Military Might

Serving in the U.S. Navy

"It was enough to take my breath away."

“After twenty-two months in the South Pacific, I was sent back to the United States and given twenty days leave so I could visit with my wife and my first-born son, Herman Eugene Talmadge, Jr., whom I had not seen. When that leave was up I was assigned to a ship called the Dauphin, where I was responsible for training men who were going to sea for the first time. Once out at sea, we joined the Seventh Fleet around the Philippines. I remember when I was at Ulithee atoll one day I could see for a diameter of thirty miles with my binoculars. It was enough to take my breath away. For as far as I could see there was nothing but aircraft carriers, battleships, cruisers, destroyers, transports, and supply ships. That was probably the most visually awesome display of military might in the history of warfare. And now that we have moved irrevocably into the nuclear age, I doubt that we will see its like again.” 

Editor's Note: Herman Talmadge practiced law with his father, Eugene Talmadge, until April 1941 when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. As the war progressed in Europe and the Pacific, Talmadge became convinced the United States would eventually intervene. In September, he was called to active duty and over the course of the war, he served in the Pacific Theater on the USS Tyron and the USS Dauphin.

The above excerpt comes from Talmadge’s memoir in which he describes the over 600 battle ships housed at the Ulithee Atoll in the Philippines, one of the largest U.S. naval bases used during the war. After 52 months of active duty in the Pacific, Talmadge was discharged with the rank of lieutenant commander.