Papers (1937–1950) of U.S. Navy officer, U.S. Naval Academy class of 1941, including correspondence and grade reports of USNA; rosters, photographs, and bulletins from the USS New Mexico (BB-35); newsletters, photographs, and clippings from the USS Quincy (CA-71); Carrier Division 5 (CTF-77) and miscellany.
David Leslie Byrd served in the U.S. Navy as an officer from 1941 to 1961. He attended the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in the class of 1941. Senator John H. Bankhead appointed Byrd, who then passed the physical and mental examinations and began his education at the Academy in 1938. Byrd took his midshipman cruise in the summer of 1938 on board the battleship USS Texas (BB-35).
After his graduation from the Academy, Byrd transferred to the battleship USS New Mexico (BB-40) in 1941. He served on board the battleship as a damage control officer, junior turret officer, and fire control officer until 1943. Although he was stationed at Pearl Harbor for a time, he was not present for the infamous attack on 7 December 1941. Instead, New Mexico had been assigned to escort convoys from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Ireland. In September 1943, Byrd received orders to transfer to the cruiser USS Quincy (CA-71). Byrd served on board Quincy as a fire control officer, and was present for the invasion of Normandy in June 1944 and the invasion of Southern France in August 1944. Byrd was on board Quincy when she transported President Franklin D. Roosevelt to and from the Yalta Crimea Conference in February 1945.
In June 1945, Byrd left Quincy to attend postgraduate school at Annapolis. After three years, Byrd received his Master's degree in industrial engineering. Byrd returned to sea duty in June 1948 on board light cruiser USS Dayton (CL-105).
The Navy issued new orders for Byrd to report to San Diego in 1949 to serve as Commander Carrier Division 5 staff. Byrd fought in the Korean War until the Navy recalled him to the Shore Establishments sector of the Navy Bureau of Ordinance in 1951. After his retirement in 1961, Byrd worked in the civilian sector in satellite and laser development.
The David L. Byrd Papers are arranged in original order. The collection consists of correspondence, photographic prints, printed forms, typescripts, and newsletters, including oversized materials removed from other folders due to their size.
Materials related to Byrd's service in the Navy between 1937 and 1950 are arranged in four files in chronological order.
Folder a, 1937–1941 relates to Byrd's education in the Naval Academy in Annapolis. Correspondence between Senator Bankhead, Byrd's father, and Admiral Chester Nimitz detail the process by which Byrd was nominated and selected to join the academy. Material also includes Byrd's grade reports from the Academy, and photographs of his midshipman cruise on board the battleship USS Texas (BB-35).
Folder b, 1941–1945 includes items related to Byrd's service on board the battleship USS New Mexico (BB-40). In these materials are officer rosters from the ship, orientation information for sailors stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii, news bulletins about the sinking of German Battleship Bismarck and USS Reuben James, and photographs of New Mexico's officers and of Byrd himself.
Folder c, 1944–1945 deals with Byrd's experiences on the cruiser USS Quincy (CA-71) which included the invasions of Normandy and Southern France, in 1944, and her subsequent missions after the invasion. Items from this time include commemorative ship newsletters and newspaper about the events surrounding the invasions, and an invasion map used by the gunnery division on board Quincy. Materials related to Quincy's duties after the invasion include Quincy's commemorative newspaper with information about the voyage of Franklin D. Roosevelt on board the ship in 1945. Additionally, there is a report from the Crimea Conference by Roosevelt's press secretary, Stephen F. Early, on 14 February, that details the conference's attendees and what points were discussed at the conference. Included in this folder is also a list of 48 "Saudi Arabian Guests" including His Majesty Abdulaziz Ibn Rahman al Faisal al Saud (Ibn Saud), King of Saudi Arabia, and other members of the Saudi royal family, including 9 "Miscellaneous slaves: cooks, porters, scullions", who came on board the ship during 12–14 February 1945, after the Yalta conference, when the Quincy was carrying Roosevelt back to the United States.
Folder d relates to Byrd's service in the Carrier Division 5 (1949–1950). Items from this time period include photographs of Carrier Division 1 staff officers on board the aircraft carrier USS Philippine Sea (CV-47) on 22 October 1950; also two photographs of Vice Admiral Arthur Dewey Struble, Secretary of the Navy Francis P. Matthews, Rear Admiral Edward C. Ewen, Vice Admiral Charles T. Joy on 24 November 1950 on the USS Philippine Sea; also a roster of officers in Carrier Division 5.
Oversized materials in folder os1 consists of materials removed from folders b and c, 1941–1945, for conservation reasons, due to their large size. They include a map of Iceland with the USS New Mexico's anchorage marked, ship's newsletters rom the USS Quincy.
Gift of Cdr. David L. Byrd
Preliminary inventory by Jonathan Dembo, 9/11/2009; Processing, finding aid and container list by Stephanie Croatt, 5/7/2013; revised by Jonathan Dembo, 6/27/2013 and 11/13/2013
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.
David L. Byrd Oral History interview (OH0157) Manuscripts and Rare Books Department, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC USA