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Having read Paul Stillwell's magnificent book about these men, I can say that this book is a wonderful addition to the literature about these men and the challenges they faced. It answers many of the questions I had about their follow-on assignments and their struggles as a group. I am very grateful that more of their stories have been told. I am working on fleshing out the story of one in particular, Dennis Denmark Nelson, the "peacock" of the group. I am grateful that the author included much of the background information on how resistant the Navy was to the very idea of Black officers, and how so many persisted in making it happen. There are heroes in this book that are not Black, and they deserve to be remembered as well. I finally learned the names of the three men who, through no fault of their own, were not commissioned and reverted back to their enlisted status. That injustice can never be repaid, but at least history will remember them. I find it encouraging that society is learning more about the early struggles of minority servicemen in Navy blue - and more stories like these need to come to light. Much appreciation to the author and to Paul Stillwell for recording these stories for posterity. I cant recommend this book enough.
I am a retired U.S. Navy Captain- a Black man who became the first commanding officer of a brand new guided missile frigate and later a squadron of destroyers. . When I was commissioned in December, 1962 I became one of the Navy's small cadre of active duty Black officers, just over one percent of Navy officers at the time and the percentage did not increase significantly over the next ten years or so. I happened to be stationed in Washington, DC at the time when the term "The Golden 13" was established by one of the Black officers assigned to the Naval Recruiting Command. And I met a few of these pioneering men. Since that time, the percentage of Black officers has increased (but I no longer have access to the percentages) and several have successfully commanded ships, submarines, aircraft squadrons, major facilities and some have earned the stars of an admiral. Indeed, two of them ( a man and a woman) reached the rank of Admiral, four stars. While Samuel Smalls may have been the first (during the civil war), these thirteen men proved beyond doubt Blacks have what it takes to wear the stripes of an officer in the U.S. Navy. This is a good piece of history worthy of being read.
I am currently reading this book because I will be commissioning into the U.S. Navy soon. As a Black man, I feel it is my responsibility to learn about and understand the sacrifice these 13 Black men made so that those like myself could one day be commissioned as officers in the U.S. Navy.
Well researched and written, this is a compelling account of under-reported heroism and gallantry in WWII, especially welcome as our country grapples with its history and struggle for racial equality. These were Black lives that did indeed matter. A, Robinson Huntersville, NC