Archive for the 'Oral History' Category

May 7

Presidential Escort to Alaska

Thursday, May 7, 2020 12:00 AM

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VADM Bernhard H. Bieri Sr., USN (Ret.)

  VADM Bieri graduated from the Naval Academy in 1911. Between 1911 and 1919, he served in the USS Delaware (BB-28), Nashville (PG-7), Montana (ACR-13), Virginia (BB-13), and Texas (BB-35). Among his further assignments were duty as aide to Rear Admiral Augustus Fechteler; command of the USS Bailey (DD-269) and Destroyer Division 29; sonic survey of the West Coast in the USS Hull (DD-330); survey of the Alaskan cable from Seattle to Seward; various staff duties; and command of the heavy cruiser USS Chicago (CL-29). He was on the staff of Admiral Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet. After World War II, as a vice admiral, Bieri commanded the Tenth Fleet in the… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 2

Impact of the Writings of Captain Edward L. Beach Sr.

Thursday, April 2, 2020 12:01 AM

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Rear Admiral Walter C Ansel, USN (Ret.)

  In this excerpt from his oral history, Read Admiral Ansel tells of how he was profoundly influenced to attend the Naval Academy and pursue a naval career by the writings of Captain Edward L. Beach Sr. — who, along with his son and namesake, is whom the Naval Institute’s headquarters, Beach Hall, is named after. Both Captain Beach Sr. and son Ned Beach were inextricably linked to the Institute throughout its history, and both embodied the Naval Institute ideal encoded in its insignia: the pen and the sword. A 1918 graduate of the Naval Academy, Admiral Ansel served on… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 2

The Sinking of the BB Kongo during WWII

Thursday, January 2, 2020 12:01 AM

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Vice Admiral Eli T. Reich, USN (Ret.)

  In this excerpt, Vice Admiral Eli T. Reich recounts the 21 November 1944 sinking of the Japanese battleship BB Kongo by the USS Sealion (SS-315). This excerpt comes from Volume I of Vice Admiral Reich’s oral history and covers his career prior to 1963. He graduated from submarine school in 1939 and was assigned to the first USS Sealion (SS-195). In Manila in December 1941, he was lunching on a ship in the harbor when the Sealion (which he had left moments before) was demolished by Japanese bombs. His descriptions of submarine experience in the Pacific and Sea of… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Aug 1

Vietnam Era NROTC Programs

Thursday, August 1, 2019 12:01 AM

By

A. Prentice Kenyon

In this audio excerpt from his oral history, Mr. Kenyon describes how many of the leading institutions of higher learning severed their ties with Navy ROTC during the turbulent Vietnam War years, and how “We had some rough conversations with the school administrations at that time.” Mr. Kenyon retired in 1973 after serving the Navy since 1941, first as an officer and later as a civil servant. In this memoir, he reviews the history of education and training in the Navy, organization within the Navy, transition from old to the current systems, some problems encountered along the way, teaching tools,… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jun 11

VADM Thomas Weschler's Recollections of ADM Arleigh Burke

Tuesday, June 11, 2019 12:01 AM

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Vice Admiral Thomas R. Weschler

In this excerpt, Weschler provides insights into Admiral Arleigh A. Burke’s personality and working style. Weschler was not commissioned at the time of his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1939 because he did not meet the vision standards. Instead, he became a merchant marine officer and served until joining the Naval Reserve in 1941 and being recalled to active duty. He taught briefly at the Naval Academy, then served in the carrier USS Wasp (CV-7), and was on board when she was torpedoed and sunk in September 1942. He was selected as the first personal aide for Admiral… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 25

Remembering the First U.S. Pilot Shot Down in the Vietnam War

Wednesday, October 25, 2017 12:01 AM

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The Ken Burns documentary series on the Vietnam War generated a variety of responses, both positive and negative. Above all, it has rekindled the public’s interest in and awareness of a conflict that defined a generation. The U.S. Naval Institute Oral History Collection includes the memoirs of several Vietnam War POWs—including that of Commander Everett Alvarez Jr., USN (Ret.), the first U.S. pilot shot down in the Vietnam War. Based on two interviews conducted by Etta-Belle Kitchen in March 1976, Alvarez’s oral history contains 134 pages of interview transcript plus an index and appendix.   On 5 August 1964, Alvarez… 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 »

 
Jan 22

So You Want to Interview a Kamikaze

Friday, January 22, 2016 12:01 AM

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The call came to our headquarters at the Naval Academy’s Preble Hall in mid-1995. It was retired Navy Captain Bill Horn, asking whether I’d be interested in an interview with a Japanese kamikaze from World War II. Without logically pondering the idea, I blurted out “Of course!” Then it slowly began to sink in. Bill Horn is an intelligent and knowledgeable guy, but I wondered whether somehow he simply had been tricked by a crank caller. If this person were indeed a kamikaze, I wondered, how could he be alive to tell the tale? Captain Horn had the answer. At… Read the rest of this entry »