CHICAGO – One of the U.S. Navy’s top enlisted sailors visited Chicago to learn about an important mission the Navy accomplished during World War II, recognized some of the newest Chief Petty Officers, and connected with cadets at the city’s only publicly funded Navy high school on Sept. 19.
Fleet Master Chief Petty Officer Paul A. Kingsbury, U.S. Fleet Forces Command and Command Master Chief Petty Officer Marluis Stokes, also with Fleet Forces Command, participated in the fulfillment ceremony of the USO of Illinois U-505 Naval History Program, an educational program developed in partnership with the Pritzker Military Museum and Library and the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.
Kingsbury and Stokes also toured the U-505 exhibit at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry and visited with Navy Junior ROTC cadets at the Hyman G. Rickover Naval Academy.
“This was my first visit to Chicago proper, and it was a remarkable experience,” said Kingsbury. “It was exciting to see the robust relationships between the USO of Illinois, Pritzker Military Museum and Library, Museum of Science and Industry, and our sailors at Naval Station, Great Lakes.”
“The U-505 exhibit was outstanding,” he added. “I learned a lot about that important Navy historical mission and through the U-505 Naval Historical Program our newest Chief Petty Officers gained valuable insight into their history and heritage.
During the first stop of their visit, Kingsbury and Stokes visited the Museum of Science and Industry to tour its world-renowned U-505 exhibit. The exhibit conveys the important World War II story of the capture of the German U-505 submarine.
On June 4, 1944, U.S. Navy Task Group 22.3, led by Chicago native Navy Capt. Daniel Gallery, captured the U-505 off the coast of the Canary Islands and towed it to Bermuda. The German submarine’s crew was kept in seclusion to ensure the Allies’ possession of Germany’s ultra covert Enigma code machines and code books remained top secret.
The seizure of the Enigma machine and code books allowed the Allies of World War II to decode almost all of the German Navy’s instructions to their deployed submarines. Decoding secret German instructions allowed the Allies to know most U-Boat assignments within a day of transmission until war’s end. The U-505 has resided at the Museum of Science and Industry since 1954 and is registered with the National Register of Historic Places.
In 2005, a $35 million exhibit was built to house the U-505 submarine opened. The exhibit offers multiple interactive displays, nearly 200 artifacts, archival newspaper stories and photographs, videos narrated by legendary Chicago news anchor Bill Kurtis, vivid background illustrations, as well as illuminating testimonials from the veterans of Task Group 22.3 who made the significant capture.
Kingsbury and Stokes were led through the exhibit by Matt Porth, manager of Volunteer Programs at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry and submarine veteran and volunteer tour guide James Daniels, who emphasized the importance of the exhibit for preserving and presenting a significant event in naval history for the general public.
“It’s important for visitors to make a connection with the men and women who served during World War II and recognize the sacrifices they made,” Porth said. “The capture of the U-505 was a turning point in the War. That was over 70 years ago, but we have an obligation to remember, to never forget the sacrifices our service members made and continue to make.”
Kingsbury and Stokes next visited the Hyman G. Rickover Naval Academy in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood. Upon their arrival, the two senior enlisted leaders were greeted by the school’s cadet leadership and escorted to a classroom where 25 other cadets awaited for a working lunch which consisted of a cadet school briefing and questions from the cadets about a range of topics directed to the Fleet and Command Master Chief Petty Officers.
After the working lunch, Kingsbury and Stokes moved to the school’s auditorium where they met and spoke to an assembled group of 300 cadets.
Speaking to cadets, Kingsbury gave them his version of Leadership 101 expounding the importance of what he called the Four C’s: Competence, Character, Courage, and Credibility. Most importantly, he said, “You should never take opportunity for granted. You were selected to attend Rickover Naval Academy. There were hundreds of students who were not selected to attend this school. Take advantage of this opportunity and make the most of it.”
Addressing one cadet’s question concerning what keeps her motivated to do her job, Stokes replied, “What keeps me motivated is my sailors—my interaction with them every day. Working with them closely and seeing them grow and develop professionally is what keeps me going. Seeing my sailors succeed, because their success is my success—just as their failures are my failures.”
For high school senior Cadet Matheus Moreira, “It was very humbling to have the opportunity to interact with Fleet Master Chief Kingsbury. I was impressed that a man who climbed his way to the top took time out of his busy schedule to speak to every single one of us as equals, and with utmost respect.”
“Fleet Master Chief Kingsbury was the personification of the Navy’s core values. When he talked to the students about the value of honor, courage and commitment, those were not just words coming out of his mouth,” Moreira said. “You could tell that he lived by those ideals, and hoped that all these young JROTC cadets were genuinely inspired by them.”
The final stop of their day-long visit was Chicago’s renowned Pritzker Military Museum and Library, where they attended the culminating event of the USO of Illinois U-505 Naval History Program. Through the program, a small group of chief petty officer selectees participated in a unique educational program that connects “them with the historical lessons and volunteer museum docent opportunities at the Museum of Science and Industry’s famed U-505 submarine exhibit, as part of their chief petty officer advancement training,” said David Darroch, program director for USO of Illinois.
Development of the program was the result of conversations between the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, the USO of Illinois and leadership at Naval Station, Great Lakes, to address the need to enhance the education of newly selected chief petty officers.
Exclusively funded by the Pritzker Military Foundation, and its founder and benefactor retired Illinois Army National Guard Col. Jennifer Pritzker, the naval history program promotes academic research about the Battle of the Atlantic during World War II, especially during the required essay writing portion of the program. Additionally, it encourages newly selected chief petty officer to utilize the resources at the Pritzker Military Museum and Library for future and ongoing training opportunities.
According to Alison Ruble, president and chief executive officer for the USO of Illinois, being able to fill the need for educational programs through external partners is at the “core of the USO’s mission to connect our service members to resources in their local communities in mutually beneficial ways. The USO of Illinois U505 Naval History Program fosters just such a bridge for the U.S. Navy chief petty officers during an especially important time in their military careers.”
“We hope that the lessons they learn through the U-505 Naval History Program from such great Chicago institutions like the Museum of Science and Industry and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, resonate with them throughout their careers and will have a lasting positive effect, wherever their experiences take them,” said Ruble.
Among the 30 participants in this year’s program was Chief Petty Officer David Sanchez. Winner of this year’s USO of Illinois U-505 Naval History Program’s Sense of Heritage Essay Contest, Sanchez expressed the importance of learning about the actions and accomplishments of sailors from World War II and how exhibits like the U-505 bring those actions to life for public—both military and civilian.
“Today sailors and civilians have an opportunity to remember what those brave men did in 1944 and learn why it mattered,” said Sanchez. “This is evidenced by the millions of people who visit the U-505 exhibit every year to celebrate our heritage and to honor the men who captured a German U-boat risking their lives so many years ago.”
“History like the U-505 remains intact and relevant thanks to the men and women dedicated to preserving naval history, and refusing to forget the sacrifices made by our fathers,” said Hernandez.
Kingsbury also expressed his thanks and appreciation for the partnership between USO of Illinois, Pritzker Military Museum and Library, Museum of Science and Industry, and the leadership at Naval Station Great Lakes in an effort to create a unique educational opportunity for some of the Navy’s newest Chief Petty Officers.
“Programs like the USO of Illinois U-505 Naval History program give our newest chief petty officers the knowledge and appreciation required to support a strong sense of heritage,” said Kingsbury. “That sense of heritage is something we talk about but many might not understand what it means.”
“What is a sense of heritage, and why does it matter?” Kingsbury asked. “I think you have an understanding of heritage based on the U-505 activities you recently went through. For me a sense of heritage means a few things. First, it means having knowledge of the event that happened. Second, an appreciation for what it was like to have been there during the event. Third, understand the significance of an event.
“By having knowledge, appreciation, and understanding of the significance of an event you can communicate that to our young sailors in the form of sea stories,” he continued. “That’s what chiefs should be doing on a consistent basis. You should pass on our history and heritage via sea stories that connect the past with present, in an effort to make the past relevant for today’s young sailors.”
As a committed partner and a leader in providing opportunities for members of the military and the general public access to unique resources not available through other research institutions, Pritzker Military Museum and Library is a proud sponsor of the annual educational program.
“This program provides Navy chief petty officer selectees from Naval Station Great Lakes with access to several of Chicago’s important cultural resources while at the same time allowing them to academically explore the war in the Atlantic and the capture of the U-505”, said Kenneth Clarke, president and chief executive officer for the Pritzker Military Museum and Library. “The knowledge of this important ‘sea story’ will help them as leaders and will encourage them to explore other important historical events.”