In His Own Words: James E. Wise Jr.
I come from a family of stockyards workers—modest, hard-working people. To my knowledge, none of my ancestors served in the military; they were either too young or too old to don a uniform. After graduating from Northwestern University in the midst of the Korean War, I decided I wanted to serve my country. When I asked my father which service I should enter, he advised me to join the Navy because it had the best-looking uniforms—and he suggested aviation because pilots make the most money. I became a naval aviator in 1953. My parents were very proud of my career.
I first learned of the Naval Institute when I was an NROTC instructor at the University of Kansas in the early 1960s. I was teaching naval history to freshmen midshipmen and quickly discovered what the Institute had to offer to a young officer with a limited knowledge of his subject matter. Proceedings and many Naval Institute Press books became mainstays in my personal library—and remain so to this day. I joined the Naval Institute in 1964.