BOOK REVIEW – The Sea in History

Christian Buchet, editor.  The Sea in History.  Suffolk, UK: Martlesham, Boydell & Brewer, Inc., 2017.  3424 pp (4 volumes, tables, maps; scholarly notes; bibliographies; photographs and line illustrations)

Review By Dr. Timothy D. Walker
Professor of History; University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Considered collectively, this abundant new four-volume work, coordinated by chief editor Christian Buchet, represents an extraordinary achievement for the field of maritime history, precisely because it manages to consistently demonstrate the fundamental significance of the sea at all stages of human history, and to connect the development of civilizations around the world to the use of ocean resources in a rich variety of ways. The project’s ambitious goal is to provide a comprehensive summary of humankind’s maritime endeavors through the recorded past, on a global scale. This the project does admirably well, in an engaging manner that is intellectually inspiring, reflective, as well as deeply informative.  The editors have assembled new commissioned works by top historians working in maritime history and related fields, including archaeology and anthropology. These scholars, under the direction of the editorial team, have used an innovative all-embracing approach to assess the importance of the sea and convincingly link human endeavors on the oceans to all dimensions and eras of world history.

This exceptional collection covers a broad range of maritime topics with a comparative approach, assessing the core subject matter in diverse historical and cultural contexts. Thus, the volumes succeed in providing a valuable resource for scholars, especially those unfamiliar with the significance of the sea in history, who may wish to add a maritime dimension to their studies or course lectures. Within the confines of a brief review, it is difficult to convey the breadth and richness of this project’s offerings. Each of the four volumes includes between 43 and 75 chapters (255 in total), each averaging approximately twelve pages. Subjects considered include the development of shipbuilding and navigation techniques, mariners as a specialized social and labor class, ocean resources as an objective for economic exploitation, the evolution of maritime law, piracy as a global phenomenon, the economics of maritime endeavors, and the singular characteristics of distinctive maritime communities. Particularly gratifying is the number of new maps and charts commissioned to support many of the texts; often these present unfamiliar regions, or convey novel perspectives that will enhance the knowledge of any reader.

Publication of The Sea in History is the culmination and product of an ambitious five-year collaborative international project called Océanides, begun in March 2012, the principle objective of which has been to “provide scientific evidence of the key role seas and oceans have played in human evolution, culture and history.” The decision to offer a bilingual publication that approaches maritime history with chapters in French and English is a welcome one, as ultimately it broadens the potential readership and the geographic impact of the work in regions beyond those that are solely Francophone or Anglophone.

Christian Buchet and his team have produced a compelling new work of scholarship, important for its innovative framing of maritime history on a global scale by exploring the multiple ways that the sea has influenced and contributed significantly to world history. Buchet is a Professor of Maritime History at the Catholic University of Paris, where he founded the Centre d ‘études de la mer. He was the scientific director of the Océanides project. His prior research and publications focus on the interactions between the sea, human societies, and economic activity.

The framework of the set proceeds chronologically, and casts a broad narrative net.  The Sea in History opens with a consideration of recent historiographical trends and theories regarding the role of the oceans in world history, and poses a series of broadly applicable historical questions around which the text is organized, forming a theoretical core. In general, the writing is strong; this highly erudite collection showcases the contributing authors’ decades of teaching and writing related to this subject, and creates a continuous historical narrative from pre-history to contemporary times.

Volume one, The Sea in History – The Ancient World, is edited by Philip de Souza (University College, Dublin), Pascal Arnaud (University of Lyon II and the Institut Universitaire de France). In its introductory capacity for the set, this volume covers a broad range geographically and culturally, starting with tentative prehistoric seaborne endeavors and proceeding through classical civilizations in the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia. The Americas, Africa, and Asia are not neglected; chapters function as a series of case studies, discussing such matters as human migration by water in different parts of the globe, key ancient port cities and commercial routes, war at sea in classical times, and the rise of ancient fishing fleets. In this volume, 18 of the chapters are in French; 25 are presented in English.

The second volume, The Sea in History – The Medieval World, edited by Michel Balard, emeritus professor at the University of Paris (Sorbonne), takes the reader from the final days of imperial Rome to the end of the sixteenth century.  Through an examination of seafaring peoples like the Vikings, the Hanseatic States, the Venetians, Genoans, and Normans, this volume demonstrates the centrality of the sea to the economy and livelihood of many medieval states and peoples taking a genuinely inclusive global approach, with chapters surveying maritime endeavors in Africa, across the Americas, East and Southeast Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean. The volume is particularly strong in its consideration of the Vikings as a force of cultural and technological dissemination; evolving nautical technology (especially shipbuilding in various geographic and cultural contexts), and its detailed examination of the short-lived era of Chinese maritime exploration in the fifteenth century. In this weighty volume there are 73 separate contributions, 39 of which are written in English, while 34 are in French.

Volume three focuses on The Early Modern World, and is edited by Gérard le Bouëdec (emeritus professor at the University of South Brittany) and Christian Buchet.  It contains 42 French language contributions and 33 in English.  Beginning in the era of key voyages of exploration by Columbus and da Gama, this volume carries the story of the sea through the Napoleonic Wars and the pinnacle of the Age of Sail. Central to this tome is the development of European maritime trade routes and colonial empires maintained by sea, first focused on ports and markets in Asia, but in time creating the dynamic seaborne economy of the Atlantic World. The editors have skillfully highlighted the fundamental role of seaborne activity during this period in changing the world profoundly, not only through geographic movement of peoples (whether willingly or forced), animals, and plants (the dynamics of the Columbian Exchange), but also through the global dissemination of languages and basic social concepts about religion and government. Additional topics include essential developments in maritime technology — navigation, shipbuilding, and the development of port facilities globally. Mercantilism, of course, takes a lead role in this story; multiple chapters describe the broad impact of transoceanic trade in key commodities like Asian spices and textiles, wine, plantation-grown sugar and tobacco, and the enslaved peoples required for colonial labor. One notable lacuna, however, is the lack of consideration in this volume of the dire cardinal problem that, as voyage distances increased, all early modern mariners faced:  maintaining health at sea.

The fourth volume, The Sea in History – The Modern World, edited by N. A. M. Rodger (All Souls College; University of Oxford), carries the narrative into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when developments in maritime technology allowed for the unprecedented global pursuit of seaborne trade, and the projection of force — circumstances that often led to confrontation and conflict.  Unsurprisingly, sea power, strategic planning, and the evolving logistics of commerce and warfare in the modern era are central themes here — including useful incisive perspectives from second-tier or late-developing maritime powers like Portugal, Denmark, and China. In the context of examining modern fishing fleets, this volume concludes with a very timely discussion about sustainable ocean resources and the impact of climate change on the seas. The majority of this volume’s chapters (58 of 64 total) are presented in English.

A project of this size and scope is bound to have some drawbacks, and there are a few that should be noted, due to the practical effect that these factors will have in using this collection as a research tool. First, there is no comprehensive bibliography for the project; instead, each individual chapter may have its own organized list of cited sources — some have them, while others do not. Further, there is no uniform system of citation footnotes; there are significant variances in documentation format from one chapter to another. Ultimately, these blemishes alone are not ruinous, and are no doubt a byproduct of how the editorial team commissioned contributions, recruiting diverse international scholars from disparate academic cultures. This lack of editorial coordination of the format of the scholarly apparatus is more than compensated by the value of including exceptionally varied historiographical perspectives. However, the lack of a comprehensive index (either for the set or in the individual volumes) is a more serious matter, as it will create a significant challenge for future researchers. While readers will find much here to enrich their understanding of the maritime dimensions of global history and the seas’ impact on the world — Buchet and company have undoubtedly created a profoundly useful resource and teaching text for global studies — that said, one hopes that this particular shortcoming may be corrected in subsequent editions of the work.

One final matter that bears mentioning is the overall production quality of the volumes — their printing and binding. Unfortunately, the imprint of the pages is occasionally uneven, with the photo-reproduction of several text sections appearing significantly lighter on some pages than others. The paper quality is mediocre, and in the copies provided for this review there was a problem with some of the pages not being well cut or aligned; nor are all of the page signatures bound evenly into the bindings. Considering this set of scholarly books retails at $780.00 USD ($195.00 per volume), buyers might reasonably expect a higher quality of printing and binding. In subsequent editions, Boydell & Brewer would do well to address the concerns raised here.

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BOOK REVIEW – The U.S. Navy: A Concise History

Craig L. Symonds, The U.S. Navy: A Concise History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. 136 pp.

Review by Jason W. Smith, PhD
Southern Connecticut State University

It is often a pleasure to read short books, and Craig Symonds’ The U.S. Navy: A Concise History does not disappoint. Symonds, professor emeritus at the United States Naval Academy, is an eminent scholar of naval history whose work has focused primarily on the navies of the American Civil War, but has also ranged from his earliest Navalists and Anti-Navalists (1980) about naval policy in the Jeffersonian era to a reconsideration of the Battle of Midway (2011). Here, he brings his pen to bear on a work of short synthesis, tracing the Navy’s many wartime expansions and peacetime contractions within the larger transformation of a force designed to protect, promote, and sometimes raid maritime commerce to one structured at the turn of the twentieth century by the imperatives of empire and a more muscular vision for the United States in the world. Symonds contends that the history of the U.S. Navy is not one of unabated growth and power, but rather, in his metaphor, a “sine wave . . . oscillating dramatically between periods of quiet torpor and moments of frenetic expansion” (pg. ix).

Symonds proceeds chronologically from the birth of the Continental Navy to the 2014 commissioning of the Navy’s newest Zumwalt class destroyer. He gives readers a balanced treatment of naval combat and peacetime flag-showing alongside questions of administration, technology, strategic thought, and social history, placing all within a brief, but useful political, military, diplomatic, and cultural context. This is no small feat as Symonds deftly consigns to a page or paragraph topics that have merited whole books—some of which he himself has written. Symonds is painting in broad strokes, and he does it well. The cast of characters should be familiar to naval historians. Barbary corsairs and Old Ironsides, Matthew C. Perry and Matthew F. Maury, Luce, Mahan, Sims, and Nimitz, guerre de course and sea power, Operation Market Time and Operation Praying Mantis, Symonds hits the important people and the significant moments with an eye for salience and for big questions of significance. He seems particularly interested in identifying evolutionary change within the service in technology, geopolitics, and culture—by which he means the social demographics and experience of the officer corps and enlisted personnel. How did the U.S Navy evolve from “a handful of small sailing craft to the juggernaut of today?” Symonds wonders (pg. ix). The answer, he suggests, is to be found in the confluence of these technological, social, and geopolitical factors over time.

Symonds is not the first to ask such questions, nor is he the first to answer them in now-familiar ways. The book joins Kenneth J. Hagan’s fine This People’s Navy (1991) and his edited volume In Peace and War (1978), Robert W. Love’s two-volume History of the United States Navy (1992), E.B. Potter’s Sea Power (1960), and James Bradford’s new edited volume America, Sea Power, and the World (2016) as the most significant works of synthesis in the field. With the exception of the latter, these books are all at least a quarter century old—in Potter’s case, much older—and so it is perhaps no surprise that 2016 saw the publication of two new works that concern the general history of the American navy.

Symonds’ book is especially welcome in that it moves the narrative forward another generation. Of this most recent era, Symonds argues, the Navy became “the global cop on the beat: quelling pirates, chasing smugglers, deterring terrorists, and occasionally extending a humanitarian helping hand” (pg. 116). Conspicuous for its absence in this era, of course, is naval war in its conventional Mahanian sense. Operation Praying Mantis, in which the U.S. Navy and Marines destroyed surface elements of the Iranian Navy and occupied several oil platforms in the Persian Gulf in April 1988, is the exception that proves the rule. Symonds warns his readers that from the final years of the Cold War to the present, “the United States confronted the reality that great military power did not translate into the ability to control events” (pg. 106). A navy unrivalled in its dominance, nevertheless finds itself in some ways ill-equipped to meet a multiplicity of post-Cold War threats in an era of new strategic and fiscal realities.

With the exception of this final chapter, Symonds is plying waters well-sounded by previous syntheses. Unique in its brevity, A Concise History nevertheless hardly deviates from the traditional course of naval historiography. While Symonds in some ways echoes Hagan’s emphasis on the endurance of brown water and commerce-raiding operations, at other points he appears quintessentially Mahanian in seeming to lament postwar contractions. He characterizes the period after the Civil War, for example, long known by naval historians as “the Doldrums” or “the Dark Ages” as “an era of swift retrenchment with little forward progress” (pg. 55). The commissioning of Texas and Maine, which naval historians often cite as one beginning of the New Steel Navy of the 1890s, is, to Symonds, “another false dawn,” citing the vessels’ small size, limited range, and design for coastal operations (pg. 59). The reader can’t help but sense that for Symonds, like many others, the period between the Civil War and the Spanish-American War was one of regrettable decline, examined with a sort of historiographical impatience anticipating the arrival of an American naval renaissance. While Symonds is correct that the Navy lost the technological edge seized during the Civil War and that many naval officers chafed at slow promotion through the ranks, he seems to ignore the compelling argument made by Hagan in American Gunboat Diplomacy and the Old Navy (1973) and echoed in This People’s Navy, in particular, that the Navy’s size and its force structure in this era generally met the needs of the nation at the time. Whether Symonds agrees or not, some acknowledgement of these interpretations and some inclusion of newer work by John Sumida on Mahan (1997), by Katherine Epstein on torpedoes and a turn-of-the-century military-industrial complex (2014), or James Rentfrow on the origins of fleet operations in the North Atlantic Squadron (2014) would acknowledge the ways historians’ understanding of the Navy’s history has been revised or enriched in recent years.

One area in which this book excels over earlier works like it is in its treatment of the Navy’s social or cultural history. Where earlier general histories of the Navy have focused mainly on operations, administration, and questions of technology and strategy, Symonds also keeps his eye on the demographic, social, and cultural changes of its officers and enlisted personnel and their experience over time. There are some wonderful moments in the book where Symonds takes readers into Olympia’s fire rooms during the Battle of Manila Bay (pg. 63) or into the cockpits of “giddy” dive bomber pilots at the Battle of Midway (pg. 81). Such moments showcase Symonds’ unique talent for storytelling that, by the nature of a book like this, can only shine too briefly. This book, in fact, makes an excellent companion to Symonds’ Decision at Sea (2006), in which the author is able to develop these page-turning narratives in greater depth.

Still, Symonds might have gone farther within the parameters of this brief introduction to include a deeper incorporation of blacks, other racial and ethnic minorities, and women. To read this book and scan its index—like many other books in this field—is to read a history of white men. Part of this, of course, is inescapable, and Symonds does go to some lengths to include women and African Americans, in particular. Nevertheless, these groups appear more as a faceless and nameless social group than as individuals relative to the many male officers, listed above, who constitute the Navy’s main figures. Among the many white men astride quarterdeck and bridge, Symonds briefly mentions the pilot and astronaut Wendy Phillips. He might also have included, for example, Nancy Harkness Love, Grace Hopper, Wesley Brown, and Michelle Howard, among others.

Among a few minor errors in this book, one worth bringing to the readers’ attention is the image on page 86, which, according to the caption, shows Curtiss Helldivers aboard USS Yorktown. They are, rather, P-47 Thunderbolts aboard USS Casablanca enroute from California to Guam in July 1945. One wonders how that oversight escaped both Symonds and the editor’s scrutiny.

Altogether, this is a well-crafted, useful little book. It succeeds brilliantly in distilling a long, complicated history of American naval affairs without sacrificing too much to the demands of brevity. While Symonds might have missed opportunities to say more about new scholarship and, in particular, about the individual contributions of women, African Americans, and others, such criticisms must be partly tempered by the very nature of this book and its aims. The U.S. Navy: A Concise History will be a necessary addition to the shelves of naval, military, and maritime historians. The book’s succinct structure will make it useful in the classrooms of service academies, Professional Military Education, and civilian institutions. While the story Symonds tells here will be familiar to naval historians, the book should serve as the standard primer to undergraduates, military officers and enlisted personnel, and policy-makers seeking to know something about the Navy’s past.

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BOOK REVIEW – The Silent Deep: The Royal Navy Submarine Service since 1945

Peter Hennessy and James Jinks, The Silent Deep. The Royal Navy Submarine Service since 1945. London: Allen Lane, 2015. xxxvii + 823 pp.

Review by Sarandis Papadopoulos, Ph.D.
Arlington, Virginia

Submarines are the most beguiling aspect of the maritime Cold War. At the cutting edge of innovation throughout the conflict, they received nuclear power and nuclear weapons, advanced sonar, cruise missiles, as well as pioneering navigation and communication systems. To captivate us further, these undersea craft also practiced intelligence collection and specialized tactics, even under the Arctic’s ice cap. But with notable exceptions, we mostly know post-1945 submarines through popular culture, especially from films, wargames and paperback fiction. In scholarly terms they are the least well known part of the Cold War at sea, largely concealed by a cloak of classified information. With The Silent Deep, historians Peter Hennessy and James Jinks have dramatically filled a void in the literature, answering many questions of how the Royal Navy (RN) conceived, built and used submarines during the 70 years since the end of World War II.

The work opens with a minute-by-minute account of a 2012 “Perisher” training course of four prospective RN submarine captains. Witnessed by Hennessy and Jinks and gripping in tone, it demonstrates the roots of the service’s core concept, stemming from the commander of the boat and his (until now) calculated aggressiveness under stress. The engineering challenges of a nuclear submarine, even a ballistic missile vessel, take a definitive back seat to leading crews under all circumstances and when needed to fight their boats. Such performance is what matters both to the British service and this narrative. The link makes sense, reflecting the book’s interviews with over four dozen RN officers, several of them retired First Sea Lords or Flag Officers, Submarines (the branch’s senior officer), all of whom appeared on the record. One suspects the wider navy’s reluctance to accept some of the technical changes posed by undersea developments and force structure choices (55, 234, 245) have been answered by the submarine branch’s continual embrace of leadership as its primary tenet.

Design and building of three classes of fast attack nuclear submarines, three ballistic-missile types and four Diesel classes takes up much of The Silent Deep. That portion in part reflects Jinks’s doctoral dissertation work on the Polaris missile system, with Hennessy as supervisor at the University of London. Crucial to the RN nuclear propulsion and missile programs was U.S. Navy help, which the authors depict as “a fantastic bargain” for Britain. (222) The arrangement was brokered by two navy chiefs, Admirals Lord Louis Mountbatten and Arleigh Burke, and eventually ratified in 1962 for Polaris in Nassau by Prime Minister Harold MacMillan and President John F. Kennedy. Despite his initial reluctance the exchange was managed by Rear Admiral Hyman Rickover, USN, head of Naval Reactors, allowing the British to profit from American investments, and mistakes, at relatively low cost.

For over 50 years these and succeeding nuclear decisions have been subject to British domestic politics. Since 1968 the United Kingdom’s strategic deterrent has been solely submarine based, and the nation’s Labour Party has often resolved to abolish the mission. For Hennessy and Jinks that outcome is undesirable, even though the expense of investing in a submarine nuclear deterrent has reshaped the entire fleet. (216, 495) To date the deterrent has remained, but the authors suggest that if a British government gave up the capability, or skipped regular replacement of it every generation, the country would never restart the role. The force also remains dependent upon American support, but that nation also benefits from helping a complementary allied program, as the RN is about to start replacing its Trident boats before the USN does.

By 1982 the RN specialty lay in anti-submarine warfare, a role largely taken in a NATO context. When the service’s undersea arm had to complement the British campaign to retake the Falkland Islands, the changed contest became clear. Crews of four nuclear boats, headed south and shifted gears to breaking Argentina’s anti-access/area-denial effort, as we would today term it. Their direction remained centralized in Britain, however, which the overall task force commander, Vice Admiral Sandy Woodward (a submariner too), did not at first know. (412) Woodward’s request to change the rules of engagement for HMS Conqueror to torpedo and sink the cruiser ARA General Belgrano therefore needed approval by a committee chaired by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher herself. (419) Current-day sailors should read this explanation of history’s most-recent naval war, for the Falklands probably anticipates most challenges they will face in a future conflict.

Where The Silent War is most captivating is in its chapters on hunting for Soviet and now Russian submarines. Throughout the work, lengthy trails of opponents and contesting the ocean with them proved the ultimate test of submariner mettle, at times becoming harrowing. As part of a concept seeking to deter the Cold War Soviet Navy, the RN and its USN counterparts admirably succeeded: Allied submariners’ professionalism won the peacetime subsurface contest. Tactically, Hennessy and Jinks also demonstrate much in The Silent Deep, for one can count no fewer than 12 trail actions by RN submariners here, partly revealing their tactics during missions which lasted for months. That the much larger US Navy has chosen to declassify just two of its lengthy trail missions of Soviet submarines seems meager in comparison.

This reviewer found almost no errors, with little detail omitted. At times, its lengthy quotations sometimes interrupt the narrative too much. The large book’s binding seemed lighter in weight than warranted, as my copy wore out from just one reading. Perhaps the sole spot needing exposition by Hennessy and Jinks relates to the RN’s last conventional submarines, the four Upholder-class Diesel boats built in the 1980s and ultimately sold to Canada in 1998. Despite reliably citing accidents and technical flaws elsewhere, on this class The Silent Deep largely affirms its title, noting building delays and torpedo-tube problems from before 1994, when they left RN service (539, 584). Unresolved design problems, or what happened when Vickers Shipbuilding (now BAE) preserved the decommissioned boats before their sale, do not appear in the book. Canadian readers, many of whom now despairingly view the four Victoria-class craft as British-made lemons, prone to flaws and pricey to maintain, will not find out here what went wrong.

To complain more would be unfair. The Royal Navy submarine force has its much- needed recent history clearly, professionally and compellingly told in The Silent Deep. Hennessy and Jinks have spoken to many participants or seen records other researchers have not reviewed, and read others still not generally available. With the tale taken into the 21st century, it will be a long while before readers will need to search for another general work on RN submariners and their boats. In that light and at the risk of being provocative, students of the U.S. Navy submarine force might well ask, “well, where’s ours?”

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BOOK REVIEW – Naval Families, War and Duty in Britain, 1740-1820

Ellen Gill, Naval Families, War and Duty in Britain, 1740-1820. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2016. 278 pp.

Review by Joseph Moretz, PhD
British Commission for Military History

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters may have been men in King George’s Navy, but they were not all bachelors. Those left behind—often for years at a time—did more than keep the home fires burning as Ellen Gill, an independent scholar, recounts in Naval Families, War and Duty in Britain, 1740-1820. Spousal support beyond stewarding family responsibilities absent the legal head of household also frequently abetted the professional’s career. In an age when interest and patronage assumed outsized proportions in the Naval Service such contacts, whether made through official or unofficial channels, allowed those serving on a distant station to advance their prospects or at a minimum keep it from suffering in the doldrums. Much of this story is already familiar to naval historians, but the value of Gill’s monograph is of the importance of correspondence and the conventions such followed during the period comes to the fore.

In an age when isolation from civil society immediately followed the taking-in of the ship’s lines, the importance of correspondence even allowing for the limitations of the means at hand, became all important for sustaining the morale of all concerned, be it the wife or the child remaining ashore or the sailor upon the sea. Gill’s avenue for assessing this vital link in action are the letters of a finite number of naval and military officers where both ends of the correspondence survive. Sadly, few such pairings exist owing to the dearth of letters from the wives of naval officers being available. This may say more about what others of an earlier moment thought worth preserving. Still, it also suggests that in deeply personal correspondence between lovers where one is a public figure of even minor repute aspects of discretion have prevailed. This does not detract from what the author has achieved, but it is a reminder that a glimpse only is being provided of the times and their participants.

Still, that glimpse is of much value for the tenuousness of life and its circumstances formed much of the context of the Georgian Navy. For every day that Admiral Nelson spent in battle, a matching year was spent on blockade. Time was a commodity that weighed heavy on both family and flag officer and, of course, on those not so nearly exalted. Letter writing might bridge the distance, but it could not conquer time. Indeed, with a postal system operating at the mercy of the elements and in the face often of an enemy desirous of securing British mails for the intelligence that it offered, that any missive might reach its destination was not to be assumed. That knowledge often led to the numbering of letters the better for the recipient to gauge the pace of communication, but also its absence.

Naval Families is anchored on a firm foundation of academic secondary literature and archival sources and offers a reasoned accounting of the ‘personal’ factor for those serving in the period’s Royal Navy and, yes, the British Army, notwithstanding the work’s title. The author’s conclusion that the stereotypical portrait of the jolly Jack Tar is difficult to square with the realities of service life is undeniably correct. That image was a work of fiction and probably seen as such by much of the British public. The metaphor nevertheless served a purpose. The six novels of Jane Austen are fiction too and while allowing that being the sister of two eventual Flag Offices provided Austen with a window into the Navy, the works remain every bit as fiction as the jolly Jack Tar so lamented by Gill. The merits of Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice can stand or fall on their own, but their source as confirming the validity of the author’s conclusions remains suspect at least to this reviewer.

More questionable, is the failure to consider the case of Admiral Lord Nelson in a work surveying naval life, the naval family and the value of correspondence. Yes, much ink has been spilt on that story already. Yet, the triumvirate of Nelson, Lady Nelson and Emma Hamilton is very much the elephant in the room, if only because that admiral came to define the ethos of the nineteenth century British Navy. The letters of dockyard workers and their survivors petitioning the Admiralty is a story rich in pathos; the more so as most were unsuccessful. Likewise, Nelson’s petition to the Admiralty in 1799 for his share of prize money whilst serving in the Mediterranean and not recounted says much about the workings of the Admiralty, the place of interest in naval life and the usefulness of letter writing. In Nelson’s case, £10,000 of usefulness, or in today’s valuation about £850,000. Meanwhile, a demanding, estranged wife and an extravagant mistress bided his return.  This is not to dismiss the contributions of a Philip Broke of the Shannon and his loving Loo or that of a George Perceval and his wife Jane. The joys of fatherhood and its sorrows along with words of wisdom shared with growing children offer portraits of naval officers often missed by military historians. It is a story worth bringing to a broader audience. Theirs though is the story of the second eleven.

The accounting provided by Gill though remains a solid work of research and of historical discourse. Enjoyable to read, warmly told and accompanied by several illustrations, Naval Families will appeal to those attuned to the social side of British history, if not always to its Navy. Meanwhile, those that continue to go down to the sea in ships may ponder how much has or has not changed in the intervening two centuries. If Gill’s work be any guide, perhaps rather little.

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BOOK REVIEW – Where Divers Dare: The Hunt for the Last U-Boat

Randall Peffer, Where Divers Dare: The Hunt for the Last U-Boat. New York: Dutton Caliber, 2016. 320 pp.

Review by Nicolas Russell, 2Lt
United States Air Force 

Where Divers Dare is an fascinating read for those interested in either World War II’s Battle of the Atlantic or deep-sea diving. The book creates a duality, starting with the events leading to the sinking of U-550 and transitioning to the eventual discovery of the wreck by a team of divers. Peffer has crafted an excellent story which demonstrates that history is not necessarily set in stone, and is sometimes an educated-guess rather than an absolute truth. While Where Divers Dare recounts an interesting story, it only aspires to tell a good story, as it lacks elements which prevent its classification as a scholarly text.

The highest praise to be given to Peffer is the technical detail he conveys through his writing. Peffer demonstrates expert-level knowledge of sailing and diving, and is able to convey this expertise in a manner which those with varying levels of understanding can comprehend. One such passage reads, “And he can lose the DEs by going beneath a thermocline that he suspects exists at about 100 meters below the surface. It’s a layer of colder, denser water that the Americans’ sonar cannot penetrate, the ultimate natural shield to hide him from his enemy.” The rear flap of the book states that Peffer holds a 100-ton license and has logged over a hundred thousand miles at sea. Peffer also conveys an understanding of diving. In the second half of the book, focused on the divers who find the U-550 wreck, he uses diving colloquialisms such as narked, free ascent, and getting bent. As far as content is concerned, Where Divers Dare presents enjoyable prose with technical detail that provides context without being overwhelming.

The Author’s note states, “The events, the actions of individual men, and the dialogue in this book have been carefully reconstructed from my firsthand observations as well as the stories of the men involved, their families and eyewitnesses. When necessary and appropriate, I have also relied on an extensive collection of relevant books, websites, military records . . .” While the content in the book seems to demonstrate historical acuity, the book does indeed fall short in this regard. There is a complete lack of citations, or a works cited page. There are moments when the reader is told what the historical characters are thinking and the general progression has the feel of prose. This is most evident in the first section of the book, regarding the events during the Battle of the Atlantic. The lack of citations in this portion can cause skepticism to arise at certain instances and, more importantly, does not give any credit to the authors of the secondary sources which Peffer mentions in his Author’s note.

The diving section, which begins in 1983, suffers less from these issues. The lack of sources or citations for the diving section did not detract from the story significantly, but still would have been appreciated. This is not to say the book is not a worthwhile read, because it is most certainly enjoyable. However, because of the issues with citations this book cannot be considered a scholarly text.

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BOOK REVIEW – I Will Hold: The Story of USMC Legend Clifton B. Cates, From Belleau Wood to Victory in the Great War

James Carl Nelson, I Will Hold: The Story of USMC Legend Clifton B. Cates, From Belleau Wood to Victory in the Great War. New York: Caliber, 2016. 340 pp.

Review By Captain Kevin M. Boyce, USMC
United States Naval Academy

The annals of American military history reveal a breadth of scholarly writings, encompassing the stories of countless heroes of war and the battles in which they fought.  These legends are often remembered for acts of heroism that imbue the unrivaled victories of the U.S. military with celebrated accounts known today.  James Carl Nelson provides a narrative of one individual worthy of such remembrance.  In I Will Hold, Nelson documents the numerous exploits of Clifton Bledsoe Cates in a detailed biography that covers Cates’ beginnings as a rugged outdoorsman from Tennessee to a Marine Corps officer on the battlefields of France during the Great War.  Fighting with the newly formed 6th Marine Regiment from Quantico, Virginia, Cates’ achievements in combat reflect multiple acts of extraordinary heroism serving on the Western Front against the German army.  While this book also highlights Cates’ extraordinary actions in battle, Nelson notes that Clifton B. Cates’ was defined by not one single act, “but for his body of work in World War I.”

Readers of military history are familiar with the famous battles of the U.S. Marines who faced heavy losses in the stalemate of trench warfare on the Western Front.  However, Cates’ story is unique.  During a time when the Marine Corps itself was unknown to many Americans—even Cates himself did not know what the Marine Corps was before he joined—the small force would expand from 18 thousand at the beginning of the war to 60 thousand by the peak of US involvement.  Nelson’s monograph traces a small number of these men by following Cates’ 96th company and his men through each town and battle.  From their extensive training in Quantico, Virginia, to the bloodiest battles Marines suffered to date in Belleau Wood, Soissons, Blanc Mont, and Meuse-Argonne; Nelson’s story paints a meticulous depiction of intense battles against unrelenting German machine gun and artillery fire and the man who literally led his men from the front.

Contrary to the hundreds of men who perished within his regiment, Cliff Cates earned the appropriate nickname “Lucky” after surviving two gun shots to his helmet, a barrage of German machine-gun and sniper fire, shrapnel wounds from artillery, and multiple close calls with lethal mustard gas attacks.  On July 19, 1918, the deadliest day in the 6th Regiment’s history, Cates was one out of only a dozen men, from the unit of over four hundred, who survived.  The 96th company was eventually disbanded due to casualties, and the survivors scattered to other units.

A day after the unit’s decimation, Cates tasked a runner to carry a letter to his regimental commander, Colonel Thomas Holcomb.  In it, Cates asserted, “We need support, but it is almost suicidal to try and get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and a constant artillery barrage is on us.  I have no one on my left and very few on my right…I WILL HOLD.”  This quote, made famous in the aftermath of the Battle of Belleau Wood, characterizes the courage and leadership of the young officer in the face of an unyielding German enemy.

Fortunately for Cates, his run of luck endured through the culmination of the war as the Marines forced the German army to capitulate in November of 1918.   Lucky Cliff Cates’ career continued long after his escapades in the woods of France, commanding the 1st Marine Regiment in the Pacific campaign of World War II in harrowing locations such as Tinian, Guadalcanal, and Iwo Jima and, as Nelson eludes, would appropriately conclude as the highest authority in the Marines—a four-star general and service as the 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Nelson’s historical methodology includes a quality assessment of evidence and expresses an almost reverent narrative for the “laconic” Cates.  Exhausting an extensive variety of primary resources, Nelson uncovers the intimate details of Cates’ military career, surveying extensive amounts of personal correspondence, oral narratives from Cates’ family, as well as military records from the Marine Corps and National Archives in Washington, D.C.  The preponderance of these sources come from Cates’ personal letters from war and unit histories from the 6th Regiment.  Additionally, Nelson draws from a hefty amount of secondary sources to supplement the biographical material, which encompasses the broader historical details of the United States’ involvement in the war.

What the book achieves in detailed research, it lacks in organization of evidence by ignoring much desired endnotes or footnotes.  To the greater public, this work is highly accessible and easy to digest with its short chapters and flowing narrative.  However, Nelson’s work would benefit from the inclusion of sources as a convenience for the reader and for the use of scholars to verify the extensive quotes and facts used in the narrative.  Nevertheless, the format works well for popular history.

Ultimately, while I Will Hold has some limitations for its use by scholars and researchers, it is a suitable and highly-recommended read for anyone looking to learn more about the Marine Corps in the Great War.  It also would serve junior officers well as fodder for leadership discussions, or in efforts to gain a better understanding of small unit leadership.  Despite the 100-year-old story of “Lucky” Cates, its historical analysis is contemporary in its methodology and is easily approachable for a wide audience of military professionals and historical readers.

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View from the Quarterdeck: August 2016

chadbournThis issue of IJNH continues the practice of offering two permanent columns.  One is designed to offer suggestions from our readers of potential titles you may wish to add to your own reading intentions.  The list is eclectic, including not only interesting historical monographs, but also good fiction, and even a notable work of children’s literature as well.  The other column, compiled by Dara Baker, Head Archivist at the U.S. Naval War College, focuses on archives of possible special interest to naval historians and researchers.  In this issue USO Archivist Michael Case offers an interesting examination of the activities of the USO in Hawaii during World War II entitled “Down Honolulu Way: The USO and The Navy in Hawaii” as reflected in the organization’s historical records.  This archive is rich in photographs drawn from the USO Historical Images Collection in Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Our lead article for this issue is by Beth Wolny, a USMC Officer who is also a full-time doctoral candidate in History at George Mason University in Virginia.  In this piece Ms. Wolny sheds new light on the role of women Marines in a combat environment.  Drawing on original sources, her study offers fascinating insights on how senior leadership of the USMC really feels about women in the Corps and the role played by politics.  As she suggests, the final chapter in this important history is far from written!  Her work helps us to understand the process of changing viewpoints in our time on women in combat.  Her article again reminds us of the importance of taking off our blinders and thinking clearly in fresh terms about the very nature of our Armed Forces.  In her dissertation Ms. Wolny intends to focus on the full integration of women into the Marine Corp in the post-Vietnam War period.  Her findings and interpretation will be timely indeed in an era when many experts contend the very nature of war itself is changing!

Our second story in this issue is our first on the history of navies in Africa.  Dr. William Abiodun Duyile of Ekiti State University, Nigeria, examines the highly significant role of the Nigerian Navy in the Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970.  Dr. Duyile concludes that while small, Nigerian Naval Forces were essential in determining the outcome of the conflict in traditional ways that would not surprise a naval strategist like Sir. Julian Corbett, whom he cites in the paper.  Many of Dr. Duyile’s conclusions are drawn from his numerous personal interviews with key participants in this conflict and his understanding of maritime strategy.  Readers will find his comments on the Cold War also of interest.

IJNH is committed to mentoring and supporting the next generation of naval historians.  Beginning in 2014 we have published carefully selected papers and documentaries each year from the internationally acclaimed National History Day at the University of Maryland in College Park.   To that end we include in this issue a special section focusing on two papers and a documentary which were finalists in the June 2016 competition at the University of Maryland in College Park.  Many of our junior colleagues display sophisticated understanding of how to use primary sources for original historical research.

National History Day always attracts numerous entries about naval and maritime history, and especially so this year with the theme of “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History.”  For example, Noah Hai Lam Rice of Minnesota explored the compelling story of migration of refugees out of Southeast Asia in three waves following the end of the Vietnam War.  Many of these refugees fled by sea.  They experienced unspeakable hardships of all kinds in escaping to freedom over the great commons of the world’s oceans.  Of the 231,000 Vietnamese immigrants who came to the United States, Rice tells us that over 18,000 would end up in Minnesota, which he describes as a “welcoming place for immigrants from all over the world.”  Rice utilized the rich resources of the Minnesota Historical Society, particularly the Vietnamese Community Oral History Project, and records of the Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota in his study..

We also include in this section two studies of remarkable sea voyages of discovery.  Flora Ranis of Florida provides an account of the exploration of Arctic waters by USS Jeanette to geographical, oceanographic and meteorological knowledge, particularly in the Arctic.  She writes that even today over a century later the extensive knowledge brought back in Jeanette’s logbooks is still being used to better understand environmental change in the polar regions.  Theo Sage-Martinson, also from Minnesota, produced an intriguing documentary on the voyages of Sir Francis Drake.  Sage-Martinson reminds us of the significance of sea power throughout history, but especially so in the 16th century as a key ingredient to English world conquest.  These articles contain useful bibliographies.

Please share news of the International Journal of Naval History with colleagues and friends.  If they Google IJNH they will find us.  We publish only in digital format.  Perhaps you have scholarly studies you would like us to consider for publication.  For those supervising graduate work in the academic world we invite you to encourage your students who have made new or interesting discoveries of their own to submit articles for consideration as well.  And we are always interested to learn what you are reading!

Dr. Charles C. Chadbourn, III
Editor, International Journal of Naval History
Professor of Strategy, U.S. Naval War College

(Go to August 2016 Table of Contents) 

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Vol. 13, Issue 2: About the Authors


Beth Wolny
Female Marines Guard the Embassies: An Experiment in Social Progress and Cultural Change

Beth Wolny is a full-time PhD student in the History Department at George Mason University, who recently spent eighteen months as the Research and Assessments Branch Head with the Marine Corps Force Innovation Office (MCFIO). While there, she led the development, coordination, facilitation and presentation of all Marine Corps research related to recommendations regarding integration of women into the ground combat arms. She is also a logistics officer in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Her primary research interests include U.S. in the 20th century, specifically women, military and public history. She plans to focus her dissertation on the full integration of women into the Marine Corps 1972-2001.


William Abiodun Duyile 
Nature and Impact of Involvement of the Navy in the Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970

Dr. William Abiodun Duyile is a lecturer in the History and International Studies Department at Ekiti State University in Nigeria. His research interests include matters of military and naval history in Nigeria. His 2015 dissertation from the University of Benin was titled “From the Nigerian Marine to the Nigerian Navy: The Development of Nigeria’s Maritime Capability, 1914-1983.” His work has appeared in the Ado Journal of History and International Studies and the Journal of International Affairs and Global Strategy. He is also a member of the Historical Society of Nigeria.


Flora Ranis
From Hopeless to Heroic: The Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette

Flora Ranis is entering ninth grade at American Heritage School in Plantation, Florida. Flora chose to research the USS Jeannette because so few people today are familiar with the ship and the crew’s mission, including her grandfather and uncle who both served in the U.S. Navy. She wanted to help ensure that the remarkable sacrifices and accomplishments of the crew of the USS Jeannette are not forgotten. Flora’s historical paper on the USS Jeannette won third place at the 2016 National History Day competition at the University of Maryland. 


Noah Hải Lâm Rice
Có Chí Thì Nên: Vietnamese Immigrants Explore a New Home in Minnesota After the Fall of Saigon

Noah Rice is a recent graduate of the Friends School of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minnesota. Noah participated in Minnesota State History Day, where he earned second place in the junior division as well as a topical prize for best use of MN Historical Society Collections for use of oral history collections in his research paper, “Co Chi Thi Nen: Vietnamese Immigrants Explore a New Home in Minnesota After the Fall of Saigon”. He went on to the National History Day competition where he took 8th place. Noah will be attending high school at St. Paul Academy in St. Paul, and is already looking forward to future History Day competitions.


Theo Sage-Martinson
The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake: Opening New Routes of Exploration and Exchange

Theo Sage-Martinson is entering 9th grade at Highland Park Senior High in St.Paul Minnesota. He has participated in National History day for three years.  In 7th grade he placed 3rd in Minnesota. In 8th grade he placed 1st at Minnesota History Day and 4th place at National History Day. He also won the MN Outstanding State Entry award in 2016.  Outside of school he enjoys camping, hiking, cross-country skiing and playing ultimate frisbee.


Michael Case
Inside the Archives: Down Honolulu Way: The USO and The Navy in Hawaii 1942-1947

Mike Case has worked in the still and moving image archives field for over 20 years including at NARA and National Geographic. He is currently the archivist at the USO in Arlington, Virginia. This is his first published work.

(Return to August 2016 Table of Contents)

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Female Marines Guard the Embassies: An Experiment in Social Progress and Cultural Change


General Louis H. Wilson, Jr. (26th Commandant, 1975-79)
MSG Pilot Program
General Robert H. Barrow (27th Commandant, 1979-1983)

Beth M. Wolny
Doctoral Candidate
George Mason University


On November 21, 1979, six Marines stood guard at the American Consulate in Karachi. They had received word to expect as many as 10,000 protestors that day. Master Sergeant Mullis, Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of the Marine Security Detachment (MSG) in Karachi, directed his Marines to change to combat utilities and don their emergency gear: helmet, body armor, gas mask, gas grenades, shotgun and ammunition. Already armed with standard issue .38 caliber pistols, the guards reported to their posts.

American Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan (1979)

American Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan (1979)

Corporal Vicki Gaglia and Lance Corporal Betty Jo Rankin had reported to the consulate just a few weeks earlier as part of a Marine Corps pilot program to integrate women as Embassy Security Guards. Not expecting the women and uncertain at first how to treat them, Master Sergeant Mullis integrated them into the regular duty schedule. They, along with four male Marine Security Guards (MSGs), constituted the Marine Embassy Guard presence that day. The Pakistani Army stood guard outside the American consulate. They pushed back the protestors once. The protestors returned with more people. A Pakistani soldier threw a gas grenade that landed in a palm tree, sending an explosion toward the American consulate’s open roof. Lance Corporal Rankin felt the full force of the gas grenade from her position on the roof, but radioed in to Master Sergeant Mullis that she was unharmed. She maintained her post. The demonstrations ended without violence.

1.Burning U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan (21 November 1979)

1. Burning U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan (21 November 1979)

The attack in Karachi was one of many against American posts in Pakistan that day, including the consulates in Rawalpindi, Lahore and the embassy in Islamabad. The Islamabad attack resulted in four deaths. Marine Corporal Stephen J. Crowley suffered a shot to the head and died of his wounds as protestors overtook and burned the American Embassy building. Six days after the attacks, the Marine Corps ordered the young women standing guard that day immediately transferred to safer locations and cancelled the nascent pilot program. 1

Marines are often surprised to hear that women were serving as Embassy Guards as early as 1979. Marines are even more surprised to hear that two women were on duty at the U.S. Consulate in Karachi when protestors attacked it. In a time before Congress permitted women to serve on combat ships or in combat aircraft, a small group of female Marines were defending U.S. embassies and consulates in some of the harshest locations in the world.

This curious example of women in a combat environment occurred far ahead of its time. Why did the Marine Corps initiate the pilot program and then so rapidly close it? And why did it take a decade for the program to re-open to women? This research project, originally conceived as a case study about women in combat, evolved into a case study of three Commandants of the Marine Corps. Their policies for the Marine Security Guard (MSG) program typified each man’s personal beliefs and institutional approach regarding gender. On one end of the spectrum, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and All Volunteer Force (AVF) enabled the most progressive Commandant in decades to open the door for women to serve as Embassy Guards. On the far end of that spectrum, the failure of ERA to ratify encouraged a dramatically more traditional Commandant to cancel the program as quickly as it started. A subsequent decade of consistent political pressure forced the program to re-open, against the vehement disagreement of a similarly traditional Commandant. Each man left his mark on the opportunities available, respect afforded and experiences of Marine Corps women.


Two major events propelled women into a larger and more significant role in the U.S. military, and further blur the lines between women serving in the military and women serving in combat – Congressional passage of the ERA in March 1972 and Congressional authorization to abolish the draft, instituting the AVF in July 1973.  In her book detailing the advent of the AVF, Beth Bailey strongly argued that passage of ERA paved the way for women’s expanded roles in the military. 2 She stated that both Democrats and Republicans “strongly supported” equal rights for women throughout this period and had no intention of exempting the military from implementation of the ERA.   As evidence, she noted that North Carolina Democrat Senator Sam Ervin proposed an amendment that would have banned women from combat, which the larger Senate struck down 71-18. This clearly indicated Congress’ perspective on women in combat.  Simultaneously, Congress decreed a departure from conscripting forces and moved to create an All Volunteer Force (AVF) in 1973.  The AVF faced significant challenges, to include “. . . projections of a declining youth population in the eighties”. 3 The Baby Boom generation had come of age, and gone. Following Vietnam, the military became an unattractive option for young people – just as its recruiting pool dramatically shrunk. Women helped the AVF image by countering the idea of “an army of the poor” while fostering diversity in the ranks.  These were some of the publicly unspoken reasons for including women in the AVF.  High quality men had other economic opportunities. Low quality men struggled with new weapons systems, which were increasingly complex. Women, usually with more education, offset the balance with brains. 4

General Louis H. Wilson, Jr. (26th Commandant, 1975-79)

General Wilson was not his predecessor’s choice to be the next Commandant of the Marine Corps. An “innovative and responsible officer who favored reorientation of the Marine Corps for worldwide commitments,” the new Commandant took the Corps in a different direction. 5 A Medal of Honor winner, he was a traditionalist in his belief in an amphibious Marine Corps and in the “highest moral, mental and physical standards . . . The Marines truly represented the epitome of elitism”. He worked hard to reinvigorate these standards in an era of the AVF. Inheriting “unacceptably high rates of courts-martial, non-judicial punishments, confinement, unauthorized absence, and desertion” which “threatened combat readiness”, he set out to discharge any Marines either unwilling or unable to meet his high standards of conduct and readiness, and to ensure new recruits were value-added to the Marine Corps mission.  6

Many credit Wilson with saving the Marine Corps during the critical early years of the AVF. He proved to be the right person in the right role at the right time.  Committed to a vision of what he wanted the Marine Corps to be, he determined to make it happen. He understood intrinsically that he would need the support of Congress and Defense Department leadership to institute his most dramatic changes. Previous experience made him the right person in the right position at the right time. As a brigadier general, he worked as a legislative assistant to Commandants Greene and Chapman in the late 1960s. Wilson developed “close working relationships with senators, House members and Congressional staff assistants who would be influential contacts when he became commandant in 1975.” 7 This enabled him to defend the significant changes required in both recruiting and boot camp to Congress. He made the high school diploma the “gold standard” for enlistment. He facilitated the rapid discharge of individuals incompatible with a Marine Corps way of life (mostly for drugs), effectively “clearing the ranks”.

He was also an innovator in his approach to female Marines, continually opening doors for women throughout his tenure, beginning with the operating forces. While he kept four occupational fields (infantry, artillery, armor and aviation) closed and forbade assignment to units which: “in the execution of their primary mission, will close with and destroy the enemy by fire or repel his assault by fire and close combat”, he opened every other occupational field. 8  This included combat engineers, aviation maintenance and logistics and numerous other specialties. Here again Wilson proved his support to the expanded role for women in the Marine Corps. Most Marines think occupational fields such as combat engineers and aviation maintenance first opened to women in the mid-1990s. In reality, Commandant Wilson opened them in 1975. Though he never intended to deploy the women assigned to the operating forces (OPFOR), as this would have meant exposure to direct combat, Wilson initiated the transition from women as administrative assistants to women as warriors.

Wilson also updated policies for professional schools and training to level the playing field between male and female Marines.  In a 1976 White Letter, Commandant Wilson directed that all professional schools possess “curricula to ensure that the training offered prepares Marines to lead (italics author’s), irrespective of sex”.  9 He integrated female officers into student companies at The Basic School and made the camouflage utility uniform standard issue for female Marines. He disestablished the Director of Women Marines office, along with the chain of command for female Marines separate from their operational chain of command. He believed that women should be required to register for the draft, though not for combat positions. 10

MSG Pilot Program

Wilson believed strongly in the opportunity for women to join the MSG program. While the origins of the idea are uncertain, Wilson’s stance on the issue is not. First proposed in 1977 by Major General Herbert Lloyd Wilkerson of the Marine Corps Manpower Officer, Commandant Wilson requested a closed-door discussion with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Security, Vic Dikas and the State Department Operations Officer, Vern St. Mars. According to Colonel Koppenhaver, “The Commandant, in typical General Wilson fashion said, ‘Get me somebody from State Department who is capable of making a decision, and we will sit down behind close doors.’”  11  The State Department already had women filling roles in Embassies all over the world. Wilson then approved the pilot program. Koppenhaver admitted that he “dragged” his feet implementing the Commandant’s decision, effectively putting the pilot program off until 1979. 12

1.Marine Security Guard Detachment, Karachi, Pakistan (November 1979). From right to left: Major Jeff Ronald, Captain Robert E. Lee, GySgt Craig Mullis, Sergeant Gary Downy, Sergeant Roy DeWitt, Corporal Vicki Gaglia, Corporal Terry Davis, Corporal Dennis Cooper, Lance Corporal Brian Tilden, Lance Corporal Betty Rankin

1. Marine Security Guard Detachment, Karachi, Pakistan (November 1979). From right to left: Major Jeff Ronald, Captain Robert E. Lee, GySgt Craig Mullis, Sergeant Gary Downy, Sergeant Roy DeWitt, Corporal Vicki Gaglia, Corporal Terry Davis, Corporal Dennis Cooper, Lance Corporal Brian Tilden, Lance Corporal Betty Rankin

Wilson’s dedication to the pilot program became indisputable in February that year. The first attack on the U.S. embassy in Tehran reinforced what had been a common occurrence at U.S. embassies throughout the world. Protestors, rebels, insurgents and others regularly attacked U.S. embassies and consulates in the Middle East, Central America and Central Asia. The Marines regularly defended American lives and property against such attacks.  13 If Wilson felt any concern about having women in dangerous locations, about threat of potential capture or death, he would have reconsidered sending the first class of ten women to MSG School. But Wilson believed women should be able to serve wherever they could. He also understood, perhaps better than most other Marine Corps general officers could, both Congressional and public opinion on women in combat. He had been the Marine Corps’ Congressional liaison during Vietnam. The few female Marines serving there survived the Tet Offensive in 1968, without public outcry or Congressional denunciation. The political realist that he was, Wilson realized that it was an exclusively Marine Corps proclivity to protect young women from the dangers of combat.

He also understood two key aspects to MSG duty: mission and training. First, he understood the Marines’ responsibility was only to protect American lives and property, and if necessary, to destroy classified material. Not all Marines agreed with this premise, but this constituted the official agreement between the State Department and the host nation. Colonel Koppenhaver remembers,

I know the Commandant received a large number of letters from former Marines, questioning why the Marines laid down their arms and surrendered (in Tehran). . . you have to go back to the basic mission of the Marine Security Guards, and that is internal security of the embassies. It was never envisaged or intended . . . that the Marine Security Guards would be able to defend an embassy against a concerted enemy attack. 14

Second, Wilson also knew that the MSG program had undergone significant changes to its training regimen. The Marines qualified on the standard issue .38 caliber pistol during school, learned how to shoot the shotgun, use gas grenades and the baton. 15 Though female Marines would not qualify on the rifle range routinely until the mid-1980s, the young women in the MSG program would know how to shoot the .38 caliber pistol and shotgun. From Wilson’s perspective, the young women on MSG duty would be better prepared than the young women who had served in Vietnam.

1.Sergeant Mary Columbus reports for inspection at Marine Security Guard School, Quantico, Virginia (1979)

1. Sergeant Mary Columbus reports for inspection at Marine Security Guard School, Quantico, Virginia (1979)

Undaunted by events in Iran, Wilson maintained his intent to see if the female Marines could “keep up with the men in training and how they were accepted in countries where women were not accepted in the workplace”. Wilson mandated that female Marines serve in “hardship” locations – including Yugoslavia, Jordan, Liberia, Ecuador, Pakistan and Liberia – first. 16  Class 3-79, which graduated in June 1979, sent ten women to hardship posts in August.  An additional five women graduated in Class 4-79 (October), including Corporal Gaglia and Lance Corporal Rankin who would report to Karachi in November.

General Robert H. Barrow (27th Commandant, 1979-1983)

General Wilson passed Commandancy of the Marine Corps to General Barrow in June, just as the first women began graduating and reporting for duty. Just one year earlier General Barrow had assumed the role of Assistant Commandant. He had previously worked for General Wilson in 1975 as the Director of Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs. In this role, he had been an integral player in the manpower reforms General Wilson implemented. Confident that Barrow would maintain the policies Wilson had instituted to guide the Corps through the dark early days after Vietnam, General Wilson intended for General Barrow to follow him as Commandant. 17

The timing proved critical to the women in the MSG program. While history remembered Generals Wilson and Barrow as the team that saved the Marine Corps during the AVF, the two southerners held starkly different opinions on the matter of Marine Corps women. Speaking about the MSG pilot program Barrow stated,

The simple facts are we don’t need them.  We can get all the males to do whatever needs to be done in the threatening kind of situations that you need, so why experiment with women being put in possible situations of danger simply because someone can make a boast or a claim that you have broadened the opportunity for women to do more things than they had been doing. 18

Despite this negative perspective, initial reports from the embassies indicated that the women performed well, and that both male Marines and the host nation generally accepted them.  Major W.T. Tucker, the Officer in Charge from Hong Kong, did identify three concerns. First, the women had a difficult time making friends with women in the State Department; second, the women tended to resort to more physical measures – such as the baton or pistol – earlier than the male Marines; third, that male Marines tended to be overprotective of the female Marines. 19

Unlike General Wilson, General Barrow did not believe the women should endure hardship tours before completing a more sought after tour (in locales such as Paris and Rome).  He determined that hardship locations were “too primitive” or too dangerous for female MSGs. Therefore he assumed the Marine Corps would have to station them exclusively in the more desirable locations. Of course, such a policy would mean the men would have to “take up the slack” and endure more hardship tours. This would create resentment and be unfair to the male Marines. 20

Barrow felt responsible for ensuring the safety of his female Marines.  Referencing the pilot program, he stated, “And suddenly, without knowing what we were doing by putting them some place without being able to predict what might happen you might find women Marines in direct combat.” He canceled the program and ordered the women immediately re-assigned to safer postings in Brussels, Paris and elsewhere.  His reasons were twofold:  “uncertainty of terrorist/hostile actions which would expose women Marines to unnecessary risks” and “problems stemming from local social customs and attitudes towards women in general.” 21  The final decision paper noted that several company commanders experienced doubt that they could ensure that women Marines would not be exposed to hostile actions. The paper noted also the “performance of women Marines both in the Marine Security Guard School and on post has been comparable to that of the male Marines.” 8 Upon completion of their initial fifteen-month rotation, the Marine Corps removed them from the program completely.

General Barrow waited until the attack in Islamabad before pulling the women. The second embassy attack in Iran (the first having occurred during General Wilson’s Commandancy in February 1979) had already taken place on November 4, 1979 before the November 21 attack in Pakistan. Whether Barrow removed the women because the Pakistan attacks left one Marine (Corporal Crowley) dead or because there were women on duty in Pakistan remains unclear. Either way, this decision foreshadowed Barrow’s other policy changes to come.


General Barrow’s decision to terminate the pilot program heralded more closings and a general backslide in opportunities for Marine Corps women.  In July 1980, Commandant Barrow re-closed 33 specialties which Commandant Wilson had opened. 23 Slacks were no longer authorized as the uniform of the day for women. He then re-segregated its Basic Officer Course (BOC). Brigadier General Margaret Brewer explained: “The extensive press coverage of women successfully completing the course raised charges in some circles that Marine Corps officer training had gone soft.” 24 These changes reflected Barrow’s determination for female Marines to be ladies first, and Marines second.

Lance Cpl. Jennifer L. Hague fires a .38-caliber service revolver as part of her training at the Marine Security Guard School, Marine Corps Development and Education Command. Each Marine must qualify with the revolver before assignment to an American embassy in a foreign country.

Lance Cpl. Jennifer L. Hague fires a .38-caliber service revolver as part of her training at the Marine Security Guard School, Marine Corps Development and Education Command. Each Marine must qualify with the revolver before assignment to an American embassy in a foreign country.

The backslide extended far beyond the Marine Corps. By 1979, the seven-year ratification process for the ERA had stalled. Given an additional three years, effectively extending the deadline from 1979 to 1982, the amendment failed to recover its initial momentum. Only 35 of the necessary 38 states had ratified the amendment as a permanent change to the Constitution. Just as passage of ERA prompted the Defense Department and the military services to change dramatically women’s roles, its anticipated defeat led to reversals of policies across the military. President Reagan’s election in 1980 added fuel to the movement. A backlash ensued, with an official “womanpause” in the U.S. Army. Bailey argued:

Just as virtual certainty that the ERA would pass pushed the army to offer women equal opportunity . . . the threat that ERA would put the nation’s daughters in combat boots was the most effective argument against ERA and the one that would bury it. 25

Secretary of Defense Weinberger had “frozen plans to further expand the number of women” until more studies could be done. 26 The Women in the Army (WITA) study group further expanded the Army’s internal combat exclusion policy, recommended closing 23 occupational specialties that had been open to women, and re-segregating basic training.

The services wanted a return to the draft and an associated expanded pool of qualified young men. They viewed the requisite extensive employment of women as reason to end the AVF experiment. The Reagan Administration and some in Congress refused to accept the demise of the AVF and the consequent reversal in military women’s progress.  As the 1980s wore on, two events kept the issue of women in combat (and the MSG program) at the forefront of discussion in the Marine Corps.  First, the “Sex for Secrets” scandal in the U.S. embassy in Moscow brought the entire MSG program under threat. Second, the military’s sexual harassment issue exploded after a Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service (DACOWITS) report revealed severe transgressions by Navy and Marine Corps leaders in the Pacific Theater. The decade concluded with dramatic changes for military women – ground combat defined, and the opportunity to serve as Marine Security Guards once again.

The “Sex for Secrets” scandal erupted in 1986 when a young sergeant admitted that he had exchanged classified documents and access to the U.S. embassy for the affection of a young Russian woman during his assignment in Moscow. 27  Sergeant Clayton J. Lonetree (an infantry Marine) had been assigned to the embassy as an MSG.  Against regulations, he began a covert relationship with a Soviet woman. During hearings, congressional inquiries and reports for the House and Senate that followed, the Marine Corps answered questions on the selection and training of Marine Security Guards.  In open testimony, Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder (a Colorado Democrat) took the opportunity to query Major General Carl E. Mundy, Jr., the Director of Operations for the Marine Corps about women.  The Army and the Air Force had used women in security guard positions before.  She stated, “The Marines have been a little behind in this.  I think the ‘A Few Good Men’ might ring in the ears too much.  There are a few good women out there too.” 28  Later, she asked what alternatives existed to using Marines at the embassies for security.  While MajGen Mundy demurred, the implication remained that perhaps alternatives to Marines guarding embassies could and should be explored.

One year later, the services again came under Congressional scrutiny regarding their treatment of military women.  The Committee originally established by George C. Marshall in 1951, DACOWITS, advised the Defense Secretary on policy matters related to women service members. The Secretary often instituted changes recommended by DACOWITS. In 1987, DACOWITS toured military bases in the Pacific, and found: that commanders had ignored sexual harassment complaints from enlisted women; that commanders had denied women opportunities for education and promotion; that one commander had been accused of “public sex” aboard ship; and that one ship’s commander had attempted to “sell” female sailors to the South Koreans. 29  Senator William Cohen (a Maine Republican) joined Senator William Proxmire (a Wisconsin Democrat) and Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder in admonishing the Defense Department, and demanding change.  They recommended: “long-range action to ensure the professional treatment of women . . . (and) increase the career opportunities for women in the services.” 8 Congress believed that taking action to eliminate sexual harassment and increase women’s opportunities would acculturate men to women in uniform, engender greater levels of respect for women’s contribution and lower incidents of sexual harassment.

In an attempt to demonstrate the appropriate level of response to Congress, the Defense Department established the Task Force on Women in the Military.  David Armor, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Management and Personnel, led the Committee.  “The idea was that women were seen as tokens in the force, and that to increase levels of respect and stop sexual harassment, you had to increase the opportunities for women”. 31  The Committee had three responsibilities: to address the treatment of military women, to review the application of combat exclusion policies and to evaluate policy impact on women’s professional development. 32 The application of the combat exclusion policies caused the most contention, because they differed dramatically amongst the services.

The Marine Corps mostly escaped the intense review experienced by the other services, because it deployed its operating forces aboard amphibious ships – combat positions still closed to women by legislation. However, the Committee focused on MSG duty, claiming that the other services had women (successfully) serving in similar “guard duty billets”. The Marine Corps (via Commandant Al Gray) vehemently defended MSG duty as the single non-combat, non-operating forces billet that required a combat-trained Marine. But the Marine Corps stopped short in its commitment to MSG as a combat billet.  The requirement remained that an applicant simply be a male Marine – combat or non-combat MOS.  The assumption was that any male Marine could fill any combat role.

Much like Commandant Barrow a decade before him, Commandant Gray viewed women as women first, Marines second. Chosen by Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb for his notoriety as a warrior, Commandant Al Gray completed the cycle of post-AVF Commandants by bringing the Marine Corps back to its warrior roots.  He established such seminal concepts such as “Every Marine a Rifleman”, instituting the requisite training to ensure every Marine, regardless of MOS, attained basic proficiency as a rifleman.  Culturally a Marine first and foremost, Gray also held traditional beliefs about the role of women.  In a 1988 Leatherneck Magazine, Gray stated,

They (women Marines) want to serve and want to be respected.  They have an important job to do and they do it.  But I can assure you on this Commandant’s watch that they won’t be exposed to combat! 33

As such, Gray strongly objected to the Task Force’s recommendation that MSG be opened to women.  In a final effort to keep women out of the program, Gray went directly to the Task Force Chairman, David Armor to make a personal request. 31  As the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Management and Personnel, Armor was filling the equivalent of a four-start general’s billet.  Gray likely perceived the Task Force Chairman as a colleague, and someone who might understand the Marine Corps’ case if presented by its Commandant.  Gray referenced the numerous times in the past that Marine Security Guards had been called to act to protect personnel and property in remote locations.  The Marine Corps simply could not send women only to “safe” postings.  Places like Lebanon, Nicaragua and many other countries demanded a “combat-trained Marine”. Despite Gray’s vehement opposition, Armor maintained the Task Force’s recommendation and newly appointed Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci approved opening MSG to women in February 1988.

The Marine Corps treaded lightly, demonstrating its reluctance to comply with the Secretary’s direction. By May, the first female Marines in almost ten years reported to MSG school.  However, before sending them to hardship locations the Corps posted women at safer locations in Western Europe and elsewhere.  Their fellow male Marines remained hesitant to accept the women as equals.  By the early 1990s, the women had proven themselves capable of serving alongside their male peers, and were accepted as an integral part of the program. 13   The atmosphere had started to shift, proving that it really did take a generation for dramatic cultural change following equally dramatic policy change.


Male Marines have often said that the integration of women had far less to do with the women than it had to do with the men.  The events that shaped the MSG program in the 1970s and 1980s demonstrated this clearly.  It was Generals Barrow and Gray, personifying the protective fathers and brothers, who decided female Marines should remain shielded from combat-like environments. Both men made their decisions based on personal beliefs rather than evidence that women failed to perform. Given the opportunity, women proved themselves equally capable as their male counterparts.  Alternately, General Wilson took every opportunity to expand opportunities and to treat women as Marines first. It took many years – decades – of women proving themselves, over and over again, for those cultural changes, envisioned by General Wilson, to occur.  Not until after the Gulf War did officer training become re-integrated, did women board combat ships and fly combat aircraft.  Two decades after passage of the ERA, not all male Marines had yet accepted female Marines as fellow Marines – but the door was once again open for them to succeed.

Due to policy and legislative changes in the 1990s, the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan found female Marines serving alongside their male brethren across all elements of the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF). They received Combat Action Ribbons (CARs) and personal awards for their performance as vehicle operators in logistics convoys, force protection guards aboard U.S. outposts and as Female Engagement Team (FET) members operating as integral parts to Marine infantry units. They proved themselves equal members of the Marine Air-Ground Combat team. In January 2013, Secretary of Defense Panetta announced that all ground combat positions would be open to women, unless the services could provide evidence that they should not be.

In many ways, the Marine Corps found itself repeating history. Combat effectiveness once again became the phrase most often used by Marine leaders when discussing gender integration. Concerned about the impact of gender integration in the infantry, the Marine Corps commissioned a yearlong research effort to look at unit readiness and combat effectiveness – via the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force (GCEITF). The research showed that gender-integrated ground combat units performed less effectively and less efficiently than their all-male counterparts. Some argued that this conclusion was unsurprising – all it did was demonstrate that men, on average, are stronger and faster than women. But the paternalistic and protectionist attitudes prevalent among general officers such as Barrow and Gray continued with this most recent experience. The Marine Corps voiced concerned about the high rates of injury among women in the GCEITF, and as a special consideration separate from the legions of male infantry Marines with injured backs, hips, knees, ankles and shoulders from years of carrying heavy loads. For those (male) Marines, this merely represented the cost of an infantry career.

These arguments became moot on December 3, 2015, when Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced that all ground combat occupations in all the services (including the Marine Corps) would be open to women. As of this writing, three women have elected to laterally move into ground combat specialties and one woman has accessed into an infantry specialty. If previous experiences with gender integration portend the future, years or even decades may be required of women proving themselves over and over again before cultural change takes hold and male (ground combat) Marines accept all Marines – male or female – as fellow Marines. Once again – and finally, the door is open for them to do so.

This most recent story about the Marine Corps’ research effort deserves its own article, which the author is currently writing.


Bailey, Beth. America’s Army: Making the All-Volunteer Force. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press, 2009.

Barrow, Robert General. Session XV. Transcript, December 20, 1991. Archives and Special Collections Branch, Library of the Marine Corps.

Clement, W.P. H.R. 9832: To Eliminate Discrimination Based on Sex with Respect to the Appointment and Admission of Persons to the Service Academies. Washington, D.C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1975.

Daugherty, III, Leo J. The Marine Corps and the State Department: Enduring Partners in United States Foreign Policy, 1798-2007. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers, 2009.

Holm, Jeanne (MajGen). Women in the Military: An Unfinished Revolution. 2nd ed. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1993.

Koppenhaver, Howard M. Colonel. Transcript, May 20, 1980. Archives and Special Collections Branch, Library of the Marine Corps.

Manpower Planning and Policies. “All Marine Message 118.” Commandant of the Marine Corps, July 5, 1980. Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Women Marines Collection, Box 5, Women Marine Assignment Policy Folder. Archives and Special Collections Branch, Library of the Marine Corps.

Office of the Secretary of Defense (Force Management and Personnel). “Task Force on Women in the Military.” Washington, D.C., 1988. GRC.

Rustad, Michael. Women in Khaki: The American Enlisted Woman. New York, N.Y., United States: Praeger Security International, 1982.

White Jr., David H. Colonel. “Louis H. Wilson.” In Commandants of the Marine Corps, 427–36. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2004.

Wilson, Jr., Louis H. General. Session III, May 2, 1979. Archives and Special Collections Branch, Library of the Marine Corps.

———. Session VII, February 24, 1980. Archives and Special Collections Branch, Library of the Marine Corps.

(Return to August 2016 Table of Contents)


  1. David H. Colonel White Jr., “Louis H. Wilson,” in Commandants of the Marine Corps (Annapolist, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2004), 427–36.
  2. Bailey, Beth, America’s Army: Making the All-Volunteer Force (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press, 2009), 134.
  3. Ibid., 156; Jeanne (MajGen) Holm, Women in the Military: An Unfinished Revolution, 2nd ed. (Novato, CA: Presidio, 1993), 249-253.
  4. Rustad, Michael, Women in Khaki: The American Enlisted Woman (New York, N.Y., United States: Praeger Security International, 1982), 8607.
  5. White Jr., “Louis H. Wilson.”, p. 428.
  6. Wilson was awarded the Medal of Honor assaulting an occupied enemy position as a company commander in the Marine assault on Guam during World War II; Ibid., 430.
  7. Ibid., 430-2.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Commandants use White Letters to convey their perspective and intent regarding subjects of interest, to himself and to the Marine Corps.  They are similar in scope, purpose and authority (within the Marine Corps) to Presidential Directives; “Women Marines: White Letter 5-76”, White Letters, 1975-1979, White Letters: 1976, Wilson; Archives and Special Collections Branch, Library of the Marine Corps, Quantico, Virginia; also Stremlow, A History of the Women Marines: 1946-1977, 132.
  10. Louis H. General Wilson, Jr., Session VII, February 24, 1980, 287, Archives and Special Collections Branch, Library of the Marine Corps.
  11. In an interview with the MSG Commanding Officer at the time, Col Koppenhaver stated that it began with a Manpower trip to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, and an inquiry into how the Marine Corps could attract and retain more women. In an interview with the Operations Officer at the time, Captain Robert Wolfertz stated that (then) Colonel Margaret Brewer proposed the idea while she was at Manpower. Either way, the idea emanated in a decision memorandum from General Wilkerson, Acting Director of Marine Corps Manpower to Commandant General Wilson late in 1977; Interviews with Captain Wolfertz and Colonel Koppenhaver, Archives and Special Collections, Marine Corps University.
  12. Howard M. Colonel Koppenhaver, Transcript, May 20, 1980, 8-9, Archives and Special Collections Branch, Library of the Marine Corps.
  13. Leo J. Daugherty, III, The Marine Corps and the State Department: Enduring Partners in United States Foreign Policy, 1798-2007 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers, 2009).
  14. Koppenhaver, interview, 5.
  15. Ibid., 4.
  16. Ibid, 3. Even today, the vast majority of Marines serving on MSG duty complete one “hardship” tour in a dangerous or Spartan location (such as the Middle East) and complete one “good” tour in a safe, more pleasant location (such as Western Europe) to balance welfare and morale of the Marine with Marine Corps needs. Classes of women identified in “Women Marines in the Marine Security Guard Program”, Decision Paper, December 1980, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps; Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Women Marines Collection, Box 3, 1983-1987/1988-1990, Archives and Special Collections Branch, Library of the Marine Corps, Quantico, Virginia.
  17. Louis H. General Wilson, Jr., Session III, May 2, 1979, 121, Archives and Special Collections Branch, Library of the Marine Corps.
  18. Robert General Barrow, Session XV, Transcript, December 20, 1991, 8, Archives and Special Collections Branch, Library of the Marine Corps.
  19. Daugherty, III, The Marine Corps and the State Department: Enduring Partners in United States Foreign Policy, 1798-2007, 331–2.
  20. Ibid., 10.
  21. “Women Marines in the Marine Security Guard Program”, Decision Paper, December 1980, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps; Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Women Marines Collection, Box 3, 1983-1987/1988-1990, Archives and Special Collections Branch, Library of the Marine Corps, Quantico, Virginia.
  22. Ibid.
  23. Manpower Planning and Policies, “All Marine Message 118” (Commandant of the Marine Corps, July 5, 1980), Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Women Marines Collection, Box 5, Women Marine Assignment Policy Folder, Archives and Special Collections Branch, Library of the Marine Corps.
  24. Holm, Women in the Military: An Unfinished Revolution, 272.
  25. Bailey, Beth, America’s Army: Making the All-Volunteer Force, 164–5.
  26. Rustad, Michael, Women in Khaki: The American Enlisted Woman, 93.
  27. Daugherty, III, The Marine Corps and the State Department: Enduring Partners in United States Foreign Policy, 1798-2007, 263–5.
  28. Marine Security Guard System at Diplomatic Missions Abroad: Hearing Before the House Armed Services Committee, United States House of Representatives, 100th Congress, 1st Session (Washington, D.C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1987), 24).
  29. “The Treatment of Women in the Marines and Navy”, 100th Congress, 1st Session, Vol. 133 No. 147 Pg. S12754, September 25, 1987, HTTP://, Accessed December 4, 2014.
  30. Ibid.
  31. David J. Armor, Oral History Interview with Beth Wolny, December 3, 2010.
  32. Office of the Secretary of Defense (Force Management and Personnel), “Task Force on Women in the Military” (Washington, D.C., 1988), GRC.
  33. “CMC: His Goals for the Corps”, Leatherneck, November 1988.
  34. David J. Armor, Oral History Interview with Beth Wolny, December 3, 2010.
  35. Leo J. Daugherty, III, The Marine Corps and the State Department: Enduring Partners in United States Foreign Policy, 1798-2007 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers, 2009).

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From Hopeless to Heroic: The Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette


The Great Unknown
The Popularity of the Polar Question
America’s Second Attempt to Reach the North Pole
“Abandon Ship!”
Lives Were Lost, but the Logbooks Were Saved
Impact—Yesterday and Today
Appendix I
Appendix II
Appendix III
Annotated Bibliography

Flora Ranis
National History Day

Their only hope was a place with a reputation for hopelessness

—Historian, Hampton Sides (Kingdom 231)

As is true of all historical events, the end of the USS Jeannette is already known—the ship sank on June 13, 1881 without reaching its target of the North Pole. While the Jeannette made headlines in the late 1800s, few today know the story behind the men and their mission to explore and encounter one of the Earth’s last unknown regions and to exchange that knowledge with the world. Even though the ship failed to meet its formal objective, the men who volunteered for the mission accomplished much, and most sacrificed their lives to do so. The crew of the Jeannette were among the first to encounter and meticulously record the physical attributes of the Arctic, producing rare and valuable data. Nearly 140 years later, scientific organizations worldwide are exchanging the data from the Jeannette’s logbooks in order to better understand environmental changes in the polar region and improve global climate models.

The Great Unknown

Two hundred years ago, less was known about the North Pole than about Mars (Vaillant). In characteristic American spirit, the country yearned to learn what lay at the top of the world (Brooks). Was the North Pole “ice or land or sea . . . was [it] warm or cold . . . [was] it desolate or inhabited?” (Sides 19). Questions about the North Pole became the focus of politicians, professors, and the public:

How would man reach the North Pole . . . were there open sea routes? Unknown species of fish and animals? . . . Lost civilizations . . . whirlpools that led to the [center] of the earth? Were woolly mammoths and other prehistoric creatures still wandering the Arctic? (Sides 10)

In 1867, President Andrew Johnson approved the purchase of Alaska from Russia. Shortly thereafter, in 1869, construction of the Transcontinental Railroad was completed, and with it came the view that the nation’s exploration and expansion westward was likewise complete (Harris). As a result, the nation turned its attention to the next unexplored region. Manifest Destiny reached the Pacific Ocean and took a right turn northward (Sides). America officially began the race to the North Pole with the launch of the Polaris in 1871. However, the Polaris never reached the pole. Instead, the ship ran aground near Greenland after its commander was murdered (Henderson). This setback only fed the mystery surrounding the Arctic and further fueled the country’s desire to explore the North Pole. Britain launched its first expedition five years later, followed by missions from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and Sweden (Harris). The race to the pole was on!

With the country’s thirst for exploration never fully quenched, the Arctic became the next natural target (Henderson). In addition, being the first country to reach the North Pole had become a national aspiration that served to unite the country following the divisiveness and scarring of the Civil War (1861-1865). Furthermore, for the American experiment to be successful and for American exceptionalism to be manifest, both would require U.S. prominence on the world stage. Being the first nation to reach the North Pole would send the world a message that the U.S. was a strong and consequential leader among nations (Cox).

The Popularity of the Polar Question

As the nation yearned for solidarity and stature, James Gordon Bennett Jr., the wealthy American owner of the New York Herald, yearned for subscribers. Bennett was well known for creating the news he reported and pulling extravagant publicity stunts. For example, in 1869, Bennett sent Herald reporter Henry Morton Stanley to Africa in search of Dr. David Livingstone. A British explorer and missionary, Livingstone had sailed to the continent in search of the source of the Nile River but disappeared (Dugard). Bennett hoped to profit from the mystery and to demonstrate American superiority by locating the missing British explorer. His plan worked.

Now, Bennett wanted to capitalize on the country’s interest in the Arctic (Danner). He personally funded the Jeannette—buying the ship; paying to outfit the vessel for Arctic travel; and stocking it with provisions, weapons, and equipment. Although privately funded, it was officially commissioned as a U.S. Navy ship. Bennett also embedded a reporter among the crew, hoping news sent back to the Herald about the ship’s Arctic encounters would make his newspaper’s circulation soar.

America’s Second Attempt to Reach the North Pole

The Jeannette (see Appendix I) set sail on July 8, 1879 from San Francisco en route to the North Pole (Sherwood). Thirty-two 1 men were aboard, with Commander George Washington De Long USN at the helm (Worral). At the docks, “more than ten thousand people” (Sides 134) came out to cheer on the expedition that carried “the good wishes of every American” (“American Arctic Expedition” 5). “The Jeannette carried the aspirations of a young republic burning to become a world power” (Sides 128).

The diverse crew of the Jeannette were hailed in the press as representing the best in “American originality, energy, courage and openhandedness” (“American Arctic Expedition” 5). These men were willing to exchange their lives for the glory associated with being the first to reach the North Pole (Gilder). Among the crew were civilian scientists who documented their experiences, sampled the waters below, diagramed the skies above, preserved local animal species, and measured the air currents (De Long).

When the Jeannette left port in 1879, the ship not only symbolized the hope of the nation, but it carried in its hull the latest and greatest in American ingenuity. To facilitate the crew’s collection of data, among other things, the ship was equipped with an observatory, darkroom, desalination distiller, current trackers, wind trackers, magnetic and meteorological instruments, arc lamps (Thomas Edison’s precursor to the light bulb), and Alexander Graham Bell’s newly invented telephones. For the duration of the trip, the crew “hacked holes in the sea ice to take studious measurements of ocean depth, current, salinity, specific gravity, and temperature” (Sides 162). It was these detailed measurements recorded in the ship’s logs and saved from the sinking ship that definitively disproved the then-prevalent notion that there existed an open sea to the North Pole (Ambler).

However, the ship’s quest for glory was soon hindered by the harsh realities of the Arctic. Shortly after entering the waters of the Arctic Ocean, the Jeannette encountered massive floating slabs of ice (called floes). In some places, the ice over the water reached a depth of fifteen feet:

The men felt a new pressure working on the starboard side, and then suddenly a large floe shoved the Jeannette onto a shelf of ice, causing her to list crazily. Other floes tightened around the ship. Under the pressure, her timbers began to tick and groan. Within minutes, the Jeannette was completely imprisoned. (Sides 152)

At sea for less than two weeks, after leaving her last port in Siberia, the Jeannette became stuck in the ice and remained so for nearly two years. During this period, the ship’s crew endured freezing winter months without natural or man-made light as Edison’s lamps did not work in the severe conditions of the Arctic. In spite of the harsh environment, they continued to collect data on the unique Arctic conditions they encountered. The ice’s stranglehold also meant an end to any news of the Jeannette, since there was no way for the crew to communicate their status with the outside world. As a result, the country grew restless to hear about its heroes. In 1881, President James Garfield sent three American ships (USS Alliance, USS Corwin, and USS Rodgers) to find the Jeannette. However, not one encountered any more than a whisper of information regarding the lost ship.

“Abandon Ship!”

After nearly two years stuck in the ice, on June 12, 1881, the USS Jeannette finally succumbed and began to sink (Muir). The crew abandoned ship, taking boats, sleds, all the provisions they could carry, and the ship’s logbooks with them. For the next two months, they trudged over snow and slush, hoping to encounter open water so they could sail their boats to solid land and an inhabited village (Harris). It was an experience that would test the crew beyond anything they had encountered before:

Some men suffered frequent convulsions. Others seemed to be veering toward madness. Thirst and hunger were constant companions. Their tents leaked. Their furs stank. Their squishy boots oozed cold seawater . . . many of the men could no longer pull. Some couldn’t walk. A few couldn’t even stand. (Sides 267)

Eventually, the men did reach solid ground. Commander De Long named the territory Bennett Island and declared it part of America. Today, Russian maps list it as Ostrov Bennetta (Sides). While there were no people there to facilitate the crew’s rescue, the island did afford the men an opportunity to hunt, regain their strength, and repair their boats (Sides). However, Commander De Long knew they could not survive an Arctic winter on the island so after a week, they departed and headed south. With three boats in their possession and open waters ahead, the remaining crew divided into three groups and set sail. Within hours, they had lost sight of each other (De Long).

Lives Were Lost, but the Logbooks Were Saved

Commander De Long and the thirteen crewmen on his boat made it to land and came across two abandoned, primitive hunting camps. In spite of the hardships and the crew’s terrible condition, not once did De Long allow the ship’s logbooks to be lost or forgotten. With the crew at their physical and mental limit, De Long sent the two most capable men ahead to hunt for game; if no game was found, they were to continue on until they found people to help mount a rescue. After a week of additional hardship, the two men stumbled upon a native Yakut (the indigenous people of northeast Siberia), who took them to his remote village (Melville). From there, they were taken to the Russian settlement of Bulun, where they were unexpectedly reunited with a crewmember from one of the other two boats. In fact, all of the crew on this second boat had survived. The surviving crew launched a rescue mission, but Commander De Long’s group was not located for nearly five months; by then, all of the men were dead—found frozen in the ice (Melville). The men on the third boat were never found (Sherwood).

Throughout the entire journey, Commander De Long refused to abandon the ship’s logs, despite the hardship they brought the men:

They [the ship’s logbooks] were all that was left of the Jeannette’s expedition, the only record of their voyage and the only tangible proof of their exploratory and scientific accomplishments. He [De Long] would hold onto them at all costs—“as long as I have men to carry them.” (Sides 319)

Even when the men knew they themselves were past saving, they never gave up hope of saving the ship’s logs, and one of Commander De Long’s last acts was to drag the ship’s logs out of the reach of flood waters (Melville). The rescue mission, too late to save De Long and his crew, did locate the ship’s logs and return them to the U.S. (see Appendix II).

Impact—Yesterday and Today

The saga of the USS Jeannette inspired not only Americans, but people around the world. Exchanges between countries made the efforts to locate the ship and rescue the surviving crew possible (Moore). The Royal Danish Navy, Russian authorities, and Great Britain’s Colonial Department all alerted their trappers, traders, sea captains, and navy personnel to keep a lookout for the Jeannette. Of the international rescue effort, the New York Herald published, “this will be a universal search of the whole border of the ‘unknown region,’ participated in by nearly all the civilized nations of the earth” (Sides 342). In addition, the support provided by the Russian government was central to the safe return of the remaining crew and to the retrieval of the Jeannette’s logs with their valuable data. When the Americans asked for help, the Russians replied, “You have the whole Russian nation at your back” (Sides 378).

Today, researchers and scientific organizations, both home and abroad, are exchanging the measurements and observations collected by historical ships, such as the Jeannette, in order to improve weather and climate prediction models and the algorithms that merge the data in these models (Compo). Weather and climate models are critical because they help us “estimate the risk of extreme weather” (Compo), which can devastate crops and lead to loss of life, and “estimate how altering the composition of the atmosphere . . . could alter the climate and associated weather out several decades to centuries from now” (Compo). Recently, all of the Jeannette’s handwritten logs were manually transcribed and entered into the International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmospheric Data Set (Hickey; see Appendix III) and the 20th Century Reanalysis Project (Compo). The Jeannette‘s logbooks are unique because they fill two gaps in the research. First, the logbooks from the Jeannette provide data on the Arctic, which is an area that is still largely unknown (Setzer). Second, most data on the Arctic are collected during the summer months when safe passage is more likely, but the data from the Jeannette‘s logbooks were collected year round and therefore provide a more complete picture of the Arctic (Isaacson). The data from the saved logbooks of the Jeannette and other historical ships “allow scientists to reconstruct weather patterns and extremes from the past” (Allan para 3), and understanding what the weather was like in the past is vital to understanding what the world will be like in the future.

Thirty-three men set sail on the Jeannette, but only thirteen returned alive three years later (Cox). What these men encountered, endured, and overcame in their quest to explore uncharted regions represents not only what is great about America’s exploratory vision, but what is great about the human spirit. The harsh Arctic conditions the crew encountered and their incorrect hypothesis of what existed at the pole ultimately defeated them. 2 In spite of this, they made significant contributions to numerous fields. The Jeannette explored and detailed hundreds of miles of earth that no person had seen before, adding to our understanding of the geography, oceanography, and meteorology of the Arctic. They documented that the ice cap was not stationary, found that the ice pack was not a source of freshwater, and dispelled the open polar sea theory. In addition, the extensive data from the expedition are being exchanged in new ways today, helping scientists around the world predict weather events, including the impact and pace of global warming (Meier). The men on board the Jeannette risked everything to explore and encounter one of the last unknown regions and exchange that knowledge with the world. Not all of the men on board the USS Jeannette came home alive, but they all returned heroes.

Appendix I

Photograph of the USS Jeannette. Source: Log Books of the United States Navy, 19th and 20th Centuries. (2014). Retrieved from Jeannette.htm

Photograph of the USS Jeannette. Source: Log Books of the United States Navy, 19th and 20th Centuries. (2014). Retrieved from Jeannette.htm


Appendix II

Handwritten page with meteorological data from a logbook of the USS Jeannette. Source: http:IIoldweather.s3.amazonaws.comlow31final/USS%20Jeannettelvol001of0041vo1001_ 042 0.jpg

Handwritten page with meteorological data from a logbook of the USS Jeannette. Source:
042 0.jpg


Appendix III

Location | Place Name | Name = On passage from San Francisco Cal. to Ounalashka

Location | Observed | Latitude = 36 20 | Longitude = 128 11

A transcribed page from a logbook of the USS Jeannette that was entered into international databases. Source: Welcome Aboard the USS Jeannette. Retrieved from http://forum.oldweather. org/index.php?topic=3322.0

Annotated Bibliography

To view the full annotated bibliography for this paper, download it here: Annotated Bibliography

(Return to August 2016 Table of Contents)


  1. In Alaska, De Long hired two local Inuits to help care for the forty sled dogs brought aboard, and near the Bering Strait, he sent the ship’s cabin boy home on the Jeannette’s coal tender, leaving thirty-three crew on the Jeannette when it made its final departure for the North Pole.
  2. It would be another thirty years before humankind would reach the North Pole. Although Cook claimed to have reached the pole in 1908, he was later discredited, and Peary (an American) is recognized today as the first to reach the North Pole in 1909.

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Có Chí Thì Nên: Vietnamese Immigrants Explore a New Home in Minnesota After the Fall of Saigon


Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C

Noah Hải Lâm Rice
National History Day

Có chí thì nên is a Vietnamese saying that means, “Where there is will, there is a way.” This describes the determination Vietnamese immigrants displayed in their exploration of new homelands after the Fall of Saigon. On April 30, 1975, after 20 years of fighting, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong took over Saigon, ending the war and reunifying Vietnam under one communist regime. Many South Vietnamese experienced risky journeys in order to explore new homelands and be free of communism. By the late 1980s, there were over 231,000 Vietnamese immigrants living in the U.S., with approximately 18,000 settling in Minnesota. The influx of refugees resulted in cultural exchanges as immigrants accepted Western ways of life, while trying to hold onto their Vietnamese heritage. At the same time, Minnesotans began to slowly embrace aspects of Vietnamese culture. These cultural exchanges between Minnesotans and Vietnamese immigrants helped pave the way for the immigrant groups of today.

The Vietnam War was a civil war between the North and South Vietnamese. France had occupied Vietnam since 1777, but in 1954, Ho Chi Minh, a communist revolutionary, led the fight against France for independence (Do 18). France granted Vietnam independence and later that year, as part of the Geneva Accords, Vietnam was divided into two nations along the 17th parallel (Appendix A). The North Vietnamese and Viet Cong (South Vietnamese communists) wanted to reunify Vietnam and model a united government after the communist nations of China and the Soviet Union. The South Vietnamese preferred a democracy like that of the United States (Spector 1).

The civil war began in 1955. North Vietnamese invaded South Vietnam, and in 1963 the United States sent troops to assist the South Vietnamese (Do 21). President Lyndon Johnson had recently been granted authority by Congress to use any means necessary to defend Americans and promote peace in Southeast Asia (Tonkin). Nine long years later, the United States signed the Paris Peace Accords, meant to bring an end to the war (Do 25). The United States agreed to remove troops. At the same time, the North and South Vietnamese were forced to release prisoners of war and withdraw troops from Laos and Cambodia (Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam). However, fighting continued for another two years. On the morning of April 30, 1975, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong took over Saigon, which housed the democratic South Vietnamese government, ending the war (Appendix B). They re-named the city Ho Chi Minh, and the North Vietnamese government reunified the country under its communist ideology, forcing many to leave the country (Spector 1, 6).

The Fall of Saigon was the final event that led several waves of South Vietnamese to immigrate to other countries. The United States launched a 24-hour evacuation of Saigon with hopes of getting all Americans out. The evacuation, called Operation Frequent Wind, consisted of helicopters shuttling South Vietnamese and Americans from Saigon to American vessels off the coast (Patterson 1). One of the American vessels that participated in the evacuation was the USS Kirk, captained by Paul Jacobs (USS). His ship was stationed in a defensive position close to shore and at first was ignored by helicopter pilots who were delivering evacuees to larger ships farther out at sea. Finally, after signaling for hours that they had an open flight deck, a Vietnamese helicopter landed on the Kirk. More helicopters followed, delivering Americans and South Vietnamese citizens until the Kirk’s small flight deck began to fill. Many of the helicopters with close-to-empty fuel tanks were pushed overboard to make room for the evacuees (The).

About 130,000 Americans and South Vietnamese, mainly government officials, were flown out of the country (Kibria 10). Many fled because of their disagreement with communist ideology or fear of being put into prison camps that held South Vietnamese POWs (Do 16).  Caroline Nguyen Ticarro is a Vietnamese immigrant living in Minnesota, and her family was among those in Saigon who tried to board a helicopter on April 30th. Caroline recalls, “They were only taking women and children, and my Dad didn’t want to separate us” (Caroline’s Story). This was a problem many South Vietnamese encountered, and they were forced to explore other means of escape to keep their families together. Caroline, like many other immigrants, ended up escaping by boat.

To be free of communist rule, many South Vietnamese experienced risky weeklong boat journeys from Vietnam to refugee camps in other parts of Southeast Asia. Hung Duc Phung escaped Vietnam by boat and remembers cramming into a small boat about seven meters long (Phung). Escapees floated for days, overcrowded in small vessels with little food or water. Many waited to leave in August, during monsoon season, because the coast guard would not be out looking to send people back to Vietnam. “I remember one day when the storm died down, we passed by an area and they said, ‘Oh, we can let people up on the boat top.’ I saw some oily bubbles from the bottom of the sea. We knew right away we passed by a sinking boat” (Tran).

Pirates from Thailand were another obstacle the refugees encountered. A Los Angeles Times article from 1989 detailed an attack on a boat carrying over 140 South Vietnamese escapes. Pirates boarded the ship and demanded all valuables before setting it on fire. They raped women and left the refugees for dead. One man who made it out alive drifted at sea for several days using bloated corpses of other refugees for flotation (Wallace 1-25). Survivors estimate that as many as 50% of the refugees who fled by boat were killed by pirates (Do, 28).

After the Fall of Saigon, those who fled by boat traveled to refugee camps in Southeast Asia. One of the most important was in the Philippines, because for many, that was the last step before being sent to Europe, Australia, or the Americas. In the camps, South Vietnamese refugees took classes to explore the cultural differences they might encounter in the countries they hoped to emigrate to. A delegate of that country would interview them, and if the delegate thought resettlement to that country was the best option, they would be allowed to emigrate (Nguyen Ticarro).

Refugees from Vietnam came to the United States in three waves, and each had a different experience adapting to American society. The first wave was from 1975 to 1977 and consisted of over 130,000 people, mostly government and military officials, urban professionals, and well-educated English speakers familiar with American culture (Kelly 2). Many of these people left Vietnam right before the Fall of Saigon and did not encounter significant difficulties adapting to American culture (Promoting 12).

The second wave, from 1978 through the early 1980s, led to roughly half a million people coming to the United States (Kibria 11). Many South Vietnamese left because they feared that their way of life would not be the same with North Vietnamese in power (Kelly 16).  People in this wave are referred to as “boat people” because they first fled by boat to refugee camps in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Hong Kong. Many were soldiers, farmers, and fishermen who tended to be less educated. These refugees encountered more difficulties adjusting to American culture because they lacked the language skills and education to compete for higher paying jobs (Promoting 12).

The third wave of refugees arrived in the United States from the late 1980s through the 1990s. They consisted of those who had opposed the communist government and were recently released from re-education camps, as well as Amerasians, many of whom were children of United States soldiers and Vietnamese women (Phan 27-29). Around 75,000 Amerasians came to the United States after Congress passed the Amerasian Homecoming Act in 1987 (United). These “children of the dust” encountered racial discrimination in Vietnam and hoped to reunite with their fathers in America. Fewer than 3 percent found their fathers, and the U.S. government did little to nothing to help them search (Lamb).

Once given a visa, refugees exchanged their lives in Southeast Asian refugee camps for one of four camps in the United States: Camp Pendleton, California; Fort Chaffee, Arkansas; Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; and Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. The camps were on military bases to accommodate large numbers of refugees waiting for sponsors who would help them integrate into American society. Nine relief organizations were contracted by the government to handle resettlement (Do 32, 34).  Immigrants ended up in states all over the U.S., including Florida, California, Texas, and Minnesota (Rkasnuam) (Appendix C). Most immigrants who came Minnesota, like Caroline Nguyen Ticarro, were sponsored by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services or Episcopal Migration Ministries. The Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota vision is that, “All people have the opportunity to live and work in community with dignity, safety, and hope” (About). These organizations were a major reason why Minnesota now has a large Vietnamese population and still attracts immigrants from around the world.

Minnesota had little racial or ethnic diversity until the mid 1970s. Settlers of English, Scottish, and Irish ancestry came this Midwestern state in the early 1800s. The first major immigrant wave at the end of the 19th century brought many Northern Europeans who boosted the logging and agriculture industries. A few decades later, Eastern Europeans found home in Minnesota. Census data from the Minnesota Demographic Center reveals that in 1860, 98 percent of the population was white. The South Vietnamese immigrants who fled after Fall of Saigon were the first to bring significant racial and ethnic diversity to the state, but since the late 1990s, Hmong, Somali, Indian, and Mexican immigrants have added to Minnesota’s newfound melting pot (Minnesota).

When South Vietnamese immigrants like Phuoc Tran came to Minnesota, they had to start their lives over. “Everything is new from languages, food, to how to interact with people” (Tran). Most who came in the first wave knew English, but refugees in the second and third waves encountered language challenges.  Phuoc Tran immigrated when she was a young adult in the second wave. In Vietnam, she had attended law school and spoke both French and English. Because of her language skills she was able to go to college in Minnesota. Now she works as a librarian and an author. She had to start over in Minnesota and build a life from scratch.

The churches that sponsored the second wave of immigrants helped them explore new jobs, but because of language barriers, many had to settle for low-wage work. Kristina Doan is a first-generation Vietnamese-American whose father worked in the Vietnamese navy, but when he came to Minnesota, he ended up doing handyman work. He has had the same job for 30 years as a technician at Seagate Technology in Bloomington, Minnesota. She said, “It’s not that he wants to stay at the same job, it’s that he has the lack of language skills to get to places he wants to be” (Doan). His English has improved over the years, but at Seagate Technology, there are many other immigrants with whom he can converse in Vietnamese.

The process of assimilating led many immigrants to exchange their Vietnamese culture for American culture. They wanted to fit in and not be different. Some immigrants were afraid that if they told anyone they were Vietnamese, they would be ostracized because of the unpopular war. A 1975 Gallup Poll reported that 54% of Americans did not agree with the admittance of Vietnamese refugees (Do 29). Similar results were revealed in Harris Survey taken at the same time (Garofoli). Caroline Nguyen Ticarro was five when she immigrated to Minnesota and was told by her parents not to tell anyone she was Vietnamese. Caroline went through life telling people she was Hawaiian and admits, “I didn’t acknowledge my ‘Vietnamese-ism’ until I was 28” (Nguyen Ticarro). It was not until she thought about having her own family that she started to explore what it meant to be Vietnamese. Today, anti-immigrant sentiment like the Vietnamese experienced is still alive and challenging refugees from Syria as well as Muslims across the nation (Garofoli).

Language has become a problem for the Vietnamese immigrant community because English-speaking first-generation Vietnamese-Americans struggle to converse with their Vietnamese-speaking elders. Oral tradition is a large part of Vietnamese culture. However, many immigrants who had children encountered American teachers who urged them to exchange the Vietnamese language for English. Because of the language gap, history and oral tradition have been lost. In Minnesota, young Vietnamese activists are exploring the possibility of a Vietnamese language immersion school, which would help close the language gap between the elders and younger Vietnamese (Doan).

For Vietnamese immigrants and their families, food is one way to stay connected with Vietnam. For Caroline Nguyen Ticarro, “Having a pot of rice or always having fish sauce in the fridge was real and still is my instant connection to home” (Nguyen Ticarro). Kristina Doan, a young Vietnamese-American who grew up in Richfield, Minnesota, recalls family dinners of home cooked Vietnamese food. Kristina’s dad was adamant about the girls in her family learning how to cook traditional Vietnamese dishes, but growing up, Kristina and her sister were resistant. Now Kristina and her sister really want to learn to cook, so they can be reminded of their parents and Vietnamese culture.

First-generation Vietnamese-Americans in Minnesota, like Doan, have become advocates for the struggles of the Vietnamese community. “Within the Vietnamese organizer community we often compare ourselves to the Hmong” (Doan). Hmong immigrants came to Minnesota at around the same time that South Vietnamese immigrants did. They battled the spread of communism in Laos, and when it fell to communist rule, many chose to leave (“Hmong”). The Hmong people are well-organized politically.

“They are very politically involved and for as long as the Vietnamese community has been here, we have never had the opportunity to be or have had anyone be politically involved, so we are trying to gain visibility. Down at the capitol there’s a lot of us trying to get lawmakers to recognize that there are certain issues facing Southeast Asian communities and the Vietnamese community is part of this. We have established businesses here and our voices should be heard” (Doan).

Many first-generation Vietnamese activists are trying to get Vietnamese people to run for political office, but the older generation has been resistant. Kristina believes that because the war in Vietnam was so politically charged, many older immigrants want to stay out of the political system, but their first-generation Vietnamese children look for opportunities to get involved and advocate for the community.

The immigration of Vietnamese people has led to cultural exchange in Minnesota. Today more than 26,000 Vietnamese call Minnesota home (Our History). Many immigrants now own shops, businesses, and restaurants that contribute to the economy. Phuoc Tran says, “We get a lot of blessing from America and it is time for us to pay back” (Tran). Caroline Nguyen Ticarro recalls that when she first came to Minnesota, there was “a group of people that gathered once a year for Vietnamese New Year.” It was not until her mid-20s that she began to see streets of Vietnamese businesses and restaurants and realized that it had become part of the culture in Minnesota (Nguyen Ticarro).

Minnesota gave Vietnamese refugees a home, and through cultural exchanges it has become a welcoming place for immigrants from all over the world. As of 2011, the United States had admitted around 84,000 Somali refugees and close to 40% of them found their way to Minnesota (DeRusha). Caroline Nguyen Ticarro says, “I think that Minnesota again, because of their history and support for refugees, has become so diverse with Hmong, Somali, and people from other countries that it is all kind of intermixed now which is great” (Nguyen Ticarro). Immigrants from Somalia, Laos, and West African countries are now exploring new lives in Minnesota and making it an even richer and more ethnically diverse place. Despite this diversity and acceptance, immigrants to Minnesota encounter challenges as they try to assimilate into American society. Some of their challenges are similar to those the South Vietnamese faced, but with the growing xenophobic sentiment facing many of our newest immigrants today, their road to acceptance may be much more difficult.

Appendix A

This map, from 1965, shows how Vietnam was divided before the Fall of Saigon. The dividing line was along the 17th parallel. Found in David Rumsey Historical Map Collection Cartography Associates and published by The Associated Press.

This map, from 1965, shows how Vietnam was divided before the Fall of Saigon. The dividing line was along the 17th parallel. Found in David Rumsey Historical Map Collection Cartography Associates and published by The Associated Press.


Appendix B

This is an example of a newspaper article describing the Fall of Saigon. It was published on May 1, 1975, the day after the North Vietnamese took over Saigon and the South Vietnamese government and military surrendered. From The New York Times.

This is an example of a newspaper article describing the Fall of Saigon. It was published on May 1, 1975, the day after the North Vietnamese took over Saigon and the South Vietnamese government and military surrendered. From The New York Times.


Appendix C

This is a map of the major metropolitan areas that Vietnamese immigrants settled. The map shows data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau between 2008 and 2012. From Vietnamese Immigrants in the United States by the Migration Policy Institute.

This is a map of the major metropolitan areas that Vietnamese immigrants
settled. The map shows data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau between
2008 and 2012. From Vietnamese Immigrants in the United States by the Migration Policy Institute.


Annotated Bibliography

Primary Sources

“About Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS).” About Lutheran Social  Service of Minnesota (LSS). Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, n.d. Web.  04 Apr. 2016.

This website is the website of one of the nine voluntary agencies that helped settle Vietnamese immigrants in Minnesota. I used this to quote their vision in my paper to show why they helped the Vietnamese refugees.

Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam, Paris, 27 January 1973. The Department of State Bulletin. Vol LXVIII. P. 169-188.

This was the legal document from the Paris Peace Accords. The Paris Peace Accords were signed to try and bring peace to Vietnam and were something I needed to talk about in my paper. I used this source to learn about what the conditions of the accords were, which later helped me think about how after they were signed there was a rapid destruction of the South Vietnamese powers.

Cao, Anh, Rep. “From Vietnamese Refugee to U.S. Representative.” CNN, 1 Apr. 2010. Web. 16 Jan. 2016.

This website detailed a true story of how a refugee from Vietnam became a U.S. Representative for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District. It was written by representative Anh Cao himself and allowed me to learn about what kinds of cultural challenges he faced when moving to, and growing up in, America.

Caroline’s Story. Prod. LiveWire Films. Catalyst Foundation. Catalyst Foundation, n.d. Web. 23 Jan. 2016.

This video was created to tell the story of Caroline Nguyen Ticarro. Caroline is Vietnamese and has her own nonprofit called Catalyst Foundation, which supports the Vietnamese-adopted community in Minnesota and on the East Coast, as well as rural disadvantaged communities in Vietnam. I used this to get a first-hand account of the journey to America for a Vietnamese refugee.

Doan, Kristina. Personal interview. 31 Jan. 2016.

Kristina is first-generation Vietnamese, and the daughter of two South Vietnamese immigrants who escaped Vietnam right after the Fall of Saigon. I conducted this interview to learn how Vietnamese culture has been integrated into Minnesotan culture, as well as how immigrants today are trying to create a balance between Vietnamese and Minnesotan/American culture.

Esper, George Esper. “Communists Take Over Saigon; U.S. Rescue Fleet Is Picking Up Vietnamese Who Fled in Boats.” New York Times [New York] 1 May 1975: n. pag. Print.

This is a news article published by the New York Times the day after the Fall of Saigon. I used this as an example of a first hand news report of the Fall of Saigon.

Garofoli, Joe. “America’s Long History of Shunning Refugees.” San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Corporation, 17 Nov. 2015. Web. 09 May 2016.

This website was about the long standing negative sentiment that immigrants who come to America face. It was mainly focused on Syrian refugees but I used this site because it mentioned opinion poll taken back in the 1970s regarding Vietnamese refugees. That poll detailed the American public’s feelings towards the refugees.

Hoang, Carina, ed. Boat People: Personal Stories from the Vietnamese Exodus. Cloverdale: Carina Hoang Communications, 2010. Print.

This book is a collection of first-hand accounts of escaping Vietnam by boat. I used this as a primary source to get a deeper understanding of the escape from Vietnam.

Nguyen Ticarro, Caroline. Personal interview. 30 Jan. 2016.

I conducted this interview to learn about coming to America and adjusting to American culture. Caroline was young when she first came to the United States and she had to adapt to a whole new culture. Caroline had great stories about her assimilation process which I later learned to be very common among other immigrants.

Nguyen-Tran, Thuy Duong. Vietnamese Community Oral History Project: Interview with Thùy Duong Nguyen-Tran. Interview by Simon Hoa Phan. Minnesota Historical Society. Minnesota Historical Society, 22 Oct. 2010. Web. 18 Jan. 2016.

This interview detailed what it was like to grow up as the child of Vietnamese immigrants. I used this to get a snapshot of Vietnamese culture and how it has changed due to American influence.

Phung, Hung Duc. Vietnamese Community Oral History Project: Interview with Hung Duc Phung. Interview by Simon-Hoa Phan. Minnesota Historical Society. Minnesota Historical Society, 22 Oct. 2010. Web. 23 Jan. 2016.

This interview told the story of Phung’s escape from Vietnam, life in a refugee camp, early life in Minnesota, and his life today in Minnesota. I used this to get a sense of what trying to start a new life in a new country was like for immigrants after they fled Vietnam.

“Place of Birth for the Foreign-Born Population in the United States.” Table. Minnesota State Demographic Center., 2014. Web. 17 Jan. 2016.

This is a table created from the 2014 U.S. census and the 2014 Minnesota State census detailing the numbers of foreign-born people in both the U.S. and Minnesota. I used this to learn how many Vietnamese born citizens live in Minnesota.

Thai, Lisalan. Vietnamese Community Oral History Project: Interview with Lisalan Thai. Interview by Phuoc Thi Minh Tran. Minnesota Historical Society. Minnesota Historical Society, 22 Dec. 2010. Web. 25 Jan. 2016.

This interview was a first-hand account of coming to America and settling in Minnesota. I used this to learn about what it was like to leave your homeland and then live in a foreign setting with little knowledge of the country. I also used this interview to learn about how immigrants integrated western culture with their own Vietnamese culture and how they tried to create a balance between the two.

The Associated Press. Vietnam. Map. The Associated Press, 1965. David Rumsey Historical Map Collection Cartography Associates. Collection of David  Rumsey. 8859001.jp2. Print.

This collection had a map that showed North and South Vietnam when they were two different countries. It also shows how Vietnam was split by the 17th parallel, and has some facts about the two different countries. I used this map to give the reader a visual on how Vietnam looked before the Fall of Saigon.

Tonkin Gulf Resolution; Public Law 88-408, 88th Congress, August 7, 1964; General Records of the United States Government; Record Group 11; National Archives.

This is the resolution passed by both the Senate and House of representatives that gave President Lyndon B. Johnson the authority to send as many troops and military support as he wanted to South Vietnam. I used this to learn about why the U.S. got so involved in the Vietnam War and how the U.S. never formally declared war on the North Vietnamese.

Tran, Phuoc Thi Minh. Videoconference interview. 28 Jan. 2016.

Phuoc escaped Vietnam by boat when she was a young adult. She spent 10 months in a refugee camp in the Philippines and then came to America. She was in law school in Vietnam but when she came to America she had to build a life for herself from scratch. I conducted this interview to get a first-hand account of escaping Vietnam, immigration to the United States, and then adapting to the culture and life in the America.

United States. Cong. House. Amerasian Homecoming Act. 100th. H. 3171. Washington: GPO, 1987. Print.

This is the piece of legislation known as the Amerasian Homecoming Act of 1987. It welcomed all Amerasians and their families to the U.S., and gave them a two year guaranteed stay. I used this to learn about the conditions of the Amerasian Homecoming Act and how it influenced who came during the third wave of immigration to the U.S. after the fall of Saigon.

Wallace, Charles P. “Nightmare at Sea: Sole Survivor Tells of Pirate Attack. “Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 22 May 1989. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.

This news article was written about a man who was the only survivor in a brutal pirate attack. I used this article to further express how dangerous the boat journeys were.

Secondary Sources

“April 30, 1975: The Fall of Saigon.” Texas Tech University. Texas Tech University, 26 Mar. 2015. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

This website is a digital exhibit on the fall of Saigon. It helped me gain background knowledge of the Vietnam War.

Adams, John S. “Minnesota.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2016. Web. 11 May 2016.

This website gave a summary of Minnesota from its inception to modern day. I used this to learn about what types of people settled in Minnesota back in the 1800s and then when it started to become more diverse and less white.

DeRusha, Jason. “Good Question: Why Did Somalis Locate Here?” WCCO CBS Minnesota. CBS Local Media, 19 Jan. 2011. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

This website talked about why the Somali people came to Minnesota and how many live in Minnesota. I used this to help support the fact that Minnesota has become a hotspot for immigration. I took a statistic from this website to help support my claim.

Do, Hien Duc. The Vietnamese-Americans. Westport: Greenwood, 1999. Print.

This book covers how Vietnamese immigrants came to America and what struggles they had when arriving here. I used this to learn about how immigrants adapted to America and brought their cultures to America. Staff. “Paris Peace Accords Signed.” A+E Networks, 2009. Web. 16 Jan. 2016.

This website is about the Paris Peace Accords. I used this site to learn about how the signing of the accords affected the war, specifically the Fall of Saigon.

“Hmong.” Minnesota Historical Society. Minnesota Historical Society, n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2016.

This website was about the Hmong Community in Minnesota. I used this to learn about why they came to Minnesota and how many live in Minnesota.

Kelly, Gail Paradise. Vietnam to America. Boulder: Westview, 1977. Print.

This book tells the story of how many immigrants found their way to America and all the steps in between. I used this to really understand in detail how the Vietnamese immigrants came to America.

Kibria, Nazli. Family Tightrope. Princeton: Princeton University, 1993. Print.

This book is about the social aspects of being a Vietnamese immigrant in America. I was able to learn about all the social challenges many immigrants faced when coming to America. I also took a statistic regarding how many people were flown out of Vietnam during Operation Frequent Wind.

Lam, Andrew. “Living in Two Cultures.” PBS American Experience. PBS, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2016.

This interview detailed what it was like to leave Vietnam and settle down in America. I used this to get a first hand account of how immigrants adjusted to new circumstances and how immigrants felt about America throughout the process of immigration.

Lamb, David. “Children of the Vietnam War.” History, Travel, Arts, Science, People, Places | Smithsonian. The Smithsonian, June 2009. Web. 14 May 2016.

This website was about the Amerasians, who were the children of American GI’s and Vietnamese women. I used this to learn about their struggles both in Vietnam and then coming to America to find their fathers.

Minnesota State Demographic Center. Minnesota Now, Then, When…. N.p.: Minnesota State Demographic Center, Apr. 2015. PDF.

This document was created for the Capitol Preservation Commission Subcommittee on Art, and it detailed the ethnic breakdown of the State from the beginning to their estimates for 2030. I used this to get some statistics of the ethnic diversity in Minnesota from the early 1800s al the way to 2015.

Nguyen, Diem. Vietnamese Immigrant Youth and Citizenship. Ed. Steven Gold and Rubén Rumbaut. El Paso: LFB Scholarly, 2012. Print. The New Americans: Recent Immigration and American Society.

This book examines what it is like to be a Vietnamese immigrant in America. I used this to learn about challenges immigrants face from a perspective other than that of an older person.

Our History. Vietnamese Social Services of Minnesota. Vietnamese Social Services of Minnesota, n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2016.

This website talked about the reasons for the organization and a little history of why immigrants came to America. I used this because it talked about how immigrants that were part of the third wave came because they were political prisoners that were released from re-education camps run by the Communist government.

Patterson, Thom. “Enemy at the gate: The history-making, chaotic evacuation of Saigon.” N.p., 30 Apr. 2015. Web. 3 Feb. 2016.

This website was about Operation Frequent Wind. I used this to learn what Operation Frequent Wind was and when the big chaotic evacuation took place.

PBS. “People & Events: Ho Chi Minh.” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 08 May 2016.

This website gave a brief biography of Ho Chi Minh and detailed his achievements. I used this site to learn about his previous leadership before the Vietnam War.

Phan, Christian, Dr. “The Waves of Vietnamese Refugees and Immigrants to the United States.” Vietnamese-Americans. By Christian Phan. N.p.: Xulon Press, 2010. 27-29. Print.

This book had a section in it detailing the third wave of immigrants and why many of them came. I used this to understand who the third wave of immigrants were, and why they left Vietnam many years after the end of the war.

“Promoting Cultural Sensitivity.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2016.

This publication detailed Vietnamese history and immigration to the United States, Vietnamese culture, the health of the Vietnamese in America and Vietnam, and common perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs about tuberculosis among the Vietnamese. I used this to gain knowledge of the different waves of immigrants over time.

Rkasnuam, Hataipreuk, and Jeanne Batalova. “Vietnamese Immigrants in the United States.” Migration Policy Institute. Migration Policy Institute, 25 Aug. 2014. Web. 16 Jan. 2016.

This website detailed the immigration of Vietnamese people over time and where they are now living. The Vietnamese immigration to America happened in three waves and this website has information about the third wave of immigrants which I used in my paper. This website also had a good visual map of the metropolitan areas that the Immigrants settled in. I used the map in my appendix.

Spector, Ronald. “Vietnam War.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 8 May 2015. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

This website is about the Vietnam War. It covered the war from start to end and I used it to gain background knowledge on my topic.

THE USS KIRK FF-1087 ASSOCIATION. “Frequent Wind – USS Kirk FF-1087.”USS Kirk FF1087. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 July 2016.

This website detailed the USS Kirk’s missions and actions in Vietnam during the war. I used this source to learn about the role that the USS Kirk played during Operation Frequent Wind and more on how the evacuation worked.

USS Kirk: Leadership Amidst Chaos, A Legacy of Survival. Prod. Abigail Wiest.International Journal of Naval History. N.p., 21 July 2015. Web. 17 July 2016.

This documentary was published in the International Journal of Naval History and detailed the role of the USS Kirk in the Vietnam War. I used this documentary to learn how the USS Kirk helped with the escape efforts during Operation Frequent Wind.

“Voluntary Agencies.” Office of Refugee Resettlement. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 17 July 2012. Web. 6 Feb. 2016.

This website listed the voluntary agencies (VOLAGS) in America. I used this because when the Vietnamese refugees came to America, there were nine VOLAGS in America who were contracted by the government to oversee and helped to settle the refugees.

Yau, Jennifer. “The Foreign-Born Hmong in the United States.” Migration Policy Institute, 01 Jan. 2005. Web. 12 May 2016.

This website detailed the Hmong immigration to the U.S. I used this to learn about when the Hmong people started to come to the U. S., and then to show in my paper how After the Vietnamese first made Minnesota more diverse and then the Hmong added on to that.

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The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake: Opening New Routes of Exploration and Exchange

Theo Sage-Martinson
National History Day

This summer I spent one week in London where I saw a recreation of Sir Francis Drake’s ship. When the school year began I thought of Drake immediately. I have always been interested in tall ships and privateers but never knew much about them. This topic was a great opportunity to research these subjects. The more I researched Drake, the more I gained interest in his voyages and the 16th and 17th Century.  Drake’s voyage is one of the most interesting subjects I have ever studied.

I started my research by reading several articles about Drake before traveling to the George Latimer Central Library to check out several books about Drake that proved very informational.  While continuing my research online, I traveled to St.Olaf’s library to use their online databases and pick up several more books. I then made a trip to the University of Minnesota’s Wilson library where I found several interesting accounts of Drake’s voyage. I also corresponded with and interviewed Michael Turner, the Co- Founder of the Drake Exploration Society. He is writing an 800 page book about Drake. This interview was vital to forming my argument.  On April 7 I went to the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota and read several books published in the early 17th Century. I also viewed an original map from Drake’s later voyage. In late May I interviewed Nicholas Rodger a senior research partner at All Souls College in Oxford.

The second I heard about Drake I felt as though this topic would fit well with this year’s theme as Drake’s voyage of exploration contained many encounters as he worked to disrupt Spanish exchange. The Spanish naval forces were considered superior to English forces even though the English had longer ranged guns and superior ship design.  Sir Francis Drake’s successful privateering encounters and his use of new battle tactics against the Spanish dealt a blow to Spanish naval domination, which in turn helped shift the balance of global power.

One of the reasons I have enjoyed this topic is that I was able to study the age of the sail that as an American I did not know that much about. This topic has many different connections to the theme allowing me to branch out and tweak my thesis. Drake changed England forever by sailing into the Pacific. My topic not only fit with the theme but was also very interesting to research.

I chose to do a documentary because I have some experience doing a History Day documentary, as I have done them for the last two years. I really enjoy making a documentary as it allows me to represent my topic through many mediums like: video, images, and music. Making a documentary not only challenges my writing, researching and creative ability, but also my technical ability. Doing a documentary for several years has allowed me to expand my documentary skills. I used Final Cut Pro to make my documentary and ProTools for audio.


Primary Sources


Drake, Francis, and Francis Fletcher. The World Encompassed. N.p.: London, 1628. Print.

This book is a combination of journals from both Sir Francis Drake and Francis Fletcher about Drake’s voyage around the world. I got to read an original copy of this book in the James Ford Bell Library and found it very useful in understanding English viewpoints of the 1500’s.

Personall Narratives

Anton, San Juan De. “The Capture of the Cacafuego.” Abstract. Print.

This source is written by a man who was aboard the Cacafuego. It describes Drake’s capture of the Cacafuego. It helped me understand the battle between Drake and the Cacafuego.

Cooke, John. “Conflict Between Fleets.” (n.d.): n. pag. Abstract. (n.d.): n. pag. Print.

This account is about the conflict between Drake and the Spanish fleet led by Nuño Da Silva. This source helped me understand Drake’s ability to avoid capture by the Spanish and remain free.

Drake, John. “The Spanish Main.” Abstract. Print.

This source is by Sir Francis Drake’s young cousin John Drake. It describes their voyage up the Spanish Main. This source helped me understand the hardships that were faced by the crew aboard the Golden Hind.

Fletcher, Francis. “Account of Francis Drake on the California Coast, 1579” (1579).: n. pag. Web. 20 Feb. 16.

This account is from the minister aboard the Golden Hind, who was writing about the indigenous people that they encountered along the California or Oregon coast. This source helped me understand the encounter between the people of Nova Albion and Drake’s crew.

Fletcher, Francis. “Drake’s Encounter with the Indians.” Abstract. Print.

This source is about Drake’s encounter with the Native Americans in the Terra del Fuego. This source helped me understand the importance of establishing friendship with the Native Americans.

Fletcher, Francis. “The Great Storm.” (n.d.): n. pag. Abstract. (n.d.): n. pag. Print.

This source is written by the minister aboard the Golden Hind. It describes the storm that reduced five ships to one ship by routing and destroying ships. This source helped me understand the losses faced by Drakes fleet.

Fletcher, Francis. “Passage Through the Strait Begins.” (n.d.): n. pag. Abstract. (n.d.): n. pag. Print.

This source is written by the minister aboard the Golden Hind. This source is about entering the straits of Magellan. It helped me understand the hardships caused by lack of information about the strait. His voyage helped provide helpful information to sailors in the future.

Gamboa, Pedro Sarmiento De. “The Chase After Drake.” Abstract. Print.

This source is by a Spanish Captain who chased Drake out of El Callo, a port off the coast of Peru. This source helped me understand the hatred for Drake among the Spanish.

Lucero, Francisco, Gaper De Carranza, Jaun Martinez, and Thomas Xerores. “Declaration of Thomas Xerores.” Trans. Zelia Nuttall. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print.

This Declaration is from a sailor and old friend of Sir Francis Drake who was captured and taken to Lima to be imprisoned. He was later hung along with a few other English men who were captured. This source helped me understand how nervous the Spanish were that Drake and other Englishmen would establish colonies or attack their colonies on the west coast.

“Narrative of Sarmiento De Gamboa’s West to East Passage through the narrow of Magellan in Argensola’s Conquista De Las Islas Malucas” (1609).: n. pag. Web. 8 Sept. 2015

This article is about the preparations and reason for a west to east passage through the Straits of Magellan. This source helped me understand the shock that this attack caused the Spanish.

Nichols, Philip. “Drake’s Parting with the Cimaroons” (n.d.).: n. pag. Abstract. (n.d.): n. pag. Print.

This source is about Drake leaving Nombre de Dios to return to England in two stolen frigates. This source helped me understand Drake’s fame back at home after raiding Nombre de Dios.

Nichols, Philip. “Sir Francis Drake’s Raids on Panama” (n.d.).: n. pag. Abstract. (n.d.): n. pag. Print.

This source is about Drake’s many raids on Panama and how he saw the Pacific Ocean on a scouting mission. This source helped me understand the importance of Drake’s raids.

Pretty, Francis. “Sir Francis Drake’s Famous Voyage Round The World” (1580).: pag. Web. 5 Sept. 2015.

This article is written by one of Sir Francis Drake’s Gentlemen at Arms. The article is a short but full account of the voyage. I got a lot of first hand information from this article and it helped me better understand the voyage.

Winter, John. “Declaration About Nuño Da Silva’s Ship” (n.d.).: n. pag. Abstract. (n.d.): n. pag. Print.

This source is about Nuño Da Silva’s chase after the Golden Hind in the Pacific as Da Silva’s ship was one of the only ships that could chase after Drake. This source helped me understand Drake’s new tactic of cutting ship’s cables.


Drake, Sir Francis. “Raid on Cadiz.” Letter to Unknown. Apr. 1587. MS. N.p.

This letter is from Sir Francis Drake to an unknown recipient about his daring raid on Cadiz and the sacking of the 30 ships. This letter helped me understand the motivation to sail into the port and spend two days and two nights fighting.

Duke of Medina Sidonia. “Warning to America.” Letter to Governor of Havana, Governor of Cartagena, Florida Governor Pedro Melendez, Governor of Puerto Rico, Hearing of Santo Domingo, Hearing of Panama, A Jamayca Island, Al Cales, A Margarita Island, Alvaro Flores. 1587. MS. N.p.

This letter from the Duke of Medina to the governors of Spanish colonies contains a warning about the appearance of Drake and his fleet, and that they have not attacked any other cities for a while and might be heading for west America. This source helped me understand the fear that Drake caused the Spanish.

Mercator, Gerard. “Letter Discussing the Voyage.” Letter to Abraham Ortelius. 12 Dec. 1580. MS. Duisburg.

This letter from Mercator to Ortelius talks about how great Drake’s Circumnavigation was and mentions the silliness of the cover up of their location. This letter helped me understand the discoveries that were lost with the cover up.

Toledo, Francisco De. “Report on the Incursion through the narrow by the English Ship and on the Precautions Taken against It.” Letter to Sarmiento De Gamboa. N.d. MS. N.p.

This letter is about the Golden Hind and what, where, and when it had been raiding, and included suggestions to catch the Golden Hind and how to prevent this happening again. This article helped me understand the Spanish perspective on what had been going on.


Boazio, Baptista. “The Famouse West Indian Voyadge Made by the Englishe Fleete of 23 Shippes.” N.p.: London, 1589. N. pag. Print.

This map depicts Drake’s later voyage to the West Indies with 23 ships. I got to see this source first hand at the James Bell Ford Library. This map helped gain greater knowledge on Drake’s later voyage to the West Indies.

“The World Encompassed by Sir Francis Drake.” N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Web. 6 Sept. 2015.

This map honors Drake for his achievement in charting the New World. The map helped me understand what a great influence Drake had on map making and so many other things, like forever changing the British economy.


Bazio. The Raid of Cartagena. 1588. Library of Congress, n.p.

This painting is of the Raid of Cartagena, it depicts Drake’s fleet in the bay of the city and his invading force nearing the city fully armed. This source helped me understand the number of privateers that Drake commanded.

Bazio. The Raid of Santiago. 1588. Library of Congress, n.p.

In this painting of Drake’s army approaching the city of Santiago and the much smaller militia gathering on the other side of the town, while Drake’s fleet fought a ship that was defending the town. This painting helped me understand Drake’s nickname “El Drako” or the dragon, because he attacked with such ferocity and speed.

Bazio. The Raid of Santo Domingo. 1588. Library Of Congress.

This painting depicts Drake’s fleet in the bay and river of the small town of Santo Domingo while his massive invading force marched towards the town. This painting helped me understand Drake’s sheer numbers and power.

Bazio. The Raid of St. Augustine. 1589. Library of Congress, n.p.

This source is a painting of Sir Francis Drake’s raid on St. Augustine. This source helped me understand Drake’s military genius and the importance of the attacks in the 1500s.

Secondary Sources


Hampshire, C.E. “Drake’s Voyage Round the World.” N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.

This article strongly focuses on his infamous voyage around the world. It contains several large details that were interesting. This article helped me understand the difficulties of raiding the ports in western South America.

Kraus, Hans P. “The Caribbean Raid, 1585-1586.” Library of Congress. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Sept. 2015.

This article is about a series of raids Drake did after circumnavigating the world. In most of the raids he just pillaged and ransomed the town but in one or two he burned the town as well. This article helped me understand his later career as a privateer. The article also contained several other sources that were useful.

Kraus, Hans P. “The Cadiz Raid, 1587.” Library of Congress. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Sept. 2015.

This article is about one of Drake’s most famous raids, wherein he destroyed many Spanish ships and even more supplies. This source helped me understand his role throughout the war.

Kraus, Hans P. Drake’s First Success: Panama, 1572-1573. Library of Congress. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.

This article described the raid on Nombre De Dios that made Drake famous. This article greatly helped me understand why it was significant, and why he is considered to be such a great privateer.

Kraus, Hans P. The Famous Voyage: The Circumnavigation of the World. Library of Congress. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Sept. 2015.

This article is another full account of the voyage. This article helped me understand that voyage was meant to be a voyage to gather riches and treasures. The article also helped me understand a little bit of the accomplishments of the voyage.

Kraus, Hans P. The Spanish Defenses of the Strait of Magellan, the Pacific Coast and the Caribbean after the Drake Circumnavigation. Library of Congress. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.

This article describes the measures to secure the Spanish coast, which proved defenseless. This article helped me greater understand the influence that Drake had on the Spanish, and how he woke them up with his raid.


Bradford, Ernle Dusgate Selby. The Wind Commands Me; a Life of Sir Francis Drake. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1965. Print.

This book covers Sir Francis Drake’s life but dives deep into his famous voyage and his defeat of the Spanish fleet. The Wind Commands Me was one of the first big picture things that I read and provided lots of information.

Loades, D. M. England’s Maritime Empire: Seapower, Commerce, and Policy, 1490-1690. Harlow, England: Longman, 2000. Print.

This book is about how England’s sea power changed from 1490-1690. This book helped me understand how Drake fit in and changed British sea power. This book also helped me understand a timeline of major sea battles.

Sanderlin, George William. The Sea-dragon; Journals of Francis Drake’s Voyage around the World. New York: Harper & Row, 1969. Print.

This book is about Drake’s circumnavigation of the globe. This source contained many journals from Drake’s voyage, which helped me understand lots of key information about the voyage.

Whitfield, Peter. Sir Francis Drake. New York: New York UP, 2004. Print.

This book not only covers Drake’s voyages, but this book dives into his motivations and emotions. I had never read anything about his personality, this book help me understand a whole new point of view on Drake.


Drake’s Secret Voyage. History Channel, n.d+16 August 2001.

This documentary focuses on the grand voyage, but does branch off to explain Francis’s early years and his victory over the Spanish armada. This source helped me understand the effect this voyage and Sir Francis Drake had on England.

Empire of the Seas. Perf. Dan Snow. BBC, 10. Web.

This documentary is about the sea’s role in forming England’s financial success. This source helped me understand England’s control of the seas and trade networks.

The Golden Age of Piracy Terror at Sea. BBC, n.d. Online.

This documentary is about all famous pirates of many different ages and talks about Sir Francis Drake. This source helped me understand Sir Francis Drake’s effect on other privateers and pirates.

The King’s Ships 1500-1599. The Royal Navy, n.d. Web.

This source talked a lot about ship designs at the time of Sir Francis Drake, although they do mention him a bit. This source helped me understand his military role and the design of the Golden Hind.

Sir Francis Drake. N.d. Online Film.

This documentary focuses on Sir Francis Drake as a military player but does talk a lot about his earlier life. This source helped me understand Sir Francis Drake’s military career and how he greatly influenced the outcome of the “cold” war.

The Spanish Armada. The History Channel. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.

This film is about the 1588 defeat of the Spanish armada. This source helped me understand Drake’s role in the defeat of the armada and the starting of the Anglo- Spanish war.

Personal Interviews

Turner, Michael. “Interview with Michael Turner.” Telephone interview. 22 Feb. 16.

Michael Turner is a founding member of the Drake Exploration Society and he is on the finishing steps of an over 800-page book on Sir Francis Drake. Turner spends his free time traveling to sites important to Drake or to his voyages. This interview helped me understand and build evidence about Sir Francis Drake’s legacy.

Rodger, Nicholas. “Interview with Nicholas Rodger.” Telephone interview.

Nicholas Rodger is Royal Navy historian and senior researcher at All Souls College in Oxford. He has published several different books on the Royal Navy. This interview helped me understand Drake’s legacy.

Web Publications

“Anglo Spanish Wars.” Heritage History. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.

This website is about the first Anglo-Spanish War and the large religious aspect of the conflict and how the Pope blessed the Spanish army. This source helped me understand the large importance of religion and Drake in the starting of the war.

Black, Garick. “Sir Francis Drake.” Famous Soldiers in the Atlantic World. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2015.

This source is a broad website about Sir Francis Drake’s life and voyages. This website help me create a relative time line of Drake’s life.

“California Explorers: Sir Francis Drake.” California Explorers. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.

This website is about Sir Francis Drake’s time on the west coast of North America and his relationship with the Native Americans. This source helped me understand the importance of Drake’s visit to the coast.

Cameron, Kirk. “How Sir Francis Drake Changed the World.” Kirk Cameron. N.p., n.d. Web.

This source is about Drake’s influence on the world and how he made England into a major sea power. This website helped me understand Drake’s religious background and how that influenced him to change the world.

“Defeat of the Spanish Armada.” British Battles. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Jan. 16.

This website goes into a lot of details about the series of battles, including listing every known ship of both the Spanish and English and its captain. This source helped me understand the odds were on the English side and the importance of Sir Francis Drake.

“Drake Attacks Cadiz.” Information-Britain. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 16.

This source is about Sir Francis Drake’s powerful attack on the port town of Cadiz where some of the ships who were supposed to sail for England. This website helped me understand the damage dealt to the king of Spain with this attack.

“The European Tobacco Trade from the 15th to the 17th Centuries.” University of Minnesota Libraries. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.

This website is about the tobacco trade in Europe and how Sir Francis Drake introduce it to England. This source helped me understand Drake’s impact as he brought tobacco and the potato to England.

“Francis Drake.” The Ages of Exploration. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2016.

This source is about how Sir Francis Drake sailed around the world via navigational information about South America and some Pacific Islands. This source helped me understand how little information existed about South America before Drake.

“Francis Drake.” Bio. com. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.

This source is a fairly big picture source although it did contain necessary details I had not yet heard. This source helped me understand his second to last raid a great deal better.

“Francis Drake.” History. com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.

This source is a very brief overview of his life, although it does mention his strong contribution to English naval history. This source helped me get a general feel for the topic.

Seeler, Oliver. “Francis Drake and the Native People of Nova Albion.” Drake. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.

This source talks about the Native Americans that are assumed to be Coast Miwok and Sir Francis Drake’s connection with them. This source helped me understand this incredible encounter between two peoples from vastly different cultures, which ended peacefully.

Seeler, Oliver. “Francis Drake The Voyage.”. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.

This source is a brief look at the voyage. This source helped me get an overview of this topic. This website also helped me find several other sources about other parts of Sir Frances Drake.

Seeler, Oliver. “Sir Francis Drake and the Llamas.” N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.

This source talks about the crew’s encounter with llamas and there raiding of llama trains carrying silver. This source helped me understand what a new world these people were stepping into.

Seeler, Oliver. “Smoke and Mirrors…” N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.

This source discusses the true hiding place of Nova Albion. This source also talks about the weird conditions and deception around the location of the famous bay. It helped me understand the reason why people argue about the location of this bay.

“Sir Francis Drake.” BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.

This source is a very brief account of his life as a seaman. Other than that this source had no focus that was useful. This source helped me get a good big picture look at Sir Francis Drake’s life.

“Sir Francis Drake.” Golden Hind. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.

This source explains his importance, and covers most of his life briefly. This source helped me understand the importance of his ship to many people.

“Sir Francis Drake.” History Extra. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.

This source is about the life and adventures of Drake, it goes in depth about his last few raids. This website helped me understand his unsuccessful launching in November that was stopped by weather.

“Sir Francis Drake.” History Learning Site. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2016.

This website is about Sir Francis Drake’s life and how he affected the world around him, it also mentioned his early life living in an old ship. This source helped me understand the effect that Drake’s upbringing had on him.

“Sir Francis Drake.” Royal Museums Greenwich. N.p., 05 Aug. 2015. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.

This website is about Drake and if he is a hero or a villain, it covers his whole life and moments that some people would consider great and some would consider terrible. This source helped me understand the anger of the Spanish when Sir Francis Drake was knighted.

“Sir Francis Drake.” Princeton Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.

This source is about Sir Francis Drake’s secret voyage and its importance to England. It also mentions the secrecy around the voyage. This website helped me understand why the mission was so secret.

“SIR FRANCIS DRAKE (1540-1596).” Famous Lives. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2016.

This website is about Sir Francis Drake’s life and how it affected the rest of the world and history, it goes in depth about his raids on Cadiz. This source helped me understand Drake’s effect on the delay and defeat of the Armada.

“Spanish Armada Defeated.” A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.

This source retells the daring victory over the mighty Spanish armada and how military genius overtook numbers. This website helped me understand how important Drake’s raids on Cadiz and how much those raids slowed down the armada.

“The Spanish Armada Of 1588.” Elizabeth the First. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.

This source is about the defeat of the 1588 Spanish Armada and the queen’s role in the defeat. This website helped me understand Drake’s relationship to the queen and his very important role in the defeat of the Spanish Armada.


Old World Map. Digital image. Web.

A map of the world from the 1500’s.

A Spanish Galleon. Digital image. Web.

A painting of a Spanish galleon.

Grace Dieu. Digital image. Web.

A painting of one of Henry the 5th’s flagships.

Sir Francis Drake en Santo Domingo. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of Sir Francis Drake’s attack on Santa Domingo.

Old Sea Battle Painting. Digital image. Web.

This is a painting of a Dutch-Anglo naval battle.

Anglo Spanish War 1585-England. Digital image. Web.

This is a painting made for the Anglo Spanish war of 1585 of Queen Elizabeth.

Anglo Spanish War 1585-Spain. Digital image. Web.

This is a painting made for the Anglo Spanish war of 1585 of King Phillip.

Somerset House Conference. Digital image. Web.

This is a painting of peace talks at the Somerset house between England and Spain in 1614.

Ortelius World Map. Digital image. Web.

This is map of the world from circa 1500.

Union Jack Old. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of the old Union Jack.

Spanish Flag. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of a Spanish Flag.

Spanish Slaves. Digital image. Web.

This is a painting of Spanish slaves working at a mine in South America.

The Black Death Plague. Digital image. Web.

This is a painting representing the black death.

Battle Between England and Spain. Digital image. Web.

This is a painting depicts the 7-day battle from the failed Spanish armada.

Marcus Gheeraert’s Sir Francis Drake. Digital image. Web.

This is a painting of Sir Francis Drake from 1590.

John Hawkins. Digital image. Web.

This is a painting of Sir John Hawkins.

Sir Francis Drake, Captain of the Revenge. Digital image. Web.

This is Sir Francis Drake’s armada portrait.

Jesus of Ludbeck. Digital image. Web.

This is a painting of the Jesus Ludbeck.

The Battle of San Juan De Ulua. Digital image. Web.

This is a painting of the battle that Sir Francis Drake escaped on one of the two ships that made it out of the port.

Orbis Plancius. Digital image. Web

This is a map from 1594.

Mule Train. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of a mule train hauling goods across Panama.

Drake in Panama. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of Drake seeing the Pacific for the first time.

Nombre De Dios. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of Drake attacking Nombre de Dios.

Queen Elizabeth the First. Digital image. Web.

This is a panting of Queen Elizabeth the first.

Parchment Map. Digital image. Web.

This is a current map made to look like parchment.

Golden Hind. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of the Golden Hind.

El Callao. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of El Callao.

Nuestra Senora de la Conception. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of the Cacafuego.

El Cacafuego. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of Drake attacking the Cacafuego.

Drake Capturing the Cacafuego. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of Drake attacking the Cacafuego.

Francis Drake Engaging the Cacafuego. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of Sir Francis Drake capturing the Cacafuego.

Capture of the Cacafuego. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of Sir Francis Drake capturing the Cacafuego.

Sir Francis Drake en Cartagena. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of Sir Francis Drake attacking Cartagena.

Sir Francis Drake on the Spanish Main. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of Drake attacking a city on the Spanish Main.

Elizabeth Pelican. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of Queen Elizabeth the First.

Battle of Trafalgar. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of the Battle of Trafalgar.

Defense of Cadiz. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of Drake’s attack on Cadiz.

The Spanish Armada. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of the Spanish Armada.

British Colonies 1763-1776. Digital image. Web.

This is a map of British colonies 1763-1776.

Map of British Control. Digital image. Web.

This is a map of British control.

Sir Francis Drake Map. Digital image. Web.

This is a map of Drake’s circumnavigation of the globe.

Drake Circumnavigation World Map. Digital image. Web.

This is a map of Drake’s circumnavigation of the globe.

British Ships in World War 2. Digital image. Web.

This image depicts all Royal Navy ships used in World War 2.

Old Crackly Parchment. Digital image. Web.

This is an image of parchment.


Sir Francis Drake TV Intro. Web.

This is video of a recreation of the Golden Hind sailing.


Real Cannon Sound Effect. Web.

This is a cannon sound effect.

Flow my Tears by: John Dowland. Web.

This is a classic song from 1530-1630.

(Return to August 2016 Table of Contents)

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What Are They Reading? Vol. 2

what are they reading

Charles C. Chadbourn, III
Editor, International Journal of Naval History

This article is the second edition of our continuing series which allows readers of this journal who are interested in international naval history and related topics to share with colleagues ideas on good books to read which may be of general interest.   Contributions are not intended to be full book reviews, rather simply suggestions for worthwhile reading.  Most selections, of course, will probably come from historical monographs and will be naval in nature, but other genres are welcome as well.   Nor do these suggestions necessarily have to be recently published items, although of course those are especially helpful.  As the writings of Sir Julian Corbett, Carl von Clausewitz, and even Thucydides demonstrate, older works often retain their usefulness for contemporary readers for generations.  If you would like to contribute to this on-going series please send your submission directly to the Editor of IJNH. Some of the more interesting books I read every year come from the recommendations of my colleagues.

Click the down arrow next to each name to read their response.

What Are They Reading? Vol. 2

A Reading Specialist in Children's Literature


Think you’re having a bad day? Consider poor Alexander who wakes up with the chewing gum that was in his mouth the night before in his hair – and then things go rapidly downhill from there. He thinks he will move to Australia – where obviously things are better. Everyone should read this delightful ALA Notable Children’s Book at least once a decade as a reminder that things could always be worse – even in Australia!

Colton C. Campbell, Professor of National Security Strategy, U.S. National War College

Dean King, SKELETONS ON THE ZAHARA: A True Story of Survival (2005)

I have just finished a great book entitled Skeletons of the Zahara, a true story about a commercial vessel, the Commerce, that was wrecked off the coast of the Western Sahara, Africa, in the early 1800s, and the survival of its crew who had to sell themselves into slavery to survive. These twelve American sailors found themselves tested by incredible adversities which brought them close to death during a hellish, two-month journey on camelback through the desert. The book offers a gripping account of courage, brotherhood, and survival. Reviewers have accurately described the book as “a masterpiece of historical adventure.”

Kim Fortney; Deputy Director, National History Day, University of Maryland

Jack Mayer. LIFE IN A JAR: The Irena Sendler Project (2nd Edition, 2011)

Life in a Jar is one of those stories of an educational experience that is difficult to put down. It chronicles the process of creating a National History Day performance for four teenage girls in Kansas who have chosen to learn all they can about an unsung heroine of the Warsaw Ghetto, Irena Sendler. They begin with very little information and uncover the story of one of the bravest women of the 20th century. In the process, they learn a few things about themselves. I recommend this to anyone interest in the impact of a powerful and rigorous educational program on the lives of young people.

Howard J. Fuller, Senior Lecturer in War Studies, University of Wolverhampton (UK)

Michael Herr. DISPATCHES (1977)

When the media briefly focused attention on Michael Herr’s death in June I decided to get the latest paperback reprint of his famous Dispatches from 1977 (I bought the 2015 Picador Main Market Edition from Amazon UK). As a Vietnam War correspondent Herr described his experiences with 60s-style flourish for the readers of Esquire magazine, so the pithy yet meandering style—what Hunter S. Thompson popularized at the time as ‘Gonzo journalism’ perhaps—takes some getting used to especially if you’re daily absorbed in academic texts that don’t like sentence fragments for example. But the fast pace and details, the focus shifts from big picture war and ’60s American culture to some awful scene of a young soldier shot and bleeding to death on a helicopter, are effective in giving the reader a feel as well as knowledge. Overall the feeling is uncomfortable, as 28 year-old Herr manages to express many anecdotes into something like a tragedy. Vietnam is a tragedy, war is a tragedy, shedding innocence (and blood) is a tragedy. Aside from this I’ve found Dispatches to be a fascinating time-capsule of a now bygone era. As a piece of ‘history’ it shows us how different people were and yet the humanity is clearly timeless.

John W. Kramer, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, University of Mary Washington


Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy in June of 1944 while suffering an astonishingly low rate of casualties. A stunning military accomplishment, it was also a masterpiece of trickery. Operation Fortitude protected and enabled the invasion. The Double Cross system specialized in turning German spies into double agents, tricking the Nazis into believing that the Allied attacks would come in Calais and Norway rather than Normandy. Perhaps the most sophisticated and successful deception operation ever carried out, it ensured Allied victory at the most pivotal point in the war. – A great read!

Bradford Lee, Professor Emeritus, Department of Strategy, U.S. Naval War College

Joseph Conrad.  THE SECRET AGENT (1907)

I don’t think my reading this summer would be of much interest to your readers. It has almost entirely been focused on research for my 1917-2017 book, in particular German naval documents and German naval/military memoirs from WWI, with a special eye to the decision in early 1917 to resume unrestricted submarine warfare. It is dry stuff, though it does give rise to thoughts about how the country with the best PME system of its time could produce senior military leaders who were so bad at strategic assessment, COA selection, and effective communication with political leaders. I have read only one novel recently, Joseph Conrad’s THE SECRET AGENT. (1907). It is nominally about state-sponsored terrorism, not naval history, but it mostly reflects Conrad’s notoriously bleak view of human nature. His book does have some resonance for this summer. He suggests that the micro-motives of individuals involved in acts of terrorism sometimes have only a tenuous, or at least very complex, connection to the macro-themes of the larger terrorist movements of their time—in his era, the anarchism of the early 20th century. That seems also to apply to some of this summer’s acts in relation to the larger radical jihadist movement of the 21st century.

Nate Packard, Assistant Professor, Marine Corps University


In Panic at the Pump, Meg Jacobs, a Research Scholar at Princeton University, provides a well-researched account of the oil crises of the 1970s and the inability of American politicians to craft an effective energy policy. Jacobs not only explains the political, economic, and environmental obstacles involved, she also goes to great lengths to capture the financial and psychological impact of the crises on the average American consumer. Of particular interest to military historians is the link between the energy shortages of the 1970s and increased U.S. military involvement in the Middle East. With the proclamation of the Carter Doctrine in 1980, the United States made it clear that energy security was a vital national interest and that it would use force to ensure the free-flow of Persian Gulf oil. Panic at the Pump is a must-read for those seeking an appreciation of the political and economic motivations behind the American military’s strategic pivot to the Persian Gulf in the early 1980s.

Irene Soohoo, SW Washington Regional History Co-Coordinator, Pleasant Valley Middle School, Vancouver, Washington

Antonin Dehays. Translated from the French by John Bro. Sainte-Mere-Eglise: An American Sanctuary in Normandy 1944-1948, From the D-Day Battles to the Creation of American Temporary Military Cemeteries (2015)

“I rode my bicycle from Norman village to village and knocked on doors to find the oldest citizens to interview,’ commented Dr. Dehays in an interview in Bayeux, France, towards the end of the 2016 Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom Albert H. Small Student and Teacher Institute. Dr. Dehays was our guide and interpreter who emphasized the vagaries of memory as demonstrated he gently but firmly corrected a detail in the mayor of Angoville-au-Plain’s reminiscence of the D-Day paratrooper landing. Memory often conflicted with history, hence the need for careful cross-checking of the facts.
Dr. Dehays’ encyclopedic grasp of the human factors, his interviews plus years of research poring over thousands of documents and photographs from the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, and French and German archives culminated in this copiously illustrated book in French which has been beautifully translated into English. Anyone who has ever visited, or plans to visit, the American Cemeteries in France will find this study both moving and helpful.

Corbin Williamson, Historical Office of the Secretary of Defense, Washington, DC.


This work provides an impressive survey of the Royal Navy’s submarines, undersea operations, and naval policy during the Cold War. It is clear that British submariners enjoyed considerable access to American submarine equipment, intelligence, plans, and communications and benefited greatly from this access. At the same time, the British clearly believed that if they were unable to offer something to the Americans in return, they would lose their privileged access to the U.S. Navy’s assistance. As a result the British undertook deep penetrations of Soviet waters to gain valuable intelligence on the soviet Navy so as to have something to offer to Washington. I am not sure whether the British were right in their view, but it clearly influenced their behavior.

Click on the Gallery Below to purchase the title from Amazon. Your purchase will benefit a small percentage to the Naval Historical Foundation.

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Inside the Archives: Down Honolulu Way: The USO and The Navy in Hawaii 1942-1947

Michael Case

Inside the Archives Editor: Dara Baker, U.S. Naval War College

The USO (United Service Organizations) is an organization focused on providing support, programs, and entertainment to active duty service personnel and their families. With 2016 being our 75th Anniversary, we have the unique opportunity to dive into our past.

The USO Historical Image Collection holds over 1,000 images relating to USO overseas activities from 1941-1947, documenting its first activities outside of the continental U.S. in Hawaii in January of 1942 and continuing through (what turned out to be) the organization’s temporary deactivation December 1947. The image collection is primarily made up of photographs but it also includes a collection of location postcards, posters, and a variety of illustrated promotional material.

Textual documents of the USO experience in Hawaii during the period are primarily covered in Volume 3 of the seven-volume History of the USO Overseas Department 1942-1947. This volume is mostly composed of USO annual reports for the territory of Hawaii. The “overseas” volumes are a part of the larger 30-volume set that comprises the official history of the USO.

We are fortunate that any records survive at all. Many records were disposed of as a result of the deactivation in 1947. Then in the1970s, a flood at the U.S.O. World Headquarters destroyed a large percentage of what remained. Several headquarters moves in the 70s, 80s, and 90s all contributed to even more lost and misplaced records.

The image collection contains photos relating to every branch of service all across the world. That the Hawaii records survive with comparatively much less complete representation from the continental USO in the collection is partly due to the decentralized structure of the USO. For the most part in the continental U.S., USO records were kept at the local and regional level and the degree of cooperation by the hundreds of local operations varied greatly. The overseas operations were fewer in number had more oversight from world headquarters, then in in New York City. The decision to focus on the records of the USO in Hawaii 1942-1947 illustrates both the history of the Navy and Marines in the Hawaiian Islands in general as well as highlighting the history of the USO’s mission to support the Navy and Marines by providing respite, recreation, and entertainment to servicemen and women in the place where the Second World War began for the United States.

The cover of the 1945 Territory of Hawaii Report. The USO Army & Navy Club the busiest in the territory can be seen in the background.

The cover of the 1945 Territory of Hawaii Report. The USO Army & Navy Club the busiest in the territory can be seen in the background.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the USO needed to expand quickly. The YMCA (one of the founding member organizations of the USO) offered its building in Honolulu to the USO for the duration of the war. This first location in Hawaii became known as the USO Army & Navy Club, eventually becoming the busiest and most visited of the 48 clubs dotted across the Hawaiian territory. In 1945 the USO Army & Navy Club would host over six million enlisted men and women. Honolulu itself was home to eight USO locations at the peak of operations in 1945.

Prior to the war the USO Victory Club was a Japanese department store. Known as the House of Mitsukoshi it was modeled after the Mitsukoshi store in Tokyo. After the attack on Pearl Harbor the building was handed over to the USO by the Federal Government. The Victory Club provided almost every type of rest and relaxation (R&R) opportunity that the USO offered. The building featured unique amenities which included escalator and a roof-top garden.

The USO Victory Club, prior to the war it was a Japanese department store.

The USO Victory Club, prior to the war it was a Japanese department store.

Sailors on the escalator in the lobby of the USO Victory Club.

Sailors on the escalator in the lobby of the USO Victory Club.

Dancing at the Victory Club

Dancing at the Victory Club

The USO was open to all members of the armed forces regardless of gender, religion, or race. The challenge the USO faced to fulfill its mission to “provide services to members of the armed forces from all walks of life” who were serving in a segregated military is addressed in the 1945 Annual Report for the Territory of Hawaii:

Early in its development, The USO realized that in the Territory there was an unique, challenging, and very contradictory racial situation. In 1945 [USO] Special Services realized a dream in the formal opening, May 2nd, of the USO Rainbow Club. The Rainbow Club was a permanent operation in the heart of Honolulu whose philosophy was service to every G.I. but most particularly to the fellow who thought the USO was for “everyone except me…

Sailors play ping-pong and shoot pool in the game room of the Rainbow Club.

Sailors play ping-pong and shoot pool in the game room of the Rainbow Club.

The Rainbow Club became one of two clubs in the Honolulu area specifically focused on welcoming enlisted men of all backgrounds. The 1945 report concluded with:

“The USO did not, through the Rainbow Club solve the racial problems of the 186,307 men and women in uniform who were its guests in 1945. But it gave them the impetus to think and to share, without which there can be no solution.”

For women in the service, the USO operated two clubs in the Honolulu area. The Service Women’s Lounge and the Hui Welina club.

The Hu Welina club was in a renovated home that had been donated by Hawaiian royalty.

The Hu Welina club was in a renovated home that had been donated by Hawaiian royalty.

While the USO in Honolulu and surrounding areas received the bulk of the attention every island in the territory was served by the USO.

Marines and Seabees play Baseball in a USO sponsored league on one of several baseball fields on Maui.

Marines and Seabees play Baseball in a USO sponsored league on one of several baseball fields on Maui.


The USO Club on the island Molokai. It served about 15,000 men per month in 1945.

The USO Club on the island Molokai. It served about 15,000 men per month in 1945.

In addition to USO-produced images, the USO Historical Image Collection also contains donated photographs from outside the organization. In 1981 a photo was donated by Loretta Maynard who was a Marine stationed in Honolulu during Victory over Japan (VJ) Day. The note on the back reads “V.J. Day Down Honolulu Way 1945 I was there and so was the U.S.O. Many Thanks!” Loretta Maynard U.S.M.C.

VJ Day Down Honolulu Way, L. Maynard USMC photograph

VJ Day Down Honolulu Way, L. Maynard USMC photograph

At the close of the war, operational tempo slowed. With an uncertain future, only the USO Army & Navy Club and four other clubs remained operational through 1947. The importance of the USO in Hawaii to the war effort was summed up at the beginning of the 1943 USO Hawaii Annual Report in a statement by US Navy Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz:

This service is not alone a contribution to the individual soldier, sailor, marine, coast guardsman and merchant mariner…it is a genuine contribution towards winning the war.

The USO Archives is delighted to show a small sample of what we house through the International Journal of Naval History. The USO archival collection is not currently open to the public. For further information about the collection or to find out more about any of the photographs included here, please contact Michael Case, USO Archivist at

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BOOK REVIEW – 21st Century Sims: Innovation, Education, and Leadership for the Modern Era

Benjamin F. Armstrong, 21st Century Sims: Innovation, Education, and Leadership for the Modern Era. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2015. 162 pp.

Review By Joseph Moretz, PhD
British Commission for Military History

Arguably, Admiral William Sims achieved greatness and professional success in the early twentieth century all while operating against the currents of institutional orthodoxies. Unlike Admiral George Dewey, who secured his renown on the strength of a famous naval victory at Manila Bay, the roots of Sims’ standing owed everything to tenacity of thought, single-mindedness of purpose and a certain presumptiveness. In 1902, that presumptiveness led a very senior Lieutenant Sims to write a letter to President Theodore Roosevelt castigating the navy’s gunnery efforts after his attempts at working through proper channels realized only rejection and frustration. That step paid immediate dividends to Sims and ultimately to the service he esteemed.

To the greater public, Sims was the face of the navy in the European War standing on a par with General Pershing who commanded the American Expeditionary Force. To the service, however, the culmination of Sims’ unconventional career was realized at the Naval War College where he served as its president in the periods immediately before America’s entry into the World War and then afterwards. To Sims, an officer much given to thought, the posting testified that the past was merely prologue, and, it is telling, that of the six essays penned by the Admiral over the course of his career and presented by Benjamin Armstrong in 21st Century Sims, three date from his tenure at Newport.

This monograph is a continuing number in the 21st Century series published by the Naval Institute Press which introduces the military thinking of past, significant naval and military leaders to the contemporary professional. Necessarily, 21st Century Sims is only an introduction, yet, for that, it succeeds on a number levels. By offering the Admiral’s views on the pressing questions of his day, the editor expands the discussion to relate how some issues have an eternal quality. As a long-running institution, this is not surprising for the U. S. Navy, though it is surprising how few probably take the time to consider this as they grapple with a pressing problem of the moment. As the adage goes, ‘If you want a new idea, read an old book’ or, failing that, then read from an older officer.

With the patronage of Roosevelt, Sims became Inspector of Naval Gunnery and a lieutenant-commander. He soon touted the advantages of the ‘All-Big-Gun, One-Caliber Battleship’ in the pages of Proceedings, the professional journal of the navy. This put him at odds with Captain Alfred Mahan, the doyen of naval history and strategic thought. Sims arguing from a position of informed knowledge had the better of the argument, but the modern reader should appreciate that time and future battle experience would demonstrate the limitations in his case. War gaming, strong scientific analysis and even the results of fleet firing practices at the heart of Sims’ views were better than mere conjecture, but where uncertainty and friction are present, they could never be truly predictive. As for the presumed superiority of U.S. Navy gunnery methods over the Royal Navy the editor posits, the reality proved to be otherwise as Rear-Admiral Hugh Rodman’s squadron found upon joining the Grand Fleet. Jutland should have been a resounding British victory if the tactical table was any guide. It wasn’t. It did, however, spur changes in material and procedure in a manner which peacetime serials and gaming alone could not.

What emerges from the essays offered is an officer seemingly more at-home with the dictates of tactics than with the demands of strategy. Thus, when lecturing in 1916 to would-be officers on the ideal attributes of the ‘Military Character’, Sims prizes those qualities of speed of thought and rapidity of decision. Doubtlessly, those essentials made their presence felt during the many war games played at the Naval War College, but were of less saliency to the strategist where allocating forces and realizing the greater object remained the first concerns. Tellingly, in the collection presented, Sims never adequately addresses the strategic role of the navy.

Sims could be prone to dogmatism and never the more so than over the relative value of speed in heavy ships. This trait was evident in 1906 in his set-to with Mahan, but it remained no less true in 1921 when titling at the windmills of ‘Military Conservatism’ in the fourth essay featured. Notwithstanding the evidence of Jutland when three British battle cruisers succumbed, Sims remained a firm believer in the efficacy of the type. Ironically, Sims’ advocacy now mirrored the very pitfalls he railed against, as he discounted and ignored evidence contrary to his long-held tenets. He also ignored the imperatives of finance and the institutional changes required to support the fielding and integration of any new weapon or technology. These concerns ever loomed large in seniors while juniors, not burdened with such worries, saw only the promise on offer. However, the greater point being made by Sims remained that officers needed to guard against falling into convenient patterns of thought and action. True then, it remains perfectly true today. Ideally, the service required a bedrock of sound first principles amenable to flexible application, or in the words of his British counterpart, Rear-Admiral Herbert Richmond, “In principles be an unchanging conservative; in their application be a red hot radical.”

Those serving today and reading 21st Century Sims will probably identify most readily with the final essay penned, “Promotion By Selection.” As with military education, any arrangement followed will never lack for critics of those who have served as all have experience of the system. Not without controversy and difficulties in 1934, when Sims had been on the retired list for many years, how much more so today when the equities and essentials at play are so much more varied? No system will ever be perfect, but the important thing to Sims was to ensure that the ablest and most popular advanced with the last attribute the key. That it be fair was a given. Given the criteria posited, how far a certain lieutenant would have advanced if the patronage of Roosevelt had been absent may be pondered.

This reviewer has no hesitation recommending the enjoyable and informative essays presented, all ably arranged and supported by the commentary of Benjamin Armstrong. Enlightening to the more junior, even senior officers will gain a better understanding of one of the service’s leading lights and take something of value away.

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