Black Submariners in the United States Navy, 1940–1975

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About the Book

For as long as an American naval force has existed, black sailors have served it with bravery, distinction, and little or no recognition. They have since earned praise for service in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War, and more recently, they were integral to the development of the U.S. Submarine Service. Their roles limited by segregation, black submariners nonetheless were a key element of the “Silent Service” throughout World War II. With desegregation came expanded opportunities, and black submariners witnessed the birth and evolution of the nuclear-powered submarine, and some of the tensest moments of the Cold War. These men paved the way for those who followed—their contributions deserve recognition, and their stories deserve to be told.
This exploration of the role of African American submariners chronicles their service from World War II through the Cold War era. An historical overview of black sailors and the evolution of the Steward’s Branch, to which black sailors were eventually restricted, precede descriptions of becoming a steward and a submariner, and of life as a submariner during World War II. An account of black submariners in post-war service during desegregation, the development of the nuclear submarine, and throughout the Cold War follows. Oral histories of more than fifty black submariners who served in World War II and post-war form the heart of the book. Photographs of the men profiled, including wartime photographs, complement the text. Appendices outline the naval steward rating system, list all black submarine stewards serving in World War II, top stewards by number of war patrols, and those lost or killed during wartime service. Rear Admiral Melvin G. Williams, Jr., submarine fleet commander and son of one of the men profiled, provides a foreword.

About the Author(s)

Author and lecturer Glenn A. Knoblock is the author of many works of history. The top military contributor to the Harvard/Oxford University Press eight volume African-American National Biography (2008), he also writes on local history. He lives in Wolfeboro Falls, New Hampshire.

Bibliographic Details

Glenn A. Knoblock
Foreword by Rear Admiral Melvin G. Williams, Jr.
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 494
Bibliographic Info: 130 photos, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011 [2005]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6430-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8300-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword by Melvin G. Williams, Jr., Rear Admiral, United States Navy      1

Acknowledgments      3

Preface      7

I. Black Sailors and the Evolution of the Steward’s Branch in the United States Navy from 1775 to 1939      9

II. Overview of the Steward’s Branch of the United States Navy During World War II      13

III. Becoming a Steward      18

Joining the Navy: Voluntary Enlistment      18

Joining the Navy via the Draft      21

The Navy Boot Camp Experience      22

Black Sailors and the Navy’s Rating System During the War      28

IV. Becoming a Submariner      33

From Boot Camp to Submarines      33

From the Surface Navy to the Silent Service      39

Transfer from a Tender, Relief Crew, or Shore Duty      42

V. Life as a Wartime Submariner      45

The Daily Routine of a Submarine Steward      45

Qualifying as a Submariner      53

Battle-Station Action      60

The Men of the O-, R-, and S-Class Boats      77

Other Shipboard Activities      81

Crew Relations Aboard the Boat      94

Rest and Relaxation Ashore      121

Leaving the Boat      137

At War’s End      144

VI. The Submarine Navy During the Postwar Years      161

The End of the 1940s and President Truman’s Desegregation Order      162

The 1950s: Enter the Nuclear Age      179

The 1960s: Boomers and Fast Attacks      210

1970–1975: An End and a Beginning      239

VII. Histories of Black Submariners      257

Carroll Louden Allen      258

Jesse Allen      260

William Allison      261

Bruce Anderson      263

Dave Ball      264

George Bracey      266

Arthur Brown      266

Mack Butler      269

Wallace Coleman      271

Robert Coley      272

David Collier      273

Clark Cooper      274

Tyree Cornish      276

Joseph Cross      277

Earnest Danford      278

Alonza Davis      279

Everett Davis      280

Lewis Davis      282

Shirley Day      283

Jesse Debro      285

Nathan Dogan      286

Russell Donan      287

Donald Fenner      288

LC Fisher      290

Robert Goens      290

John Gray      293

William Green      293

Harold Hale      294

Alfred Hall      296

Leslie Hamilton      297

L.T. Hammond      298

John Harris      299

Arthur Haynes      300

Curtis Hill      300

Lonnie Jackson      302

Zedell Jackson      303

Willie James      303

Isaac Johnson      305

Woodrow Wilson Jones      307

Carl Kimmons      308

William Knight      314

Richard Lucas      315

George Washington Lytle      316

Sammie Major      317

Elvin Mayo      318

Hosey Mays      319

Edward McNair      321

Bert Minor      323

Eugene Mosley, Jr.      324

R.D. Mosley      325

William Murray      326

Edward Neely      329

Killraine Newton      330

Claude Palmer, Jr.      332

Walter Patrick      333

Roscoe Pennington      337

William Perry      338

John Phillips      340

Paul Ragland      340

Charles Richardson      342

Anderson Royal      343

Albert Rozar      351

Leonard Rozar      352

Harry Senior      354

Spaulding Settle      354

Mason Smith      355

Albert Soles      357

Jake Spurlock      359

Jim Stallings      360

Lacey Stevenson      361

Ezell “Tommy” Strong      362

O’Neal Thaxton      362

Hadwick Thompson      363

Otha Toler      364

Magnus Wade      366

Sam Wallace      368

Strauther Wallace      373

James Washington      373

Rufus Weaver      374

Carl White      378

John Wesley Whitehead      379

Walter Wilson      380

Appendix A. The Steward Rating System, 1939–1974      383

Appendix B. Black Submarine Stewards Killed or Lost During World War II      385

Appendix C. Top Stewards During World War II by Number of War Patrols      388

Appendix D. Black Stewards of World War II      392



Bibliography      467

Published Works      467

Internet Sources      469

Unpublished Personal Manuscripts, Documents, and Letters      469

Unpublished Government Documents, Citations, and Commendations      470

Personal Accounts      470

National Archives Source Material      473

Index      475

Book Reviews

“recommended”—ARBA; “impressive and impeccably researched”—Midwest Book Review; “Knoblock does an excellent job tracing the rapid evolution of the role of Black sailors in the submarine service”—The Northern Mariner/Le Marin du Word.