From sea to shore across the globe, the Navy celebrates its 248th birthday.

Many years ago, before the oldest and saltiest master chief at your command was even a twinkle in his daddy’s eye, the Continental Congress established the makings of the U.S. Navy on Oct. 13, 1775.

That pre-America congress called for “a swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportionable number of swivels, with eighty men, be fitted, with all possible dispatch, for a cruise of three months,” according to the Naval Historical and Heritage Command.

And here you stand, 248 years later. Happy birthday, United States Navy!

Then-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt authorized that Oct. 13 be recognized as the Navy’s birthday back in 1972, so here’s hoping that your command hooks you up with one of those good grocery store cakes or lets you leave work early today. Hopefully your chief doesn’t burn the hotdogs if you have a cookout to commemorate your collective birthday.

We don’t need to tell you about sailor life. The work you do is hard, dangerous and often thankless.

But however long you serve for, and however you feel about that service, you’ll be able to say you were part of the U.S. Navy. Its birthday is your birthday.

With that, below are some recent stories of amazing sailors in your ranks who have done amazing things.

Check them out below and enjoy the day.

Heroism during a nightclub shooting

Information Technician 2nd Class Thomas James recently received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal – the highest non-combat award for heroism -- after helping to stop a gunman who attacked an LGBTQ nightclub in November.

James grabbed the barrel of the weapon and restrained the shooter until police arrived, suffering a gunshot wound to the abdomen and burning his hands in the process during the chaos at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“I simply wanted to save the family I found,” James said in a statement after the shooting. “If I had my way, I would shield everyone I could from the nonsensical acts of hate in the world.”

BZ, IT2 James.

‘The Hulk’ gets his Silver Star

The Navy awarded retired Rear Adm. Thomas Richards a Silver Star in January for rescuing three of his fellow Navy SEAL platoon mates during the Vietnam War — an upgrade from the Bronze Star previously awarded for those actions.

Then-Lt. j.g. Richards, who was nicknamed “The Hulk” and could squat and deadlift 500 pounds, and the members of SEAL Team One’s Zulu Platoon were on a mission in a rice paddy Jan. 30, 1971, targeting Viet Cong insurgents who’d fired upon their helicopter.

After Richards and three members of the platoon were injured by enemy fire, Richards hauled all three across a dike through enemy gunfire and into a helicopter for evacuation. His teammates would not have survived if not for his heroism, according to the Navy.

“Thinking back on that day, I never gave any thought to my own personal exposure to enemy fire,” Richards said, according to a Navy news release. " I wanted to get my friends out of danger and to safety.”

Virginia sailor rescues child from drowning at beach

A Virginia-based sailor who was lifeguarding at the Dam Neck Annex beaches rescued a child from drowning in June.

Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Michael Y. Yang, then a student at the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit Oceana in Virginia Beach, noticed a boy struggling to swim in a rip current roughly 20 yards off shore while lifeguarding at the Dam Neck Annex beaches on June 30.

Yang jumped in, swam the boy to shore and later received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his valor.

Navy officers provide medical aid at Pablo Picasso Museum

Ensigns Matthew Hedish and Michael Johnson were visiting the Pablo Picasso Museum in Malaga, Spain, on July 6 when they noticed an elderly man in need of help.

The man’s head was shaking, so Hedish and Johnson used a translation app to let the man know that Hedish had EMT experience.

“The thing that really concerned me from my experience previously as an EMT was when people start nodding off with jitters and not being able to maintain any form of communication,” Hedish said in July. “That’s when I realized there was probably something a little bit more involved happening.”

The junior officers told museum staff to clear the café, and they checked the man’s vitals and stabilized him on a couch until area first responders arrived.

WW2 radioman finally gets his flowers

During World War II, Navy Aviation Radioman 3rd Class Peter L. Smith doggedly helped battle the Japanese from the Solomon Islands to Okinawa

Assigned to Torpedo Squadron 28, Smith helped the United States retake islands from Japanese forces, carrying out more than 150 combat and support missions with the squadron.

He joined a few months after the attack on Pearl Harbor and initially served as a storekeeper but soon volunteered to fly and completed training as an aviation radioman and an air gunner.

Like others of his generation, he quietly returned to civilian life after the war.

ARM3 Smith passed in 2009.

Good deeds on USS Porter

Sailors on the guided-missile destroyer Porter saved four divers who found themselves stranded and imperiled off North Carolina in August.

Some standard-issue heroism from this DDG’s crew, and good deeds they managed to execute while also taking place in the Navy and Marine Corps’ Large Scale Exercise event.

Whew, those high-speed Whidbey SAR crews

The Whidbey Island Search and Rescue, or SAR, unit out of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, is constantly undertaking dangerous missions to rescue hikers in distress across the region.

This elite array of two MH-60S Seahawk helicopters, 10 pilots, three search and rescue medical technicians and 10 rescue aircrewman respond to rescue needs throughout the wilds of western Washington state and beyond.

And when the call goes out, their 15- or 30-minute alert posture means they can be airborne and on the way fast.

They rescue hikers. And snowmobilers. And folks out on the water. And anyone who went maybe a tad too deep into the backcountry.

One of them, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Anthony Anglikowski, received a Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the service’s highest award for noncombat heroism, for his efforts during a perilous mission in 2021.

“It’s very rewarding to be able to provide that service and that capability to the community, especially the backcountry outdoor adventure community,” Anglikowski said. “Most of us are an avid part of that, so it’s nice to be able to give back to the people that we share those spaces with.”

Finally…the Navy’s probe into Sky Penis

One of our most-read stories ever, of a sky drawing and the bit of furor it caused. Enjoy.

Geoff is the managing editor of Military Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at

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