NS Norfolk Community
Historical presentation showcases Naval History and features cameo apperances
Story by Max Lonzanida on 01/31/2019
On the shores of the lower Chesapeake Bay, and within sight of the iconic Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel lies Westminster-Canterbury on the Chesapeake Bay. The sprawling campus is a resort-like retirement community; and its residents enjoy breath taking views of the bay and enjoy lively lectures and presentations. Their first-floor auditorium was a standing room only venue as over a hundred residents and visitors alike flocked to hear Dr. Ira (Dick) Hanna present about the US Navy’s East Coast Capital and Its Future.
In attendance during the presentation was John Pentangelo, Director at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum (HRNM); Joseph Judge, Curator and Deputy Director at HRNM; Darcy Sink the museum’s Volunteer Coordinator, and museum educator Joseph Miechle. The lively and wildly entertaining presentation, which was facilitated through HRNM’s speaker’s bureau, included cameo appearances by two of the US Navy’s most fabled leaders; Commodore Thomas Tingey and Admiral David Farragut in what proved to be a thrilling and informative presentation.
Dicks talk focused on the founding of Naval Station Norfolk. He touched on the Jamestown Exposition of 1907, Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet, the Battle of Hampton Roads which pitted the Ironclads USS Monitor and CSS Virginia for the first time, and the start of Naval Aviation. The audience tuned in astutely as Dick revealed little known facts about major events in Naval History and touched on a broad array of topics which made for a lively and colorfully factual portrayal of the history of the US Navy in Hampton Roads.
The presentation featured a cameo appearance by two of the US Navy’s notable leaders; Commodore Thomas Tingey and Admiral David Farragut. Tingey was portrayed by fellow resident Bill Motley. Motley retired from a career in education and was dressed for the role in a period specific uniform and spoke in interpretive first person about his role in the Revolutionary War, life at sea, and his appointment to be the first Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard; where he served until his death in 1829. Frank Wool, another fellow resident, portrayed the role in period specific uniform of then Lieutenant David Farragut. Wool retired from a career in contracting and talked about his role as a flag officer during the Civil War; and is remembered poignantly during the Battle of Mobile Bay where he is most noted for saying “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead”. After the Civil War, Farragut was promoted to Admiral; and both guest interpreters noted historic homes and locations named after them.
Dick is one of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum’s longest serving volunteer docents. His volunteer service spans over eighteen years, and he is known as an original plank owner of the museum when it was housed at the historic Pennsylvania House aboard Naval Station Norfolk. Dick is an alumnus of the United States Naval Academy, and eventually retired after over 20 years of service at the rank of Commander. He then went on to pursue a master’s degree from Old Dominion University and attended the College of William and Mary to pursue a Doctor of Education. Afterwards, he was the assistant principals at three Virginia Beach High Schools; and was the superintendent for Matthews County Public Schools. Dick also served as an adjunct professor at the College of William and Mary and Old Dominion University.
The wildly entertaining and colorfully factual presentation ended with a brief question and answer session, and many departed the packed auditorium having gleaned a snippet of Naval History and Heritage thanks to this Dick’s engaging presentation.
About the Hampton Roads Naval Museum:
The Hampton Roads Naval Museum (HRNM) is one of ten Navy museums that are operated by the Naval History & Heritage Command. It celebrates the long history of the U.S. Navy in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia and is co-located with Nautilus in downtown Norfolk, Virginia. Admission to the museum is free, simply by-pass the ticket line and take the stairs or elevator to the museum on the second deck. The museum hosts a robust educational program for area schools and commands, with free educational programs to area schools aligned with state curriculum standards, a travelling sea chest program, a premier Lego outreach program, and historical presentations for area commands. To inquire, contact their Educational Director, Laura Orr at Laura.L.Orr@navy.mil or at (757) 322-3018. The museum is also host to a robust volunteer corps, who serve as docents, support special events, and assist in museum archives. To inquire, contact their Volunteer Coordinator, Darcy Sink at Darcy.Sink@navy.mil or at (757) 322-2992. Lastly the museum proudly hosts military ceremonies, such as re-enlistments, retirements, and promotions for area commands aboard the U.S.S Wisconsin and in the museum’s gallery. To inquire, contact their special events coordinator, Tom Dandes at Thomas.Dandes@navy.mil or call (757) 322-3106. More information about the museum can be found at https://www.facebook.com/HRNavalMuseum/