Texas Navy Association
Charles E. Hawkins Squadron
Annual Report, 2019-2020
May 5, 2020
The Charles E. Hawkins Squadron, based in Galveston, had an active year in 2019-20. The Squadron supported a full agenda of meetings, extracurricular activities, and participation in public education events to promote wider knowledge and appreciation of the naval forces of the Republic of Texas, and the role they played in establishing and maintaining Texas independence. This report covers the period from May 2019 through April 2020. Highlights of the Hawkins Squadron’s year are listed below.
On May 9, the Hawkins squadron hosted representatives from the Galveston Bay Foundation, T’Noya Thompson, the organization’s Report Card Coordinator, and Scott Jones, their Director of Advocacy. They discussed the bay’s importance in our ecosystem and the role individuals can play in helping protect it; their education programs; and the vast number of factors that contribute to both the bay’s health and the health of surrounding communities.
Images of the Galveston Bay Foundation’s educational programming and public outreach, including waterways cleanup. . .
. . . and wetlands preservation. Images courtesy Galveston bay Foundation.
On July 11, the Hawkins squadron hosted a presentation by Bruce D Bramlett, Executive Director of the Battleship Texas Foundation. Bramlett was accompanied by Anthony K. Gregory, the Foundation Chairman, and Kandace Trujillo, Program Director of the Overnight Education Program.
Bruce D Bramlett, Executive Director of the Battleship Texas Foundation, presents to the Hawkins Squadron on July 11, 2019.
The primary presentation was made by Bramlett, who discussed in detail how plans for preserving and maintaining the battleship had evolved over the years, and how the initiative to provide state funding for the project came together during the recent legislative session in Austin. He also addressed some of the widespread concerns in the popular press about how the ship can be moved safely to an out-of-state facility to complete the required work, and some of the concerns and issues involved in selecting a permanent home for the ship when she returns. It was an extremely informative discussion. Although there were a number of issues that he could not discuss in detail, because they are under ongoing negotiation, Bramlett made it clear that the decision making process was well in hand, deliberative, and taking into account a very wide range of issues and concerns.
Battleship Texas Foundation Chairman Anthony K. Gregory, Bruce D Bramlett, Executive Director, and Hawkins Squadron Commander Adm. Chester Barnes discuss the finer qualities of Texas Navy rum.
Hawkins Squadron Commander Adm. Chester Barnes also took the occasion to present officers’ pennants to current and past Squadron officers, including current and former Deputy Commanders Adms. Jeff Kilgore and Andy Hall, Secretary Adm. Paula Morris, and Treasurer Adm. Dennis Miller.
July 11, 2019 presentation of officers’ pennants from Adm. Chester Barnes to current and past Hawkins Squadron officers (l. to r.) Deputy Commander Adm. Jeff Kilgore, Past Deputy Commander Adm. Andy Hall, Secretary Adm. Paula Morris, and Treasurer Adm. Dennis Miller.
On September 12, the Hawkins Squadron hosted a presentation by Adm. Justin Parkoff, at that time Curator and Maritime Archaeologist with the Houston Maritime Museum, and his talk, “Eastern River Steamboats and their Walking Beam Engines.” During the 19th century, steam technology revolutionized how commerce was conducted on both our inland and coastal waterways. Although the success of these engines started small, continued development led to their broad adoption not only at home, but in transatlantic voyages and trade routes throughout the world. Early cross-head engines started this work, before giving way to the more economical walking-beam engines. This engine type would later dominate the maritime industry into the mid-20th century, until their eventual replacement by the screw-driven propeller. Parkoff’s talk examined the history and evolution of the walking beam engine, its inner workings, and explained why this engine stayed in use much longer than any of its counterparts.
On Saturday, September 17, Hawkins Squadron members participated in the Texian Navy Day event at the Freeport Historical Museum. The organizers, including LaAnne Strahan, Adm Nat Hickey, Adm. Michael Bailey, and museum staff and volunteers, put together a strong program that covered a lot of territory. Adm. Andy Hall gave a talk about the Search for the Invincible. Flem Rogers, of the Brazoria Historical Militia, appeared in uniform as a U.S. Army officer, traveling in Mexican Texas, trying sell arms to the American colonists and discussing the uses, advantages, and disadvantages of each type. Adm. Bill Turner presented the TNA-produced educational film, “How the Texas Navy Saved the Revolution.” Adm. Michael Bailey presented a session on the tools and weapons that would have been used by both civilian and merchant seamen of the period. Finally, the event concluded with a cannon firing – four rounds each! – of two guns by Dale Thames and Adm. Frank Deetz.
Presenting the film, ““How the Texas Navy Saved the Revolution” at Texian Navy Day in Freeport.
Participants at the Texian Navy Day event in Freeport, September 17, 2019. Adms. Frank Deetz and Bill Turner at left.
On September 28, members of the Hawkins Squadron participated in the Houston Maritime Museum’s SHIPWRECKED! event, that drew families and teachers from around the area to learn about educational resources available for telling the story of Texas’ maritime heritage. The Texas Navy had a table where we presented the presented the TNA-produced educational film, “How the Texas Navy Saved the Revolution,” talked with parents and teachers, and handed out activity packets for the kids, including Texas Navy coloring pages. Lots of allied organizations took part, including the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, that presented on the wreck and recovery of USS Westfield, the Ship Biscuit and Salted Beef Research Project from Texas A&M University, and the State Marine Archaeologist, Adm. Amy Borgens, from the Texas Historical Commission.
Adm. Justin Parkoff discusses preservation of foodstuffs with members of the Ship Biscuit and Salted Beef Research Project from Texas A&M University.
State Marine Archaeologist Adm. Amy Borgens, from the Texas Historical Commission shows a visitor some of the technology used for locating shipwrecks.
In the fall of 2019, Adm. Barnes took the lead in securing and donating to the Squadron a set of U.S. and Texas flags for use at Squadron meetings and other events. Adm. Barnes’ donation included ceremonial flagstaffs and stands. It was a generous contribution on his part, filling a gap that had been unresolved for some time, and it was appreciated by all members of the Hawkins Squadron.
On November 14, the Hawkins Squadron hosted a presentation by our Deputy Commander, Adm. Jeff Kilgore, on naval tactics under sail. Adm. Kilgore’s illustrated his presentation with clips from popular films, and led a spirited discussion on the basic principles of tactical maneuvering and attaining an advantage over the opponent’s vessel under differing conditions of wind and sea.
On January 9, 2020, the Hawkins Squadron hosted Dr. Victor Viser of Texas A&M University at Galveston, to discuss economics and tourism as part of Galveston’s current and future development. Dr. Viser is Past Chairman of the Galveston Park Board of Trustees, and has served on numerous boards and committees that are working to shape the future of the island.
As with other squadrons and the TNA itself, however, the Hawkins Squadron was forced by the emergence of COVID-19, and subsequent limitations on public gatherings, to cancel or postpone planned activities. These included scheduled squadron meetings in March and May 2020. Adm. Barnes addressed this situation March 29 with a message to the Squadron, that really applies equally to the TNA as a whole:
We all have been hit by a very difficult issue from the Covid-19/novel coronavirus. As we are being advised by health officials and politicians to “self-quarantine,” this gives each of us time to reflect. Make no mistake — this is war against a silent, deadly enemy, one that cannot be destroyed by tanks, ships, and planes, but by good science. Appreciate the goodness in the world — a county pulling together to defeat a common enemy.
The country we have enjoyed for these last 244 years will not be the same once this passes. There are serious concerns as to what direction the country will take, more government control, less freedom, who knows.
I take this opportunity to wish each of you good health and hoping you are practicing good hygiene, plus following the CDC and NIH guidelines for your own safety and the safety of others.
Each of you are very important to me and I wish the best for all your family and friends.
WE WILL CONQUER THIS PANDEMIC IN TIME
All the best to each of you and your loved ones.
Hawkins Squadron membership remained stable through 2019-20. Membership in the Hawkins Squadron, by the Squadron’s bylaws, requires concurrent membership in the TNA. The Hawkins Squadron was organized in the fall of 2016, and meets on the second Thursday in odd-numbered months, usually at Waterman Restaurant at Pirate’s Cove, 14302 Stewart Road in Galveston.
Over the last year, our squadron has faced some challenges, but we have also persevered and completed a number of projects for the benefit of our membership, the Texas Navy Association, and the public at large. On balance 2019-20 has been a successful year for the Hawkins Squadron, and we look forward to an even stronger year ahead.
This report was prepared with the Assistance of Adm. Andy Hall, Hawkins Squadron Historian
Admiral Chester F. Barnes II
Commander, Charles E. Hawkins Squadron, Galveston