The Naval Historical Foundation’s Oral History program was launched in 1996. With the assistance of volunteers from around the country, the program has gathered over two hundred oral histories and memoirs. These interviews and memoir donations help preserve the history of the Military Service and offer valuable insights into the history and practices of the Navy. Researchers can find copies of these sources at the Operational Archives of the Naval History and Heritage Command, the Navy Department Library, and libraries at the Naval Academy, Naval Postgraduate School, and Naval War College, and now online!
Please visit our the Naval Historical Foundation Oral History Index, a listing of 196 completed oral histories.
Volunteers may use the Naval Historical Foundation’s Oral History Guidelines.
Please review the Naval History and Heritage Command guidelines on how to write and submit your own memoirs.
Selected Oral Histories Online
ADM William J. Crowe, Jr. – Oral History, Index: Admiral William J. Crowe, Jr. began his forty-six year Navy career graduating from the Naval Academy in June 1946 with the class of 1947 (accelerated due to World War II). Following graduation he had air indoctrination training at Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida then joined the destroyer minesweeper Carmick. However, Crowe did not remain with the surface Navy and in 1948, he attended the Submarine School, New London, Connecticut. After graduating from Submarine School he served aboard the Flying Fish followed by duty aboard the Clamagore. Detached from the Clamagore, Crowe became Assistant Officer in Charge of the Naval Administrative Unit at the Potomac River Naval Command and in this assignment he served as Assistant to the Naval Aide to the President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1956, he returned to sea as executive officer on Wahoo only to return to the District of Columbia to serve in a number of positions including the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. After commanding the submarine Trout, he attended Princeton University then joined the staff of Commander Submarine Squadron Three and later serving as Commander Submarine Division 31. During the Vietnam War he served as senior advisor for Task Force 211 and Commander Task Force 210. As a flag officer Admiral Crowe served in three four-star billets ending as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1985-1989. Following his retirement in 1989 Admiral Crowe embarked on a number of pursuits in civilian life including service as the U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James, in Great Britain. Admiral Crowe passed away on 18 October 2007.
RADM Mack C Gaston – Oral History: Rear Admiral Mack Gaston’s impressive naval career spanned almost 31 years. His professional record is documented with numerous achievements and awards and his distinguished performance at sea and in combat as a Surface Warfare Officer, including command of two destroyers and the cruiser USS Josephus Daniels, and ashore as Commander Field Command, Defense Nuclear Agency and as the first black Commander of Naval Training Center Great Lakes, is the subject of countless accolades. And yet, by no means does this record of excellence fully capture the measure of this extraordinary and inspirational person who as a young black male growing up in rural Georgia overcame daunting obstacles, including overt prejudice and institutional bias to graduate from Tuskegee University and receive a commission as an Ensign in the United States Navy in December 1964.
RADM Chester W Nimitz Jr – Oral History: Famous father aside, the career of RADM Chester W. Nimitz, Jr., USN (RET.) is worthy of an oral history because of his own naval service that opened with a tour on the USS Indianapolis with President Roosevelt embarked. He then transferred to the submarine service. He was embarked on USS Sturgeon en route to Manila, when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Consequently, he was among the first to take on the Japanese offensive juggernaut. He conducted numerous war patrols, serving as Executive Officer of USS Bluefish and Commanding Officer of USS Haddo. However, his greatest contribution to the U.S. war effort may have been his work to resolve the problems that plagued torpedo warhead exploders. His discussions of the problem contained herein are insightful.
RADM Kenneth E Wilson Jr – Oral History: Rear Admiral Kenneth E. Wilson, Jr., graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1947. He served principally in engineering posts during his almost 35 year military career. He served at sea on the cruiser USS Juneau in the Atlantic and Mediterranean areas in the late 40s and on the fast-attack submarine USS Gudgeon with the Pacific Fleet in the early 50s. Among his early assignments was as Repair and Engineering Officer of the submarine tender USS Proteus during its initial deployment in 1961 to the Holy Loch, Scotland, the advanced base for the first Polaris missile nuclear submarines. He also served in the Bureau of Ships, responsible for the concept design of new nuclear submarines and advanced hydrofoil craft, and in the Navy’s management office at Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT, where he was Inspection Officer, and later Design Officer, for the construction of twenty new nuclear attack and missile submarines. After engineering management tours at the Polaris and Poseidon Missile Systems Office in Washington and at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, he became the Commander of the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in 1970, and at that time was the youngest commander of a naval shipyard since World War II. After selection to Admiral in 1972, he was ordered to Washington where he served in the Naval Sea Systems Command for six years. His final position was as Vice Commander of that office, responsible for the management of all ship research, design, and maintenance, and of the more than 100,000 officer civilian employees at headquarters and in eight naval shipyards and other engineering support offices.