The Golden 13: The Story of The First African American Naval Officers

Background and Challenges Faced

  • In 1944, there were nearly 100,000 black Sailors in the United States Navy, none of whom were officers.
  • The group of 16 African-American enlisted men assembled at the recruit Training Center in Illinois.
  • Officer training school for the United States Navy was typically 16 weeks, but the Golden 13 were given only 8 weeks.
  • Many believed this shortened timeframe was an attempt to ensure their failure.
  • Despite the odds stacked against them, the Golden 13 exemplified teamwork, supporting each other and studying together.

Achievements and Recognition

  • All 16 men of the Golden 13 passed their exams, with remarkable scores.
  • Some in Washington were certain that the men had cheated due to their exceptional performance.
  • When forced to retake certain exams, the Golden 13 scored even higher.
  • Their cumulative average totaled 3.89 out of 4, the highest score of any candidate in Naval History at the time.
  • Their achievements paved the way for other African Americans in the military.

Commissioning and Nickname

  • Despite passing all requirements, only 13 of the Golden 13 were commissioned as naval officers.
  • The remaining men were sent back into the enlisted ranks without explanation.
  • This decision earned them the nickname 'The Golden 13.'
  • The unfair treatment highlights the racism and discrimination prevalent at the time.
  • The experience of the Golden 13 motivated future generations to strive for excellence.

Impact and Legacy

  • The Golden 13's accomplishments were revolutionary and inspired hope for today's military servicemen.
  • Their stories paved the way for other African Americans to make their mark in the United States military.
  • African Americans have contributed to the nation's success in various capacities and ranks.
  • Notable examples include Dory Miller, Christmas Addicks, and General Lloyd Austin.
  • Despite facing open hostility and government policies, African Americans have demonstrated sacrifice and dedication to their country.

Importance of Sharing the Story

  • Telling the story of the Golden 13 is vital to honor their contribution and perseverance.
  • Their experiences shed light on the character and resilience of those who served despite being mistreated.
  • The story serves as a testament to the sacrifices made by African Americans in service to the nation.
  • Recognizing the achievements of the Golden 13 allows for a greater understanding of the nation's history.
  • Sharing their story encourages appreciation for the progress made and motivates future generations to continue striving for equality and excellence.

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