Archive for the 'People' Category

Apr 11

Out of the Jaws of Victory

Monday, April 11, 2016 12:01 AM


Highly decorated for his role in gaining victory over the Japanese at Midway, Captain Miles Browning was defeated by his most implacable enemy--himself. (National Archives)

Like a character in classical tragedy, blessed by the gods with nearly every advantage, Miles Browning also possessed fatal flaws that ultimately brought him down. Endowed with striking looks, high intelligence, slide-rule brain, useful marital connections, exceptional flying ability and the patronage of America’s favorite admiral, Browning seemed perfectly poised to achieve high command as aviation emerged at the cutting edge of naval warfare. And yet, not until his retirement was it deemed safe to raise Browning to flag rank. Historian Samuel E. Morison, who knew him, called Browning “one of the most irascible officers ever to earn a fourth… Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 22

Life as a Dependent

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 12:01 AM


“I say ‘we’ because don’t tell me wives don’t have [duty], too.”—Mary Smith, wife of Commander Roy Campbell Smith Jr., U.S. Navy

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 1

On Naval History’s Scope

Tuesday, March 1, 2016 12:01 AM



On 20 September 1945, two-and-a-half weeks after he’d hosted the formal Japanese surrender on board his flagship, Admiral William F. Halsey Jr. headed for home. Among the many respects paid to the celebrated commander was one he especially treasured. “Your departure leaves all your old comrades of the Pacific war lonesome indeed,” messaged General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. “You carry with you the admiration and affection of every officer and man. May your shadow never decrease.” That was a tall order because “Bull” Halsey had cast an enormous shadow during the conflict. His battle accomplishments were many, but in… Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 10

Extraordinary American

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 3:50 PM


Jack Schiff selflessly dedicated himself to the Navy and related organization even after his death in 1998. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

In many ways, John J. “Jack” Schiff typified that once very large and now rapidly dwindling group of extraordinary Americans that Tom Brokaw so aptly characterized as “the greatest generation.” Like so many of those brave souls in those troubled times when Nazis and Fascists and other monsters roamed the earth, Jack left a promising business in Cincinnati to don his nation’s uniform in March 1942. Because it was not in Jack Schiff’s character to tell others of his achievements, we cannot know the full extent of his contributions to the war effort and can only piece together his service… Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 8

Telling Sea Stories

Friday, January 8, 2016 12:01 AM



I’ve learned some things about writing nonfiction since Adak, the Rescue of Alfa Foxtrot was published by the Naval Institute Press in 2003, the first of what have since become seven books from NIP about maritime history. The first thing I learned since then is that it takes me some 3,300 hours, or the better part of two years, to research and write a 300-page book. This means that the first person my budding story has to interest is me. The second is NIP’s acquisition editor, once Tom Cutler and now Gary Thompson. A second lesson learned is that I… Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 9

‘It Still Takes My Breath Away’

Monday, November 9, 2015 12:01 AM


"During the war, my dad was working in southwestern South Dakota at an ordnance depot on an Army base that held a garrison of Italian prisoners of war. The Army was testing ammunition out on the prairie and storing it there. Those are my earliest memories of the military," recalled Tom Brokaw, pictured in 1944. (Courtesy of Tom Brokaw)

An Interview with Tom Brokaw     Scheduled to deliver the Third Annual Haydn Williams World War II Memorial Legacy Lecture on 10 November at the National Defense University in Washington is Tom Brokaw—certainly no stranger to the U.S. Naval Institute and Naval History magazine. Since joining NBC News in 1966, he has won every major award in broadcast journalism. The former anchor and managing editor of The NBC Nightly News met in Washington with then-Naval History Editor Fred Schultz about how and why he came to write his well-known book The Greatest Generation. Naval History: Since you’ve had no… Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 13

An Admiral’s Letters to His Son

Tuesday, October 13, 2015 2:15 PM



  By Vice Admiral George W. Emery, U.S. Navy (Retired) Admiral Hyman George Rickover, “the father of the nuclear Navy,” demanded stringent safety requirements and a powerful focus on quality standards. When once asked why, he responded: “I have a son. I love my son. I want everything that I do to be so safe that I would be happy to have my son operating it. That’s my fundamental rule.”1 Rickover lived up to those words, making a point to be personally on board during each nuclear-powered ship’s initial sea trials, and by his presence set his demanding stamp of… Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 18

Property of Frank H. Wilson

Thursday, June 18, 2015 8:39 AM


During my first summer at USNI as photo researcher, I made a friend. Actually, this friend does not work here or anywhere else. His name is Frank H. Wilson, a Chief Photographer for the U.S. Navy. Incidentally he served from 1911 to 1945. So yes, he is no longer with us, but he does live on in our archives.

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