(seated in front row, left-to-right):Ensign George C. Cooper, USNR;Ensign Graham E. Martin, USNR;Ensign Jesse W. Arbor, USNR; Ensign John W. Reagan, USNR; Ensign Reginald E. Goodwin, USNR; (standing in back row, left-to-right): Ensign Dennis D. Nelson, USNR;Ensign Phillip G. Barnes, USNR; Ensign Samuel E. Barnes, USNR; Ensign Dalton L. Baugh, USNR;Ensign James E. Hare, USNR; Ensign Frank E. Sublett, USNR; Warrant Boatswain Charles B. Lear, USNR.
In January 1944 sixteen black enlisted men gathered at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Illinois to begin a cram course that would turn them into the U.S. Navy's first African-American officers on active duty. The men believed they could set back the course of racial justice if they failed and banded together so all would succeed. Despite the demanding pace, all sixteen passed the course. Twelve were commissioned as ensigns and a thirteenth was made a warrant officer. Years later these pioneers came to be known as the Golden Thirteen, but at the outset they were treated more as pariahs than pioneers. Often denied the privileges and respect routinely accorded white naval officers, they were given menial assignments unworthy of their abilities and training. Yet despite this discrimination, these inspirational young men broke new ground and opened the door for generations to come.
Their story is retold in Paul Stillwell's book, "The Golden Thirteen."