Author Archive

Dec 6

The Sinking of the USS Nevada (BB-36)

Thursday, December 6, 2018 12:01 AM

By

Captain Charles J. Merdinger, CEC, USN (Retired)

On the morning of 7 December 1941, then-Ensign Charles Merdinger awoke to alarms and stepped through his socks in his haste to get to his battle station on board the battleship USS Nevada (BB-36) when she was bombed at Pearl Harbor. In this audio clip, Captain Merdinger gives a vivid account of the near-disastrous situation he found himself in while in the sinking Nevada‘s plotting room during the attack.   To read more about the Naval Institute Oral History Program, go to https://www.usni.org/heritage/oral-history-catalog.  

 
Nov 6

Damage Control on the USS Houston (CL-81)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 8:24 AM

By

RADM George H. Miller

In this selection, future RADM George H. Miller recounts the torpedoing of the USS Houston (CL-81) in October of 1944, off the coast of Formosa, Japan. Miller, then a damage control officer, describes a harrowing attack, leaving the ship severely damaged and flooding rapidly. While assessing the damage, Miller determined the ship had “more water on board in comparison with our displacement than any other ship that survived in World War II.” Miller’s early years in the Navy included service in the USS California (BB-44), Tuscaloosa (CA-37), Zane (DD-337), Goff (DD-247), Gilmer (DD-233), St. Louis (DD-233), and Houston (CL-81). Miller was XO of the Houston the latter period of the war. Later tours were:… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 4

House Armed Service Committee 1949 B-36 Investigation

Thursday, October 4, 2018 12:01 AM

By

Vice Admiral William I. Martin, U. S. Navy (Retired)

In this selection, Vice Admiral William I. Martin recounts his involvement in the the House Armed Services Committee’s B-36 investigation. The investigation went beyond the issue of B-36 procurement to include the issue of national defense strategy and unification of American air defense. Commander Martin was sent to Washington, D.C., by Admiral Arthur W. Radford to assist in picking the technical panel and testify against the B-36 becoming the primary offensive aircraft for the United States. Two of the main contributions of this oral history are in describing Admiral Martin’s work as a naval aviation pioneer, particularly in the area… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Sep 20

Operation Brushwood: Allied landings at Fedala, Morocco

Thursday, September 20, 2018 12:01 AM

By

Admiral Merlin O'Neill, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired)

  In this selection from Admiral O’Neill’s second interview at his home in Lusby, Maryland, on 4 April 1970, he describes some of his experiences in Operation Brushwood, the Allied landings at Fedala, Morocco, which formed part of the larger effort to capture Casablanca as part of Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa, in November 1942. In 1921 O’Neill graduated from the Coast Guard Academy after a three-year shortened course resulting from World War I. In the 1920s he served in several cutters during the anti-rumrunner patrols of the Prohibition era: the USCGC Gresham (WPG-85), Haida (WPG-45), Algonquin (WPG-75), and Mojave (WPG-47). In 1925-27 he was executive… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Aug 2

Founding the WAVES

Thursday, August 2, 2018 12:01 AM

By

Captain Mildred McAfee Horton. Courtesy of NHHC.

  On 3 August 1942, Mildred McAfee (later Mildred McAfee Horton) was commissioned as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Naval Reserves, making her the first female line officer in the U.S. Navy. Future Captain McAfee was the president of Wellesley College when she was recruited to become the first director of the newly established WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). In this excerpt, Captain McAfee discusses how she became involved with the WAVES and her early introduction to rank.     To read more about the Naval Institute Oral History Program, go to https://www.usni.org/heritage/oral-history-catalog.  

 
Jul 3

The Ship That Would Not Die

Tuesday, July 3, 2018 12:01 AM

By

Captain Frank A. Manson

Frank Manson was commissioned in the Naval Reserve in 1942 and went through the naval training school at Ithaca, New York, before he transferred to the regular Navy on 7 May 1947. He attained the rank of captain before retiring on 1 January 1969. Ordered to duty afloat in 1944, Manson joined the USS Laffey (DD-724). On 16 April 1945, the Laffey suffered heavy casualties following a concentrated Japanese aerial attack in which she was struck by bombs and kamikaze attacks. For services in the Laffey, Manson received a letter of commendation, with authorization to wear the commendation ribbon with combat “V,” and… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jun 5

LCDR Wesley Brown, the First African American Graduate of the USNA

Tuesday, June 5, 2018 12:01 AM

By

Lieutenant Commander Wesley Brown, Civil Engineer Corps, U.S. Navy (Retired)

  This oral history is particularly noteworthy, because it provides personal recollections from the first African-American graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Brown entered the Academy in 1945, a century after the institution was founded, and graduated in 1949. A handful of black midshipmen had previously been appointed to the school in Annapolis, but all were either pushed out or left of their own volition prior to graduation. Brown spent his youth in Washington, D.C., where he attended segregated Dunbar High and had part-time jobs working for the Navy and Howard University. He was able to succeed at the Naval Academy through a combination… Read the rest of this entry »

 
May 1

Blue Angels Skipper, Captain Arthur R. Hawkins, USN (Ret.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018 12:01 AM

By

Future Captain Arthur R. Hawkins, USN (Ret.)

In this U.S. Naval Institute oral history excerpt, Captain Hawkins speaks about his becoming the first man to perform a through-the-canopy ejection from a jet aircraft on 4 August 1953, when his aircraft, an F9F-6 Cougar of the Blue Angels, encountered trouble at 42,000 feet. After enlisting in the Naval Reserve in April 1942, Hawkins went through cadet training in Texas prior to being designated a naval aviator and commissioned in January 1943. During World War II, as a fighter pilot in VF-31, he flew in combat from the light carriers USS Cabot (CVL-28) and Belleau Wood (CVL-24). In all, he shot down 14 Japanese aircraft. He… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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