Robert Files Lopez was born in the city of Davenport, Iowa, on March 31, 1857. He was admitted to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1874 and made history in 1879 as the first Hispanic American to graduate from that institution. Lopez’s subsequent naval career included serving as an ensign aboard the USS Thetis when that... Continue Reading →

July 21, 1946   An aviation milestone took place with the first official U.S. assessment of the adaptability of an all-jet aircraft to shipboard operations. For that assessment, U.S. Navy (USN) Lieutenant Commander James J. Davidson piloted a McDonnell XFD-1 Phantom fighter jet as it made a series of successful catapult-free takeoffs from and landings on... Continue Reading →

July 9, 1942 U.S. Navy Secretary Frank Knox approved the establishment of a training center for pilots at a 1,400-acre (566.6-hectare) tract of land a few miles (kilometers) north of the city of Ottumwa, Iowa. About eight months after that authorization, the Ottumwa Naval Air Station (officially known as NAS Ottumwa) welcomed its first group... Continue Reading →

June 22, 1942  Less than seven months after the U.S. entry in World War II, construction began on one of the U.S. Navy tugboats that would serve in that global military conflict. This vessel was USS Kiowa, which was named after a Native American tribe of the Great Plains. Kiowa was constructed by the Charleston... Continue Reading →

In the spirit of the female African-American mathematicians whose efforts to strengthen and advance the U.S. space program despite discrimination are depicted in the movie Hidden Figures, Raye Jean Jordan Montague played an important if often overlooked pioneering role when it came to military seacraft. Montague, who was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1935,... Continue Reading →

March 6, 1965 Commander James R. Williford and his crew took off from the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet on a record-setting non-stop helicopter flight across the country. The Sikorsky SH-3A Sea King helicopter was named Dawdling Dromedary, and Williford, Lieutenant David A. Beil, and Aviation Machinist Mate 1st Class Paul J. Bert began... Continue Reading →

January 17, 1947 The U.S. Navy ship USS Burton Island, which was named after an island off the coast of Delaware, began her maiden voyage from San Diego to the Antarctic region’s Ross Sea. Navy Commander Gerald L. Ketchum was in command of the ship. The 269-foot (82-meter)-long icebreaker was designed by the naval architectural... Continue Reading →

October 31, 1956 [Photo courtesy of McDonnell Douglas.] The first-ever aircraft landing at the South Pole took place as a key part of Operation Deep Freeze II, the codename for a series of U.S. missions to Antarctica during 1956-57. The U.S. Navy plane used for this touching down at Earth’s southernmost point was a ski-equipped... Continue Reading →

Horacio Rivero, Jr., who was born in 1910 in the city of Ponce on the southern coast of Puerto Rico, earned renown as one of the U.S. Navy’s highest-ranking Hispanic American pioneers. In 1927, he received an appointment to attend the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA). Rivero graduated from the USNA in 1931, standing third in... Continue Reading →

July 26, 1997 The U.S. Navy cargo vessel USNS Watson was launched at the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company’s shipyard in San Diego. U.S. Secretary of the Army Togo D. West, Jr., was the principal speaker at the ceremony and his wife Gail christened the new ship with a bottle of champagne. (The vessel’s prefix... Continue Reading →

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