Beyond the Lens

by Faith Thrun, NMAS 2021 Collections Intern

As the saying goes, a photograph is worth a thousand words, but what happens when you have an entire archive filled with photographs from dozens of people and time periods? The stories contained in the photographs at the National Museum of the American Sailor tell a range of stories from individuals that combine to tell the collective experience of the enlisted sailor. Although the main subjects are the protagonists of these stories, it is also important to look at the context behind them as well. These details are what build the stories of the people in them and who took them. 

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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

Keep Them Fit To Fight: The Salvage of Pearl Harbor

By Tricia Runzel, National Museum of the American Sailor Curator

The attack on Pearl Harbor lasted just two hours, but the loss of life, supplies, and ships was staggering. When the smoke cleared, thirteen ships were in various stages of damage and seven ships, as well as a floating dry dock, were sinking or already sunk. Worse still, the attack had killed over 2,000 military personnel, including Navy, Army, and Marines. The human loss could never be repaired, but for a nation entering war, repair and reuse of the ships and materials was paramount. The question was, how? Continue reading

Dress Blues: George G. Koplos, Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class (CB)

By Samantha Belles, National Museum of the American Sailor Collections Manager

The National Museum of the American Sailor’s collections are comprised of numerous artifacts, each telling a unique story of an enlisted Sailor’s career. When taken together, these stories help illuminate just what it was like to be a Sailor in the United States Navy. In particular, uniforms play a key role in helping the museum tell the Navy’s history. Continue reading

Fire Control on Iowa-class Battleships

By Michael Frutig, National Museum of the American Sailor Intern

An Iowa-class battleship was the single most powerful ship ever built for the United States Navy, comprised of 45,000 tons of steel and equipped with the largest guns ever fitted to an American ship. Nine 16-inch guns sat in three-gun turrets; each barrel was capable of firing on its own. These guns could fire a shell that weighed either 1,900 (HE) or 2,700 (AP) pounds a distance of twenty-four miles. Continue reading