The annual David T. Leighton lecture held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Naval Historical Foundation provides an opportunity for membership to hear from well-established authors and scholars on topics germane to naval history. The lecture honors David Trent Leighton (1925-2017) who hailed from a naval family and graduated with the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1946 in 1945. He eventually earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and then an inaugural M.S. degree in Nuclear Engineering from MIT. Selected for the Naval Nuclear Program in 1951, Leighton would serve under Adm. Hyman G. Rickover as a naval officer and then as a civil servant. Among his early credits was serving as the project officer for the development of the two-reactor plant installed in USS Triton which successfully circumnavigated the world submerged. In Aircraft Carriers at War, former CNO Adm. James L. Holloway III credits Leighton with selling the feasibility of reducing the number of reactors needed to propel an aircraft carrier from eight to two – thus making the introduction of the Nimitz-class carriers into the fleet a reality. As an individual who made history, Leighton gave back to the community in later years with contributions to MIT, Johns Hopkins, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the Naval Historical Foundation. His generous support to the NHF also included his time to share his recollections in an oral history posted on this website. We thank the Leighton family for their ongoing interest and support for this program. 

The Leighton Lecturers

2011: Dr. Thomas Hone
“The Interwar Navy” – Fleet preparations for WWII

2012: Adm. James L. Holloway III (Ret.)
“Into the Lion’s Den”– Haiphong Harbor Raid of 1972

2013: Rear Adm. Robert Shumaker (Ret.)
“Battle Behind the Bars” — POWs in the Hanoi Hilton

2014: Mr. Steven Vogel
“Through the Perilous Fight” – Burning of the Navy Yard

2015: Dr. David F. Winkler
“Ready Then, Ready Now” – 100 years of the USNR

2016: Dr. Anna G. Holloway
“Our Little Monitor”– USS Monitor in popular culture

2017: Dr. Timothy Orr
“Never Call Me a Hero” – Richard Best & Midway

2018: Mr. Mark Weber
“The Navy and Baseball” – Vets who played in MLB

2019: Dr. Brooke S. Blades
“Americans on D-Day” – featured naval photography

2020: Dr. Craig Symonds
“The Battle of the Atlantic” – WWII battle vs. U-Boats

 2021: Capt. Dan Pedersen
“Top Gun” – The founding of Fighter Weapons School

2022: Patrick O’Rourke
“The Indispensables” – Marblehead Sailors in the revolution