|Edward David Taussig, 1867, as Commanding
Officer of the USS Bennington claimed Wake Island for the US in 1899. He
retired from the Navy as a Rear Admiral. USS Taussig, DD 746, was
named for Edward D. Taussig.
Joseph K. Taussig Sr., 1899, was born August 30, 1877, in
Dresden, Germany, and entered the Naval Academy in 1895. As a midshipman, he served on the
flagship, the armored cruiser New York (ACR-2), during the Battle of Santiago in the
Spanish-American War. Taussig starred in football as Navy's quarterback in 1897 and 1898.
In 1898, Caspar Whitney, who with Walter Camp originated the All-America team, wrote about
him in Harper's Weekly: Taussig is fast, good driver and runner and sure and hard tackler.
His brothers John Taussig and Charles Taussig played college ball at Cornell. He led the 1897
Navy team to an 8-1-0 record and 7-1-0 in 1898, with both losses coming to Princeton. In
1899, he won the Thompson Trophy as the man who has done the most during the current year
for the promotion of athletics at the Naval Academy. Following his graduation he was assigned
to cruiser Newark (C-1) and participated in the Allied Peking Relief Expedition during
the Boxer Rebellion. After two years as a naval cadet, he was commissioned an Ensign 28 January
1901 to begin a series of promotions and distinctions that would underscore his illustrious
service to the Navy.
In July 1916, after serving in battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and on staffs afloat,
Taussig took command of Division 8, Destroyer Force, the first group of American destroyers
sent abroad during World War I. After crossing the storm and gale filled Atlantic, CDR
Taussig was asked by the Commander in Chief of the Coasts of Ireland when he would be
ready for sea. Taussig replied in the now famous words; We are ready now, Sir..
He received the Distinguished Service Medal for World War I service. After the war, he
continued to serve the Navy at home and abroad. In 1922, his ship, the protected cruiser
Cleveland (CL-21), rendered assistance to the victims of an earthquake and tidal
wave in Chile. He served at the Naval War College from 1923 to 1926, and also saw duty in
the Bureau of Navigation, as Assistant Chief of Naval Operations, and as Commandant, 5th
Naval District, in addition to commanding a battleship division and cruiser scouting force.
On April 22, 1940, RADM Taussig testified before the US Senate Naval Affairs Committee that
war with Japan was inevitable. Vice Admiral Taussig retired in 1941, but was recalled to
active duty in 1943 to serve in the office of the Secretary of the Navy until 1 June 1947,
only a few months before his death 29 October 1947. USS
Joseph K. Taussig, DE-1030, was named for Joseph K. Taussig Sr.
A verse of the song Sim's
Flottilla addresses his accomplishment in WW I:
Joe Taussig brought the first bunch
Across from the U.S.A.
To uphold President Wilson's words
And make the U-boats pay.
When asked about his readiness
To take his turn at sea,
He told Vice-Admiral Bayly
He's as ready as could be.
You can talk about your battleships
Cruisers, scouts and all,
You can talk about the Fritzies
Who ran cruising for a fall;
You can take in all your Coast Guard,
It's home they have to be,
But Sims's Flotilla is the terror of the sea!
Joseph K. Taussig, Jr. '41 received the Navy Cross for
heroism on board USS Nevada (BB 36) at Pearl Harbor. He was perhaps best known
as the officer of the deck aboard Nevada when Japanese planes attacked Battleship
Row on Dec. 7, 1941. Fourteen bombs hit Nevada that day; 43 people were
killed and 118 wounded. After sounding the alert on his ship, the 21-year-old ensign
manned a starboard anti-aircraft gun and refused to leave his post after taking a hit
to his left leg. In his own words, I was directing fire at the outset of the attack
when I don't know what hit me, something went completely through my thigh. They ordered
a cot for me, and I just continued to control the gun batteries. Some enlisted men
brought a stretcher and I stayed up there until the (ship's) whole structure caught
fire. They brought me down through the fire. The Navy said I was decorated because I
refused to leave my post.
This is a direct order, he said to BM1 Bob Norman, who was trying to carry him away
to safety. Leave me alone! I'm sorry sir, replied Norman, but this is one order
I'm going to have to disobey. Facing a fire that severely damaged the ship, Taussig
resisted but was forcefully carried below decks by his shipmates where he was treated
for his injuries. Besides receiving the Navy Cross, the Navy's second highest award
for valor following the Medal of Honor in precedence, Taussig was also awarded the
Purple Heart. He stayed in several hospitals until April 1946, when his left leg was
amputated. He returned to active duty three days later. By the time he finally retired
from active naval service in 1954 he was, at age 34, the youngest captain in the Navy.
Taussig worked in government relations until 1981, when he was appointed deputy assistant
secretary for Civilian Personnel, Policy and Equal Employment Opportunity for the
Department of the Navy (DoN). He later assumed the position of special assistant for
safety and survivability for the Secretary of the Navy, where he implemented new procedures
and tools to help Sailors and aviators survive at sea. His uncanny ability to cut through
red tape to provide needed safety gear to Sailors and Marines was legendary.
...He was a person who really cared about Sailors and Marines. He was a person who got
things done, said Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig. The very scissors used by
Secretary Danzig to open Taussig's memorial display at the Washington Navy Yard were
once used by Taussig to make a point to then-Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, if in
a shocking way. Taussig walked into Lehman's office holding pair of scissors with a
piece of cloth in the blades -- and lit the cloth on fire, right inside the SECNAV's
carpeted office. The cloth burned immediately.
What was that? asked a startled SECNAV.
That was Nomex, replied Taussig, It's what we're using for our flight suits.
Taussig pulled out another piece of cloth, put it in the scissors and tried to burn
that one too. It wouldn't ignite.
This, said Taussig, is what I want to use for our flight suits.
The new material, Kynol, was something commercially available, similar to what
racing drivers and firefighters were using.
He was really the match of the right guy with the right challenge, remarked retired
Secretary Lehman about Taussig. No one else was able to get so much personal safety
gear out to the fleet in history. He had direct access to the CNO and the SECNAV and
that made bureaucrats scared, but he knew how to use that crown of power wisely.
In 1986, he used off-the-shelf technology to create thermal imaging devices to see
through smoke-filled compartments, said retired Capt. Richard Healing, director of
safety and survivability for the Navy. In 1988, he fought to keep funding so Sailors
could fight fires using the `fire fighter's ensemble'(FFE) instead of relying on chambray
shirts and dungarees. He also implemented the new self-contained breathing apparatus
SCBA), the new fire fighting breathing device that replaced the old `oxygen breathing
apparatus'(OBA). We gave some SCBAs to Sailors onboard USS Kidd (DD 993) and they just
loved them! They didn't want to give them back! Taussig's overall contributions to the
Navy lowered costs due to fire damages from $180 million to $1 million annually.
He was also instrumental in the development of the helicopter emergency escape breathing
device (HEED), a compressed air bottle that gives two minutes of emergency air. It has
saved more than 140 lives since it was introduced in 1986.
Taussig twice earned the Civilian Distinguished Public Service award, the Navy's highest
award for public service. He passed away December 14, 1999, of an embolism at Anne Arundel
Medical Center in Annapolis, Md. He was 79. His remains were laid to rest December 17, 1999,
at the Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis.
Joseph K. Taussig III, '66, was
commissioned into the United States Marine Corps where he served
as a patrol leader with First Force Recon and later as an infantry
company commander in Hue City during the Tet Offensive
in Viet Nam. He now resides in Bermuda and is a noted Bridge player.
This document was assembled from official Navy sources,
Jews In Sports Online
and a mirror of the Digital
Tradition Folk Music Database.