A project about stories also has its own story, and this series is no exception. In 2010, Midshipman (now Ensign) Chris O’Keefe, Naval Academy Class of 2012, conceptualized the series after listening to the BBC’s own podcast series about the history of the world. Since then, he and cameraman / editor Matt McMahon have filmed dozens of interviews and conducted research into the 100 objects presented in this series. Volunteers provided assistance and support in various ways, from Midshipmen helping with the early research, to the staff of the United States Naval Institute with technical support, and of course the assistance of the staffs of both the Naval Academy Museum and the Nimitz Special Collections and Archives. The series helps link the tangible items located at the Naval Academy with the ethereal figures of the past, and in doing so tells the wonderfully fascinating history of our Navy.

Ensign O’Keefe has started publishing these videos, which we’ll be posting here as well. Naturally, his first video is about John Paul Jones.

Often when telling a story, its best to start at the beginning. In our case, although the United States Navy didn’t begin with John Paul Jones, he is nevertheless considered the Father of the American Navy. Born in England, he cut his teeth as a sailor in merchant fleets, before coming to the United States. When war broke out, he joined the fight on the side of the upstart colonies, and won fame for his daring raid on English soil and his victories over British ships. After the war, he accepted a position as an admiral in the Russian navy. After a short time, he returned to Paris in poor health, and died shortly after in 1792. In the tumultuous days of the French Revolution, Jones’ grave was lost and it wasn’t until 1905 that it was rediscovered. After discovery, and with great ceremony, his remains were transported across the Atlantic. After several years were finally interred in the crypt underneath the iconic Naval Academy Chapel, where they remain today. This is the story of Jones in life, and in death.




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  • Vigilant2

    John Paul will have rolled several times in that crypt, given the path that the Navy has taken in the past several years.

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