Monday, September 26, 2022

The Last Full Measure of Devotion

Philip Prince's came about due to a weight he'd carried from the moment his brother Palmer died.  Philip was in basic training at the time and could not come home for his brother's service.  The inability to properly pay his respects to his brother was something that Philip carried with him throughout his exemplary life.  I will never forget the moment that Philip threw the wreath into the water off the coast of Okinawa at the coordinates where his brother’s remains had been laid to rest. Philip had carried that weight on his shoulders for 67 years.  The weight came off before my eyes, reminding me of the types of things that really matter to us. No matter how old we are, there are always things that are important to us. Being with Philip that day was one of the most meaningful moments of my life. 

Our trip had come full circle and on our last full day in Okinawa it was appropriate that we visited Kadena Air Force Base.  Major Christopher Anderson and Casey Connell gave us a tour of the base and made us feel at home.  We both continued to learn a lot.  I think that it had only been more helpful to Philip and myself to see the ultimate impact of Palmer’s service to his country.  Kadena is the largest Air Force installation in the Pacific and home to the 18th Wing, the largest combat air wing in the Air Force.  As we were there, we were reminded of the impact of this base as the Chinese and Japanese postured over a couple of islands nearby.  In today's world, the importance of this base can not be overstated.

Major Anderson and Mr. Connell first took us to see a place where the Japanese had hid kamikaze planes prior to the invasion of Okinawa.  These were not the planes that hit the USS Hyman, but that didn’t really matter.  You could see the meaning on Philip’s face as we bent over to look inside the concrete shells that had once housed kamikaze planes.  

From there we drove to the spot where the Japanese surrendered in Okinawa in September of 1945.  As we learned at the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum, the Okinawan people do not speak of war, they speak only of peace.  It is unfortunate, but true, that we still live in a world where peace must still be accompanied by a military.  The fact that Major Anderson was Chief of Public Affairs for the 18th Wing and that Mr. Connell was one of their historians, told me the importance that our military places on this.  Those that refuse to acknowledge history, are destined to repeat it.  


Eighty three years ago, Hugh Palmer Prince joined the Navy.  Subsequently, his three brothers, Eugene, David and Philip, would join the army.  Eugene would get a medical discharge.  David would serve in Europe and was badly injured after the Battle of the Bulge.  Philip would have been part of the invasion of mainland Japan if not for the dropping of the bombs and the Japanese surrender.  Four brothers served their country, three came home and continued to serve their country in various ways.


Philip’s brother Eugene joined the Army but was medically discharged during basic training due to rheumatic heart disease.  He graduated from the University of Tennessee in Engineering and worked for the Clinchfield Railroad.  Later he went on to work for the Richmond-Fredericksberg & Potomac Railroad.  He passed away in 1988.


Philip’s brother David served in the 78th Division which went through England, France, Belgium and Germany. He was the recipient of the Bronze Star, three Battle Stars, and the Purple Heart where he was wounded by a mortar shell after the Battle of the Bulge. As he was being evacuated, a German plane strafed the vehicle he was in.  He returned to go to Wofford College, then went on to receive his PhD from the University of North Carolina.  He then became a Professor at Wofford College where he ultimately served as Chairman of the Education Department.  He passed away in 2005.


Philip lived an exemplary life.  From the very moment he set foot on the Clemson campus in 1944, his heart was with the Clemson Tigers.  In 1994, Philip stepped up to take the reins as the 12th President of Clemson University.  The organizational changes that he instituted in only one year still stand. He became a tireless fundraiser for the University.  He raised funds for a large endowment, and continued to work on raising additional funding, recognizing the ongoing decrease in state funding.  His legacy will continue, as both of his grandsons attended Clemson.  Philip died February 28, 2020.


Hugh Palmer Prince, gave the last full measure of devotion to his country.  Through the auspices of the Wish of a Lifetime Foundation ( Philip was able to pay his final respects to his brother.  I not only made a new friend, but continued to learn.  As Philip saw over our week together, I love to ask questions.  As a physician, I often say that I learn every day how little I know.  As a human being, I feel the same way.  Getting to know our elders and trying to learn from them is one way for all of us to grow.  In this way, Palmer’s legacy will always continue.


Sunday, September 25, 2022

The Life of Philip Prince

Returning to Clemson, Philip distinguished himself as a member of Alpha Phi Omega and was Co-captain of the 1948 Football Team which won the 1949 Gator Bowl.  Philip made one of the biggest plays in Clemson football history, a blocked punt against South Carolina in 1948.

The Tigers were undefeated at the time when they found themselves trailing South Carolina 7-6 with just four minutes left in the game.  With the line of scrimmage at the South Carolina 28, Gamecocks punter and quarterback Bob Hagan felt he just needed a solid punt to put the Tigers in poor field position.  One more defensive stand against a Clemson team that had scored just six points to that point would do it.  Philip took a different route on his rush, got by his man and blocked Hagan’s punt.  The ball caromed to the 11-yard-line where Oscar Thompson picked up the ball and returned it for a touchdown.  The Tigers went on to an 11-0 record in 1948, the school’s first undefeated season since 1900, and a number-11 final ranking in the AP poll, the highest in school history at the time.   Clemson, Michigan and Notre Dame were the only college football teams with perfect records that year and most historians, former players and coaches, remember Philip’s blocked punt as the key play of that season.


Philip was Vice President of the 1949 Clemson Senior Class. Upon graduation, he signed with the New York Giants football team, playing in about five games, while attending graduate school, but a shoulder separation saw him finish out the season with the New Jersey Giants farm team, and although he was asked back the following year, he opted to focus on school and getting married. He attended Columbia University and Kings College prior to additional service in the Army in 1950-1951. Philip worked his way up to becoming vice president of the Milliken Company, where he worked until 1967. In 1978 he became Senior Vice President of American Express Company and then with Synco Property, Inc. until his retirement in 1985.  


Philip also had a distinguished record of service as a Clemson alumnus, becoming President of the Board of the Clemson Foundation in 1989.  With the resignation of Clemson President Max Lennon in 1994 Philip served Acting President for eleven months. 

The Philip H. Prince Alumni Presidential Scholarship is a Scholarship sponsored by Clemson University. The Prince Award for Innovation in Teaching is an annual award named for Clemson President Emeritus Philip Prince and recognizes outstanding teachers who demonstrate creative and novel teaching methods in the classroom.  Philip married Celeste Orr in 1950. She died Saturday, December 20, 2008 at the age of 80. They had two sons, Kevin and James.

Prince served in that position for 11 months and didn’t just “hold the fort” for someone else.  Prince was given the task of reconstructing the administrative and academic divisions within the university, as he was faced with the challenges of continuous state funding cuts. He accomplished this by grouping the nine existing colleges into four and by combining administrative units. His successor later split one of the larger colleges into two, leaving the university with five colleges after restructuring. At the end of his 11 months, the term “acting” was removed and historically he is considered a full-time president. Philip was again recognized by the University with an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Clemson in May of 1995.  


Each year five faculty members are presented with the Phil Prince Award for Innovation in Teaching at the Victor Hurt Convocation that begins the academic year.   In 2015, Philip received the Bond Clemson Distinguished Athletes Award at the Boston College game.  It is an award presented each year to a former Clemson athlete who has distinguished themselves after graduation. Philip made one final significant contribution to the Clemson football program in the mid 2000s when he served as chairman of the fund-raising campaign for the West Endzone project.  With his name connected to the project, it received instant credibility. The success of the Clemson program the last decade can be traced to the building of that facility at Memorial Stadium.





8 Miles

I haven't run more than 4 miles since early June. My last Ironman in May literally ripped me to shreds and following it up with a half marathon in early June wasn't the best idea.  I love to run. I've wanted to run. I go to bed at night thinking I'll run in the morning, and then I don't.  I don't think I'd run at all in the past couple of weeks.  Today was the day.

My back wasn't aching when I got up. Sure, my body has a few aches and pains, but what do I expect at 63.  Emotionally, I felt good this morning, which has not been the case on many days for some time.  I read the newspaper and took my time getting ready to go out and run. And then I did.  I ran 8 miles.

8 miles has been somewhat of a staple for me over the past couple of years.  It actually started as 7 miles, and ultimately grew to 10 miles, but I've looked forward to coming back to those 8 miles.  I immediately recognized that my mind went right to meditation. I guess I always knew this, even as I've tried to meditate while sitting down. Running is my good place. Running is where I can use all of the meditation tools. Thoughts come and go, and I let them. Sometimes I just connect with my surroundings.  Sometimes I think of other things. Good and bad, but I note them and move on. running is my good place. 8 miles.

In the spirit of meditation, I don't know how far I'll run tomorrow.  There's a part of me that already is intent on running every day. There's a part of me that's already intent on running 8 miles anytime I feel up to it. The journey begins anew. 8 miles.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

April 6, 1945: The Battle of Okinawa

The USS Hyman sailed with Admiral Hall's Southern Attack Force on March 27, 1945 and arrived in Okinawa on April 1, 1945.

Her main role was to protect American ships from enemy submarines and planes. She fought off several air attacks and on April 5, led a search group hunting a reported midget submarine. The next day the ship was attacked as the Japanese made kamikaze attacks in hopes of stopping the landing. 

On April 6, 1945, the date of the largest mass kamikaze attack of World War II, seven Japanese kamikaze aircraft attacked the USS Hyman (DD-732), (In the Wake of the Jellybean, Ray Novotny, “The ship's gunners, sometimes with assistance from other ships, shot down all of the attacking planes except one. The fourth plane, a Zero fighter, managed to crash into the ship between the stacks even though heavily damaged by gunfire. Former Hyman crewman Oscar Murray described the Zero that hit the ship:

“My General Quarters station was as a gunner on a 20-mm anti-aircraft gun. I wonder if things would have been different had I been able to fire another two seconds at the Japanese plane that struck and nearly sank us. He was so close.

The head of the pilot turned toward us as he struck the stacks. Just before striking the ship, I, or others, shot off his left wing but the plane's momentum carried him into the ship. The plane's explosion, along with its gasoline, blew away the area between the two stacks almost to the waterline, and with most of the forward torpedo mount. Flaming gasoline flowed in all the surrounding areas, burning or killing many below and several above deck.

As I followed the plane, my gun came to a complete stop, abruptly halted by the gun stops designed to prevent guns from rotating too far and doing damage to the ship's superstructure. By then he was out of sight and immediately struck the ship. Normally, Japanese planes exploded upon a direct hit but this one didn't. Had I or others been able to hit him with more rounds, perhaps he would have done so, I will never know: I know we did our best.”

The crash by the kamikaze plane and the subsequent explosion killed 12 and wounded 41 men aboard the USS Hyman. One of the men who died was Philip’s older brother Hugh Palmer Prince. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The History of the USS Hyman

Willford Milton Hyman was born on 16 August 1901 in Pueblo, Colorado. 

He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1924. He first served on the battleship USS New Mexico and in the years before World War II, was assigned to many ships and a variety of shore stations, including the Office of Naval Operations. He assumed command of destroyer USS Sims on 6 October 1941. After convoy escort duty in the Atlantic, the USS Sims moved to the Pacific in early 1942.

In May, as the Japanese attempted to extend their conquest to Port Moresby, the ship was operating with oiler USS Neosho in a fueling group for Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher's aircraft carriers. While the carrier fleets maneuvered for position, Japanese planes found Neosho and Sims in the Coral Sea; and, thinking they were a carrier and escort, they attacked in strength. After Lieutenant Commander Hyman fought his ship through 2 air raids, 36 Japanese planes attacked the 2 ships. The USS Sims took three 500-lb. bomb hits in this third attack. From the time the first bomb that hit the USS Sims had exploded to the time she was sunk was a total of 48 seconds, leaving only 13 survivors. Realizing that the destroyer was damaged beyond repair, Hyman ordered "abandon ship" but remained on the bridge, directing the evacuation until going down with his ship. The sacrifice of his ship and Neosho had much to do with saving the Navy's carriers in the widely separated engagements known as the Battle of the Coral Sea. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.

Construction began on the USS Hyman by Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine on November 22, 1943, the ship was launched on April 8, 1944 and commissioned on June 16, 1944.

The USS Hyman conducted exhaustive shakedown training off Bermuda and in Casco Bay, Maine, before sailing from Boston on September 18, 1944 to join the Pacific war. Philip H. Prince's brother, Hugh Palmer Prince, was part of the ship's crew.  Philip had just missed seeing his brother prior to their departure. The USS Hyman steamed via the Panama Canal Zone and San Diego to Pearl Harbor on October 12, 1944. During the next few months she was occupied with training exercises, including practice amphibious assaults, and escort voyages to the advance base at Eniwetok.

When the island of Iwo Jima became a prime objective, the USS Hyman set sail on January 27, 1945, with the transports of Kelly Turner's expeditionary force, touching at Eniwetok before carrying out on Saipan a final rehearsal of the Iwo Jima landing. On the morning of 19 February, the destroyer formed part of the screen for the transports; and, as the first wave landed, she turned her 5-inch guns shoreward and opened fire to provide support for the assaulting troops. She bombarded Japanese troops and bunkers until February 23rd, when she made an antisubmarine sweep south of Iwo Jima. The next day, after returning to gunfire support station, the USS Hyman fought off an air attack. Fire support and other duties continued until the destroyer sailed for Leyte Gulf on March 2, 1945. There she took part in practice bombardments for the upcoming invasion of Okinawa.

USS Hyman in San Francisco Bay, 20 July 1945.

Hyman sailed with Admiral Hall's Southern Attack Force 27 March 1945 and arrived in Okinawa 1 April.

Monday, September 19, 2022

An Appalachian Family

Walter Eugene Prince, Sr., was born in Anderson County, South Carolina, in 1886.  His family, which was of Scottish/Irish origin, had immigrated to Pennsylvania during the potato famine.  They subsequently migrated to the Appalachians, where they lived as farmers for generations.  Walter had a 7th grade education and probably worked on the family farm early in his life.  However, the railroad was his calling and he got a job as a brakeman with the Southern Railroad Company.  When a new line was built from Spartanburg to Kentucky, he saw an opportunity and applied for a position as a conductor with the new railroad.  He got the job and worked as a conductor until he retired at the age of 70.  He was a gruff, but loving father.  His job kept him away from home a lot. 

Mary Hunter Palmer was also from Anderson County.  One of her ancestors was Edward Hyde, who came over from Ireland and was the minister of a presbyterian church in Anderson County prior to the revolutionary war.  His statue still stands in front of the church today.  Mary graduated from the two year college in Asheville, North Carolina.  She wanted all of her children to go to college.  She worked as a telephone operator with Southern Bell. She was a very loving, caring, and wonderful lady.  She was stern when she had to be, which occasionally happened with six children.


Walter and Mary were married around 1916 and Hugh Palmer Prince was born two years later.  Philip Hunter Prince was born in Bostic, North Carolina on August 4,1926, and the family soon moved to Erwin, Tennessee.  He was the youngest son, and grew up in the midst of the Great Depression.  His family would recollect that before he was born they would travel to Florida and other places in the family car, a Buick Touring Car.  After he was born, the car was up on blocks.  There would be no trips during the Depression.  In fact, they would play in the car pretending to be John Dillinger.  Walter had a large garden in their backyard and leased 1-2 acres to farm in order to grow enough food to make it through the depression.  The whole family helped work the land.  


There was a CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) encampment near Erwin, and they built a facility called Rock Creek Park.  One can’t help but be reminded of the public works programs instituted by FDR during the Depression and the real things that came out of it that still stand today.  


In 1939, Palmer decided to join the Navy.  He would be stationed in Norfolk. Philip looked up to his brother, seeing him make the decision to join the military at a time that there were already rumblings of war.  The year he graduated from high school, 1944, he actually took the train to Norfolk to visit his brother and saw the ocean for the first time.  He saw his first aircraft carrier and was impressed that man could build something so huge.  He didn’t get to see Palmer, who had just departed on the USS Hyman. He would never see him again.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Stick to the Truth

I know that a lot of people, myself included, felt that yesterday was a very dark day. But I also know that there were a lot of people who felt the opposite. I like to call myself a "pragmatic idealist." Waking up this morning and reading about yesterday's decision, which the L.A. Times correctly noted to be 5-4 (Roberts did not actually vote to overturn Roe v. Wade), I'm struck most by the polarization in our country.  

If we are to move past this polarization, becoming more polarized doesn't seem to be the answer. I think it's important to maintain a coherent and rational approach to what is likely to happen in our individual states. I for one will not partake in rhetoric. California will not be criminalizing abortion. Texas will. My reading of the ruling makes it pretty clear that the Supreme Court is, in fact, going to leave abortion law to the states (with the clear exception of Thomas, and the possible exceptions of Comey Barrett and Alito). Kavanaugh has already come out and said that women can travel to another state to get an abortion. I don't see other rights being taken away (again with the exception of Thomas).  

What does this mean? It means two things. We must figure out how to keep Democrats in control of the Senate and the White House (we can't allow a further shift of the Supreme Court). We must help our friends in Red states stand up for their rights, and shine a brighter light on the true intentions of the Republican party as it is now constituted. True Libertarians should not find a home in the Republican party.

What concerns me, however, is the rhetoric. If we've learned one thing from donald trump and the trump republican party, is that lies are dangerous, rhetoric is dangerous. In this regard, I will always agree with Michelle Obama, we must take the high road. Let's stick to the facts and the truth. Let's tell the story of Lady Ruby over and over again to remind the public what we are dealing with. If 60% of Americans believe that women have a right to choose, let's make sure that ALL of them vote, in both blue and red states.

I do believe that we are at a crossroad. But I am also confident in the demographic trends of this country. We can not let the loudest people control the narrative. We do have to keep our eye on the prize. We must avoid taking extreme positions that stretch the truth in order to make a point, because doing so weakens the high ground that I believe we stand on. Stick to the facts. Stick to the truth. Keep engaging in thoughtful discussions with those who are willing to listen.

One final comment. There is one observation that gives me some solace. It is not uncommon for conservative Supreme Court justices to become more liberal over time (Blackmun, Souter, O'Conner, Kennedy to name a few), while it is less likely for a liberal justice to become conservative. I believe that there is a reason for this.

The grand experiment in the United States that began 250 years ago (with slavery and without women having the right to vote, I might add), is being tested right now. Let's take the high ground and do the work that's needed to get us back in the right direction. However, I do not believe that taking the playbook from the extreme right (or the far left as well at times), which includes lying and stretching the truth, is the answer. We have a lot of work to do, let's get started.