The Golden Thirteen: Recollections of the First Black Naval Officers, edited by Paul Stillwell; foreword by Colin L. Powell


In January 1944 16 black enlisted men gathered at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station to begin a crash course that would turn them into the Navy’s first African-American officers on active duty. Although compelled politically to take this step, the Navy had chosen its officer-candidates well. All had demonstrated top-notch leadership abilities as enlisted men. The pace was demanding and forced the men to band together so that all could succeed. Their common perception was that they would set back the course of racial progress if they should fail. All passed the course, but only 12 were commissioned as ensigns; a 13th was made a warrant officer. Years later these pioneers became known as “the Golden Thirteen.” Only one of them ended up making a career of the Navy, and he opened still more doors to black officers. The other members of the group made their marks in civilian life after World War II. Their number included an Urban League official, a professional engineer, a justice of a state appellate court, the first black member of the council of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, a respected social worker, a successful attorney, a teacher and coach who inspired a generation of students, a professional model, and the first black department head in the city government of Dayton, Ohio.


The Golden Thirteen were true pioneers in military history. In telling the story of this courageous group, this book is a fine addition to the canon of our heritage.


ISBN: 1591148405

Format: Paperback, 336 pages

Pub. Date: May 2003

Publisher: Naval Institute Press

Price: $18.95

Other Formats: None