The original intent in building Destroyers OnLine was simply to present pages on a few particular ships. From that small start it rapidly became apparent that a much larger purpose presented itself, an opportunity to utilize the Internet to showcase a general class of ships which fill a unique niche not only because of their small size and high speed, but also for their rich histories and varied uses. What also gradually became apparent is that the Internet is the greatest opportunity for gathering, preserving and presenting historical information that would otherwise be left in attics and closets or lost with the passing of those who retain them as memories.
This particular page has been neglected for a while. There are simple reasons for this neglect: nearly everyone of us have full-time jobs and the time we donate is done freely and, we enjoy it.
Nevertheless, some history about how all of this came about is in order, as well as where we are now and where we are headed (which is exciting).
Richard McMichael (Seattle Washington) started these pages as a way to preserve the memories of the ships he served on: USS McGinty DE 365, USS Edmonds DE 406 , USS Uhlmann DD 687, USS Theodore E. Chandler DD 717, and USS Hull DD 945.
That was in the Fall of 1996.
There were many contributors to the site by the time I stumbled on these pages in early 1997, looking for information on the ship I served on, the USS Whipple (FF-1062). What fascinated me about Destroyers Online was two simple things: One, I sent an E-mail to Mr.. McMichael – and he responded. He further encouraged me to send in whatever I hoped to see in the beginning’s of a web-site for the Whipple and;Two, the easy navigation of Destroyers Online.
Shortly thereafter, I became enamored with the net and all of the potential it held. It would soon become very apparent that the net had the ability to reunite two people from diverse backgrounds who shared a very special two days aboard Whipple.
In the Spring of 1997, I submitted (and Rich McMichael posted) an essay of mine that was published in a college Honors Journal in 1988. Sitting in my dresser drawer and on floppy for 9 years, I felt it was a good story to put up on the internet. It was an essay of Whipple’s rescue of 410 Vietnamese refugee’s in high seas and heavy winds in August, 1978. A few months after the essay went up on the net, Richard Chen who was 14 years old at the time of the rescue – and was searching the internet for the ship that rescued him – contacted me. I sent Richard a number of photographs from the rescue in the mail. Richard showed these to the Wing Luke Museum in downtown Seattle. The next thing I know, I’m being invited to Seattle as a guest speaker – with Richard – to share our stories.
Our re-uniting was the focus of considerable media attention: Seattle Times, Detroit Free Press and a host of T.V. & Radio.
I felt extremely fortunate to meet with Richard after 20 years. There were many other shipmates aboard Whipple who had more prominent roles during the rescue; I simply tried to convey my feeling that the crew as a whole felt extremely fortunate to execute one of the under-reported aspects of Destroyer life: Aid to vessels in distress on the high seas.
And this is just one story. At Destroyers Online, we have numerous examples of fellow shipmates who have re-kindled friendships after many years. Some of these shipmates have discovered that long-lost shipmates are a short drive from each other.
In the Summer of 1997, Brad Davis came to our site looking for the ship his Grandfather served on, the U.S.S. Hazelwood (DD-531). Because of health reasons, Brad was never able to serve, but he had a wealth of information on his Grandfathers service and the Hazelwood in general. Brad quickly became involved and for several years was our point of contact for the Fletcher class Destroyers. (Brad is currently on leave.)
In late 1998, Destroyers Online was fortunate to acquire the services of our first officer, Dave Seay (LCDR-ret). Dave got the Sumner class Destroyers up and running. Some of the things he has initiated for the Sumner’s is where Destroyers Online is headed: Automation.
Jack Atkinson used to handle the Charles Adams class and the two Bronstein Frigates, but Jack is retiring from Boeing and will be moving back east. He may return to help out when he gets situated in his new home; we wish him well.
Beyond any of these examples, it’s pretty much open season.
Some of us html “Neanderthals” (which includes me) are uncomfortable with the “Box method” (“Forms”) of communicating. Like others in this medium, I feel they are impersonal and I don’t care for them.However, with the amount of people visiting this site, “Forms” will probably be a bigger part of the experience. The Forms are also key to opening up other possibilities.
Imagine: selecting a “Form” and being able to search an entire database for a ship, the name of a particular sailor – or All of the sailors for a particular ship, or all of the photographs for a particular ship; and having this data processed into a web-page designed to your particular selection?
With new systems we will deploy, we will be able to bring these capabilities to you. (The goal is further automation without loosing the “personal touch.”)
We are also providing a way you can help support the site. From Amazon.com, we have deployed a “donation” area, titled “Help Support Destroyers Online.” (See below.) All of us donate our time and do it as a labor of love. We do have expenses – Server costs – so anything you would like to contribute we appreciate the support. Anything donated above our costs will be distributed in such a way that we can all order a pizza . . . . 🙂
So, Destroyers Online will continue to grow in capability. We are interested in this medium for the same reasons you are: to collect, preserve and display historical information about the ships, their crews and the U.S. Navy. Nearly all of us have served (or is close to someone who did) and we enjoy hearing from “our fellow shipmates” and the varied experiences they have to tell.
We sincerely enjoy this endeavor and hope that we can contribute to a subject we know you hold special too.