The Naval Institute’s oral-history collection recently expanded to include that of the late Rear Admiral Wayne E. Meyer (1926–2009), highly regarded as the “Father of Aegis” for his role in developing the weapons system and managing the Aegis shipbuilding project in the 1970s and 1980s. Over the course of 18 interviews conducted with historian Paul Stillwell from 2007–2009, Admiral Meyer covered his entire naval career. He also discussed in great detail his Depression-era childhood, the influence of which is recalled in the excerpt that follows.
I was born and raised in what’s called the gumbo: the Missouri River bottom. In March 1935, when I was about to turn nine, my father moved our family—my mother, grandmother, four kids, and a big dog named Cicero—13 miles from our 800-acre farm in Brunswick, Missouri, to a 120-acre tract of rocks and brush in the hills that cost him $400. We were displaced because he couldn’t pay the mortgage.