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Craig Symonds: Sea battle book earns prize for professor

Among his colleagues at the Naval Academy, there is a running joke circulating about Craig Symonds.

When Harrison Ford came to Annapolis in 1991 to shoot a few scenes for Patriot Games, he shadowed Symonds for a couple of days to sample the life of a civilian history professor at the military college. And when the movie was shot, they used his classroom.

That brought some ribbing from fellow professors, who joked that Symonds - like Jack Ryan, the CIA agent turned academy history professor whom Ford was playing in the film - was a former spy.

"I am not and have never been a member of the CIA," Symonds said with a chuckle, noting that he worked in the academy's history department for almost 30 years before retiring in 2005. He became professor emeritus this year.

Lately, he has been the subject of renewed interest among his peers, but not for any mysterious past employment. Last month, Symonds was awarded the prestigious Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Naval History Prize for Decision at Sea: Five Battles that Shaped American History.

The book focuses on five "crucial engagements" in U.S. history and how they "manifest the transformation of technology and weaponry that revolutionized Naval combat," according to a written statement from the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, one of the three associations that sponsor the $5,000 award.

The engagements are: "the Battle of Lake Erie; the duel between the Monitor and the Virginia; Manila Bay; Midway; and the Persian Gulf operation Praying Mantis." ...

Read entire article at Baltimore Sun