Midway Currents Spring 2022


Greetings from the flight deck of the USS Midway, where we are once again hearing the excited voices of school children as they move about the ship. We are also getting very busy booking after-hour events as America emerges from its COVID coma and begins to return to normal. 

Additionally, we’re seeing our museum visitors return in larger numbers, and our hangar and flight decks are coming back to life for all of our San Diego residents and tourists alike. Midway Magic is alive and well, and we’re recovering and building towards the future.

In my last column, I talked about how fortunate we were to have survived the pandemic and still be on a solid financial footing, while maintaining a strong staff and seeing the return of most of our volunteers. 

As we begin to rebuild our programs to support the increase in demand, we are also beginning a very exciting future as we work to expand Midway’s footprint beyond the ship. I am very pleased to announce to our members and supporters, that we have begun work to build a park to honor veterans on Navy Pier which will extend around to the Bob Hope Memorial next to the Fish Market restaurant on the G Street Mole.

The Port of San Diego has begun work to finalize the shoring up of all of the pylons beneath the pier. When the Port is finished, hopefully within the next year, we will be ready to demolish Building 11 at the foot of the pier and begin building Freedom Park at Navy Pier. 

We will keep you all apprised as we begin our project, but I wanted you to know that we have finally achieved the consensus between the Port, the California Coastal Commission and Midway on the footprint for the future park. In fact, I just recently signed a memorandum of understand (MOU) with the Port to collaborate on the park’s construction. Once built, it will be the largest veterans park on the West Coast, and serve as an anchoring piece of San Diego for future generations. 

We have set an ambitious goal to schedule the ground-breaking ceremony to begin construction of the park in 2024, the 20th anniversary of the arrival of USS Midway to San Diego. It will be a great celebration for our entire city and a tribute to our veterans for centuries to come. 

Thank you all for your constant support.

Onward and upward,


What a wonderful welcome so many have extended me in my nearly first year – thank you! As the daughter of a Vietnam War veteran and a San Diego native, it is an honor to be a member of the USS Midway Museum family. 

The spirit of giving that I’ve experienced in my first year at Midway has been phenomenal. Your membership and generosity support Midway’s exceptional education programs, restoration projects, and new exhibits. Thank you for your on-going, unconditional commitment to Midway.

Yet mine isn’t the only new face in the department. Katie Andersen, who spent the last six years as Midway’s guest services manager, joins our team as the new membership manager. Previously with the San Diego Padres and New Children’s Museum, Katie is excited to begin building relationships with our members. We are truly thrilled to have her on board.

Karen Garst recently completed her 13th year as our membership coordinator – as a full-time volunteer. Yes, you read that correctly, a full-time volunteer. Karen is the heart and soul of this department and regales us with stories from Midway sailors, whom she loves connecting with every day. She is also the office baker and is adding to our waistlines with her amazing homemade goodies.

When my Foundation president predecessor, Dan Beintema, retired last year, he shared some insights with me that I’m seeing ring true every day – you won’t find a better culture of kindness, teamwork and selflessness among the staff, volunteers and members. 

What Dan did not share with me was our museum CEO’s affinity for the classic Disney song “Heigh Hi, Heigh Ho, It’s Off to Work We Go,” every time our world-famous docents head off on their daily shifts. And I mean every time. While that song may no longer be a “classic” here in our offices, it still motivates us to ensure the finest guest experience for all our visitors.

There’s no question that the pandemic has made the last two years on Midway more challenging, but it has also brought us new opportunities. We’ve had the chance to evaluate our resources, reimagine guest experiences, and take a fresh look at our fundraising priorities. One thing, however, that has remained constant during this time has been the incredible loyalty from our Midway Members. We can’t thank you enough.

I’m delighted to be part of the Midway Magic and I look forward to getting to know you.


A-1 Self Storage
Larry & Dawn Aandahl
David & Lee Abrams
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Douglas & Anita Accountius
Karl Achterkirchen
Janice Ainsworth
Laura & Michael Akahori
Patricia & Robert Alderman
Buford Alexander & Pam Farr
CDR & Mrs. Robert Allen, USN (Ret.)
AMG Demolition and Environmental Service
Dale & Louise Anderson
James Anderson
Janet Andrews
Murray Andrews
Michael & Corinne Araki-Kawaguchi
CAPT Veronica Armstrong-Evans, USN (Ret.) & Mr. Renall Evans
CAPT & Mrs. Ralph Arnott, USN (Ret.)
Frank & Evelyn Ault
Barry & Susan Austin
AVRP Studios Architects
Michael & Judy Bailey
Anthony & Linda Barbieri
Virtus Bartels
Robert & Patricia Bates
Anita Baumgardner
Bradford Beck
Daniel D. Beintema
Vincent & Marilyn Benstead
George Berg, Jr. & Sally Berg
Jeff & Lisa Berg
Richard & Lynette Berg
Jack Berger
Jack Bergersen
ASCS & Mrs. Irving Bernhardt, USN (Ret.)
Beyster Family Foundation Fund IV
David Bialis
Richard & Jean Biro
James & Kathryn Bishop
Ilah Bjella
Karen Black
Arthur & Anne Bleier
Michael & Griselda Blevins
CAPT & Mrs. William Bogle, USN (Ret.)
CAPT & Mrs. Leland Bolt, USN (Ret.)
Forrest Booth
CDR & Mrs. Michael Borich, USN (Ret.)
David & Marjory Bowles
CAPT & Mrs. Allen Boyce, USN (Ret.)
John Boyce & Debbie Fritsch
Stuart & Laura Boykoff
James & Rena Bragdon
RADM & Mrs. Steven Briggs, USN (Ret.)
D. Genene Broers
DCC & Mrs. James Brt, USN (Ret.)
CAPT & Mrs. Edward Buchanan, USN (Ret.)
Paul Buddington
Katherine Buie & Jim Snook
CDR & Mrs. Kirk Burgamy, USN (Ret.)
CAPT & Mrs. James Burin, USN (Ret.)
Dennis & Sandy Burks
Malin & Roberta Burnham
The Burnham Foundation
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Kenneth Calderon
Rodney & Pamela Calhoun
California Retired Teachers Association – Division 60
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Carol Callaway
Jerry Canning
CDR & Mrs. Bryan Caraveo, USN
Rew Carne
CDR James W. Carroll, USN (Ret.)
Michael Carruthers
Steven & Lori Cartmill
CWO4 Edwin Case, USN (Ret.) & Ms. Deanna Haralson
Charles Cavanaugh
CAPT & Mrs. Richard Cavicke, USN (Ret.)
Ursula Centers
David & Venus Chapman
Gary & Nancy Chapman
Thomas & Pat Chapman
Richard Cherba
William & Wendy Chiles
Robert & Gigi Chisel
PRC Boyd L. Chisholm, USN (Ret.)
Herbert Choy & Ann Pon
Charles & Susan Christian
Mary Ciokon, in memory of Joe Ciokon
Circle the Globe Productions, Inc
Ben & Nikki Clay
LT & Mrs. Edward Cleveland, USNR (Ret.)
Coca-Cola Bottling Co.
John Cochran & Sue Lasbury
Nicholas & Patricia Codd
Colin Cole & Sharon Calton
OSC & Mrs. Ronald Coleman, USN
LtCol & Mrs. Kenneth Collyer, USMC (Ret.)
Paula Cordeiro, Ed.D & David O’Brien
Larry & Cornick
CAPT & Mrs. Louis Cortellini, USN (Ret.)
Michael Cousins
Samuel & Carrie Cox
The Honorable Greg Cox & Cheryl Cox, Ed.D
Cox Communications
Kevin & Leigh Crabtree
Peter & Mattie Craig
Douglas & Lois Crane
LCDR Stephen M. Crawford, USNR (Ret.)
CDR & Mrs. Gunder Creager, USN (Ret.)
Kenneth & Lillian Cross
James & Jane Crowe
HMCS & Mrs. Gabriel Cruz, USN (Ret.)
LCDR & Mrs. Robert Culver, USN (Ret.)
LCDR Paul D. Cummings, Jr., USN (Ret.)
COL Scott A. Dalke, USMC (Ret.)
Kyle Dallape
JoAnne Dansdill
DAR Rincon Del Diablo
George & Diane Dauphine
The Steven D. & Karen M. Davis Foundation
Jenni Day
Philippe & Doria de La Chapelle
Brian & Susan Dean
Thomas & Margene Dean
Bradley DeBlanc
Paula M. DeBlanc
Dennis & Laurie Delmar
CAPT & Mrs. Joseph K. Deutsch, USN (Ret.)
David Dickson
Eric Dickson
CDR Thomas E. Digan, USNR (Ret.)
Michele Digiansante
CAPT & Mrs. Jimmy DiMatteo, USN (Ret.)
Donald & Joanie Dinsmore
CAPT John A. Dirks, JAGC, USNR (Ret.)
David & Rose Marie Dishman
Bill & Wanda Dixon
DLK Investment Management, LLC
CAPT Mo Peelle, USN (Ret.) & Sandra Dodge
CWO3 & Mrs. Neal Draime, USN (Ret.)
Paul & Valerie Draper
John & Mary Ann Driscoll
Robert & Laura Duggan
Damien Dulude
Steven Dunham
Helen Dunlap
Thomas Durler
Michael Earley
Harold & Margaret Eastridge
Herbert & Paula Edwards
The Elster Foundation
Duane Ely
Jerome Emmel, Sr. & Lynne Emmel
CAPT & Mrs. Charles Erickson, USN (Ret.)
Bill Riffle & Ruann Ernst
Tom & Janet Evans
CAPT & Mrs. Guy Everhart, CEC, USN (Ret.)
Joel Ewan & Carol Spielman-Ewan
Dale & Linda Fallert
William & Joan Farrell
Garrett Farwell
CAPT & Mrs. Alfred Fehling, USN (Ret.)
Neil Finn
The Fish Market
Martin & Mary Fitzgerald
Renee Fitzgerald
CAPT & Mrs. Myles Fladager, USN (Ret.)
Myron Fleming, Jr. & Susan Lum-Fleming
Clarence & Paula Fox
Timothy & Anie Franey
Robert Fraser
Grant Freeman
Maureen Freitas
Michael & Donna Frische
RADM Ronne Froman-Blue, USN (Ret.) & Mr. Linden Blue
Randall Fruit, Jr.
Santo & Ellen Fruscione
CWO4 & Mrs. Michael Fulgham, USN (Ret.)
CAPT & Mrs. Michael Fuqua, USN (Ret.)
Nancy Gallagher
F. Trevor & Carolyn Gamble
LTC Torsten Garber, USN (Ret.)
The Gary Sinise Foundation
Vernon & Hilary Gauntt
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.
James George
Cynthia Gerken
CDR & Mrs. James Gerner, USN (Ret.)
Norman & Patricia Gillespie
Jeremy & Nancy Glaser
Steven Goldberg
CWO3 Mickiel R. Goracke, USN (Ret.)
CAPT & Mrs. Graham Gordon, USN (Ret.)
Curt & Melanie Graham
Anne Gray
Thomas Green, MD & Mrs. Rosalie Green
Christopher Gries
Grossmont Hospital Foundation
Paul Guercio, Jr. & Carolyn Carothers
George Guerra
Greg Gunn
Luther & Evelyn Haight
Karl & Alana Halbritter
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Robert & Rhina Halverson
Philip & Mia Hamilton
James Hammond III
Jill Hammons & Tommy Ramskill
Sara Hanscom
COL & Mrs. Russell Hanthorn, USMC (Ret.)
PHC & Mrs. David Harper, USN (Ret.)
James Harper, Jr. & Marilyn Harper
Carter & Susan Harrington
Jack & Bonnie Harrington
David & Z. Renae Harrison
John Harrison & Linda Day
Donald & Joan Hart
Ellis & Estella Harvey
AFCM & Mrs. Charles Haupt, USN (Ret.)
John & Sarah Hawkins
William & Cecilia Haynor
CAPT Estel W. Hays, USN (Ret.)
James & Pamm Hayter
William & Norma Healey
Severt & Cheryl Hegland
Kenneth Heilman
Elmer & Joselyne Hemingway
CAPT & Mrs. Paul Hennessy, USN (Ret.)
Francine Hollowell
Richard Holmes
Bob Holst
AOCM & Mrs. Richard Hoover, USN (Ret.)
Eric Horvath
Frederick M. Howden, MD
Jennifer Hsu
Frank & Sharon Hudson
Robert & Patricia Hughes
Jonathan Hull
LT & Mrs. James Hunt, USN (Ret.)
Mark Hunter & Mary Simmons
LCDR Patrick Hunter, USN (Ret.)
James & Bonnie Hupton
Jay & Frances Huttenhow
CDR & Mrs. Richard W. Hyde, USN (Ret.)
James Ingraham, Jr. & Margaret Ingraham
CAPT Kenneth Ireland, USN (Ret.) & CAPT Patricia Ireland, USN (Ret.)
Island Park Ladies Club
The Jack in the Box Foundation
Richard & Doriann Jaffee
Marcus & Satomi Jaimes
Vicky Jans
Marian Jenkins
CAPT James C. Johnson, USAR
Oliver Johnson
Richard & Joann Johnson
Ronald Johnson
William Johnson, MD & Saundra Johnson
Nelson & Julie Jones
Randy Jones
Arsenio & Mary Juarez
Matthew June, Jr.
Allan Kafka
David & Barbara Karle
Richard & Carolyn Karpowicz
Annemarie & Michael Keating
Kirk & Deborah Keegan
LCDR Frank Kelbe, USN (Ret.)
Richard & Kathleen Kelley
David & Sherill Kelsen
Sharon Kervick
Russell & Meredith Keyes
Dennis & Joy Kiehna
CAPT & Mrs. W.O. King, Jr., USN (Ret.)
LCDR & Mrs. George Kingston, USN (Ret.)
Tad & Tanya Kirschman
The Kitchel Family Foundation
Bob & Jan Kline
Dennis Knapp
Carol Knott
Ellen Kohls
Arthur Kowaloff
Mr. & Mrs. John Kregness
Gordon & Jan Kugler
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Richard Kurtz
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James & Margot LaBarge
John J. Lamberti, MD
Dr. & Mrs. William Lamden
Charles F. Landers, MD & Mrs. Lu Landers
CDR Kenneth D. Lantta, USN (Ret.)
Brian Laskowski
Jeanne Lawrence
Robert Lawrence & Bridget Myhro
George & Eileen Lazar
Pha Le, DO & Mrs. Joan Le
Michael Leake
Thomas & Dorothy Lennox
Thomas & Beverly Leonard
Curtis Leverette
CDR Joseph C. Levi, USN (Ret.)
Jay & Debra Levine
Michael & Vanessa Lewis
Kenneth Lite
CAPT Lane Littrell, USN (Ret.)
William Logan & Tina Willmore
Ronald Ludolph
Monica MacNamara
Joanne Madden
CAPT & Mrs. Terry Magee, USN (Ret.)
Kathi Mallick
CAPT & Mrs. Sherman Manchester III, USAF (Ret.)
CAPT & Mrs. Roy Mantz, USN (Ret.)
Mario Marando
Andre Marcel
CWO4 & Mrs. Bernard Marstall, USN (Ret.)
Thomas & Suzetta Martindale
James Matson
Richard & Brenda Matthews
Stephen & Susan McArthur
CDR Susan S. McCarthy, USN (Ret.)
Gay McDonald, Ph.D. & Jessica Teachworth
Madison McDoulett
Cliff & Diane McKiddy
McKinsey & Company, Inc.
RADM & Mrs. Mac McLaughlin, USN (Ret.)
McMaster-Carr Supply Co.
Caren McMillen
LCDR & Mrs. Charles McPherron, USN (Ret.)
Bobby & Margaret McQuiston
Justin Melnick
LCDR & Mrs. Joseph Memolo, USN (Ret.)
Klaus & Shirley Mendenhall
Christopher Menkov
Harry & Linda Meyer
The Joseph Meyer Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation
Mary Middleton
CDR Warren J. Millard, USN (Ret.)
David Miller
Gregory Miller
Paul & Christina Miller
Stephen Miller
Timothy & BG Miller
CAPT William J. Miller III, USA (Ret.)
CAPT & Mrs. Thomas Mitchell, USN (Ret.)
Mitchell Family Trust
RADM & Mrs. Riley D. Mixson, USN (Ret.)
Ben & Jamie Moraga
Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
Leslie Morgans
Gretchen Morrison & K.D. Morrison
Robert & Kathryn Morrow
Behnush Mortimer
Homer Moyer, Jr. & Linda Moyer
Thomas & Karolyn Moyer
Gerald ‘Jerry’ Muldoon
Albert & Karen Muniz
Edward & Marylee Muns
Henry & Yoko Murata
Gene & Pauline Murphy
Richard Murphy, Sr.
Murphy Development Company
Kyle Murray
Navy Marine Corps P.R.O.U.D. Foundation
Kelly & Shirlee Neil
Christopher & Debbie Neils
Charles & Virginia Nelson
Robert Nelson
Network for Good
Everett & Laverne Neuman
Michael Newton
Willard Moore Newton, Jr. Family Trust
Timothy & Marcia Nicholson
CAPT & Mrs. Gerald K. Nifontoff, USN (Ret.)
John & Nancy Njaa
Joseph & Amelia Obrien
William & Anna O’Connell
Michael & Sonia O’Connor
John & Sally O’Hara
James & Barbara Orander
RDML & Mrs. Robert Owens, USN (Ret.)
Pacific Western Bank
CAPT & Mrs. Pence Parsons, USN (Ret.)
Richard Pascoe
CAPT & Mrs. Alexander Paszly, USN (Ret.)
CAPT & Mrs. John Patton, USN (Ret.)
Bob & Patty Payne
Mrs. Peter Peckham
David & Patricia Pepper
CAPT Richard J. Pera, USN (Ret.)
Fred & Corline Philipsen
Roger & Karol Phillips
Pledgeling Foundation
Plum Engineering, Inc.
Matthew & Joan Pohl
CMC & Mrs. Garry R. Postma, USN (Ret.)
Nancy Powell
Price Philanthropies Foundation
Q.E.D. Systems, Inc.
Stephen & Doris Queen
Michael & Portia Quiello
James & Marge Quimet
Mark & Cynthia Raby
Peter Racen
CAPT & Mrs. Robert Racoosin, USN (Ret.)
Lawrence & Anne Rank
William Rankin & Gail Phifer-Rankin
Geraldine Ray
Judd Redden
Chris Reese
Rudolph & Carla Rehm
Richard Reilly
Reint & Angela Reinders
The LE & VL Renner Charitable Fund
Celia Rennie
Eileen Retel
Richard Reuter
Reyes Construction, Inc.
AMCS Bobby D. Richardson, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Katherine Rief, USN (Ret.) & CDR Robert Clarey, USN (Ret.)
William Rimel III & Kathleen Rimel
CDR Paul Ringwood, USN (Ret.) & Mrs. Lynne Oxhorn-Ringwood
James Ritchie, Ed.D
Rudy Robles
Oscar Rocha
James & Cheryl Rodgers
Troy Roe, CSG
James Rogers, Jr. & Annabelle Rogers
DCCM(SW) & Mrs. William Romer, USN (Ret.)
George & Judy Roos
Patricia Roscoe & Jim Tiffany
Thomas Rose
Connie Rossin
John Roth
MSgt William E. Rowland, USMC (Ret.)
Jennifer Rubin
Carl Russell
CAPT & Mrs. Harold Russell, USNR (Ret.)
John Russell
Thomas Russo
San Diego State University
San Diego Unified Port District
Shelley Sanderson
LCDR Kenneth Sanger, USN (Ret.) & Ms. Dawn Leeds
Akira & Hideko Sansui
Charles Sassano
Donald & Karen Schaffer
RMC & Mrs. Merlin Schenkel, USN (Ret.)
Lynn Schermerhorn
James Schloss
AMEC David J. Schneider, USN (Ret.)
CAPT James Schneider, MC, USN (Ret.) & Mrs. Diane Spellberg Schneider
Richard & Patricia Schonfeld
RMC Wayne V. Schuelke, USN (Ret.)
Kenneth Schwartz
David Scott
Katherine Scott
Ronald & Lorlei Seden
Seligman LS Remnant Golf LLC
Sempra Energy Foundation
Janet Shannon
CWO2 & Mrs. Rudolph T. Shappee, USN (Ret.)
ADC Chad M. Sharp, USN (Ret.)
Fred Shatsky
Tracy Shaw
Donald & Diane Sherman
Dwight & Ethel Sherman
Henry Shishmanian
AJ & Stephanie Sibley
Carol Skiber
LCDR Mark G. Skoning, USN (Ret.)
Frank Smith
Philomene Smith
Mark & Terry Smolin
Michael Smolock
CAPT David A. Snyder, MC, USN (Ret.)
LCDR Robert A. Solomon, USN (Ret.)
William & Dana Southwell
Elizabeth Spatz
CAPT & Mrs. G. Thomas Spink, Jr., USN (Ret.)
Arthur Stanley
Donna Stanton
Al & Kathleen Steele
Mark Stenson & Wallace Stenson
Daniel & Jill Stewart
Eric Stoll, Ph.D.
Scott Stone & Ellen Ihlenfeldt
Jim & Brenda Stotser
Milton Styron, Jr. & Denise Elliott
Tom & Cookie Sudberry
CAPT & Mrs. Jermiah Sullivan, USN (Ret.)
Craig Swan
CAPT & Mrs. Eldon Swanson, Jr., USN (Ret.)
Bob & Sheila Swanson
The Honorable & Mrs. Coleman Swart
Swinerton Builders
Stephen & Joanne Tardy
Donald & Karen Tartre
Christy Taylor
Donald Taylor
Jeff Tayman
Charles Teelon
CDR Richard L. Terrell, Jr., USN (Ret.)
David & Carol Ann Thibault
CDR Jon E. Thiele, USN (Ret.)
Brian & Gwynn Thomas
LtCol & Mrs. Joseph Thomas, USMC (Ret.)
COL & Mrs. Joseph Timmons, USAF (Ret.)
Alvin Tingstrom
Brian Tinker
John Tobia
David Toth
1st Sgt Rodolfo Tovar, USMC (Ret.)
MaryLou Towner
CAPT Robert N. Tracy, USN (Ret.)
William & Leticia Tresslar
Paul Trimble, Jr. & Vincent Scott Trimble
Peggy Trout
Debbie Turner
John & Judy Turner
Lash & Guila Turville
Anthony Tykalsky
U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management
CAPT & Mrs. Richard Ulrey, USN (Ret.)
William Upstone
Jerry Usalis
USS Midway Museum
USS Midway Veterans Association
CDR & Mrs. Arther Van Rooy, Jr., USN (Ret.)
Suzann VanBuskirk
Ruth Vanderford
Sharon Vasely
Martin & Jean Vehanen
CAPT John Vellis, SC, USN (Ret.) & Ms. Nancy Hanssen
John & Joyce Veskerna
Terry Veylupek
Joseph & Shirley Villasenor
Emily Vogler
Gregory Wade, Ph.D.
CDR & Mrs. Richard Walker, USN (Ret.)
CDR Douglas Wallace, USN (Ret.) & CAPT Sharon Wallace, USN (Ret.)
John & Betty Jo Waller
Ambassador George F. Ward, Jr.
Paul & Nancy Ward
Craig Warren
The David & Sharon Wax Family – Mid Term Pool Fund of the Jewish Community
WAXIE Sanitary Supply
Steven & Susan Weber
LCDR & Mrs. John Weiss, USN (Ret.)
Randy Welborn
CDR & Mrs. Gary Weller, USN (Ret.)
Barry & Jenny Westfall
Nicholas White
Laura White Ludvik & Matt Ludvik
Elizabeth Whittaker
Donald & Diana Widga
ElRoy & Loretta Wiens
Warren Wildes
LCDR & Mrs. Leo Willetts, Jr., USN (Ret.)
CAPT David D. Williams, USN (Ret.)
AVCM Gary G. Williams, USN (Ret.)
Susan & Michael Williams
Stephen & Stephanie Williams
Edward Wilson, Jr. & Blanche Wilson
Mary Wilson
Mitchell & Linda Wilson
Robert & Adele Wilson
Allan Wolf & Andtrea Wolf
CAPT & Mrs. Roderic Wolfe, USN (Ret.)
Lawrence & Jillaine Wonick
Dennis & Barbara Wood
John Wooster
Jonathan Wright
Allen & Barbara Yessman
CAPT Gene York, USMC (Ret.) & Mrs. Gail Lucas-York
CAPT & Mrs. Herbert Zoehrer, USN (Ret.)
Emilie Zouhar

British efforts to take wheeled aircraft to sea in the First World War did not evade American scrutiny. English attempts to create the aircraft carrier impressed U.S. observers. Even at war’s end, the United Kingdom’s apparent commitment to a burgeoning fleet of aircraft-capable ships added to the pressure for an American aircraft carrier. 

Although technical limitations gave carrier opponents momentary heft, the threat of a future hostile Royal Navy able to assert command of the oceans’ sky became impossible to ignore. Likewise, opposition to the diversion of funds and resources towards such an experimental ship wilted when the prospect of a Japanese threat grew after the Treaty of Versailles doled out territorial rewards for Tokyo’s participation in the war.

The clinching argument for further advancing an at-sea aviation force was a practical demonstration of how aircraft could enhance battleship gunnery. In March 1919, the battleship USS Texas engaged in a training exercise using an observer

aircraft that wirelessly telegraphed fall of shot corrections in real time, resulting in an unprecedented accuracy. Although battleships could carry their own spotter aircraft as floatplanes, their performance limitations meant that protecting those planes, and denying the enemy its own, required wheeled fighter aircraft.

Not long after, studies of battles from World War I concluded that engaging enemy battleships from long range, producing a vertically plunging shell to defeat thinner deck armor, would be decisive. Only control of the sky could make that feasible.

On July 11, 1919, the U.S. Navy authorized the conversion of a 7-year-old collier, the USS Jupiter, into an aircraft carrier. Work began at the Norfolk Navy Yard, and on March 20, 1922, the first U.S. Navy carrier was commissioned as the USS Langley.

As a proof-of-concept platform, the Langley literally had her new aviation components superimposed over the hull of the former naval coal-transport ship. A full-length wooden flight deck sat upon a lattice network, while rigged nets served in place of catwalks. A single elevator lowered aircraft to the newly created hangar deck where a gantry crane then lifted the biplanes to a suitable open space. An untried flywheel catapult offered a method to getting the aircraft airborne, but the all-important landing system was still in development.

On Oct. 17, 1920, the first takeoff occurred, while designers continued work on the development a suitable arresting gear system. Eventually, cables strung across the new carrier’s flight deck to engage a dangling aircraft hook proved safe and efficient. The first landing on Langley took place a week later.

As a testbed, the Langley pioneered practical methods to operate aircraft around a warship. With the ship moving into the wind, and with the noise of the aircraft engines, a simple color-coded jersey system of identifying different flight deck crew made coordination simpler. One day, Langley’s executive officer, Cmdr. Kenneth Whiting, saw that a landing aircraft was too high and urgently waved his cap to warn the pilot off. Thus, the role of the landing signal officer (LSO) was invented.

In November 1924, the Langley arrived in San Diego as part of the major shift of the U.S. Navy assets to the Pacific. Although San Pedro was her official home port, the convenience of being pierside at Naval Air Station North Island made San Diego a familiar sight. The following year, Capt. Joseph Mason Reeves reported to North Island in command of the Navy’s operating aviation squadron.

Fresh from the Naval War College, Reeves was obsessed with how shipboard aviation could decisively enhance the battleship gunline. While operations aboard the Langley had been devoted to technical development and procedures, he demanded that the Langley demonstrate her combat potential. Astounded to hear that no more than eight aircraft had ever been embarked, Reeves upped the number to 14, and then, personally supervised a loadout of 42. In a lecture to the fleet’s pilots at North Island, he rhetorically stipulated there must be a “thousand and one questions” about what carriers could do, and they would find out together.

The Navy engaged in fleet-wide annual exercises to develop new concepts, and in 1928, the Langley carried out a surprise mock attack on Pearl Harbor. The promise of airpower at sea was now so compelling, that even battleship admirals were now pounding wardroom tabletops demanding the delivery of the next carriers. The immense USS Lexington (CV-2) and USS Saratoga (CV-3) joined the fleet in 1927. However, the “Covered Wagon,” as the Langley was nicknamed, had pioneered the way.