By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Pedro A. Rodriguez, NDW Public Affairs
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Students, faculty and alumni gathered at the Washington Navy Yard's Catering and Conference Center to celebrate the annual Naval War College (NWC) Dinner and Philip A. Crowl Lecture Series, May 21.
The College of Distance Education, formerly known as the Department of Correspondence Courses, was established on April 1, 1914 at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, by General Order No. 89 issued by Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels.
From its inception the college offered a robust program of correspondence study. Adm. Stansfield Turner, former President of the U.S. Naval War College initiated off-campus seminars in Washington, D.C. in 1974 with only 30 students. Known today as the Fleet Seminar Program, it has 1200 students enrolled at 20 satellite campuses around the country.
"This is an annual event at the end of the academic year for the Naval War College students in Washington, D.C.," said Dr. Charles C. Chadburn, III, director and professor of strategy at the Naval War College Fleet Seminar Program. "It is also a lecture in memory of a distinguished professor at the NWC who taught strategy, a WWII veteran and a distinguished military historian by the name of Philip Crowl."
The dinner marks the end of the academic year and has been celebrated for 27 years since 1987 with 1991 as an exception due to Operation Desert Storm. Students, alumni, professors, congressmen and house representatives come to the event to discuss topics related to national security and to attend a lecture honoring Crowl, one of the college's most successful former professors.
This year's lecture, Leadership, Ethics and Military Service, was delivered by guest speaker, retired Cmdr. and former Vietnam War Prisoner of War Dr. Porter A. Halyburton, professor emeritus of distance education.
Halyburton spoke about his experiences as a Navy lieutenant junior grade and prisoner of war in Vietnam and how ethics and leadership helped him endure his time in "The Zoo," a prison camp for American military members during the war.
"There were two of the most important lessons that I learned when I was in Vietnam and I learned one right off the bat the second one I did right before I got out of there," said Halyburton. "I think, to think that most of us who went from a life of freedom to suddenly being in an entirely different environment, realized that we were in the hands of folks who could do anything they wanted to with us, including taking our lives."
He also said that his captors could take away anything that we enjoy as human beings.
"We quickly understood that there was one freedom they couldn't take from us," said Halyburton. "To me that elemental freedom is the freedom of choice, our free will, I think that's the most essential freedom we have and every other freedom flows from that, one aspect of making a choice."
Halyburton also spoke about how some of the higher ranking officers and their leadership and patriotism helped him and his comrades endure the tortures given by the Vietnamese, abiding by the Code of Conduct.
He concluded his speech with a poem titled "Reflections in Captivity", which reflects his thoughts about the war while he was in captivity.
The dinner concluded with a question and answer session from the more than 200 guests in attendance.
Former notable speakers have been Author Tom Clancy, U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton, Author and Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek Magazine Evan Thomas, U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye, U.S. Senator John Francis "Jack" Reed, former Secretary of the Navy Dr. Richard J. Danzig, and Commander, U.S. Cyber Command/Director, National Security Agency/Chief Central Security Service Adm. Michael S. Rogers.
"This dinner is hosted to have a thought-provoking final end of the year event to think about matters of strategy and things of ethical importance for the college and to our students; leaders/future leaders of the military community," said Chadburn.