Date(s) - 10/01/19
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Pritzker Military Library
William Trimble: Admiral John S. McCain and the Triumph of Naval Air Power
Author William Trimble visits the Museum & Library to discuss the life and professional career of Adm. John S. McCain Sr.
Spanning most of the first half of the twentieth century, McCain’s life and career highlight the integration of aviation into the Navy, emphasizing the evolution of the aircraft carrier from a tactical element of the fleet stressing sea control to a strategic force capable of long-range power projection.
Although much of the book focuses on carrier aviation, McCain was instrumental in the emergence of flying boats, considered essential for long-range reconnaissance in the Pacific. One of the senior officers branded as “Johnny-Come-Latelys” by pioneer aviators, McCain nevertheless brought fresh approaches and innovation to naval aviation. His prewar and initial wartime commands encompassed tender-based and shore-based aviation, which were critical to early operations in the Pacific, yet McCain also understood the power and potential of carrier-based aviation, initially as commanding officer of the USS Ranger before the war, then as a carrier task force commander under Adm. William F. Halsey in the Pacific in 1944 and 1945.
Moreover, he served tours as Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics and the first Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air) in 1942–1944. In these posts he witnessed and played a role in the culmination of naval air power as a means of delivering crippling blows to the enemy’s homeland. McCain was among only a handful of officers who achieved prominence during the war and who had experience in all of these varied and challenging levels of command.
WILLIAM TRIMBLE is Professor Emeritus at Auburn University in Alabama. His most recent book is Hero of the Air: Glenn Curtiss and the Birth of Naval Aviation. He is also the author of Wings for the Navy: A History of the Naval Aircraft Factory, Admiral William A. Moffett: Architect of Naval Aviation, Jerome C. Hunsaker and the Rise of American Aeronautics, and Attack from the Sea: A History of the U.S. Navy’s Seaplane Striking Force, among other books and articles.