Friday, August 13, 2004

WASP UPDATE by Warren Sparrow


....for Warren Sparrow. Jennie Margaret (Senator Forehand) writes to say that she and her husband Bill will be getting together with Warren and Becky when the Sparrows come to Annapolis, MD for the reunion of the USS Wasp.......the ship Warren served on during his service to our nation.


October 1, 2004.....This note from Warren:


You and the Class of 1954 need to know what a wonderful time Becky and I had in Annapolis during the 61st annual reunion of the USS Wasp. Thanks to Jennie Margaret and Bill Forehand, we had a magical time. They met us at the Capitol, giving us an inside look at the complex. She showed us the room where George Washington resigned his general's commission in order to be a civilian president. She took us through the tunnel that connects the legislative building to the Capitol. Bill and she also treated us to lunch in downtown Annapolis. It was a remarkable tour.

Jennie's accomplishments cannot be overstated. She has served more than 24 years in the Maryland legislature, first in its House of Delegates and now as a State Senator. Believe it or not, she gives a lot of credit to Obie Oakley for her success. He encouraged her to use yard signs in her first campaign. She took his advice. The rest is history.

-Warren Sparrow


From Warren Sparrow

Thank you for your generous comments about the Wasp and me. The picture you have on the web is not the Wasp of 1959-62 (my years). The one you are showing is the "new" Wasp, commissioned in the late 1980's. Becky and I toured the new Wasp in 1990 when it was in Norfolk.

There have been nine or ten Wasps in the US Navy, beginning with the first one in the Revolutionary War. One was sunk at Guadalcanal.

CV-7 circa 1940

The one I served on was its successor. At the time it was being built, my Wasp was named Oriskany. FDR changed the name when the Wasp was sunk at Guadalcanal. It was a morale thing. My Wasp roamed the Pacific during the later stages of World War II.


Its pilots were highly decorated. The Wasp did not escape without serious casualties. A bomb penetrated the flight deck and the hanger deck, exploding in the mess hall. Many sailors were killed. But, the ship fought on, carrying out attacks on Japan.

Even though the Wasp you show on the web looks like an aircraft carrier it is not an aircraft carrier. It is a transport-command ship assigned to the amphibious forces. It has no catapults and no arresting wires, the standard gear for any self-respecting carrier. Only vertical takeoff planes can use the flight deck. So, Dan Rather was wrong again. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it may very well be a goose.

The new Wasp has a different role. It carriers troops. When they go ashore the ship becomes one of the largest hospital ships in the US Navy.
It also has a James Bond feature. The stern of the Wasp can be opened so amphibious craft can putter into the rear of the ship onto a ramp and then drive inside. What a hoot.

Whatever its new capabilites, the present Wasp cannot hold a candle to the Mighty Stinger, Old No. 18. The two ships are the same size. They have flight decks. There is where the similarities end. The Mighty Stinger could go much faster, probably 30 per cent faster.

Nevertheless, all of us associated with the old Wasp are delighted to see the new Wasp. The fact that Congress authorized the new one is evidence that the nation understands the contributions of all the ships which bore the name Wasp. This is one time that common sense and reason trumped political correctness.

Hope all is well. Keep paddling.