Adm. Callaghan Society Dinner, April  26, 2012

The following remarks were given by CAPT Phil Roos, Professor of Naval Science, NROTCU UC Berkeley, NROTCU Rutgers

Ladies and Gentlemen,  students of this amazing institute of learning, friends and family, I am so honored to stand before you as we inaugurate the Callaghan Society essay contest dinner.  Since I was asked to speak tonight, I have been touched with the charter of the Callaghan society and the meaningful contribution the society graciously provides to students enrolled at this wonderful preparatory in the name of one of our Navy’s great heroes, RDML Daniel J. Callaghan.  As the Commanding Officer of NROTC Unit UC Berkeley,  I am humbled to convey a story of service to you.  Admiral Callaghan is a former staff member of my Unit, having served as the Executive Officer many years ago and as I delved deeply into someone we honored at UC Berkeley but didn’t know nearly as much about, I came to realize that Daniel Judson Callaghan is more than just a fitting namesake for this society – he truly represents what we all should strive to be, especially in the service of our country. To CAPT Murphy, thank you for inviting me to this inaugural dinner but more importantly thanks to you and the founders of the Callaghan society for everything you do to enrichen the lives and experience of the students here.

I find it quite fitting to discuss the topic of service with you tonight.  In my job as Commanding Officer and Professor of Naval Science at Berkeley and with a career in the Navy that has spanned 30 years, I’m no stranger to service, but that’s not really why.  I actually spoke last week to my Midshipmen and discussed the concept of Service over Self – not just a dominating value in our nation’s military ranks but the preeminent component of our Navy’s Ethos.   I’ll read that to you in a moment.

During my address, I asked the entire battalion of midshipmen how many times someone reached out and said, “Thank you for your service!”  I was actually surprised that most raised their hands.  Surprised not for the gracious outpouring of support our service men and women receive from the public these days.  It’s wonderful.   But surprised that so many of my midshipmen who don’t often wear their uniform experienced this:

Thank you for your service.

It’s obvious that the American public values the service and sacrifice of  our service men and women.   American’s appreciate service to country; they value the contributions that men and women make at home and abroad.  What is so inspiring to me is that our countrymen and women seek to recognize service through small gestures such as early boarding on airlines, yellow ribbons on bumpers, small acts of kindness and words such as “thank you for your service. “ When I hear these words directed my way, I can’t help but feel a need to thank the person thanking me for their service too.  Afterall, we as a country are a team.  In some measure, we all serve.   From the cashier at the grocery store to teachers here at St. Ignatius, mothers, and to that TSA employee at the security check point, there’s a similar element of service.   For men and women in the military, the sense of service is overwhelmingly poignant, a sense of obligation that extends well past what most Americans experience themselves.  Service over Self.   Self sacrifice.  It’s so much more than words like service over self can truly convey.

RADM Dan Callaghan, the namesake of this society – epitomized Service over Self. 

He was called upon not once but twice to serve during time of war, escorting slow convoys in the seemingly slower ex Brazilian light cruiser, USS New Orleans a ship the Navy acquired during the Spanish American War and as a Task Force Commander embarked in our own USS SAN FRANCISCO during the War in the Pacific. 

Admiral Callaghan, was a truly great American who to me, epitomized service so well and not just because he selflessly gave his life in battle against an overwhelming and formidable force, but how he lived.   It was who he represented throughout his life, a native of the Bay Area and 2nd generation student at St. Ignatius. Dan Callaghan, that burly red-headed grandson of an Irish immigrant, established a reputation early on that would carry him throughout his life. 

I recall reading that, as a small boy growing up in late 19th century Bay Area, Admiral Callaghan was first inspired about the Navy at the tender age of 6 when Rear Admiral Sampson, commanded the US Fleet in the Caribbean in the rout of the Spanish Fleet at Santiago, Cuba on the 4th of July 1998. 

If you can imagine back then, the streets were lined with banners proclaiming support for our great Navy, posters in shop windows, buttons on lapels with names like Dewey, Sampson, and Schley  - the Navy heroes of the war.  Incidentally, my last afloat command, was USS SAMPSON, named after that famous admiral and the 4th destroyer named for him. 

Dan Callaghan then inherited a Navy officer as uncle, LT Jamie Raby who married his older sister. 

From then on, Dan Callaghan found his way.  He found his calling. Incidentally, Jamie Raby became a Rear Admiral himself.  Unfortunately, he was killed in an unfortunate car accident in 1934.  You can see in the center picture how well he probably served as friend and mentor to young Dan Callaghan!

Admiral Callaghan served his God.  Since those early days in San Francisco, Dan  Callaghan had tremendous and unwavering faith.  Born into an Irish Catholic family with a strong conviction to faith and church, he first attended school at St. Elizabeth before attending SI.  During those long trips by train from Oakland to San Francisco (can you imagine?), he would read and bury himself in his studies, leaving each morning around 5am and getting home sometime after supper on most days.  He sought and received mentorship here at SI and his church and continued his life of faith until his last day on earth. 

While serving onboard the cruiser California, the ship was sent to Guaymas, Mexico. While at anchor, the US government chose not to recognize the new government dictatorship and over the course of an evening, two sailors were shot and killed by the police chief.  In a drunken uproar, the liberty party wanted blood and not a drinker, ENS Callaghan with the shore patrol, beat back the angry mob of sailors and forced them back to the ship.  Despite the boiling tensions, the next morning, ENS Callaghan asked to go ashore and attend mass.  That day, he was the only US Sailor walking the streets of a very hostile city and he attended mass each Sunday while the ship lay at anchor and until California was sent home.  Faith.

Admiral Callaghan was dedicated to improving himself - incredibly intelligent and talented, but I wouldn’t call him a naturally book smart kid.  He achieved his grades through perseverance,  a grueling work ethic, and a knack to avoid the typical pitfalls of youth his age.  Early on, he established a reputation of being good natured and a team player in every sense of the word, but also possessed a seriousness best suited for getting the job done and so evident in photos taken of him throughout his life.  

This endearing quality served him until his last moment alive on the bridge of San Francisco, commanding his force not from the belly of the ship, but on the bridge, in the middle of the night, against an armada less than a mile away. 

Admiral Callaghan served his family.  After he entered the ranks of active naval service, he remet and married his childhood sweetheart, Mary Tormey, of Oakland and the daughter of a family friend.  Mary was arguably, the belle of the ball.   With his marriage and the start of his own family, Dan Callaghan didn’t let service to his country overshadow service to his family.  At every opportunity, he sought balance in his military career - his desire to serve in the “tough jobs” with his dedication to family.  Thus, at every chance, he served in the Bay Area. 

Whether aboard ship or ashore, he was as much a San Francisco “snuggle bunny” as he could afford.  Despite his desire to serve his country, he recognized the impact that such service can have on his family.  He valued the tight bond he had with his parents and relatives, he deeply missed his wife and son, while he was away.  Dan Callaghan was every bit the family man even though his Navy took him to sea and foreign shores.  Of note, his one regret was the difficulty he had trying to connect with this brother, Bill, also serving in the Navy and who incidentally was the first Captain of USS MISSOURI and rose to the rank of Vice Admiral before he retired. 

At every opportunity, they would seek each other out during exercises and such. 

Without question, Admiral Callaghan had a tremendous sense of duty and service.  As his legacy demonstrates, he, like so many, was of a generation called to defend "freedom in its hour of maximum danger" unlike any other time in our nation’s history.  Service for Admiral Callaghan was about standing up and serving his country in it’s deepest hour of need but also serving his family, his God.  Throughout his naval career he served faithfully, dependably, and with honor.  Young Sailors gravitated to him and sought his counsel.  Shipmates respected him tremendously for tactical skill, his calm yet serious demeanor, his ability to think clearly when his team needed it most, his value to the Navy. 

As honored as he was to serve as the Naval Aide to President Franklin Roosevelt, it crushed him personally because of his true desire to serve at sea.  Yet he faithfully served his president until granted the chance to command SAN FRANCISCO.  It was this Daniel Callaghan who promoted to Rear Admiral and commanded a small task force who decisively and unwaveringly steamed directly into a superior Japanese invasion force.  

Despite the phenomenal odds against his task force, he drove into the heart of the enemy and over the course of an intense Mahanian style battle that pitted ship against ship, Admiral Callaghan’s flotilla stalled the Japanese invasion force – forcing an operational pause – and turning their offensive posture in the South Western Pacific into a Defensive one.  When the smoke cleared, Admiral Callaghan and his classmate, Admiral Norman Scott were gone.  So too were countless American service men including the 5 Sullivan brothers in USS Juneau when it was torpedoed while limping toward a rear area after the battle.  

The mission was a suicide but brave American Sailors led by Rear Admiral Daniel Callaghan did so willfully and with eyes wide open.  Service.

We can learn so much about Daniel Judson Callaghan when we consider Service and we can’t forget and through the Callaghan Society, we won’t.  Today, service can mean so many different things.  Giving oneself to others.  It is not a military term although the association is clear.  Firefighters, police officers, pastors and priests just to name a few – so many opportunities to serve over self.  But it’s not an opportunity that all take.   It takes a special person to recognize the meaning and value of service.  As the Commanding Officer of the Navy’s oldest ROTC unit and as Admiral Callaghan did when he served as Executive Officer, it is my responsibility to reinforce the sense of service during a time when we all have a personal choice and our nation is not in it’s deepest hour.  As I look across the ranks, into the eyes of my midshipman, I wonder who will stand up and serve in the face of unimaginable danger and do so as willingly as this esteemed society’s namesake.  I can tell you, that the young men and women who enter our military today have the same sense of duty and service as our greatest generation – you see it and read about it every day in the news – in Afghanistan, here at home. It’s heartening to know, especially as I look across this room, that we all share the same spirit and sense of service as our fathers and forefathers.  We just haven’t all been called yet.  We are of course Americans.

I’d like to close by reading you our Navy’s Ethos.  When I read this to you, please think back to the legacy of Admiral Callaghan and how well his legacy matches what we strive to achieve every day in the Navy:


We are the United States Navy, our Nation's sea power - ready guardians of peace, victorious in war.

We are professional Sailors and Civilians - a diverse and agile force exemplifying the highest standards of service to our Nation, at home and abroad, at sea and ashore.

Integrity is the foundation of our conduct; respect for others is fundamental to our character; decisive leadership is crucial to our success.

We are a team, disciplined and well-prepared, committed to mission accomplishment. We do not waver in our dedication and accountability to our shipmates and families.

We are patriots, forged by the Navy's core values of Honor, Courage and Commitment. In times of war and peace, our actions reflect our proud heritage and tradition.

We defend our Nation and prevail in the face of adversity with strength, determination, and dignity.

We are the United States Navy.

I am exceptionally humbled with the opportunity to speak to you tonight and for the distinct honor of celebrating the award winning essays from 3 very talented students.  

Thank you!



St. Ignatius College Preparatory

Courage to Lead; Passion to Serve

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