Author Kevin Lilley

Former Naval Academy star running back Eric Kettani will continue his pursuit of an NFL roster spot tomorrow night, when the Washington Redskins visit the Tennessee Titans for one of the most exciting three-plus hours of sports a fan can ask for — a preseason football game. It’s been an uncommon career arc for Kettani, a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve: Averaging an impressive 5.4 yards per carry at Navy (sixth-best in school history); spending two years on active duty before signing with the New England Patriots, only to have his request for early release denied; securing that release only…

It can hold 14 helicopters. It’s more than 800 feet long. It has a very flat top: It’s Japan’s largest warship since World War II — unveiled on the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. But it’s not a carrier. The destroyer Izumo cost $1.2 billion and goes public amid territorial clashes between China and Japan (China, for its part, appears to be always ready). Japanese officials insist the Aug. 6 unveiling was coincidental and had more to do with favorable ocean tides than World War II history, according to this AFP report. They also insist the ship…

Annapolis, Md., is no longer home to the nation’s most-sober service academy, according to a survey by The Princeton Review. The group’s yearly “party school” rankings came out Monday, and while most media attention has rested on the University of Iowa’s rise to the top of that list, the accompanying “sober school” list includes three service academies, with Annapolis bringing up the rear at No. 9. The U.S. Military Academy ranks fifth, with the Coast Guard Academy in eighth. It’s a bit of a shake-up from last year’s list, when the Navy had the most-sober service academy (third on the…

The trailer for “Lone Survivor,” Hollywood’s take on a 2005 SEAL mission in Afghanistan that ended in ambush, tragedy and acts of valor that stand out even among the nation’s elite special warriors, is below. It hit YouTube yesterday and already has almost 175,000 views. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMFLzf-DXXU[/youtube] This adaptation of former Special Operator 1st Class (SEAL) Marcus Luttrell’s book was directed by Peter Berg, whose last Navy-themed film had a decidedly different tone. Stars include Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster and Eric Bana. It’ll have a limited release Dec. 27, according to Entertainment Weekly, which will make it eligible for…

All navies have traditions. Some of these traditions involve Neptune, who had a good run as “god of the sea” a few years back, according to an online reference of note. Ask any shellback. Changes to such traditions have stirred up strong emotions throughout the fleet, with terms like “hazing” and “political correctness” often finding their way into the debate — and the debate often finding its way onto the cover of Navy Times (Subscribe now!) But you rarely see a religious leader wade into the fray and call out the Navy for encouraging “dark spiritual powers,” or have a…

As with any good mystery in the modern age, this one started on social media: [HTML1] Cherished images, medals, letters, all kinds of items are left at the bases of military memorials, but the Navy Memorial rarely sees such tributes, according to Navy Memorial Foundation curator Mark Weber. It’s not as secluded as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where hundreds of thousands of items have been left by family, friends, brothers-in-arms and four-star generals to honor fallen heroes. Sometimes a veterans group will leave a wreath, unannounced, at the base of the Lone Sailor, Weber said in an email, but that’s…

Jim Fletcher had told his granddaughter sea stories since she was in diapers. They were practically “attached at the hip” when she was young, said the retired chief warrant officer — working together in the garage, the toddler learning the names of all the tools. So the fact that toddler Sam (short for Samantha) Fletcher became Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class (SW) Sam Fletcher didn’t surprise the Navy man. But a request from his granddaughter over dinner more than a year ago did. BM3 Fletcher, who enlisted in 2009, asked CWO4 Fletcher (ret.), who enlisted in 1965, to help perform her…

Builder 2nd Class Dennis VanZuiden’s stepfather, former Iowa Army National Guardsman Larry Damhoff, died in 2010. Every Father’s Day since, VanZuiden has visited his dad’s grave. That wasn’t an option this year. VanZuiden spent Father’s Day in Afghanistan, deployed with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 15. Instead, his unit arranged to fly Damhoff’s funeral flag above Camp Leatherneck on June 28, Damhoff’s birthday — a family tribute honoring two generations of service. “It was pretty hard. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be,” VanZuiden said in a Defense Department news release. “Watching the flag fly overwhelmed me.”…

The British frigate HMS Lancaster has kept busy during its ongoing Caribbean patrol, managing everything from helicopter-aided pot busts to community-works projects on the island of Montserrat. These activities — along with every other activity that isn’t related to Prince What’s-his-name — have gotten little play in the British press recently. But the photo above, of the Brits aboard Lancaster spelling out a fairly succinct royal birth announcement, did get some media attention — the news agency Reuters released it, for example. Here’s another shipboard shot, via Reuters and the BBC. U.S. forces have yet to spell out any warm…

One of the 13 companies splitting the Navy’s latest cyber contract once employed the man at the center of a global secrecy scandal. The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog, citing this Defense Department release, reported late Tuesday that Booz Allen Hamilton has landed its first major military contract since the start of the Edward Snowden saga. The company joins 12 others to provide cyber support to Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic in Charleston, S.C. The overall deal could be worth $900 million. A number of well-known military contractors are among the 13 companies, including divisions of General…

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