Robert Hailey Papers

Manuscript Collection #643
Hailey, Robert
Physical description
1.3 Cubic Feet, 710 items , including correspondence, diaries, logs, progress reports, clippings, programs, publications and miscellany.
Preferred Citation
Robert Hailey Papers (#643), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1935-1966) including correspondence, diaries, logs, progress reports, clippings, programs, publications, official orders, biographical information, photographs, etc.

Biographical/historical information

Robert Hailey was born in Austin, TX (November 1917), and attended McMurry College in Abilene, TX, before being appointed (1937) to the United States Naval Academy (USNA). After graduation (1941), Hailey's first assignment was on board the heavy cruiser USS INDIANAPOLIS (CA-35) during the early months of World War II, serving in the South Pacific and in the Aleutian Islands. Hailey attended submarine school (1943) and served on or commanded several submarines including USS R-5 (SS-82, 1945), USS BRILL (SS-330, 1946), USS FINBACK (SS-230, 1949), and USS PIPER (SS-409, 1950-1951); the escort destroyer USS WALLER (DDE-466, 1954-1956); and the attack transport USS SANDOVAL (APA-194, 1963). Hailey's administrative duties included an assignment to the Naval Disciplinary Barracks (1947); positions with the commander-in-chief of the Atlantic fleet (1952-1954), the Naval ROTC program at Rice University (1956-1958), and the commander of the Anti-Submarine Defense Force of the Atlantic Fleet (1958); and his appointment to the OIC District Intelligence Office, 15th Naval District in the Panama Canal Zone. Hailey retired with the rank of captain (1965).

Scope and arrangement

The collection consists of correspondence and official orders, diaries, memorabilia, and printed material. The collection's diaries describe Hailey's experiences from college through much of his naval career. The earliest diary (1935-1936) recounts Hailey's firstyear at McMurry College. Noted are working on the school newspaper, classes, social activities, and one entry describing the Centennial celebration in Arlington, TX (June 28, 1936). Included with this diary are newspaper clippings concerning notable contemporary events. Other diary entries briefly detail Hailey's pre-USNA activities and news of his appointment to the Academy (April 21, June 16, 1937, pp. 14-15). Journal entries written at the Academy detail courses and daily activities, and special note is made of such events as a talk by aviator Major E. V. Rickenbacker concerning the future of aviation, airships, and television (May 8, 1938, pp. 34-37), while early correspondence mentions president Franklin D. Roosevelt's graduation speech at the USNA (June 3, 1938).

Further correspondence (June 3-July 31, 1938) and diary entries (June 4-August 10, 1938, pp. 38-101) detail Hailey's training during a cruise to Europe on board the battleship USS WYOMING (BB-32) that include descriptions of the towns and villages passed, clothing, and meals. Specific letters (June 24-25, 1938) and journal entries (June 19-22 and July 3, 1938, pp. 56-57, 77-79) describe sights in and around Paris including Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, Place de la Concorde and an Egyptian obelisk, Champs Elysees and Arc de Triomphe, Napoleon's tomb, Notre Dame, French and American cars, wine drinking, cigarette smoking, and impressions of the French people. The correspondence (June 24, 1938) and diary (July 1, 1938, pp. 68-69) also detail the ports of La Havre, France, and a tour of the luxury liner SS MANHATTEN, a very large passenger ship with eight decks; and scenes in Denmark (July 7-13, 1938), including lighthouses, towers, castles, Copenhagen harbor, and Danish warships (July 9, 1938, pp. 81-83). Further noted in letters (July 20-31, 1938) and the journal (July 25, 1938, p. 86) were sights visited in England, particularly the major sights of London including Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, and many others. Included with the diary are ship's newsletters and memorabilia concerning the European cruise, and details of Hailey's second year at the Academy that concern flight drills near Annapolis, MD, the Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore, and Washington, DC (June 5-27, 1939, pp. 109-114).

Hailey's 1940 Caribbean Midshipman Cruise diary on board the battleship USS TEXAS (BB-35) notes lectures, meals, celestial navigation and gunnery training, torpedo drills, plane landings, and catapult operations (June 7-14, 19, 29, 1940, pp. 1-7, 19, 31-32). Specific topics mentioned in correspondence (June 15-18, 1940) and diary entries (June 15-18, 1940, pp. 7-19) include Panama City, the Panama Canal entrance, Limon Bay, Gatun Locks, a sunken Chilean ship, and surrounding towns; scenes in and around Caracas, Venezuela (June 25-July 1, 1940), including entertainment, food, a party at the American Embassy, and a baseball game (June 24-28, 1940, pp. 20-31); and brief descriptions of activities in Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (July 2-4, 1940, pp. 33-40). Further cruise letters include descriptions of tourist activities including shows in New York (July 14-16, 1940); scenes in Boston including the historic frigate USS CONSTITUTION (July 22-28, 1940); and Spanish-American War battle sites in Cuba (August 3-8, 1940).

Hailey's World War II diary, written while on board the USS INDIANAPOLIS, begins with entries concerning the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war, including the condition of battleships there, damage to Hickam Field and Ford Island, the status of PBY flying boats, the number of casualties, and a detailed description of the aftermath (December 7, 1941-January 7, 1942). Also noted were the arrest of many Japanese people at Pearl Harbor and activities of saboteurs and 5th columnists (December 15, 1941). As assistant navigator and catapult officer, Hailey describes the Aleutian Islands campaign with the attack on Kiska Island (August 16, 1942) and a three-day storm and subsequent damage to the ship (October 22, 1942). Other materials concerning the INDIANAPOLIS includes charts of the ship's location and sea duty (December 1941-August 1943); a list of heavy and light cruisers in the Pacific at the beginning of the war; an account of the sinking of the Japanese ship ASKAGNE MARU in the Aleutian Islands (February 1943); and miscellaneous materials.

A diary kept while serving as classification and assignment officer at the U.S. Naval Disciplinary Barracks in Portsmouth, NH, includes a memoranda book that contains notes on Hailey's investigations, and notes of prisoners' interviews (1948-1949). Typescript progress reports are also included.

Other significant correspondence (May-September 1950) and diary entries (June-July 1950) concern the USS PIPER's actions in the Mediterranean Sea, particularly crew training, exercises with the Italian, French, Greek, and Turkish navies, equipment and communication problems, and tactical opinions. Other correspondence details the overhaul of the PIPER in Charleston, SC (June-October 1951). Diary entries also note similar naval exercises on board the USS WALLER while involved in NATO operations in cooperation with a French task force including radar tracking (June 25, 1955); a defense of Malta exercise (July 18, 1955); and a visit to a private American Farm School near Salonika, Greece, that details its history from 1905 (August 6, 1955). Correspondence mentions speed trials Hailey conducted on the WALLER to assist in court martial proceedings pertaining to a collision involving the escort destroyer USS EATON (DDE-510, July 18 and 23, 1956); and the court martial of a sailor on the WALLER (September 12, 1956). Miscellaneous records concern the WALLER's history, crew, tactical capabilities, and sea operations observations.

A diary written while on another Mediterranean cruise on board the USS SANDOVAL notes operations in conjunction with ships of other NATO countries (1963). Battle problems, simulated landings, tactical signals, damage control and radar calibration exercises are described. Lack of communication at all levels is noted as a problem (December 15, 1963); mooring techniques and pilot boat assistance are noted, particularly in La Spezia, Italy (December 21, 1963); and one entry deals with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (November 22, 1963). Significant correspondence regards allegations of discrimination against Negro enlisted men and non-commissioned officers of embarked troops on the SANDOVAL (December 18-31, 1963). A file on the SANDOVAL includes the history and physical description of the ship, publications, directories for enlisted men and officers, a ship roster, and a list of the ships attached to the amphibious force.

A separate filed deals with Hailey's assignment with the Office of Naval Intelligence and U.S. efforts to develop communications strategies with other NATO countries about intelligence (1954). Another file contains information while Hailey was the District Intelligence Officer stationed in the Panama Canal Zone that includes the investigation of the burning of the Army Mission in Caracas, Venezuela, by Venezuelan nationals. Included are lists of arms and ammunition stored at the mission, officers at the embassy, enlisted men at the mission, a report on the attack and a comment from a general disagreement with the report's conclusions, the final report, testimonies, and a list of items destroyed (1963).

Miscellaneous items include biographical information, photographs, printed material, and newspaper clippings. An oversize folder contains a "crossing the line" certificate, a menu from the SS NORMANDIE, and a Pilot Chart of the South Pacific (1940).

Administrative information
Custodial History

December 8, 1992, 33 items; Papers of U.S. Naval officer, USNA Class of 1941, including typescript copies of diaries (Dec. 1941-Nov. 1942, Feb 1950-July 1950), copies of the USNA publication Log, and miscellany.

April 15, 1993, 260 items; Papers of U.S. Naval officer, USNA Class of 1941, including diaries (1941-1942, 1950, 1955), ships logs (1950-1952, 1963-1964), notebooks and progress reports (1948-1949), official files (1941-1965), and publications.

November 4, 1993, 392 items; Papers of U.S. Naval officer, USNA Class of 1941, including diaries (Sept. 1, 1935-July 21, 1936, Jan. 22, 1937-Aug 8, 1939, June 7-July 3, 1940), files (1954-1956) of USS WALLER (DD-466) and (1962-1964) of USS SANDOVAL (APA-194), including correspondence, reports, clippings, newsletters, programs, and miscellany.

November 20, 1994, 25 items; Correspondence (1938-1940), personal observations, and miscellany. Gift of Capt. Robert Hailey, USN (Ret), Williamsburg, VA.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Capt. Robert Hailey, USN (Ret)

Processing information

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Hailey, Robert, 1917-
Indianapolis (Heavy cruiser : CA-35)
Piper (Ship)
Wyoming (Battleship : BB-32)
Corporate Names
McMurry College--Alumni and alumnae
Sandoval (Attack transport : APA-194)
United States Naval Academy--Alumni and alumnae
United States. Navy--Officers
Waller (Destroyer)
African American soldiers--Social conditions--20th century
Pearl Harbor (Hawaii), Attack on, 1941
World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Pacific Ocean
World War, 1939-1945--Naval operations, American
World War, 1939-1945--Participation, African American

Container list
Box 1 Correspondence and Orders 1938, 1940-1966
Box 2 Diaries and Memorabilia 1935-1940; Diaries and Progress Reports 1941-1942, 1948-1952, 1955, 1963-1964; Vessel Histories and Memorabilia: USS Indianapolis, USS Piper, USS R-5, USS Sandoval, USS Waller
Box 3 Official Files: Office of Naval Intelligence; Venezuela: Burning of Army Mission; Printed Material: USNA; USNA Cruise Guides and Manuals; Miscellaneous Materials and Photographs: USNA; Printed Material; Invitations; Photographs; Biographical Information; Newspaper Clippings