Herman Otto Sudholz
Dates of Service: 9/26/1980 - 6/22/1985
Birth Date: 6/22/1934
Death Date: 12/15/2016
Herman Otto Sudhulz was born in Glen Cove, Long Island, New York on June 22, 1934. He earned a degree in civil engineering from Lehigh University. Facing the prospect of the draft, and having been attracted to the sea, he applied for an appointment to the Officer Candidate School at Newport, Rhode Island. Commissioned an ensign on May 1, 1959, Sudholz served on the destroyer USS Johnson (DD-821) for almost four years, beginning as damage control assistant, then first lieutenant, and, finally as weapons officer. While aboard Johnson, Sudholz made two deployments to the Mediterranean. The ship was undergoing a major modernization at the beginning of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. With work rushed to completion, the ship sailed for Guantanamo Bay to serve as a “ready reserve” for the blockading forces. Leaving the destroyer in April 1963, Sudholz next headed the Research and Development Department of the Navy Explosive Ordnance Facility at Indian Head, Maryland. He returned to sea in September 1965 as executive officer of the radar picket destroyer escort USS Brister (DER-317) at Pearl Harbor. While aboard Brister, he made two Vietnam deployments, where the ship’s efforts earned her a Navy Unit Commendation. Promoted to lieutenant commander, Sudholz returned ashore as a member of the Spruance Class destroyer development team. Late in 1970, he was ordered to join the destroyer Richard S. Edwards (DD-950) as executive officer, and returned to Pearl Harbor. In 1972, the ship made an unexpected deployment to Vietnamese waters in response to the Communist Easter offensive, and became the flagship of a surface action group bombarding the North Vietnamese coast. From 1972 to 1978, Sudholz filled several staff assignments ashore in Hawaii. In 1978, he became executive officer of the destroyer tender Dixie (AD-14) at San Diego, California.
Sudholz took command of Constitution on September 26, 1980. When coordinating visits by foreign ships, Sudholz found it difficult to use “Old Ironsides” for receptions because of the navy’s prohibition of alcohol on board its ships. His plea to Washington gained an exemption in this case for official and diplomatic functions. He also arranged to have a detachment of the ship’s company lead the navy portion of the 1981 presidential inaugural parade. Sudholz furthered the ship’s long-term restoration to her 1812 appearance by having two carronades of the correct pattern cast for the ship.
Sudholz retired from the ship on June 22, 1985, having served as her captain longer than any other preson to date. He took a position as manager of a long-term National Science Foundation project before fully retiring to Carmel, California in 1999. Sudholz died on December 15, 2016 in Carmel, California.