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SU faculty member joins service for USS Monitor crew in Arlington

Cathryn Newton was part of the expedition that discovered the Monitor’s watery grave

Mar 7, 2013 — Article by: Judy Holmes and AP news reports

Monitor turret being raised from the ocean

USS Monitor turret being raised from the Atlantic. The remains of two crew members, discovered in the turret, will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery on March 8, 2013. Image courtesy of NOAA

Cathryn Newton, dean emerita of Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences, will be among those gathered on Friday, March 8, 2013 at Arlington National Cemetery for the interment of two crewmen found in the turret of the renowned Civil War ironclad USS Monitor.  The remains were discovered in 2002 when the ship’s turret was lifted out of the ocean off of the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

Newton was a member of the 1973 expedition team that discovered the Monitor. The expedition team was led by her father, John Newton, a Duke University oceanographer, and included researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rutgers and North Carolina State universities. Newton has worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia, and others to continue to explore the shipwreck, its history, and to connect with the crew’s descendants. Joining Newton at the Arlington ceremony will be her mother and brothers and members of the original discovery team.

Friday’s ceremony coincides with the 151st anniversary of the Battle of Hampton Roads, during which the Monitor fought the CSS Virginia in the first battle between the two ironclads. The battle ended in a draw. The Monitor sank some nine months later in rough seas while being towed to North Carolina to support the Union blockade of Confederate harbors. Sixteen of the 62 crew members died.

The remains are believed to be those of William Bryan and Jacob Nicklis, but DNA testing has failed to make a conclusive link to their living descendants. Nearly 100 likely descendants from Maine to California are expected to attend the memorial service, in which U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus will participate.  “It's important we honor these brave men and all they represent as we reflect upon the significant role Monitor and her crew had in setting the course of our modern Navy," Mabus said.

READ MORE about the USS Monitor

Contact Information

Judy Holmes