Archive for the 'Oral History' Category

Aug 7

Commencing the Attack on Guadalcanal

Tuesday, August 7, 2018 2:00 PM

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Marine forces training for an amphibious landing prior to the beginning of the Guadalcanal campaign.  (Photo: USNI Archive)

On 7 August 1942 the Allied forces began their first major counter-offensive against the Japanese at Guadalcanal. Since Pearl Harbor the U.S. had spent most their time recovering from the attack and re-building the badly damaged Pacific fleet. One high-poin, however, were the highly successful attacks known as “Doolittle’s Raids.” This “lull” in activity ended with the invasion of Guadalcanal. Code-named “Operation Watchtower,” Marines conducted a surprise raid of their primary target, the airfield, and quickly established a presence that allowed troops to arrive on the island. The initial invasion was such a surprise that the first Marines encountered little resistance…. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Aug 2

Founding the WAVES

Thursday, August 2, 2018 12:01 AM

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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

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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

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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

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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 »

 
Mar 6

Meeting “Butch” O’Hare

Tuesday, March 6, 2018 12:01 AM

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Admiral John S. "Jimmy" Thach, USN (Ret.) (1905-1981)

In this excerpt from his 1970 Oral History Interview with CDR Etta-Belle Kitchen, USN (Ret.), then-Admiral Thach recounts his first first meeting with future Medal of Honor recipient and fighter ace Edward Henry “Butch” O’Hare in 1940. The complete oral history is a delightfully told memoir from the man who was probably the Navy’s foremost fighter plane tactician of World War II. He is best known as the inventor of the “Thach Weave,” whereby U.S. fighters could successfully combat Japanese Zeros. Thach tells of devising the maneuver at home with kitchen matches. In a series of enjoyable tales, Thach describes his Naval Academy… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 6

Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate Carl Maxie Brashear, the U.S. Navy’s First African American Master Diver

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 12:01 AM

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Master Chief Boatswain's Mate Carl M. Brashear, USN (Ret.) (1931-2006)

Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate Carl Maxie Brashear (1931-2006) used a rare combination of grit, determination, and persistence to overcome formidable hurdles to become the first black master diver in the U.S. Navy. His race was an obstacle, as were his origin on a sharecropper’s farm in rural Kentucky and the modest amount of education he received there. But these were not his greatest challenges. He was held back by an even bigger factor: In 1966 his left leg was amputated just below the knee because he was badly injured on a salvage operation. After the amputation, the Navy sought to… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 3

Captain Howard J. Kerr Jr., USN (Retired) on Admiral Zumwalt’s Z-grams

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 12:01 AM

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Captain Howard J. Kerr Jr., U.S. Navy (Retired)

In this selection, Captain Kerr speaks about the impact Admiral Zumwalt’s Z-grams had among his crew. Kerr was an aide to Admiral Zumwalt as Commander U.S. Naval Forces Vietnam and commanding officer of the USS Hawkins (DD-873), a unit of the “Mod Squad”–a Zumwalt concept to give more junior officers greater responsibility. Kerr gave two interviews in September and November 1982. The transcript contains 164 pages. Captain Howard J. Kerr Jr.’s interview is one of five contained in the first of a series of volumes containing interviews with officers who served closely with Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr. These interviews were conducted… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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