Claire Flynn, a high school junior from Hartford, Connecticut, and Jude Shannon, an eighth-grader from Belle Chasse, Louisiana, were named the senior and junior winners, respectively, of the Ken Coskey Naval History Prize during the 2023
National History Day contest at College Park, Maryland, in June.
National History Day is a yearly competition for middle and high school students to create in-depth research projects—papers, documentaries, performances, exhibits, or websites—examining U.S. history. The theme for 2023 was “Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas.”
During the national competition, the Captain Ken Coskey Naval History prize is awarded each year to the best projects focusing on naval topics. Two prizes are awarded yearly, one in the junior and one in the senior category.
The prize was originally sponsored by the Naval Historical Foundation to honor and promote education in American naval history. The U.S. Naval Institute now continues to sponsor the prize, which is named after Navy Captain Kenneth L. “Ken” Coskey (1929–2013). In 1968, then-Commander Coskey was flying a night reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam when his plane was shot down. He was captured by the North Vietnamese and spent the ensuing years as a POW until released in 1972. He came home to continue his career in the Navy, retiring in 1982 as deputy director of the Naval Historical Center (now the Naval History and Heritage Command). During retirement he continued to serve the naval community as the executive director of the Naval Historical Foundation from 1987 to 1999.
Claire Flynn won the Coskey Prize senior category this year with her documentary Operation Sunshine: How the Nautilus’s Crossing of the Polar Frontier Allowed America to Emerge from Sputnik’s Shadow.
Jude Shannon won the Coskey Prize junior category this year for his exhibit titled “Andrew J. Higgins: A Frontiersman,” which examined the technological and strategic advancements made by Higgins with his famed “Higgins boat.”
Shannon highlighted the importance of National History Day and the Coskey Prize when he remarked, “I learned so much about researching, documenting sources, and creating historical records. More than that, I was able to learn and share about a man who deserves recognition for his inventions and impact.” —Jessie B. Henderson