My wife, Valentine, and I are retired Naval Reserve officers. We met at a reserve center. Valentine is Japanese American—she and her family were interned during World War II. She entered the reserves as a seaman recruit and retired 33 years later, the first female Japanese American unrestricted line officer to attain the rank of captain.
I learned about the Naval Institute as a Texas Maritime Academy midshipman at Texas A&M in the early 1970s. My navigation instructor said the Naval Institute was an intellectual and scientific organization noted for provocative and thoughtful articles, writing contests, and naval book publishing. He had a copy of Proceedings on his desk and invited me to borrow it. I became a member in 1974.
Throughout my career, I relied on Naval Institute publications. In retirement, I serve as an instructor and lecturer at the local reserve center. At my expense, I give one-year Naval Institute memberships and copies of Ethics for the Junior Officer and Guide to Naval Writing to the top boot camp students at the training center and to any new direct commission officers in my classes. I chose these three gifts with great thought. I cannot count how many times students have asked what the difference is between a destroyer and a cruiser.
It is a pleasure to pull out my copy of Proceedings and show them. The ethics book should be given to all newly commissioned officers. It is a superb reference in times of dilemma. Finally, I tell my students they will meet many more people through what they write than they will in person—so to be very careful and correct in everything they commit to paper. Hence, the writing guide.
Many other Naval Institute books have impressed me over the years. Military Operations and Maritime Preponderance (by C. E. Callwell) should be required reading for naval professionals. It fits right in with “. . . From the Sea” and now “Sea Power 21.” Shot from the Sky (by Cathryn J. Prince) was an eye-opener about the hypocrisy of Swiss neutrality during World War II. I have just finished Slade Cutter: Submarine Warrior (by Carl LaVO). It really touched me. Captain Cutter is a true hero and a great guy. This book, too, should be required reading for anyone aspiring to a naval career.
After 30 years of membership, I am proud the Naval Institute is such an integral part of today’s Navy. The Chief of Naval Operations and other sea service leaders actively participate in its meetings and contribute to its publications. The articles and letters written by both junior and senior personnel—officer and enlisted—are published not as criticism, but as constructive comment. The essay contests encourage people of all ranks to write and think. The Naval Institute is here today; it is relevant; and I am proud to be a Life Member.
Call for Support for Admiral Donald Engen’s Oral History
The late Vice Admiral Donald Engen , a pilot from age 19, had an extraordinary career in aviation. He was awarded the Navy Cross for valor during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, where he helped sink the carrier Zuikaku and the battleship Hyuga. After the war, he briefly flew for United Airlines, but, missing the Navy, returned to become a renowned test pilot. He capped his 36-year Navy career as Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Command and U.S. Atlantic Fleet. After retirement, he served as general manager of Piper Aircraft before President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the National Transportation Safety Board, and later, as head of the Federal Aviation Administration. Before his death in 1999, he was director of the National Air & Space Museum.
Author and historian Paul Stillwell conducted nine interviews with retired Vice Admiral Engen in the mid-1990s for the Naval Institute oral history program, but because of the high cost of processing each history, the project languished. In response to increased interest by researchers, the Naval Institute would like to complete Admiral Engen’s oral history by year’s end. Tax-deductible gifts of any size will help underwrite the transcribing, footnoting, and indexing. Donors of $1,000 or more will be recognized in history’s foreword and will receive a copy of the handsome bound volume.
For more information, contact Naval Institute Foundation Associate Director Sue Sweeney at 410-295-1054, 291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402, or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Learn more about our Oral History Program .
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