Author Archive

Apr 26

'Life was very simple. Very simple'

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 12:01 AM

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Mary Taylor Alger Smith was born on 1 May 1892 and grew up at the U.S. Naval Academy, where her father, Philip R. Alger, a naval officer, was assigned. Below are a few quick excerpts from her descriptions of life at the turn of the 20th century. Despite Mary Smith’s statement that “life was very simple” back then, I think these stories below demonstrate people have not changed: children getting into trouble, girls meeting boys, socializing, dating. Perhaps the things that have changed are our clothes and hairstyles.   Q: How did you arrange a date with a midshipmen if… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 4

100 Years of U.S. Coast Guard Aviation

Monday, April 4, 2016 10:22 AM

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In honor of the 100th Anniversary of U.S. Coast Guard Aviation, we present its history through photos. Lieutenant Elmer Stone arrives at the Naval Aviation School at Pensacola on 1 April, an event the service recognizes as the birth of Coast Guard aviation. Stone piloted the Navy flying boat NC-4 on the first successful airborne crossing of the Atlantic. The Coast Guard used the Chance Vought UO-4 to help catch rumrunners during Prohibition. The service also used the Loening OL-5 to enforce Prohibition along the coast. The Aviation Flying Life Boat PJ-1 specifically was designed for the Coast Guard to… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 22

Life as a Dependent

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 12:01 AM

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Our men and women in uniform are not the only ones who serve their country; the spouses and families of each service member do so as well. John Mason Jr., the former director of the U.S. Naval Institute’s oral history program, interviewed Frances Smalley Mitscher and Mary Taylor Alger Smith to get their side of Navy life in first half of the 20th century. Mary Smith grew up on the U.S. Naval Academy grounds, where she met her future husband, Roy Campbell Smith Jr., who was a midshipman. They married on 1 August 1912 when he was an ensign. Over… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 8

H.H. Jalbert

Tuesday, March 8, 2016 12:01 AM

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One of the perks of being a photo researcher is getting to interact with professionals at museums and news agencies around the world. To find inspiration for my blog posts, I scour the USNI Archives for forgotten photo albums or unusual images. In January I discovered an album belonging to H. H. Jalbert of the Naval Air Station in Queenstown, Ireland, during World War I. It appeared to be missing three photos, which had been kept by the donor D. M. Jalbert—a family member, perhaps? Later that month, I found a collection of photos of the Naval Oil Reserve in… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 22

Oil & Politics: Harding’s Watergate

Monday, February 22, 2016 12:01 AM

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Teapot Dome, Wyoming, was once the location of a naval oil field—and the name of a forgotten 1920s political scandal that took place there. The naval oil reserves were exactly that: petroleum reserved specifically for the Navy. However, when President Warren G. Harding nominated Senator Albert Fall as Secretary of the Interior, this changed. Fall convinced President Harding to transfer ownership from the Navy to his department, and then abused his position to allow two oil men, Edward Doheny and Harry Sinclair, to drill there in exchange for substantial bribes. Their illegal arrangement was eventually discovered and the property was… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 8

A Lack of Seatbelt Saves a Life

Monday, February 8, 2016 12:01 AM

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Colgate W. Darden, a U.S. Navy aviator during World War I, received his wings in 1918 and went to France as a Marine Corps flier. Shortly before the end of the war, he was involved in a terrible plane accident. He was sitting in the rear of a De Havilland DH-4 with pilot and Medal of Honor recipient Second Lieutenant Ralph Talbot (USMCR) on 25 October 1918. Darden, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was flung from the airplane, which burst into flames, killing Talbot. Below is an excerpt from Darden’s oral history conducted by Dr. John T. Mason in… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 12

Naval Air Station Queenstown, Ireland 1918

Tuesday, January 12, 2016 12:01 AM

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Located in the U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive is a record of a long-forgotten naval base, a naval aviation base to be precise. Perhaps the reason Naval Air Station Queenstown—situated at Aghada, four miles from Queenstown (present-day Cobh), Ireland, in County Cork—was forgotten is because it existed for less than a year. Established in 1918, after the United States had entered World War I, the antisubmarine base closed a few months after Armistice Day. Queenstown was one of four naval air stations the United States established in Ireland under the command of Navy Commander Francis McCrary. It consisted of six… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Dec 29

Spies???

Tuesday, December 29, 2015 12:01 AM

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While reading through Captain Collins Oral History, many stories stuck out to me. Her induction into the WAVES, becoming regular Navy, dealing with a Navy not prepared for women, but out of all those wonderful stories, the excerpt below is perhaps on the funniest I read. She explains to Paul Stillwell from USNI how she was introduced to Admiral Halsey while stationed in Hawaii during World War II.   A multimillionaire businessman from Denver gave the women officers a beautiful home at Kailua. It’s across the Pali from Pearl Harbor and right on the beach. It was a gorgeous place…. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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