The Mother of Naval Station Great Lakes

MoffetBeginning in 1908, when Congress authorized a female Nurse Corps of the United States Navy, women began to officially serve their country in times of both war and peace. Since then, whether they are civilians, enlisted personnel, or Naval officers, the women of Naval Station Great Lakes have etched their places into the history of this base through both word and action.   One of these women is known as the “Mother of Naval Station Great Lakes. Jeanette Whitton Moffett was the wife of Rear Admiral William A. Moffett, commander of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station from 1914 to 1918. She reported to Great Lakes with her husband in September of 1914. Initially, she settled into a ladylike social life and focused her attentions on raising her 6 children, but soon found other outlets for her energies.

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Rated M

2-22 M Rating

Specialist (M) Third Class patch on the uniform of Thomas Francis Martin 

The U.S. Navy’s rating system is always in flux. As new technology replace old, new rates are created and old ones become obsolete. In other cases, old ratings are merged into a new rating. Such is the case of the Specialist (M) rating, which existed for only two years (1942-1944). A recent donation of q uniform with the Specialist (M) Third Class rating led us to investigate this now-defunct rating.


A variety of Specialist ratings existed in the Navy from 1942-1948. These were made to accommodate special skills needed in wartime that didn’t fit into the ratings structure already in place. Specialist (M) was created for Navy mail clerks. This became the Mailman rating in 1944.  But just four years later, Mailman, along with Radioman, Telegrapher, Specialist (Q) (Registered Publication Clerks), and Yeoman, became a part of the job function of the newly-established Teleman rating.

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Partnering for a Purpose

2-8 Homeless vetMembers of the Armed Forces, regardless of the branch they serve in, form a bond during their initial days of enlistment. They look out for one another during training, down-time, deployments, and everything-in-between. This fellowship is not only woven into the fabric of the uniforms they wear, but also into the principles and characters of these individuals as they perform dangerous duties day-in and day-out.

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Worth a Thousand Words

1-11 LeavingForHike-WWIPostcards have always been one way to share an experience.  But a century ago, they were virtually the only way to share an experience.

Recently we took a look at how postcards were the text messages of their day, focusing on the depth of emotion that Naval Station Great Lakes recruits were able to convey in only a few short sentences.  But a look at the back of a postcard only tells half the story.
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Old School Communications

12-28 -1912For most recruits, their time is Naval Station Great Lakes is their first time away from home. They take on new experiences and carry the memories of the loved ones they’ve left. For some, it’s a wonderful time of adventure. For others, it’s a difficult transition. This has been the case since recruits began arriving in 1911. Before the days of texting and social media, Sailors shared their thoughts and experiences on postcards and in letters.

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Playing With the Navy

12-21 DSC_0006Television commercials and Internet ads for Christmas and Hanukkah presents are ubiquitous today. But a century ago it was newspaper advertisements and engraved drawings in mail-order catalogs that depicted the newest toys and games, sparking children’s visions of what they might get. Toymakers knew that children’s play often reflected world events and far-away experiences. From the 1880s through the 1930s, toys and games about naval sailors captivated boys and girls in farmhouses and in row houses across the United States.

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Here to Help

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Each year, approximately 40,000 recruits pass through Recruit Training Command (Boot Camp) at Naval Station Great Lakes.  These young men and women volunteer to serve in the United States Navy.

But there is another group of dedicated individuals, albeit somewhat smaller, who also donate a portion of their time and energies to the U.S. Navy.  They require no PFT, no uniform issue, and will not have to go through the rigors of Battle Stations 21.  They are the volunteers at the Great Lakes Naval Museum.  Their contributions to the preservation and interpretation of the history and heritage of the U.S. Navy can not be understated.

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A Sailor’s View of Humanitarian Aid to Japan

12-7 Ward_View_of_YokohamaOn the morning of September 1, school children finished class like any late summer day.  Teachers dismissed them for lunch.  They ran outside and raced each other down the narrow streets to their homes where mothers and grandparents were cooking.

At 11:58, the Earth shook suddenly and violently.  Stoves overturned.  House walls collapsed on the children, grandparents, and the burning coals.  Sounds of rumbling, crashing, and voices screaming filled the streets.  Flames roared.
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“Home” For the Holidays

11-23 1943-Menu-TgivingFor many young men and women, joining the Navy means leaving family, friends, and home for the first time. New friends and new routines replace the old, but some things just aren’t the same. This is especially true around the holidays when decorations in the barracks and a galley holiday menu can’t replace putting up the Christmas tree with family ornaments as tempting aromas waft from the kitchen while a Bowl game plays on the television.

For some lucky ones, leave is approved. For most, the holidays will be spent at the barracks and in the galley. But not for all…

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