BOOK REVIEW – The Journey of a Warrior, The Twenty-Ninth Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, General Alfred Mason Gray

By Col. Gerald H. Turley, USMCR (Ret.), IUniverse, Inc., (2012).

Reviewed by John Grady

The Journey of a Warrior is a “friend’s book.” Gerald Turley has known, respected, and worked with and for Al Gray for years. That is both the book’s greatest strength and a weakness. As he wrote, “Again, this is not a biography. Rather, it is an effort to capture the picture ‘before the colors,’ face based on my personal observations and those who were close to General Gray during the later stages of his career.”

(read the full review)

On 27 December 1990, Lieutenant Commander Darlene M. Iskra became the first woman to command a U.S. Navy ship, the rescue and salvage vessel USS Opportune (ARS 41). She is shown here on board Opportune in February 1991.

Merry Christmas from the Naval Historical Foundation! This 1985 photo shows the battleship USS Iowa (BB 61) decorated with Christmas lights. Lights outline the barrels of its 16-inch guns. DoD image DN-ST-85-05490.

On 22 December 1841 USS Mississippi, the first U.S. ocean-going side-wheel steam warship, was commissioned at Philadelphia. This 1895 drawing by Clary Ray depicts Mississippi during the Civil War. NHHC image NH 60655.

BOOK REVIEW – Athenia Torpedoed: The U-Boat Attack That Ignited the Battle of the Atlantic

By Francis M. Carroll, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD. (2012)

Reviewed by David Kronenfeld

Athenia Torpedoed is the latest work by Canadian history professor Francis M. Carroll. The author of ten books, Professor Carroll is currently professor emeritus at the University of Manitoba. Athenia Torpedoed documents the passenger ship Athenia’s background, sailing, sinking, and resulting personal and political fallout. Carroll painstakingly compiled dozens of first-hand accounts from crew, passengers and rescuers to paint a complete picture of the events surrounding the sinking of the first Allied vessel lost to U-boats in what became known as the Battle of the Atlantic.

(read the full review)

Call for Papers: 2013 International Graduate Student Conference on the Cold War

The George Washington University Cold War Group (GWCW), The Center for Cold War Studies (CCWS) of the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the LSE IDEAS Cold War Studies Programme of the London School of Economics and Political Science (CWSP) are pleased to announce their 2013 International Graduate Student Conference on the Cold War, to take place at the George Washington University on April 25-27, 2013. To be considered, each prospective participant should submit a two-page proposal and a brief academic c.v. (in Word or pdf format) to GW’s Institute for European and Eurasian Studies ( by January 31, 2013.

(find out more here)

NHF Facilitates Donation of World War II Naval Aviation Records

The Naval Historical Foundation recently helped to facilitate the donation of unique squadron records and artifacts to the Navy’s premiere naval aviation museum. The donation of materials from World War II fighter squadrons VF-3 and VBF-3 to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, was made possible by NHF Chairman Admiral Bruce DeMars, USN (Retired). The records were donated by Mrs. Dorothy Armistead, widow of two pilots who flew with those squadrons during the war.

(Learn more about the donation)

On 17-18 December 1944, Admiral Halsey’s Third Fleet encountered a huge storm (Typhoon Cobra) northeast of Samar in the Pacific Ocean. The destroyers USS Hull, USS Monaghan and USS Spence were sunk, while 21 other ships were damaged. This circa 1938 photo shows Monaghan underway. National Archives image 80-G-425603.

Earlier this month we posted an excerpt from the oral history of Captain Douglas Phillips, USN (Retired), which detailed his first-hand experiences during the attack on Pearl Harbor. We just received a photo of then-Lieutenant Phillips, and wanted to share it.

You can read his account of December 7, 1941 here:

BOOK REVIEW – Many Were Held by the Sea: The Tragic Sinking of HMS Otranto

By R. Neil Scott, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Lanham, MD. (2012.)

Reviewed by Alan M. Anderson

During World War I, over two million American servicemen were successfully transported across the Atlantic Ocean to England and France. Of the many troopships traveling eastward, German U-boats torpedoed three. The only other troopship lost, Otranto, sank on 6 October 1918, after another troopship rammed her during a terrific storm in the channel between Ireland and northern Scotland. Over 350 American soldiers lost their lives in the disaster, more than the number of Americans lost on any one of the troopships that were torpedoed. In total, 470 lives were lost when Otranto went down.

(read the full review here)