In the course of my duties as the oral historian for the U.S. Marine Corps History Division, I interview Marines, all ranks and all time periods. I was made aware of Lieutenant Colonel Roy H. Elrod in an unusual manner: through family friends from Muleshoe, Texas. This is where I grew up and, coincidentally, where Roy grew up, but about 30 years apart. Now Roy and I live within five miles of each other, but more than 1,500 miles from Muleshoe, in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I was quite impressed when I met Roy. Here he was 93 years old; he lived… Read the rest of this entry »
A century ago President Woodrow Wilson signed into law what at the time was the largest expansion of the U.S. Navy. In previous years, Congress had generally appropriated, say, two battleships and a destroyer flotilla, which left the Navy lobbying in vain for the cruisers that the battleships needed to scout for them. Now, at one stroke, Capitol Hill and President Wilson promised the service 10 battleships, 6 battleship-sized battle cruisers, 10 light cruisers, 50 destroyers, and 30 submarines, plus lesser ships. The origins of the act are traced to pressures generated by World War I. As a major… Read the rest of this entry »
On July 30th, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law legislation that authorized the U.S. Navy to accept women into the Naval Reserve as commissioned officers. These were the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service — the WAVES. The WAVES were led by Captain Mildred McAfee (1900-1994). Prior to the war she was President of Wellesley College. She commanded over 82,000 women in her role as director of the WAVES, helped found the Coast Guard’s SPAR program, and received the Navy Distinguished Service Medal for her service. She married Dr. Rev. Douglas Horton after the war. In the early… Read the rest of this entry »
Occasionally one will encounter a headline touting a “major archival discovery,” or something of that nature, though some may disagree with that assessment. But discoveries come from synthesizing information in a new way to reveal a certain truth, and in that vein we find today’s post. The Photography Collection of Photographer’s Mate Alfred “Alf” Joseph Sedivi (1915-1945) at the U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive, consists of approximately 1,650 prints donated by Nickie Lancaster, Sedivi’s niece. The collection includes images of the aftermath of the battles on Tinian, Saipan, Guam, Tarawa, and Iwo Jima as well as many showing shipboard life… Read the rest of this entry »
In an era of computers, it is hard to imagine research of any kind without them? How did the Navy develop new ships before computer simulation? The answer: the experiments done at a model basin. These facilities allow scientists to build ships and airplanes and then put them through real-life conditions to determine how well the crafts will survive. The Navy’s first model basin was the Experimental Model Basin (EMB), built on the Washington Navy Yard in 1899 under the command of David Watson Taylor. The basin was 14 feet deep, 42 feet wide, and 470 feet long, with a… Read the rest of this entry »
This week marks the 47th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, where astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” became the first humans to step foot on the moon and astronaut Michael Collins piloted the command module to and from their destination. Launching from Cape Kennedy on July 16th, 1969, the astronauts splashed down in the North Pacific Ocean on July 24th when they were retrieved by helicopter and brought aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CVS-12) for a successful conclusion of their mission. But then began three weeks of quarantine. At the time, no one could predict with absolute certainty… Read the rest of this entry »
On a quiet scientific survey in the fall of 2014, one of the mysteries of the U.S. Navy was solved. The discovery of a deteriorating hulk of a ship in just 189 feet of water, 27 miles outside of San Francisco’s Golden Gate, resolved the question of what had happened and where lay the wreck of the USS Conestoga (AT-54), one of only 18 U.S. Navy ships that disappeared, never to be seen again in the years before World War II.
Please enjoy a small selection of Maryland Lighthouses from the U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive. Like those from Virginia, many have guarded the coast since the beginning of our nation. President John Quincy Adams appointed Concord Point Lighthouse’s first keeper, John O’Neill, on November 3, 1827. The O’Neill family continued serving in that capacity on and off until the light was automated in 1919, eliminating the need for a keeper. The Coast Guard maintained control until 1975, when the lighthouse was decommissioned. The Friends of Concord Point Lighthouse formed in 1979 to save and restore the historic structure, which… Read the rest of this entry »