Naval Order of the United States
        New York Commandery

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Welcome to the New York Commandery of the Naval Order of the United States. The New York Commandery hosts a number of educational and social events throughout the year, and builds comradery between its companions in support of the naval services. Membership in the Naval Order is by invitation only. If you have an interest, join us at one of our events.

Monday, 2 April 2018

April Luncheon

Elliot Carlson

Stanley Johnston's Blunder:

The Reporter Who Spilled the Secret Behind

the U.S. Navys Victory at Midway

11:30hrs - Reception
12:00hrs - Luncheon
Racquet & Tennis Club
370 Park Avenue
New York City

This book concerns what is probably the biggest intelligence leak to a reporter in U.S. Navy history. It spotlights Chicago Tribune war correspondent Stanley Johnston, embedded with the carrier USS Lexington when it is sunk by Japanese war planes during the Battle of the Coral Sea on May 8, 1942.  He returns to the U.S. mainland aboard a transport that decodes a Secret message from Admiral Nimitz: It describes the makeup of Japanese forces descending on Midway Atoll for what will be the pivotal Battle of Midway on June 4. Nimitz's dispatch is based on high-grade revelations from Navy codebreakers at Pearl Harbor. The message is circulated to the stateroom of a high-ranking Lexington officer who has befriended Johnston. On June 7, information from that dispatch appears on the front page of the Chicago Tribune. U.S. Navy brass fear the Japanese will see the story, realize their code has been broken and change it, depriving our Navy of vital intelligence. President Roosevelt's Justice Department convenes a grand jury to consider espionage charges against Johnston. The grand jury throws out the case. My book explores key questions: How did Johnston get that story? Did a Navy officer "leak" the Pacific Fleet message? Why did the grand jury dismiss the case? Did the Japanese read the story and change their code.

Much of the information in this book derives from 76-year-old grand jury testimony released to the author after a two-year court fight in which the U.S. Justice Department battled to keep the testimony locked up.  Carlson's case, argued by the Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press, was decided in his favor in the fall of 2016 when a three-judge panel of the 7th circuit court of appeals ordered the documents released to the author.

Elliot Carlson traces his interest in the Pacific War to his first stop after graduate school, living in Hawaii and writing editorials for the Honolulu Advertiser.  After completing a Congressional Fellowship that took him to Washington in 1963-64, he joined the staff of the Wall Street Journal, assigned first to the paper's Philadelphia bureau, then to its Washington bureau, where he was part of a two-man team that covered the AFL-CIO and labor issues. Later he free-lanced from Belgrade, Yugoslavia, writing for such publications as the International Herald-Tribune, Toronto Star, and the National Observer.  Still later he served as editor of AARPs monthly newspaper. Retiring in 2004, he turned to biography, writing  Joe Rochefort's War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway (Naval Institute Press, 2011), for which he won the 2012 Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature. His latest book, Stanley Johnston's Blunder: The Reporter Who Spilled the Secret Behind the U.S. Navy's Victory at Midway, was published by the Naval Institute Press in October 2017.  Carlson holds degrees from University of Oregon and Stanford; he lives with his wife in Silver Spring, MD.

New York Commandery Prayer

Courtesy of Companion Vic Campbell, ME3TV.COM

Naval Order Congress 2017

Jacksonville, Florida

Following Hurricane Irma, with the some of the worst flooding in Jacksonville's history, the Naval Order Congress met at the Double Tree Riverfront.  Lunch at Ruth's Chris, the Commander General's Reception, the Distinguished Sea Service Award Dinner, and a robust hospitality suite:  great camaraderie was had by all.

Naval Order Congress 2016

Honolulu, Hawaii

Members of the New York Commandery attended the 2016 Congress at the Hale Koa Hotel, Waikiki Beach.  The event was enjoyed by all.  A most stirring visit to Pearl Harbor, where there was a wreath ceremony and casting of red rose petals over the USS Arizona.  View pictures.