Charter has been lost, so we have no knowledge of the organizers, etc. In fact, we don’t know the names of early presidents, but Joseph Riley, Sr. and Louis Green were most likely two of the original organizers and we have record of them being Presidents in the 1950's. Other known presidents are listed at the end of this outline.

Today our Charleston Council has about 260 members from the business, professional, and retired communities.  We carry out the mission of the Navy League in many ways.We award two swords to the top citadel graduating cadets entering the Navy and the Marine Corps. We award the top Marine Biology scholar at the College of Charleston with a $500 scholarship. We have hosted many receptions for visiting ships, both U.S. and foreign.

We also sponsor a local sea cadet division, the Hunley-Yorktown division. Throughout the U.S., there are about 250 Sea Cadet units training 4000 young men and women, of which many join the armed services. Our unit averages about 30 members from year to year. These Sea Cadets train in maritime subjects such as seamanship, piloting, boating, and damage control. They go on ship cruises and many go to boot camp for a special session. They learn leadership and discipline, but they are not members of the armed services. They find out in this manner whether or not the military life will suit them.

In addition to having our own Sea Cadet unit, we have hosted Sea Cadet units from Canada. We did this for several years during the summers of the 1980's. These cadets were here for 2 weeks, training on local ships and the navy base.

NOTABLE EVENTS AND PROJECTS

In May of 1972, with President Bill Craver and his committee led by Paul Quattlebaum, Charleston Council hosted the National Convention for Navy League. Over 1000 members from almost every state, Puerto Rico, Canal Zone, Mexico City councils attended. The Main meeting location was the Gaillard Auditorium. Visitors were bussed to the meeting from the various hotels in Charleston. Members were given many tours including Middleton Gardens, the city, and Charles Towne Landing. A huge gala with dancing was held. Entertainment included selections from Porgy and Bess. Speakers included the Secretary of Navy, the CNO, Chief of Staff, Marine Corps, and others. The Secretary of the Navy invited several outstanding Navy Aviators who has just recently returned from combat duty in Viet Nam and these men were given a tremendous welcome by attendees of the convention. This National Convention was a overwhelming success, and for many years after it, this convention was praised by attendees at future conferences.

In March 1977, under President George Thorne, We hosted a Navy League regional convention, where members of councils in the Southeastern states attended. We also have hosted State meetings for the Navy League.

In April 1979, under President Herman Speisseger, the Council held a reception and barbeque for "Doolittle’s Raiders", that brave group of flyers who flew their bombers off a carrier in the Pacific and conducted a surprise bombing attack on Tokyo early in WWII. This group including General Doolittle were our guests at this event on the Yorktown.

In 1980, a project was initiated by President Edith Calliham to help refurbish an engine room on board the Yorktown, so that visitors could see some of the engineering spaces. Various fund raising projects including a huge luau, chaired by Vince Clifford, was held on the Yorktown. This event raised $2000 of the eventual $6300 collected and in September 1982 this project was completed and dedicated.

In 1987, under President Joe Good, a project to furnish 4 stained glass windows to the chapel at the Navy Hospital was undertaken and $2500 was raised for their purchase.

A Monte Carlo night was held in July 1989, under President Jerry Nuss, which raised $750 for the Shrine Hospital.

In January 1990, under President Jerry Nuss and Regional President Edith Calliham, the Regional convention was held here. Highlight of this convention was a public forum titled: "Soviet Perestroika-Implications for U.S. Sea Power." Lecturers included officials from Washington, D.C., the College of Charleston, and local Flag Officers

Of the over 300 councils in the world, each year about 10 are selected as "Outstanding Councils" and ten as "Meritorious Councils". Our council has been chosen as Outstanding in 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1989 and 1998, It has been chosen as a Meritorious Council in 1977, 1978, 1983, 1988 and 1997.

Twice we have had large Family Awareness events, in July 1980 and in June 1987. Families came to the Navy Base for a picnic lunch, rides on tug boats, visits to a submarine and a destroyer, tours of the Submarine Training Center which included operating the diving trainer, fire fighting exhibitions and other events.

Our Council has been involved in countless ship command changes. We have had outstanding speakers from many walks of life; senators, representatives, governors, ambassadors, Navy Secretaries, CNO’s, Coast Guard Chiefs, Marine Commandants, National Navy League Presidents, and many flag and general officers from the Armed Services.

In February 1986, past President Edith Calliham was responsible for a bill introduced in the S.C. Legislature that made the USS South Carolina the official flag ship of South Carolina.

In June 1989, we hosted 100 visiting Naval Academy midshipmen at a huge cookout on the Navy Base.

In 1989, after many aborted starts, we finally received our tax-exempt status as a 501(C) 3 organization from the IRS.

May 28, 1990 was declared Navy League Day in the City of Charleston, by Mayor Joseph Riley, Jr.

Some of our past Presidents have risen to higher levels of the Navy League organization. Dick Knight and Edith Calliham were National Directors, State Presidents and Regional Presidents. Edith rose to the Vice President rank and Treasurer of the National Navy League. Bill Craver, Ed McGrory, Jerry Nuss, Jim Strobel and Dave Morgan were National Directors. Bill Craver was appointed to the National Executive Committee.

In additions to the yearly awarding of Citadel swords and a Marine Biology Scholarship, we make many other awards each year to outstanding Marines, Sailors and Coast Guard personnel. Awards are made six times a year to outstanding enlisted and officers graduates of the Nuclear Power School, and others as necessary.

For many years we collected toys at Christmas time for the Crippled Children Society. We also collected "Toys for Tots", a Marine Corps program.

The Navy League had a large role in the commissioning of the Cruiser USS Cowpens in March 1991. We set up a welcome booth at our airport to give information to incoming attendees at this event.

Many Navy league members, including the Chairman, the Secretary and the Treasurer, were on the commissioning committee for the Frigate USS Hamilton, in June 1995.

We have sent members on cruises to aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines on a space available basis. We have made trips to Kings Bay Submarine Base, Paris Island boot camp, Camp Lejuene, and other sites.

We have held education seminars for the local public on Sea Power events and status.

But in 1993, as many of you know, in spite of the tremendous work done by the "Save The Charleston Navy" Committee led by the Chamber of Commerce and comprised of many Navy League members, we lost most of the Navy presence here, including the shipyard, the Navy base, the submarines, the mine force and the destroyers.

On a plus side, we will still have a Sea Power presence with the Navy hospital, the Navy Weapons station, 2 large Coast Guard cutters, the enlarged old Navy electronics center, now called "SPAWAR", the Navy Nuclear Power School, and two nuclear power training units in the form of two former nuclear submarines, converted into shore stations for reactor training.

SPECIAL AWARDS/FUNDS

THE CRAVER-QUATTLEBAUM FUND

In September, 1982, the Craver-Quattlebaum Fund was accepted by the Board. The interest generated by this fund provides life memberships for future retiring presidents of the Charleston Navy League Council.

THE MARINE BIOLOGY AWARD

In 1976 the Council established a Marine Biology Award to a College of Charleston rising senior student in that field. The study of Marine Biology fits in with the Navy League’s Sea Power resolutions concerning the freedom of the seas, shipping, ship building, and a National Oceanic policy. The chairman of the College’s Biology Department wrote to the Navy League Council stating that the College "sincerely appreciates the Navy League’s willingness to honor one of our students, and that the award should be made to a senior enrolled in marine biology who, in the opinion of the department, shows great promise in the area of marine biology." Thus, the Award was commenced in 1977 with the first recipient being Daniel C. Abel. The award at that time was a $100 check and recognition at a Navy League luncheon, normally in the month of May. Over the years, the award increased in value in increments to $300. The amount was tailored to match the value of the swords given to the Citadel cadet winners. In 1998 the Nuss Family Endowment, established at the College of Charleston by Jerry Nuss and family, decided to fund this award and it was changed from a cash award to a paid scholarship of $500 which the winner would receive in September starting his(her) senior year at the College. To keep up with inflation in future years, the amount of the scholarship can be increased with permission of the Nuss Family. The award is named, "The Navy League Council of Charleston Marine Biology Scholarship."

The List of award winners:The List of award winners:

1977: Daniel C. Abel; 1978: Thomas Moersen; 1979: Susan Harrison Grimball; 1980: Olga Fields; 1981: Anna Marie Horn; 1982: James l. Pinckney; 1983: Scott Poaps; 1984: Edmund Woloszyn; 1985: Amy Hodgson; 1986: Sara Shepherd; 1987: Patricia Deloach; 1988: Dawn Emigh; 1989: Mary Beth Abel; 1990: Andrea Wilbanks; 1991: (unknown); 1992: Dorian R. Reynolds; 1993: Richard T. Kraus; 1994: Paul Allen Fleming; 1995: Mr. S. C. Shulty; 1996: Ross Langston; 1997: Laura Flynn; 1998: Lane D. Jeffries; 1999: Jennifer Culbertson.

THE CITADEL NROTC SWORDS AWARD

The exact date the Navy League started awarding an officer’s sword to the outstanding graduating NROTC cadet is not known, but it was probably in the late 60's or early 70's according to recollection by a past president. In 1973, two Citadel men tied for the award, so President Bill Craver awarded two swords, one to Cadet John Patterson headed for Naval service, and a Marine Sword to Cadet Edward O’Brien, a forthcoming Marine Officer. After this year The Navy League started awarding Officer swords to the outstanding Citadel graduating NROTC Navy oriented cadet and to the outstanding Citadel graduating NROTC Marine oriented cadet.

Names of recipients before or after 1973 are not known until 1977, These swords were presented to the winning cadets by the President of the Navy League Charleston Council during one of the Citadel’s Friday afternoon parades just prior to graduation, usually in April. The winning cadets of these swords are selected by the administration of the Citadel.

The Swords were originally purchased out of operating funds of the Council. During the first few years, the swords were of a reasonable cost but with subsequent inflation, each sword cost $400 or more and this was a considerable strain on the small Council Budget.

In 1996, an endowment was set up by Navy League life member, Fran Josephson, for the purpose of purchasing the sword for the Navy oriented cadet. This endowment is in memory of her husband, Captain H. Carl Josephson, a member of the U.S. Naval Academy class of 1952, and who had been a life member of our council. This sword is known as the "Captain H. Carl Josephson Sword presented by the Charleston Council of the Navy League". In 1997, N.L member Jane Williams-Smith, established in memory of her husband, "The Brigadier General William Lee Smith Memorial Fund" which is used to fund the sword for the Marine oriented cadet. This sword is known as the "Brigadier General William Lee Smith Sword presented by the Charleston Council of the Navy League."

The list of Award winners:

1977: Navy Charles Bensten, Marine Richard Lake; 1978: Navy John Herring, Marine James DeOtte; 1979: Navy Thomas Towle, Marine Richard Reinecke; 1980: Navy Mark Breor, Marine Frederick Whittle; 1981: Navy Robert Fitzgerald, Marine Mark Vanous; 1982: Navy James Rose, Marine Donald Graczyk; 1983 Navy David Bastien, Marine Matthew Bucholz; 1984: Navy Steven LeBlanc, Marine Thomas Goolsby; 1985: Navy Christophe Liptak, Marine Albert Ivens; 1986: Navy Marion Miller, Marine Claude Baldwin; 1987: Navy David MacPherson, Marine Robert Tanke; 1988: Navy John Mordigal, Marine Thomas Alaksa; 1989: Navy David Beauclair, Marine Patrick Wall; 1990: Navy Gregory McWherter, Marine Christopher Dorgan; 1991: Navy Benjamin Taylor, Marine Thomas Gordon; 1992: Navy James Wucher, Marine William Berger; 1993: Navy Randal Bell, Marine Robert Baker; 1994: Navy Robert Fagan, Marine Norman Dorecet; 1995: Navy Robert Meyer, Marine John Jarrad; 1996: Navy Colin Chinn, Marine Justin Anderson; 1997: Navy Brice Butler, Marine Michael Arpaio; 1998: Navy Reggie Gil, Marine Christopher Farrike; 1999: Navy Jonathan Biehl, Marine Shane Donahue.

PRESIDENTS OF THE COUNCIL

1952 & 1953 JOSEPH RILEY, SR.

1954 & 1955 LOUIS E. GREEN

1963 HAROLD SIMMONS

1964 HAROLD PETIT

1965 ROBERT RUSSELL

1966 & 1967 PAUL QUATTLEBAUM

1968 HOWARD BURKY

1969 & 1970 GLENN WILLIAMSON

1971 & 1972 WILLIAM CRAVER, JR.

1973 JOHN CARTER

1974 J. EDWIN SCHACTE,

JR.1975 JAMES BAGWELL,

JR.1976 FORREST NORVELL

1977 GEORGE THORNE

1978 JERRY NUSS

1979 HERMAN SPEISSEGER

1980 EDITH CALLIHAM

1981 FRANK LEWIS

1982 THOMAS ANDERSON

1983 MINNIE MAYBERRY

1984 RICHARD KNIGHT

1985 JAMES STROBEL

1986 WILLIAM ORVIN, JR.

1987 JOSEPH GOOD

1988 DWIGHT AGNEW

1989 & 1990 JERRY NUSS

1991 ALEX DALLIS, JR.

1992 WILLIAM PREWITT

1993 ABBIE SMITH WALLACE

1994 MYRON HARRINGTON

1995 RAYMOND CARLTON

1996 THOMAS MAYBERRY, JR.

1997 THOMAS CAMPBELL

1998 DAVID MORGAN

1999 JAMES WELSCH

2000 AL BACIOCCO

2001 JIM FLATLEY

2002-3 OLLIE OLIVER

2004-6 BILL NOLD

2006-08 TOM BROWN

2008-10 BOB BESAL

2011 RUSS KELLER

2012 BILL COOK

2013 MALCOLM FAGES

2014 PAT KEAVENEY