When World War II broke out, I joined the Coast Guard. I was from Kansas, and liked the idea of going to sea, but I didn’t particularly want to serve in large ships. With training, I became a quartermaster third class and was assigned to the cutter Diligence (WSC-135). Later, I was a plank owner of the USS Ogden (PF-39) in the South Pacific. My incentive to move up the ratings was rather basic: only second class petty officers and above could use the chiefs’ head—far preferable to the trough of running seawater most of the crew endured. By the time I made second class, however, they had moved the goal line. There were too many of us, so only first class and above could use the chiefs’ head.
In 1944, I became a cadet at the Coast Guard Academy. On completion of the accelerated wartime course, I was commissioned as an ensign in 1945.
After the war, I transferred to the Naval Reserve and entered the business world. Years later, I launched Anvil Corporation, a holding company for several insurance-related businesses—“Anvil,” as a tribute to my father, who was a blacksmith, and because the anvil is a symbol of strength, versatility, and simplicity. Over the course of my career, I’ve founded and operated three insurance businesses and one FDIC-insured bank, all of which were either sold or merged into larger companies. Today, I operate a mortgage banking company called Anvil Funding Corporation.
In my business life, I constantly reassess my goals and what I am doing to attain them. This flexibility results in effective problem solving and leaves me open to seeing new options. I think of it as learning to learn. I don’t know everything—I don’t have to. I am constantly listening, learning, and looking at things with a fresh perspective to see if there is a better way to achieve my goals.
I have been a member of the Naval Institute for more than 40 years, and I find it shares this approach. The Naval Institute is out in front, offering a forum for all the military services to figure out what is best for the security of our country. To me, there is no more important issue right now.
I thought it was gutsy when the Naval Institute went out on a limb to publish its first novel in the mid-1980s—and I couldn’t have been more thrilled that the Naval Institute Press hit a home run its first time at bat with The Hunt for Red October  . It remains a source of tremendous pride to me as a member—and one of my all-time favorite books.
Over the years, I’ve taken satisfaction in supporting the Naval Institute. I don’t always like what I read in its publications and hear at its seminars, but I am proud to do my part to make sure everyone—no matter how much I disagree with what they say—has a place to air their views. I can’t imagine not being part of this dynamic educational opportunity.
Help Bring the Photo Archives into the 21st Century
Marine Captain Joe Foss inspired the nation. Flying an F4F Wildcat that was slower than the vaunted Japanese Zero, he shot down 26 fighters and bombers from October 1942 to January 1943. With his 26th victory, he became the first American pilot of World War II to equal Captain Eddie Rickenbacker’s World War I record. Captain Foss was pictured on the cover of Life magazine in June 1943, described as “America’s No. 1 Ace.” After the war, he was a two-term governor of South Dakota, became the first president of the American Football League, and later served as president of the National Rifle Association. He died on New Year’s Day 2003 at age 87, and was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.
Joe Foss’s image is among the approximately 40,000 photographs of individuals—both famous and not-so-famous—in the Naval Institute’s archives  of nearly half a million photos. For the past year, the Naval Institute has made a concerted effort to digitize its collection. Digitizing will help make the images available to a wider audience and reduce wear-and-tear on the original prints. Right now, the Archives staff is working to digitize approximately 1,000 selected photos of individuals, and seeks assistance to underwrite the labor and equipment costs of its preservation efforts. You can help by sending your tax-deductible gift to the Naval Institute Foundation, 291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402. For more information, please contact Sue Sweeney at (410) 295-1054, or at [email protected]  .
Articles on technology and innovation are made possible in part by a grant from Battelle Memorial Institute