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The Battle of Leyte Gulf 75th Anniversary Symposium


In 2004, Admiral James Holloway III and the Naval Historical Foundation (NHF) hosted a symposium on the 60th anniversary of the largest naval battle in history. Fifteen years later the Naval Historical Foundation returns to the historic Decatur House, formerly the Truxtun-Decatur Naval Museum, to host The Battle of Leyte Gulf 75th Anniversary Symposium. The symposium will take place on October 25th, the anniversary of the Battle of Surigao Strait and Battle Off Samar— “The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors.”

The symposium begins at 8:30 AM with a light breakfast buffet. Following introduction from Naval Historical Foundation leadership, the symposium will begin with an overview from author and editor of Leyte Gulf at 75: A Retrospective, LCDR Thomas J. Cutler, USN (Ret.) of the U. S. Naval Institute. The second half of the morning will consist of a panel discussion and the opportunity for audience questions. The panel, moderated by Dr. David Rosenberg of the Institute for Defense Analyses and NHF board member, will include preeminent naval historians and World War II experts. The roundtable will be followed by a special keynote from the ninth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral James “Sandy” Winnefeld Jr., USN (Ret.). After closing remarks, the event is to conclude at noon.


Click HERE for our registration page or RSVP below

Special Guests

The Honorable William L. Ball III is a former Secretary of the Navy and Assistant Secretary of State. Ball began his government service in Washington, DC in 1975 on the U.S. Senate staff following completion of a six-year tour of active duty with the United States Navy including time on the USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20). For ten years, he served in several committee and staff positions, including serving as Chief of Staff to Senators John Tower (R-TX) and Herman Talmadge (D-GA). In 1985, he joined the Reagan Administration as Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs under Secretary of State George P. Shultz. The following year, Ball was assigned to the White House to serve President Reagan as his chief liaison to the Congress. Two years later, he was nominated by the President as the 67th Secretary of the Navy and was confirmed by the Senate in March of 1988. Following his time at the White House, Ball was President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Beverage Association and the National Soft Drink Association for 15 years. He is also a member of the United States Energy Security Council and Board of Trustees for Maine Maritime Academy. He served as Chairman of The Asia Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

ADM James A. Winnefeld Jr., USN (Ret.) is a frequently published author and a director or advisory board member for several companies operating in a broad spectrum of business sectors. “Sandy” currently serves as Distinguished Professor at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech. He is on the Board of Visitors of the United States Naval Academy, and a senior non-resident fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In his 37-year naval career, Adm. Winnefeld held commands of VF 211, USS Cleveland (LPD 7), and as the 17th Commanding Officer of the USS Enterprise (CVN 65). As Commander, Carrier Strike Group 2/Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, he led Task Forces 50, 58, and 152 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and maritime interception operations in the Arabian Gulf. His most recent shore duties would include serving as Commander of NORAD, USNORTHCOM, and finally as the ninth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

ADM John C. Harvey Jr., USN (Ret.) is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Navy Memorial Foundation and Director of Strategy, Forces and Resources Division at the Institute for Defense Analyses following a naval career of over 39 years. As the Navy’s Old Salt, Harvey served as Commander of U. S. Fleet Forces Command in his final assignment. Previously, Admiral Harvey would serve as Director, Navy Staff, and as the Navy’s 54th Chief of Naval Personnel. At sea, he commanded USS David R. Ray (DD 97), USS Cape St. George (CG 71), and Cruiser-Destroyer Group Eight/Theodore Roosevelt Strike Group. After his retirement, Admiral Harvey was sworn in as a member of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s cabinet in 2014 where he served as the Commonwealth’s Secretary of Veteran and Defense Affairs until 2017.

The Honorable Dionel M. Aviles is currently an executive consultant in the defense industry and former Under Secretary of the Navy. Aviles served as a Naval Surface Warfare Officer from 1983 through 1988, eventually working in the National Security Division of the Office of Management and Budget as the budget examiner of the Navy’s procurement and R&D budgets. In 1995, Aviles became a professional staff member on the staff of the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services. In 2001, President George W. Bush nominated Aviles as Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management), and Aviles served in this capacity from July 2001 until October 2004. President Bush subsequently nominated Aviles as Under Secretary of the Navy and Aviles was sworn in as Under Secretary on October 8, 2004. He would go on to become a Vice President at Lockheed Martin Corporation for nearly 13 years.

VADM J. Cutler Dawson, USN (Ret.) is the former president and CEO of Navy Federal Credit Union. During his 14 years as the head of Navy Federal, VADM Dawson quadrupled the size of the 85-year-old company while building an environment that would rank NFCU in the 100 Best Companies to Work For by Fortune magazine 8 times. In his retirement, he currently serves as a consultant and has completed his upcoming book From the Sea to the C-Suite: Lessons Learned from the Bridge to the Corner Office. Over his 35-year Naval career, Dawson commanded the USS Molala (ATF 106), USS Bronstein (FF 1037),USS Harry W. Hill (DD 986),and the USS Princeton (CG 59). He would also serve as Commander of Second Fleet, Striking Fleet Atlantic, and Cruiser-Destroyer Group Twelve/Enterprise Battle Group which would conduct strikes in support of Operation Desert Fox and Operation Allied Force. Ashore, VADM Dawson served as the Navy’s Chief of Legislative Affairs and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Resources, Requirements and Assessments).

VADM Peter H. Daly, USN (Ret.) is the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Naval Institute and serves on the Advisory Board for ManTech International. Prior to accepting the CEO post in 2011, Vice Admiral Daly served as Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. His Navy career, spanning more than 30 years, includes command of the destroyer USS Russell (DDG-59); Command of Destroyer Squadron 31; and Command of Carrier Strike Group 11. VADM Daly would participate in Operation Desert Strike in 1996 and as Sea Combat Commander for the Lincoln Battle Group in the Gulf immediately after the attack on USS Cole in 2000. As Nimitz Strike Group Commander in 2005, he led Task Forces 50, 58 and 152 in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom in the Arabian Gulf. Ashore, he served as Deputy for Resources and Acquisition (J-8) Joint Staff; Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy; and as Deputy N3/N5 (Operations, Plans and Strategy) in the Navy Staff. 

RADM Samuel J. Cox, USN (Ret.) is the director of the Naval History and Heritage Command and Curator of the Navy. He is responsible for the Navy’s museums, art and artifact collections, the research library, 150 million pages of archives, and for collecting and interpreting U.S. Naval history throughout the world. RADM Cox served as an intelligence officer over his 37-year Naval career. In his most recent commands, Cox served as the senior naval intelligence community leader as both Commander, Office of Naval Intelligence and concurrently as Director, National Maritime Intelligence-Integration Office. He also previously served as Director of Intelligence (J2), U.S. Cyber Command. His major command tour was as commander of the U.S. Central Command Joint Intelligence Center. He was also the first intelligence officer to serve as a senior fellow on the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group. Cox became the 14th director and Curator of the Navy on Dec. 29, 2014.

Andrew C. Taylor is Executive Chairman of Enterprise Holdings and son of Jack C. Taylor, veteran of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Lt. Jack Taylor flew the F6F Hellcat in the famed VF-15 squadron, notably helping sink the Japanese super battleship Musashi with his multiple strafing runs. The Mushashi and its twin ship Yamato were the largest battleships on the planet at the time and the heaviest ever constructed. Read about Lt. Jack Taylor here!

LCDR Thomas J. Cutler, USN (Ret.) is a retired lieutenant commander and former gunner’s mate second class who served in patrol craft, cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft carriers. Currently he is Fleet Professor of Strategy and Policy with the Naval War College and is the Director of Professional Publishing at the U.S. Naval Institute. Cutler is the editor of forthcoming Naval Institute Press book, Leyte Gulf at 75.

Dr. David Rosenberg is a military historian and defense analyst with expertise in naval and nuclear history. Dr. Rosenberg has taught at the U.S. Naval War College, the National War College, and Temple University. A retired Captain and Intelligence Officer in the Navy Reserve, he served as the China Senior Intelligence Officer–Reserve at the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) in 2009-2010 and commanded Navy Reserve Unit ONI 0466. Dr. Rosenberg also serves as a board member for the Naval Historical Foundation.

Trent Hone is a Managing Consultant with Excella and an award-winning authority on the U. S. Navy of the early twentieth century. Author of Learning War: The Evolution of Fighting Doctrine in the U.S. Navy, 1898–1945, Hone is a contributing author for Leyte Gulf at 75. His article, “U.S. Navy Surface Battle Doctrine and Victory in the Pacific” was awarded the U.S. Naval War College’s Edward S. Miller Prize and the Naval History and Heritage Command’s Ernest M. Eller Prize.

Capt. David Kennedy, USN (Ret.) is the screenplay writer for upcoming film Taffy 3, based on Task Unit 77.4.3 in the Battle Off Samar.  Writer, technical advisor, and consulting producer for feature film and television productions, Capt. Kennedy’s credits include Pearl Harbor, Behind Enemy Lines, and Black Hawk Down. Kennedy served as a Naval Aviator graduating from United States Naval Test Pilot School at NAS Patuxent River, later serving on the school’s staff.

Paul Stillwell is an independent historian and retired naval officer. He worked for thirty years at the U.S. Naval Institute as an oral historian and editor of Naval History magazine. He is the author or editor of a dozen books, including four on battleships and an award-winning volume on the Navy’s first African American officers, The Golden Thirteen. Stillwell is also a contributing author for Leyte Gulf at 75.


0830-1200Breakfast Buffet and Beverages available
0900Welcome / Speaker IntroductionRADM Edward Masso, USN (Ret.)
Executive Director, Naval Historical Foundation
0905-0930RemarksLCDR Thomas J. Cutler, USN (Ret.)
Fleet Professor of Strategy and Policy, Naval War College
0930-0945Panel Moderator Remarks and IntroductionDr. David Rosenberg
Institute for Defense Analysis
0945-1115 Panel Discussion / Q&AMr. Trent Hone
Author of “Learning War: The Evolution of Fighting Doctrine in the U.S. Navy, 1898-1945″
CAPT David Kennedy, USN (Ret.) Writer, technical advisor & consulting producer
Screenplay writer, “Taffy 3”
Mr. Paul Stillwell
Historian & contributing author “Leyte Gulf at 75”
Mr. Andrew Taylor
Executive Chairman, Enterprise Holdings
1115-1145RemarksADM James A. Winnefeld Jr., USN (Ret.)
Distinguished Professor, Sam Nunn School of International Affairs
1145Closing RemarksRADM Edward Masso, USN (Ret.)
Executive Director, Naval Historical Foundation


The Decatur House is located in the heart of downtown on the north side of Lafayette Square. The venue is easily metro accessible with Farragut West or McPherson Square stations nearby serving orange, blue and silver lines. Farragut North station is also adjacent serving red line trains. All metro stations are within 5-minute walks of the Decatur House. Guests travelling by car can find garage parking across from the Decatur Carriage House on H Street NW.

Decatur House
748 Jackson Pl NW
Washington, DC 20006

Decatur House – White House History Shop entrance
1610 H St NW
Washington, DC 20006

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  1. John Hurabiell

    I can’t attend but you want me to contribute. Why don’t you either put the event on the web or tape it so that those of us who cannot attend can later access it. Happy to then make a contribution.

    • Sam Hall

      Good afternoon, sir We’re fortunate to have had C-SPAN join us to record for the event, so stand by for future airing and web distribution!

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