/Our country lost a real hero and patriot when retired Navy Rear Admiral James B. Osborn died Mach 301h in Summer ville. A brilliant man and inspirational leader, Admiral Osborn had a distinguished naval career that included service in three wars (World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War). During the last of these, he was in command at Danang in 1968 during the notorious Tet Offensive.
Of particular significance, he was one of the earliest pioneers in the Navy’s submarine guided missile program in the early 1950s and commanded the first guided missile submarine, USS TUNNY (SSG 282). In the late 1950s, when the decision had been made to marry the nuclear-armed ballistic missile to the new nuclear-powered submarine, he was selected from a host of highly qualified submariners to be the first commanding officer of the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN 598), our first ballistic missile (FBM) submarine, better known then as Polaris submarine, then being built at the Electric Boat Co. in Groton, Conn.
What is little known today is what an extraordinarily ambitious undertaking that new Polaris program was. Every element of the Polaris weapon system-missile propulsion, missile guidance, missile checkout, fire control, navigation, launcher and ship control-was based on state-of-the-art technology that had never gone to sea before, much less in a submarine. Today it takes more than a decade to place even an improved weapon system in operation. From conception to at sea on patrol, it took less than four years for the GEORGE WASHINGTON.
This was a monumental achievement, and the man most responsible for its early success at the shipboard level was Admiral Osborn. He conducted the first ever launch of a missile from a submerged submarine, then went on to take GEORGE WASHINGTON on the first Polaris patrol from Charleston in November 1960. In conducting that first patrol, Admiral Osborn and his crew were required to overcome a myriad of difficult technical problems. The U.S. Submarine Force has conducted more than 3,000 ballistic missile patrols since then, many out of Charleston, and they have become almost routine about those early patrols.
Many observers credit the U.S. Navy’s FBM submarine fleet with being the primary factor in our victory over the Soviet Union in the long Cold War the Soviets tried relentlessly to locate and/or neutralize our FBM submarine deterrent, but were never remotely successful. Admiral Osborn deserves great credit for his significant part in that great victory.
Admiral Osborn was a hero to a generation of submariners. His many devoted shipmates will always remember him and will miss him greatly.
Dr. Waldo Lyon Scholarship Fund
Dr. Lyon provided inspired leadership to the Navy’s Submarine Arctic Warfare Program for 55 years. Between 1946 and 1981, he made more than 20 under ice patrols as senior scientist, and made history on NA UTJLUS 1958 (Transpolar Crossing), SKATE 1959 (First ship lo surface at North Pole), SARGO 1960 (First winter transit of Bering Strait), and SEADRAGON 1960 (First submerged transit of Nonhwest Passage). He twice received the Navy Distinguished Civilian Service Medal. Other honors included the Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award and the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service. Dr. Lyon passed away in 1998 and his ashes were scattered al the Nonh Pole by USS HA WKDJLL. He received his PhD from UCLA in 1941, and since 1999, the Scholarship, which is administered by the UCLA Foundation, has been awarded twice. Donations, marked for the Dr. Waldo Lyon Scholarship Fund, can be sent to:
The UCLA Foundation
c/o Ms. Camille Harper
College of Letters and Science
P.O. Box 951413
Los Angeles CA 90095-1413
Info: Al Hayashida at email@example.com or