Faces of the Shipyard:
African American Contributions to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard

African Americans have a rich history in Kitsap County, the City of Bremerton, and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Individuals migrated to the area in search of new opportunities as early as the 1860s and continue to play important roles within the region today.

This exhibit highlights African American contributions to the Shipyard from 1910 to 2009. The featured individuals contributed to inventions such as the underwater arc cutting process, the portable smelting pot, and improved ways of wastewater disposal. They worked as Riggers, Riveters, and Laborers and served in leadership positions within the Shipyard and Bremerton community. Their commitment enables the Shipyard to serve the U.S. Navy and contributes to a higher quality of life for Bremerton residents.

1935 – 1960

Work at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard progressed during the Great Depression. When World War II began, employment opportunities at the Shipyard encouraged yet another flood of workers. Many African Americans migrated to the area and numbered as high as 10,000 during Bremerton's wartime peak.

Due to the increase in population, the government implemented housing programs similar to those during World War I. This led to the construction in 1943 of Bremerton's Sinclair Park, also known as Sinclair Heights. Sinclair Park served as a housing development for African Americans when neighborhoods became ethnically consolidated.

Click photograph for a larger image.

Bremerton's "Colored All-Star Team," 1944

The "Colored All-Stars" participated in the Navy Yard Baseball League during the 1940s.

Henry Myers (1893-1974)

Quote: "I think this is a good place to work, I like it here very much. There's a nice bunch of men to work with, and I find more variety in my present work than I did in the Supply Department at Philadelphia. Here my work takes me all over the ship, and there's always something to learn, from the peak tanks to the skeg. I didn't like the rain at first, but I don't mind that any more." ~ Myers Salute article quote.

Duvall Henry Myers was the first African American Leadingman Rigger at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. He transferred to the Shipyard from the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1944 and began work as a Rigger in Shop 72. Myers' major contribution to the U.S. Navy was the invention of the portable smelting pot, which made the extraction of metal from ore less difficult. President Roosevelt awarded Myers the coveted "2 Award" for outstanding service in the Department of the Navy. He also served his country as a member of the Army during WWI.

Sinclair Park Map

This 1947 Wartime Housing Map shows Bremerton's World War II building developments. Sinclair Park was located in West Bremerton and is located at the bottom left corner of the map.

(Source: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Pacific Alaska Region Facilities, Seattle: Records Group No. 181, Naval Districts and Shore Establishment, 13th Naval District)

Junior Griffin

Junior Griffin in Sinclair Park. Griffin lived at 5470 Latona Street. He was good friends with Quincy Jones, and was very popular in sports. He was one of the Bremerton All Stars.

Mrs. Marie Greer

Greer lived in Sinclair Heights during World War II. Below is her photograph, World War II War Ration Book, and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Badge

Photos courtesy of the Black Historical Society of Kitsap County.

Albert L. Colvin (1922-2008)

Albert L. Colvin first came to Bremerton, WA in 1940 to seek work at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. In 1944, the U.S. Army Air Corps Flight Training School accepted him as a Cadet in Tuskegee, Alabama. He successfully completed flight training in 1945. At the end of World War II, Colvin returned to Bremerton to resume his career as a Shipyard electrician in Shop 51. He later became a Planner and Estimator in the Shipyard, from which he retired after thirty-eight years of service. In addition to his work at the Shipyard, Colvin also served as a Bremerton City Councilman.

During the 1940s, Tuskegee, Alabama was home to a "military experiment" that trained the United States' first African American military pilots. In time, the "experiment" became known as the Tuskegee Experience and its participants as the Tuskegee Airmen. This photo shows Colvin dressed in his pilot's uniform.

Faye Alice (Hollis) Turpin

Faye Turpin was a well-known Head Matron in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard's Administration Building during World War II. In 1941, she married John Henry (Dick) Turpin. They were married in the Shipyard Chapel. The April 20, 1945 edition of Salute featured Turpin as "Woman of the Week."

United Service Organizations (U.S.O) Volunteers

The Bremerton-based, World War II-era U.S.O. worked with African American war production workers. Bremerton residents planned activities and served as hosts at the club.

United Service Organizations (U.S.O) Building

The U.S.O. was located at the Labor Temple, 850 Burwell Street, Bremerton, WA. It provided programs and services for African American war production workers from 1943 to 1946.

James Walker

James Walker and his wife, Lillian, moved to Bremerton, WA in 1942. Together, the Walkers fought racial discrimination in the area and helped organize the local chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. In 1997, they received the "MLK Citizens of the Century" award due to their service in the Bremerton community. In addition to his community service, Walker worked in the electronics department of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for thirty years.

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