Thursday, October 10, 2013


October 10, 2013


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy presented the Collier Trophy to the first American astronauts at the White House 50 years ago today, October 10, 1963.

The National Aeronautic Association and LOOK magazine awarded the Robert J. Collier* trophy each year to honor outstanding achievement in aviation.

Herbert Hoover Presents
Collier Trophy of 1929
The White House
NACA Photo

The trophy for 1963 was presented jointly to the original 7 man team of astronauts which included...

Lt. Comdr. M. Scott Carpenter
Maj. L. Gordon Cooper, Jr.
Lt. Col. John H. Glenn, Jr.
Maj. Virgil I. Grissom,
Comdr. Walter M. Schirra,Jr.
Comdr. Alan Shepard
Maj. Donald K. Slayton

Speaking at the ceremony for the NAA was Martin M. Decker, the association's president.  Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and NASA Director James E. Webb also attended the event.

President Kennedy said...

"I think (this trophy) honors an extraordinary page in American history, as well as in the history of flight.  And I hope that this award...will be a (all) who will carry our flag to the moon and perhaps even someday beyond."

JFK concluded his remarks by saying...

"I am confident that when this job is done...we will have particular appreciation to the Americans who are here today, who led this effort.  So it is a great pleasure for me to present to them this celebrated award."

*Robert J. Collier (1876-1918), born in New York City,  became head of P.F. Collier and Son Publishing Company upon his father's death. He was a graduate of Georgetown University.  Collier died of a heart attack at age 42. 


"Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, John F. Kennedy, 1963," United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1964.


Annapolis, Maryland (JFK+50) Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft** opened a naval school on the grounds of Fort Severn***, a former an Army post, here in Annapolis 168 years ago today, October 10, 1845.

     US Naval Academy (1853)

Assisting in both the founding of the institution and its' curriculum was Commodore Matthew C. Perry, a strong proponent of an apprentice system to train new seamen.

 The Naval School enrolled 50 students and employed 7 professors.

The curriculum for the midshipmen included math and navigation, gunnery and steam, chemistry, English, natural philosophy and French.

The course of study was to be completed in 5 years with the 1st and last years being at school while the other 3 would be service at sea.

The first class graduated in June 1854.***

**George Bancroft (1800-1891) was born in Worcester, Massachusetts & graduated from Harvard in 1817.  He earned his PhD from the University of Gottingen in Germany. 

Professor Bancroft published a multi-volume History of the United States (1834-1874). He served in President James K. Polk's cabinet as Secretary of the Navy (1845-46) and one month as Secretary of War.

                        George Bancroft
       Photo by Matthew Brady (1860)
             Library of Congress Image

***Fort Severn was built on the site of a Revolutionary War bastion in 1808 to guard the city of Annapolis against British attack.

The USNA used the fort for classrooms until it was demolished in 1909 and replaced with modern buildings.  In 1977, the DAR placed a marker at the site in honor of the original fort.

In 1850, the Naval School became the UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY. The following year the curriculum was altered to 4 years with training on ships in the summers.


Annapolis, Maryland (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy spoke at a ceremony held at Bancroft Hall honoring the new class of midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy on August 1, 1963.

The President, who was a Navy veteran, said:

"I want to express our strong hope that all of you who have come to the Academy as plebes will stay with the Navy.

I can imagine a no more rewarding career .

Any man who may be asked...what he did to make his life worthwhile...can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: 'I served in the United States Navy.'"

                  Graduating Class of 1894
            United States Naval Academy
                      Annapolis, Maryland****

****The USNA accepted women as midshipmen beginning in 1976.  Today women make up 14% of the plebe or 1st year class.  The young lady in the photo above is identified simply as "Mascot".