U.S. Navy Destroyer Sunk in World War II Is Found 20,000 Feet Under the Sea

U.S. Navy Destroyer Sunk in World War II Is Found 20,000 Feet Under the Sea

Researchers say they believe the debris field off the Philippines is from the U.S.S. Johnston DD-557, which played a pivotal role in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Credit…Vulcan Inc.

Neil Vigdor

It was a mismatch — a small task unit of United States Navy ships confronted by a mighty squadron of Japanese warships.

The Americans went on the attack with every gun and torpedo that they had, repelling the enemy vessels that had threatened to cut off the supply lines for an amphibious landing led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur on the strategic island of Leyte in the Philippines.

But the heroic stand in theBattle of Leyte Gulf,the largest naval battle of World War II, came at a heavy cost: Two escort carriers, two destroyers and a destroyer escort from the task force unit,known as Taffy 3, sank.

Now, 75 years after that turning point in the Pacific theater, a private underwater expedition discovered the wreckage of one of those destroyers, which researchers believe to be theU.S.S. Johnston DD-557.

The Fletcher-class destroyer lost 186 members of its crew of 327 sailors, including its commander,Ernest E. Evans, who was the first Native American in the Navy to receive the Medal of Honor. It sank on Oct. 25, 1944.

“They were hopelessly outclassed, but they fought anyway,” said Sam Cox, a retired Navy rear admiral and director of the Naval History and Heritage Command, the preservation arm of the Navy.

Navy historians confirmed that the wreckage belonged to a Fletcher-class destroyer, but said that they needed to do more research to determine if it was the U.S.S. Johnston or theU.S.S. Hoel DD-533, which sank on the same day.

Two five-inch gun mounts, two funnels, a propeller shaft and twisted hunks of metal are part of a debris field that was found in May by the Research Vessel Petrel in a trench 20,400 feet beneath the surface of the Philippine Sea.

It is the deepest warship wreck ever discovered, according to researchers, who used a remote operated vehicle to conduct an underwater survey.

At that depth, there was a danger of losing the remote operated vehicle because of the lack of buoyancy, which forced its operator to thrust the vehicle upward.

“During this dive, our deepest yet, we encountered challenges that impacted our ability to operate and obtain the typical, high quality survey that we strive for,” said Paul Mayer, a pilot of the remote operated vehicle and researcher.

The underwater survey was conducted by Vulcan Inc., the RV Petrel’s owner and operator, which released video footage of the wreckage last week to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the U.S.S. Johnston’s sinking and to try to get confirmation that it was the destroyer that was discovered.

The private company was started by Paul Allen, a late Microsoft co-founder, and his sister, Jody Allen, to handle the family’s business and philanthropic activities, including underwater research.

More than 30 sunken warships have been discovered by Vulcan researchers, including a number of American vessels lost in World War II, like the U.S.S. Indianapolis, theU.S.S. Waspand the U.S.S. Hornet.

So few photos remain of the U.S.S. Johnston, according to Admiral Cox, who said both the Johnston and the Hoel performed with extreme heroism during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

“The position would make more sense that it’s the Johnston where they found it,” Admiral Cox said. “That’s among the deepest places in the entire ocean.”

Admiral Cox said the Navy and Vulcan Inc. had worked collaboratively on a number of projects.

“They respect that they don’t disturb the wrecks at all and they don’t publicize the exact coordinates,” he said.

Had the Japanese squadron overtaken the American task unit, Taffy 3, and cut off the troop and supply ships for General MacArthur’s invasion, the consequences would have been dire, Admiral Cox said. As the Johnston was sinking, the crew of a Japanese destroyer saluted the vessel, he said.

“They didn’t think Americans had that kind of bravery,” he said, “so that surprised them.”

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The Many Shades of Wednesday Addams

The Many Shades of Wednesday Addams

With a new “Addams Family” movie in theaters, a look back at the portrayal of one of its most popular family members over the years.


CreditCreditMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures

Twenty-six years after their last big-screen outing, the Addams Familyis back in theaters. And yes, still creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky (now also digitally animated). The family, created by the cartoonist Charles Addams, has been featured across magazines, films, television and a stage musical over the last 80 years, but no character has been portrayed quite as differently as the daughter, Wednesday — from a cherubic little girl in the 1960s to a stern and frightening adolescent in the 1990s to a lovesick teenager in the 2010s. Here’s a closer look at how Wednesday has been depicted in many variations by those writing, drawing and playing her.

In Charles Addams’s drawings, Wednesday wore a conservative collared dress and had an oval-shaped head with dark hair framing the side of her face. While other Addams Family members had white circles with black pupils for eyes, Wednesday had small black ovals, which gave the character a more melancholy appearance. Many of her popular interests were first introduced in the pages of The New Yorker, including her fondness for beheading dolls, her interest in octopi and her antagonistic relationship with her brother, Pugsley. Addams, by the way, didn’t name any of the Addams Family characters until they were developed for television in the 1960s. He named Wednesday after the nursery rhyme “Monday’s Child,” which includes the line “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.”

In 1964, ABC introduced the first live-action Addams Family television series, which debuted a week beforeanother spooky family sitcom, “The Munsters.”In the pilot episode, Wednesday (Lisa Loring) is the first member of the family to appear onscreen, and she welcomes a visitor to her family’s not-so-humble abode. While the show hints at the character having a darker edge, Wednesday, as played by the 6-year-old Loring, is mostly just adorable. Even when she talks about chopping off her doll’s head or feeding her pet spider, there’s an inherent sweetness to her. The television series primarily focused on the matters of Wednesday’s parents, Gomez and Morticia (John Astin and Carolyn Jones), so Loring’s screen time was rather limited throughout the two-season run. In one memorable highlight, Wednesdayshows off some trulyunexpected moveswhen she teaches the family’s butler, Lurch, to dance. The show was canceled in 1966, but Loring played the role once more in the 1977 reunion special, “Halloween with the New Addams Family.”

NBC resurrected the Addams Family for a brief stint with this children’s series, produced by Hanna-Barbera. The show took great liberties with the characters: Instead of staying cooped up, the Addamses traveled around the country in an RV that looks like their house, all while having various supernatural adventures. The Wednesday of this series resembled Addams’s drawings in appearance, but instead of her classic dark get-up, she was costumed in bright pink. Additionally, she was given a much sunnier disposition. In one episode, thefamily even visits a roller derbyfor her birthday. The show only lasted 16 episodes.

For the first Addams Family feature film, Wednesday received a reinvention that hewed much closer to the dark sense of humor in Charles Addams’s cartoons. As played by Christina Ricci, then 10 years old, Wednesday is a sadistic preteen exhibiting dry, deadpan wit and a taste for torture. With her pale skin, wide forehead and sullen demeanor, Ricci looks like an Addams drawing come to life. She is easily the movie’s breakout character, voicing whatever thoughts come to her mind and not caring what anyone else thinks. In both the 1991 film and its sequel, “Addams Family Values,” Wednesday engages in activities far more unsettling than either of her previous incarnations: She electrocutes Pugsley; drops her baby brother, Pubert, from the roof; buries a cat alive; and takes down the cultural insensitivity of Thanksgiving in a way that ends with a summer camp in flames. The role effectively launched Ricci’s career, and this Wednesday would prove to be influential for an entire generation of sullen teenage girls.

While the Addams Family appeared inanother animated series, adirect-to-video filmandanother live-action series, their next biggest cultural moment was the debut of a musical on Broadway in 2010. Now portrayed as an 18-year-old, Wednesday has fallen in love with a “normal” guy, and the plot involves her bringing him home to meet the family. Krysta Rodriguez originated the role on Broadway, and in perhaps the greatest stylistic departure of all the Wednesdays, her hair was cut into a short bob rather than maintaining her trademark braids. The lovestruck teenager take on the character would likely have made Ricci’s Wednesday scoff — her big solo in the musical even shares that she’s developing a growing interest in Disney World and Chia Pets.

In the new film, Wednesday (voiced by Chloë Grace Moretz) is designed closer to Charles Addams’s cartoons, with some notable flourishes: Her trademark black braids now end in nooses, which were a recurring item in many of Addams’s drawings, and her dress is embroidered with tiny skulls on the hemline. She still maintains her interests in shooting crossbows and setting things on fire, but she also develops a desire to experience the outside world, which causes some friction with her mother. Whereas other teenage girls would cut their hair and start wearing black, rebellion for this Wednesday is wearing pink and donning a unicorn barrette.

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Why take a picture of your house when you can paint it instead?

Why take a picture of your house when you can paint it instead?

For some homeowners and brokers, a commissioned painting of a house is the best way to pay tribute to it.


CreditCreditRichelle Flecke

Joe and Mary Olk spend their winters in Bonita Springs, Fla., where they keep a commissioned painting of their 10-room home in Missouri. The watercolor, Ms. Olk said, “reminds me of what the house will look like when we get back to Chesterfield in the spring.”

Commissioned portraits of private homes are something of a niche market, used primarily by real estate brokers seeking a memorable keepsake for a client or someone looking for an unusual gift, which was the case for the Olks, who received their portrait from longtime friends.

“I had never heard of any artist doing portraits of houses,” Ms. Olk said. “I thought, ‘What?’”

A framed photograph of a house might have served the same purpose, but an artist’s interpretation of a photograph offers the chance to enhance reality — or create a new one. House portraitists, also known as architectural artists or home painters, are often asked to modify aspects of the house they’re painting or add details that aren’t really there. Depending on the artist and the size of the painting, costs can run anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars, with watercolors generally costing less than oil paintings.

Richelle Flecke, the St. Louis-based painter of the Olks’s house, said she has frequently been asked by homeowners to alter the color of shutters, add or remove trees and plants, or make the portrait a summertime image rather than a winter scene, even if she saw the house when it was covered in snow.


CreditLeisa Collins

The Olks’s friends, Marie and Mark Meyer, wanted to give them a house portrait as a thank-you gift after having spent a vacation week in the Olks’s third house in Telluride, Colo. The Meyers found Ms. Flecke online and put her in touch with Ms. Olk to work out the details: which view of the house to focus on, what time of day and time of year to place the house, what to include or omit.

Ms. Flecke spent an hour visiting with Ms. Olk, who led her around the house, pointing out vantage points that she wanted to have included in the final portrait. The artist took photographs to use as references back at her studio. Ms. Olk asked Ms. Flecke to omit any weeds or bald spots in the yard. She also asked her “to make every plant be in bloom.”

Requests to include one thing or another, such as plants in full bloom even when they’re not, are fairly standard. Other requests less so. “I’ve added children and pets to these house portraits,” Ms. Flecke said. “I once was asked to put an R.V. in the driveway, and I did.”

So far, no request has seemed too outlandish, and she has accommodated them all.

While landscape portraiture became a common endeavor for artists centuries ago, homes were rarely the principal subjects of the paintings. The Vanderbilt family commissioned artist John Singer Sargent to paint several family portraits in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, for example, but none of Biltmore Estate, their famed 8,000-acre property in Asheville, N.C. One house portrait painter of note, albeit fictional, was Charles Ryder, the narrator of Evelyn Waugh’s novel “Brideshead Revisited.” He was not taken very seriously as an artist, but his vocation was a convenient vehicle for exploring Brideshead Castle and the world it represented.

“During the last two millennia of art production in eastern and western cultures, one can find plenty of examples of paintings depicting domestic interiors and lots of paintings showing exterior views of homes within a landscape or cityscape format,” said Michael Aurbach, a professor of art at Vanderbilt University. But rare to the point of nonexistent, he said, is “a portrait-like painting of a home’s exterior.”

Today, the market for house portraits is sustained largely by real estate agents. Adams Hayes, a broker with Milestone Realty in Rockland, Mass., said he often commissions paintings for older clients who have sold their longtime homes and moved into assisted-living facilities. Each portrait, which he commissions from artist Renee MacMurray, “gives my clients a piece of their home back to them wherever they are now living.” Ms. MacMurray, who lives in Hanover, N.H., charges between $600 and $15,000, based on the size and medium of the finished artwork.


CreditDeborah Chabrian

Another broker, St. Louis-based Larry Dietzel, said he gives house portraits to home buyers “as a thank you, housewarming gift.” The recipients tend to be higher-priced clients who are paying $600,000 or more for a house.

Commissions from brokers represent a considerable percentage of the requests for home portraits received by Clearwater, Fla., watercolor painter Leisa Collins. “These realtors could give a box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers,” she said, but a painting is more evergreen and certainly more one-of-a-kind.

Many of Ms. Collins’s clients are homeowners. They tend to be people who “have put a lot of time and care into the home, and it is very validating to have a painting of it.” The work is typically hung somewhere where visitors will see it, becoming a conversation piece.

“A photograph just would not do,” said Peter Grossman, a retired international banker with American Express who commissioned Deborah Chabrian to paint his 18th-century, eight-room home in Kent, Conn., just a few years before selling it in 2015 and moving with his husband to Delray Beach, Fla.

“This was a 1760 farmhouse that is very warm and charming and very magical, surrounded by an expansive lawn, with original stone walls and some maple trees that are more than 200 years old,” Mr. Grossman said. A photograph, regardless of how colorful and sharp the image, “just wouldn’t have done justice to the property. A watercolor is much more poetic.”

“Poetic” included asking Ms. Chabrian to paint pink flowers in bloom up against the house, and “I vaguely remember wanting Deborah to put more garden in the picture than you might ordinarily see.”

Mr. Grossman said the painting took on more meaning for him and his husband after they moved. “We enjoyed the portrait and enjoyed living there. Now, we enjoy the memories.”

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Travel Tips: 6 Simple Tips to Get Into R.V. Travel

Travel Tips: 6 Simple Tips to Get Into R.V. Travel

Travel Tips

Recreational vehicles offer travelers the thrill of the open road and the comforts of home. Here’s how to get started.


CreditCreditLars Leetaru

Recreational-vehicle travel is on the rise and not just with baby boomers. With the growth of peer-to-peer rental companies likeRVShareandOutdoorsy, R.V. travel has become more accessible — and more appealing — to vacationers of varying ages and budgets.

Over the last six months, Outdoorsy’s bookings have shot up more than 300 percent among global users, the company said, with half of those users under the age of 40. Similarly,Kampgrounds of America’s latestNorth American Camping Reportnoted millennials and Gen Xers now account for 70 percent of R.V. users.

If you’ve never traveled by motor home or R.V., or thought it wasn’t for you, here are a few tips to set the wheels in motion.

Freedom, flexibility and an immersion in nature are just a few appealing perks of R.V. travel. Visiting multiple destinations without having to pack and unpack, traveling with a pet, the lure of the open road and kitchens for those with dietary restrictions are also big advantages. Boondocking, or dry camping, lets travelers park almost anywhere without sacrificing comforts like shelter and a bed.

“It’s a happy medium between a hotel and tent camping,” said Jon Gray, RVShare’s chief executive. R.V.s have also become a popular choice for people attending festivals, tailgating at sporting events or staying near family during the holiday season, he added.

Traditional rental firms offer a service that’s similar to renting a car, while peer-to-peer services are more akin toAirbnb, said Kevin Broom, a spokesman for theRV Industry Association.

“When renting from owners, look closely at the details,” he advised. Take time to read customer reviews, check the age of the vehicle and make sure it’s well maintained.

“Companies likeCruise America,El Monte RVandApollotend to have lower insurance deductibles than renting a privately owned vehicle,” said Deborah Trevino, a Virtuoso travel agent, “but rental prices are typically less in the sharing economy because you’re not renting from a franchise.”

For travelers uncomfortable driving larger R. V.s, peer-to-peer rental websites provide search filters for owners who are willing to deliver and set up trailers at a location selected by the renter.

Your budget, destination and the number of travelers are the biggest factors in determining what size and model is best for your trip. “A couple visiting several locations and driving lots of miles may want a smaller motor home with better fuel economy,” Mr. Broom said. “A family with children may want a larger R.V. with slide outs and more sleeping areas.”

GoRVingis a website that compares features of variousRV typesand has a “Find My RV” tool to help select the right fit, while theCompactAppliance website outlines the pros and consof the different categories. (Most states do not require a special driver’s license for R.V.s.)

Motor homes, or motorized R.V.s, come in three different classes based on size and amenities. Towable R.V.s, such as conventional travel trailers, fifth-wheel trailers, truck campers, folding camping trailers and sport utility R.V.s, require a vehicle to pull them.

If you have the right vehicle to pull it, a towable R.V. is a great option because you have a car for exploring, Mr. Gray said.

“Campervans with four-wheel drive are popular among millennials because they’re ideal for driving in off-grid locations,” said Jeff Cavins, chief executive of Outdoorsy, based on his company’s data. “The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Winnebago Revel and the Sportsmobile Classic 4 by 4 are all top sellers.”

“Map out your route in advance,” Ms. Trevino said. “Smaller roads may not be equipped to accommodate heftier R.V.s.” She recommends becoming aGood Sam Clubmember ($29/year) to access its web-basedtrip planner, which has helpful filters for low-clearance avoidance and options to bypass highways and tolls.

For a $26.99 yearly subscription, the appCoPilotGPSoffers R.V.-specific navigation (trucker maps and R.V.-specific GPS devices provide similar information), whileRoadtrippers.comis a free resource for plotting R.V. routes and calculating travel time, mileage and estimated fuel cost.

It’s crucial to reserve campgrounds in advance, especially during summer months and other peak travel periods. Websites likeReserve America,Roverpass,CampendiumandRecreation.govprovide lists of campsites available across the country.

“We recommend first timers to stay at a fully-loaded R.V. park or campground likeKampgrounds of AmericaandYogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, which offer full hookups, dump stations and staff on site,” Mr. Gray said.

When renting a rig, request detailed instructions from the owner or rental company how to use the R.V.’s systems, including the generator, air-conditioning, leveling, slide outs, electric and entertainment, as well as how to empty waste tanks and refill fresh water.

Typically, the owner or rental company will conduct a walk-through orientation with the vehicle’s renters. Most rental companies offer roadside assistance in their pricing, and extended roadside service, for nonmechanical mishaps like misplacing your keys, is also available.

Make sure to take the vehicle for a test drive to get comfortable turning, parking and towing it.

Some R.V. owners provide free bedding, towels and kitchen essentials, while others offer housekeeping kits and outdoors equipment at a cost; inquire ahead of time. “Many customers opt to have their R. V.s supplied with groceries and camping gear like kayaks, fishing poles and a grill, so all they need to do is arrive with their suitcase,” said Mr. Cavins.

If you’re stocking the vehicle yourself,RV-camping.orgprovidesa helpful checklist, broken down into categories from toiletries and clothing to kitchen supplies and tools. Of course, most items can be purchased on the road if you don’t want to buy them before you leave.

2 PLACES AND MUCH, MUCH MOREFollow our52 Placestraveler, Sebastian Modak, onInstagramas he travels the world,and discover more Travel coverage by following us onTwitterandFacebook. Andsign up for ourTravel Dispatch newsletter: Each week you’ll receive tips on traveling smarter, stories on hot destinations and access to photos from all over the world.

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