The collection's general correspondence is concerned primarily with Long's research for the Big "T" story and official letters of Big T" Veterans Association officers. Beginning in 1984, the letters show a gradual increase in contacts and information thatLong accumulated over the course of his involvement with the Big "T" group. Early correspondence focuses on Long's attempts to solicit information and war stories from people he served with, and from government archives. Of special interest in this section are the documents obtained on the
TICONDEROGA's name change. Also included is Long's attempt to get Nancy Reagan to join the association as an honorary member. Later correspondence moves toward the giving out and receiving of information from contacts Long had established. The Big "T" Association is heavily documented in this section, as is the split in membership that led to the creation of a VFW post for the
TICONDEROGA separate from the association. War reminiscences throughout the later correspondence include a particularly interesting one from Robert Rochon (April 4, 1986) concerning his development of an upward-looking radar for the
TICONDEROGA, the first one of the war.
Another set of correspondence (March 1984-October 1988, nd) concerns Long's attempts to identify two kamikaze pilots who crashed into the
TICONDEROGA (January 21, 1945). Working through the US and Japanese governments, Long found the names and service histories of the two pilots, contacted their families, and received replies from them. Other records pertain to a questionnaire that Long sent to his fellow shipmates to record their war experiences. Questions included where servicemen lived aboard ship; what experiences they found unique or humorous during their time on the
TICONDEROGA; and what they knew and felt about the ship's first captain, Dixie Keifer. He also asked about the men's actions when the ship first came under fire, and what happened to them and their reactions when the two kamikazes hit the ship. Long received replies that ranged from being very brief to several typed pages.
In addition to the correspondence, there is an extensive amount of information Long accumulated during his research. Included with information specific to the carrier
TICONDEROGA are copies of newspaper articles, ship information bulletins, and histories of the carrier's battles. There are also copies of holiday food menus prepared on the ship;
TICONDEROGA's shipboard newspaper printed during World War II (1944-1945); copies of the daily deck log, and a microfilm of the crew rosters. Another focus was Captain Dixie Keifer. Clippings copied from newspapers and official Navy biographical data establish a base that the personal war experiences of Keifer's men enlarge upon. There is also some correspondence relating specifically to Long's attempt to accumulate information about Keifer.
The collection also contains a number of short biographies of people and ships from World War II that were related to the
TICONDEROGA'S career. A sizable amount of material on the general history of World War II has been gathered by Long from various books, magazines, and archival sources. Carrier Air Groups (CAG) received particular attention from Long. He collected information on CAGs in general, but alsoconcentrated on the
TICONDEROGA's air groups, CAG-80 and CAG-87. The collection contains action reports for CAG-80's operations around the Philippines (November 1944). Official histories of the CAGs, and many of their composite fighter, bomber, and torpedo squadrons, such as VF-80, VT-80, VBF-87, and VB-87 are also present. Another item of particular interest is the reproduced flight log (October 19, 1944-March 27, 1945) of Ellsworth Stevens, a torpedo plane pilot from CAG-80. Stevens wrote about flying activities, his opinions of the raids, and activities on board ship that impacted on or interested him. Also of interest are two official service interviews with Commanders W. O. Burch and J. S. Thach by the Bureau of Aeronautics (1942). These items focus on the pilots' experiences fighting the Japanese and their recommendations for improvements in the war effort. In addition, the collection also contains some of the histories and technical information of the planes that composed the CAGs. These include the Grumman F4F Wildcat, TBM/F Avenger, F6F Hellcat, Curtiss SB2 Helldiver, Douglas TBD Devastator and SBD Dauntless. A history of Grumman Corporation and the technical details of the F6F and TBM/F are also included.
Remaining materials focus on the carrier's post-war deployments. There are numerous copies of the shipboard newspaper (1950s-1960s) and some information bulletins for the ship's destinations. Also included are items on the new cruiser USS
TICONDEROGA (CG-47) that are general in nature, and are comprised primarily of copied material, newspaper clippings about the ship's commissioning, and its first deployment.
Additional information about the Big "T" Association comes mainly in the form of an incomplete set of newsletters (1975-1988). By-laws and rosters for the association are also in this section, and reunion information for the mid-1980s is provided here. Other veterans' groups represented in the collection come from the aircraft carriers USS
YORKTOWN (CV-5) and USS
YORKTOWN (CV-10). Other information includes material on the post-war lives of Fighter/Bomber Squadron 87's pilots. Also included is an incomplete series of newsletters for Navy retirees called
Shift Colors (1984-1988), and a folder of information on writers' groups in North Carolina.
Long's unfinished manuscript concerning the
TICONDEROGA and various pages of notes follow, reflecting the extent of his research. The notes seem to be patterned by the order he took them and largely reflect material elsewhere in the collection.
The final segment of the collection is concerned with printed material, miscellaneous items, and audio tapes. Printed material includes published songs, pamphlets on military topics and museums, the United States Naval Training Center recruit book (1950s), newspaper clippings, and issues of
Time magazines (January 1945). Miscellaneous items include stickers, maps of various areas of the world,and U.S. flag information. Audio tapes provide conversations with other veterans. One is a a copy of a wartime radio program with Dixie Keifer's voice on it. Other tapes, including ones from Thomas Lusk, George Graham, C. Chamblin, and Max Silva, elaborate on shipboard life. A tape with George Stark recounts the filming of a movie aboard the
TICONDEROGA during World War II. Many of the tapes have details about Captain Dixie Keifer, and many describe the activities on the day the kamikazes hit the ship. Especially informative are the descriptions by Otto Mackey and Eugene Forsht. The tapes are numbered, and a list is included in the box. An oversized folder includes a poster promoting the Big "T" Association and copies of the newspaper
World War II Times.