Sep 16

An Immersive Battleship Experience

Friday, September 16, 2016 4:33 PM

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DSC_0484

In 1916 the U.S. Navy had visions of commanding the world’s greatest fleet—and a big naval appropriations bill that promised the construction of ten battleships armed with 16-inch guns. But the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty ended those dreams for the foreseeable future; only three of the battlewagons were completed. After a building hiatus of more than a dozen years, the keels were laid for a pair of modern 16-inch battleships, the North Carolina (BB-55), namesake of the two-ship class, and the Washington (BB-56). The ships were commissioned within five weeks of each other in the spring of 1941 and went… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Sep 12

‘Nurse’ in Iconic WWII Kiss Photo Dies

Monday, September 12, 2016 11:46 AM

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(courtesy of Greta Friedman)

Greta Zimmer Friedman, the woman in one of history’s most memorable photographs, passed away on 8 September at age 92 after suffering a number of ailments, according to her family. On 14 August 1945, she was a dental assistant who had wandered into Time Square when news broke of the Japanese surrender. Famed photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photo of Zimmer being kissed by a stranger, Petty Officer First Class George Mendonsa, indelibly captured the celebratory mood in New York City and throughout the country. Many have claimed to be the sailor and the “nurse” in the photograph, but the most thorough study of the impromptu embrace–Lawrence Verria… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Sep 2

Tales from a Tarawa Marine

Friday, September 2, 2016 3:05 PM

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Roy Elrod was a first lieutenant when he led his four-gun 37-mm antitank platoon ashore on Tarawa Atoll's Betio Island.

In the course of my duties as the oral historian for the U.S. Marine Corps History Division, I interview Marines, all ranks and all time periods. I was made aware of Lieutenant Colonel Roy H. Elrod in an unusual manner: through family friends from Muleshoe, Texas. This is where I grew up and, coincidentally, where Roy grew up, but about 30 years apart. Now Roy and I live within five miles of each other, but more than 1,500 miles from Muleshoe, in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I was quite impressed when I met Roy. Here he was 93 years old; he lived… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Aug 12

The Great Naval Act of 1916

Friday, August 12, 2016 3:27 PM

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President Woodrow Wilson addresses a crowd in January 1916 during the period he was lobbying hard for his naval-expansion legislation. (Library of Congress)

  A century ago President Woodrow Wilson signed into law what at the time was the largest expansion of the U.S. Navy. In previous years, Congress had generally appropriated, say, two battleships and a destroyer flotilla, which left the Navy lobbying in vain for the cruisers that the battleships needed to scout for them. Now, at one stroke, Capitol Hill and President Wilson promised the service 10 battleships, 6 battleship-sized battle cruisers, 10 light cruisers, 50 destroyers, and 30 submarines, plus lesser ships. The origins of the act are traced to pressures generated by World War I. As a major… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Aug 4

The Founding of the WAVES

Thursday, August 4, 2016 12:01 AM

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Captain Mildred McAfee, USNR. U.S. Naval Institute

On July 30th, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law legislation that authorized the U.S. Navy to accept women into the Naval Reserve as commissioned officers. These were the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service — the WAVES. The WAVES were led by Captain Mildred McAfee (1900-1994). Prior to the war she was President of Wellesley College. She commanded over 82,000 women in her role as director of the WAVES, helped found the Coast Guard’s SPAR program, and received the Navy Distinguished Service Medal for her service. She married Dr. Rev. Douglas Horton after the war. In the early… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jul 28

Photographer’s Mate at Work

Thursday, July 28, 2016 12:01 AM

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Alfred J. Sedivi at work on his copy stand. Alfred J. Sedivi Colection, U.S. Naval Institute

Occasionally one will encounter a headline touting a “major archival discovery,” or something of that nature, though some may disagree with that assessment. But discoveries come from synthesizing information in a new way to reveal a certain truth, and in that vein we find today’s post. The Photography Collection of Photographer’s Mate Alfred “Alf” Joseph Sedivi (1915-1945) at the U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive, consists of approximately 1,650 prints donated by Nickie Lancaster, Sedivi’s niece. The collection includes images of the aftermath of the battles on Tinian, Saipan, Guam, Tarawa, and Iwo Jima as well as many showing shipboard life… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jul 26

Model Basins

Tuesday, July 26, 2016 12:01 AM

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Interior of the David Taylor Model Basin showing the two principal towing tanks. The electric carriage in the center is one of four tubular steel carriages used for towing models, 1943.

In an era of computers, it is hard to imagine research of any kind without them? How did the Navy develop new ships before computer simulation? The answer: the experiments done at a model basin. These facilities allow scientists to build ships and airplanes and then put them through real-life conditions to determine how well the crafts will survive. The Navy’s first model basin was the Experimental Model Basin (EMB), built on the Washington Navy Yard in 1899 under the command of David Watson Taylor. The basin was 14 feet deep, 42 feet wide, and 470 feet long, with a… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jul 21

Moon Mission: Quarantine

Thursday, July 21, 2016 9:24 AM

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President Nixon jokes with the astronauts on board Hornet, 24 July 1969. U.S. Naval Institute

This week marks the 47th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, where astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” became the first humans to step foot on the moon and astronaut Michael Collins piloted the command module to and from their destination. Launching from Cape Kennedy on July 16th, 1969, the astronauts splashed down in the North Pacific Ocean on July 24th when they were retrieved by helicopter and brought aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CVS-12) for a successful conclusion of their mission. But then began three weeks of quarantine. At the time, no one could predict with absolute certainty… Read the rest of this entry »