A Team of Teams
Sailors are devoted to their shipmates, service, and nation. Operating from a core set of values, traditions, and purpose, Sailors regularly perform extraordinary and everyday acts of courage.
Teamwork among a ship's crew, Navy communities, joint operations with other branches of the Armed Forces, and partnerships promote an international, national, and worldwide spirit of trust. The Navy's commitment to cooperation and collaboration enables rapid and thorough responses to calls to action during times of war and peace.
Faces of the Navy
Stories of Sailors' perserverance, ingenuity, sacrifice, and historic firsts form the foundation upon which naval tradition is built. Celebrating the accomplishments of Sailors from diverse backgrounds is our primary mission. The museum will honor the Navy's 245- year history by exploring well known events in new ways that emphasize the common threads of Sailors' experiences.
There is a Navy career for anyone who wants to make a difference, serve others, and see the world. Opportunities for advancement in conventional areas of work, including logistics, intelligence, and information technology, prepare Sailors for success, both in and outside the Navy. Impressive professions that require specialized training, such as submarine electronics and cryptologic warfare, allow for unique — and rewarding — Navy experiences.
Commodore John Barry (b. 1745), born in Wexford, Ireland, was a captain in the Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War and later became the first commissioned officer in the United States Navy. Commodore Barry is considered the "Father of the American Navy" along with John Paul Jones and President John Adams.
(Official U.S. Navy photograph of a painting by Gilbert Stuart, K-18537)
Robert Smalls (b. 1839), an enslaved ship pilot, commandeered the Confederate steamer Planter and delivered it to the U.S. Navy just outside of Charleston Harbor, freeing himself and other enslaved people on the steamer in May 1862. After the war, Smalls served in the U.S. House of Representatives and was appointed Collector of Customs for Beaufort, South Carolina's port.
(Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-DIG-cwpbh-0368)
In 2002, Captain Kathlene Contres (b.1955) was the Navy's highest ranking female Hispanic line officer on active duty. She also became commandant of the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute and a two-term president of the Association of Naval Service Officers, which promotes the advancement of Hispanic naval officers. As of June 2018, approximately 59,000 Sailors of Hispanic American heritage are serving in the U.S. Navy.
(Official U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives, 330-CFD-DN-ST-94-02159)
Captain Marion Frederic Ramirez de Arellano (b. 1913), a native of Puerto Rico, was the first Hispanic American officer to command a submarine. He was awarded the Bronze Star medal (for valor) in 1945 for heroically navigating USS Balao (SS-285) through heavily-mined Japanese waters, firing well-timed torpedoes, and ultimately sinking an enemy tanker and schooner. Captain Arellano's "skills, courage, and devotion to duty" throughout his career also earned him two Silver Stars and the Legion of Merit.
(Courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command Navy Library, photograph from the "The Lucky Bag, 1935")
Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps Lenah S. Higbee (b. 1874) served in the U.S. Navy for 14 years. Chief Nurse Higbee was one of the "Sacred Twenty," the first group of female nurses in the Navy's history, and led the Nurse Corps through the devasting Spanish influenza epidemic of the late 1910s. Notably, Higbee was the first female recipient of the Navy Cross in 1920 for her leadership of the Navy Nurse Corps during World War I.
(Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-H261-24815)
Edward Hidalgo (b. 1912) served as Secretary of the Navy from October 1979 to January 1981. A former naval officer during World War II and law firm partner in his hometown of Mexico City, Mexico, Hidalgo advocated for the recruitment of Hispanic Americans for both officer and enlisted ranks.
(Courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Comand Navy Library)
Admiral Joseph J. “Jocko” Clark (b. 1893), of Cherokee descent, was the first Native American to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1917. Clark served in World War I and was a flag officer on board many carriers during World War II. He participated in the occupation of French Morocco in 1942, the Marcus-Gilbert Campaign in 1943-44, and the Mariana Islands Campaign, notably the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944. In recognition of his outstanding service, he was awarded the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal (two awards). The guided missile frigate USS Clark (FFG-11) was named in his honor.
(Offical U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives, 80-G-398088)
Petty Officer First Class Zachary Corallo, an inventory manager with the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation’s Customer Operations Directorate, was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He spoke to employees about serving and gaining respect as a gay man during the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month event held in Richmond, Virginia in 2016.
(Defense Logistics Agency photograph)
Admiral David Glasgow Farragut (b. 1801), son of a Spanish merchant and American Continental Navy captain, had an extensive naval career. In 1812, he became prize master of Alexander Barclay, bringing her safely to Chile. During the 1864 Battle of Mobile Bay, in which Confederates mined the water with torpedoes, Farragut valiantly called from his flagship USS Hartford to “Damn the torpedoes!...Full Speed Ahead!” He was the first Rear Admiral, Vice Admiral, and Admiral in the U.S. Navy.
(Naval History and Heritage Command photograph, NH 49523)
Brothers Oliver Hazard Perry (b. 1785) and Matthew C. Perry (b. 1794) served during the War of 1812, with the older leading the Lake Erie fleet to victory. Commodore Matthew C. Perry, known as the “Father of the Steam Navy,” traveled to the East Indies in 1853 and 1854 in hopes of opening Japanese ports to American trade. He landed in Tokyo Bay with much pomp and hundreds of Sailors and Marines, hand-delivering a letter from President Millard Fillmore. He returned to the United States in 1855 with a signed treaty declaring that Japanese ports were open to American ships.
(Courtesy of the Library of Congress. Artist: W. Peters. Lithograph by Sarony & Co., LC-USZC4-3379)
Chief Petty Officer James E. Williams (b. 1930), a native South Carolinian of Cherokee descent, is the most decorated enlisted Sailor in U.S. Navy history. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1968 for his “exemplary fighting spirit in the face of grave risks” during the Vietnam War. Despite overwhelming odds, Williams bravely led his Patrol Boat, Riverine craft against the Viet Cong, ultimately destroying over 50 enemy vessels and disrupting a key logistical operation. The guided missile destroyer USS James E. Williams (DDG-95) is named in his honor.
(Naval History and Heritage Command photograph, L.38-97.04.01)
Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. (b. 1922), the first African American to achieve flag rank in the United States Navy, had a long and trailblazing career. Gravely’s nearly 40 years of naval service spanned three major conflicts – World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War – in which he distinguished himself as a leader. He was also the first African American to command a combatant ship and a naval fleet. In 2010, the destroyer USS Gravely (DDG-107) was commissioned in his honor.
(Naval History and Heritage Command photograph, NH 96777)
Former-Navy captain and aviator Sunita L. Williams (b. 1965) served as flight engineer and science officer on the International Space Station (ISS) in 1998. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Captain Williams is a veteran of two space expeditions and is currently training for her third mission aboard the ISS.
Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz (b. 1885) (right) was the United States Navy signatory to the surrender agreement with Japan aboard USS Missouri (BB-63) on September 2, 1945. The year before, he was promoted to the newly created rank of Fleet Admiral while serving as Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas, a position he held during most of the war. The Nimitz-class of ten nuclear-powered aircraft carriers is named in his honor.
(Naval History and Heritage Command photograph, NH 64687)
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate, Handling (ABH) Third Class Woo Choe (right) stands watch as part of a crash and salvage crew on board aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) in August 2007. An ABH plays a major role in directing the movement and spotting of aircraft.
(Official U.S. Navy photograph, 070814-N-7981E-160)
Neil A. Armstrong (b. 1930), a former naval aviator who flew 78 combat missions during the Korean War, was the first person to walk on the moon. In 1962, Armstrong was selected as an astronaut by NASA where he commanded the Gemini VIII mission in 1966 and the first lunar landing mission, Apollo XI, in 1969. Armstrong received many honors - both national and international - for his accomplishments, including: the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.
Ensign Jesse L. Brown (b. 1926 – d. 1950) was the first African American to complete U.S. Navy flight training and the first African American naval aviator to be killed in combat. On December 4, 1950, Brown, shown here in the cockpit of an F4U-4 Corsair fighter, crash-landed his Corsair on his way to Korea to assist U.N. forces. He posthumously received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and the Purple Heart, and has a ship named in his honor.
(Official U.S. Navy photograph, USN 1146845)
Squadron commander Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Thomas J. Hudner, Jr. (b. 1924) (right) attempted a heroic rescue of Ensign Jesse Brown during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War. Lieutenant Hudner purposefully crash-landed next to Brown’s wrecked Corsair. Finding Brown trapped in the aircraft, Hudner was forced to leave him behind. Lieutenant Hudner received the Medal of Honor for his gallantry.
(Official U.S. Navy photograph, NH 97093)
Rear Admiral Alene B. Duerk (b. 1920) became the U.S. Navy’s first female flag officer in 1972. Her extensive nursing and teaching career at naval hospitals and hospital ships led to her appointment as the director of the Navy Nurse Corps from 1970 to 1975. Rear Admiral Duerk earned many awards and decorations, including: the Naval Reserve Medal (American Campaign Medal), the World War II Victory Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.
(Naval History and Heritage Command photograph, L38.24.01.01)
Petty Officer Second Class (SEAL) Michael A. Monsoor (b. 1981 – d. 2006) was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for smothering an enemy grenade with his body and saving two of his fellow SEALs in September 2006 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Guided missile destroyer USS Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) was commissioned in 2019 in his memory.
(Official U.S. Navy Photograph)
John Paul Jones (b. 1747), a naval commander during the American Revolutionary War, is often cited as the father of naval traditions. He showed skill, bravery, and dedication during the battle between his flagship Bonhomme Richard and HMS Serapis in September 1779. Despite his own ship sinking, Captain Jones refusal to accept the British demand for surrender and declared, "I have not yet begun to fight."
(Naval History and Heritage Command photograph of oil on pressboard, NH 50112-KN)
With over 40 years of military service dating back to World War II, Rear Admiral Grace B. M. Hopper (b. 1906) was a pivotal figure in developing the Navy’s computer programming infrastructure: she was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer. At the time of her retirement in 1986, Rear Admiral Hopper was the oldest commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy and was interred in Arlington National Cemetery following her passing.
(Naval History and Heritage Command photograph, NH 95919-KN)
Before his legendary career with the New York Yankees, Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Lawrence P. “Yogi” Berra (b. 1925) served as a gunner’s mate in the U.S. Navy. Eighteen year old Berra enlisted in 1944, just in time to participate in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France. Yogi Berra continued to support the troops after he was honorably discharged from the Navy. In 2010, he was honored with the Audie Murphy Award for his service.
(National Archives photograph, 56-SP-SBD-270)
In 1954, Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate Carl M. Brashear (b. 1931) completed U.S. Navy Diving & Salvage training, becoming the first African American to attend and graduate from the training and the first African American U.S. Navy diver. While recovering a nuclear weapon off the coast of Spain in 1966, a pipe struck Brashear’s left leg, leading to the amputation of his leg below the knee. Despite the injury, Brashear persevered and proved that he could still dive. In 1970, he qualified as the first African American master diver in the U.S. Navy.
(Naval History and Heritage Command photograph, NH 107665)
Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy (b. 1875) had a varied career, serving as the Chief of Naval Operations from 1937-1939, the governor of Puerto Rico in 1939, and the ambassador to France from 1940-1942. He was a senior leader of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during World War II, in which he played a critical role in helping President Franklin D. Roosevelt develop and execute strategies to win the war. Upon Roosevelt’s death, Leahy continued to aid President Harry S. Truman in securing victory over Japan and Germany in 1945.
(National Archives photograph, 80-G-K-14447)
Cook Third Class Doris “Dorie” Miller (b. 1919 – d. 1943) was awarded the Navy Cross by Admiral Chester Nimitz for his courageous actions during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. With no training, Miller manned a .50 caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun on board USS West Virginia (BB-64) and carried wounded Sailors to safety. Cook Third Class Miller was later killed in action on November 24, 1943 when his escort carrier USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56) was sunk by a Japanese submarine. In January 2020, the Navy named its newest aircraft carrier USS Doris Miller (CVN-81) in his honor.
(National Archives photograph, 80-G-408456)
Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono, M.D. (b. 1957), a board-certified trauma surgeon of Filipino descent, was the director of the Defense Health Agency and, in 2020, led the state of Washington’s healthcare system’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have dutifully served in the U.S. Navy since the 19th century.
(Official Navy photograph, 130520-N-WF-272-029)
Landsman John Lawson (b. 1837) earned the Medal of Honor for his actions while serving on the sloop-of-war USS Hartford during the American Civil War. During the Battle of Mobile Bay in August 1864, Lawson, an ammunition bearer, was severely injured. Nevertheless, he remained at his post and supplied Hartford' s guns, proving his absolute devotion to his crewmates and ship. The U.S. Navy cut off a major Southern port and strengthened the blockade of the Gulf of Mexico east of the Mississppi River.
(Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-118553)
Captain Rosemary B. Mariner (b. 1953) broke down barriers for women in aviation: she was the first female commanding officer to lead the VAQ-34 squadron of electronic warfare aircraft. In a 1982 interview, Captain Mariner stated that "In modern warfare, the emphasis is not on physical strength, but on brain power operating sophisticated weapons systems." Female pilots were first allowed to fly in combat missions in 1993 thanks in part to Captain Mariner’s work with members of Congress to revoke biased regulations.
(Courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command Navy Library)
Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd (b. 1888) led the Byrd Expedition to the North Pole in May 1926. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for risking his life during his courageous flight over the pole. The pioneering aviator flew to the Antarctic in 1929 and continued to explore and study the region through the mid-1950s, culminating in Phase I of Operation Deep Freeze in March 1955.
(National Archives photograph, 306-NT-549A-3)
Admiral of the Navy George Dewey (b. 1837) - the only person to hold this rank - aided the Union in controlling the Mississippi River during the American Civil War. In 1898, he defeated the Spanish fleet at Manila Bay, Philippine Islands during the Spanish-American War. This victory extended the United States’ power into the western Pacific.
(Naval History and Heritage Command photograph, NH 84510-KN)
Commodore Stephen Decatur, Jr. (b. 1779) led “the most bold and daring act of the age” in 1804 when he boarded the grounded frigate Philadelphia in Tripoli’s harbor and blew it up, preventing the Tripolitans from using the ship. He became a distinguished Captain during the War of 1812, commanding United States and capturing HMS Macedonian.
(Naval History and Heritage Command photograph of an oil on canvas by V. Zveg, 1976, NH 85220-KN)
Admiral John A. Dahlgren (b. 1809), the “Father of American Ordnance” and commandant of the Washington Navy Yard during the American Civil War, designed and produced the famous Dahlgren gun. These cast iron muzzle loading cannons were the most commonly used cannons on U.S. Navy ships during the Civil War. While commandant, Dahlgren befriended President Lincoln, who visited the Washington Navy Yard to watch the test-firing of ordnance down the Anacostia River.
(Naval History and Heritage Command photograph, NH 51759)
Admiral Hyman G. Rickover (b. 1900) served 64 years as a naval officer, nearly 30 of which he held a flag rank. Known as the “Father of the Nuclear Navy,” Rickover helped to lead the effort in developing USS Nautilus (SSN-571) - the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine - in 1955. His controversial leadership style and influence over the Navy’s nuclear fleet make him one of the most famous admirals of the Cold War.
(Naval History and Heritage Command photograph, UA.436.02.03)
Captain Joan C. Bynum, Nurse Corps, became the first African American woman to advance to the rank of captain in the U.S. Navy in 1978, setting the course for future African American women – and Navy women in general – to achieve higher ranks. Navy nurses work in over 250 medical facilities on shore, at sea, and in the field.
(National Archives photograph, 428-GX-K-122086)
Admiral Arleigh A. Burke (b. 1901) served as the Navy’s fifth Chief of Naval Operations (1955-1961) and, in 1961, established the Navy’s flagship museum at the Washington Navy Yard. Before his role as CNO, he commanded Destroyer Squadron 23 during World War II and was a delegate to the United Nations during the Korean War. An entire class of guided missile destroyers is named in his honor.
(Naval History and Heritage Command photograph of a painting by Cedric Egeli, NH 95882-KN)
Commander Ernest E. Evans (b. 1908 - d. 1944), an Oklahoman of Cherokee and Creek heritage, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his contributions to the Allied victory during World War II, for which he gave his life. Commander Evans and his ship USS Johnston (DD-557) were sunk by the Japanese navy on October 25, 1944 while protecting vulnerable U.S. aircraft carriers during the Battle off Samar. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his valiant fighting spirit.
(Naval History and Heritage Command photograph, NH 63499)
Before he became the 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy (b. 1917) joined the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1941. Lieutenant Kennedy saw direct combat during World War II when he commanded several patrol torpedo (PT) boats, one of which, PT-109, was cut in half by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri. Kennedy and his crew swam several miles to safety on Osalana Island, where they were eventually rescued. In August 1963, then-President Kennedy wrote of his naval service: “Any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction, 'I served in the United States Navy.’”
(National Archives photograph, 80-G-165141)
Lieutenant Commander Nehkonti Adams, (left), a Liberian-born infectious diseases physician, joined the U.S. Navy at age 18. She entered the Tropical Medicine Program, which allowed her to travel to nearly 40 countries to work with local doctors on how to manage diseases. Dr. Adams is now the director of Tropical Medicine and has since returned to Liberia to establish a field mission in her birthplace.
(Official U.S. Navy photograph)