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)

Historian Glenn A. Knoblock is the author of many works of New England, New Hampshire, and transportation history. A lecturer for the New Hampshire Humanities, 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 & Awards

“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.