The History Of Naval Communications Museum
A museum that celebrates the evolution of naval communications.
The History of Naval Communications Museum, developed and maintained by Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station (NCTS) San Diego, is located in the Grace Hopper Building at the former Naval Air Station North Island.
The museum is a tribute to, and a look back at, the evolution of naval communications. Over the years, countless Sailors have "stood the watch" to process message traffic vital to the safety and protection of our nation. By setting aside an area for the museum within the command, NCTS's goal is to "honor those who went before us."
Displayed on walls in shades of gray are large old photos taken inside communications and data processing facilities throughout history. Many cover the World War II period. Captions explain the scenes, activities of members, and name some of the old equipment. Display cases contain actual communications equipment, all obsolete today. Sounds of the radio room can be heard through the sound system.
The museum officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 7, 2002. The opening ceremony, combined with a Veteran's Day Celebration, brought the past and present together, providing today's Sailors an understanding of their roots in computing and telecommunications, while demonstrating a profound respect for our nation's war veterans. Combining the museum opening with a Veteran's Day Celebration magnificently tied the past to the present. Personally bringing WWII to those serving today, in a way not capable of a Hollywood movie, Woodrow W. Derby, a Pearl Harbor survivor detailed his experience on Dec. 7, 1941. He manned his GQ station, a 5" gun mount, until the gun's magazine was hit and completely destroyed. He was then forced to relocate to the third deck assisting a damage control team fighting fires. There he visually took in the entire experience of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
There was not a dry eye in the room after ITCS(SW/AW) LeSage finished reading personal accounts of two young Marines in Vietnam. The Sailors and civilians felt great pride and emotion and generated huge applause when they learned the experiences were those of two of their own, NCTS San Diego's Marcus Oliver and Michael Keener. In a great act of generosity, Oliver, a Communications Technician with 25 years of civil service, donated his three Purple Hearts to the museum.
Stepping forward to the more recent past, three cold war communicators, CWO4 Harold Sammons, USN (Ret.), CAPT William C. Liebe, USN (Ret.), and ITCM(AW/SW) BettyLou Schnieder, USN (Ret.), shared stories and memories of their experiences. They highlighted the continuing development of communications capabilities including the merger of the Data Processors into the new Information Systems Technician (IT) rating. Spanning a number of years of naval experience, the guest speakers spoke of change as being a natural part of history.
Anyone desiring to visit or make contributions to NCTS San Diego's History of Naval Communications Museum or the Grace Hopper Museum may contact the museum coordinator, through the front office at (619) 545-8550.