USS Sanctuary: An Experiment in Integration

by Tricia Menke, Curator of Education at the National Museum of the American Sailor

When President Harry S. Truman signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act into effect on June 12, 1948, it did not automatically translate into ‘smooth sailing’ for women in the United States Navy. Despite the act’s signing, the Navy continued to segregate men and women, both during training and while in service. For many female sailors in the post-World War II era, the fight for equal opportunity remained. In perhaps the most obvious instance of inequality, it would be an additional two decades before women were allowed to serve at sea, side-by-side with their male shipmates.

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Guest Blog: African Americans and the USS Robalo (SS-273)

By Abigail Diaz, Director of Education & Public Programs at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum

Of the 28 submarines built during World War II in Manitowoc, four remain on Eternal Patrol. USS Lagarto (SS 317) remained a mystery for more than sixty years after being lost in May 1945. The submarine was discovered in the Gulf of Thailand in 2005, finally giving answers to the family and loved ones who survived the eighty-six crewmen aboard when Lagarto was attacked. USS Golet (SS 361), USS Kete (SS 369) and USS Robalo (SS 273) all remained missing until recently. 

In May 2019, nearly fifteen years to the date of the rediscovery of USS Lagarto (SS 317), the identity of a submarine found near the Palawan Islands in the Philippines was confirmed by the U.S. Navy to be USS Robalo (SS 273). 

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Deploying Hope – The Role of Hospital Ships in the United States Navy

by Jennifer Steinhardt, NMAS Archivist

“Wise and humane management of the patient is the best safeguard against infection.”  Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, certainly knew the difference having a designated hospital made in aiding in the recovery of patients.  Historically, hospital ships helped to fill the need for a hospital to care for the sick and injured in locations where it was difficult or impossible to build a one on land.  While records indicate that hospital ships were possibly utilized by the ancient Greeks and Romans, the United States Navy officially used its first hospital ship during the American Civil War.   Continue reading

Boots on Ice: The U.S. Navy in Antarctica

By Dan Smaczny, National Museum of the American Sailor Contract Curator

“Few men during their lifetime come anywhere near exhausting the resources dwelling within them. There are deep wells of strength that are never used.”[1] – Admiral Richard E. Byrd

From Commander Charles Wilkes early exploration in 1839 to 2019’s Operation Deep Freeze, United States Navy Sailors called upon the “resources dwelling within them, when it came to braving the bitter cold of Antarctica. Continue reading

Holiday Greetings from Aviation Radio Technician 1st Class Gilbert Hotchkiss

By Dan Smaczny, National Museum of the American Sailor Contract Curator

Aviation Radio Technician 1st Class Gilbert Hotchkiss began his letter to his parents, dated December 16, 1943, with “Dear Mom & Dad, Merry Christmas – in words only, so far.” Sailors like Hotchkiss often weren’t able to travel home for the holidays, but they were able to wish their family and friends “happy holidays,” whether in a telegram during World War II or via email today. Continue reading

Great Lakes Bulletin: The Voice of NSGL for 101 Years

By Dan Smaczny, National Museum of the American Sailor Contract Curator

For over a century, Navy sailors, civilians, and local residents at or near Naval Station Great Lakes received base and Navy news from the Great Lakes Bulletin. With the rise in popularity of the internet and digital media, “the United States Navy’s Oldest, Continuously Published Base Newspaper” will become a digital-only publication beginning on March 30, 2019.  As part of a look back on the paper’s history, the National Museum of the American Sailor has selected from its archives a few historic headlines from the publication. Continue reading

Every Memory Counts: Navy Vietnam Veteran Remembers His Experience

By Dan Smaczny, National Museum of the American Sailor Contract Curator

For historians, oral histories and personal recollections are important pieces of evidence. Often, ties to our past are even closer than we think. In our museum, we find valuable ties to our past through our volunteer corps. One of our volunteers, Steve Winston, not only generously gives us his time but shared some of his memories of Vietnam as well.  Continue reading

On Iwo Jima, Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue

By Dan Smaczny, National Museum of the American Sailor Contract Curator

“Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.” — Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, March 16, 1945.

February 21, 1945, Iwo Jima, Japan, D-Day plus 2: “Corpsman Up!” While under heavy enemy fire, United States Navy Pharmacist’s Mate 2nd Class John H. Bradley rushed to the aid of a fallen Marine at the base of Mount Suribachi. Continue reading