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Burns, Otway, Jr. (1775–25 October 1850), privateer, shipbuilder, and state legislator, was born on Queen’s Creek, Onslow County, North Carolina, the son of Otway Burns and Lisanah (maiden name unknown), farmers. Little is known of Burns’s education or youth. Apparently he went to sea at an early age and became a skilled seaman. In 1806 the Onslow County Court apprenticed an orphan lad to Burns to learn navigation. Prior to the War of 1812, Burns was master of a merchantman engaged in the coastwise trade between North Carolina and New England....

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Donald D. Engen. Photograph by Carolyn Russo. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution (#99-15320).

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Engen, Donald Davenport (28 May 1924–13 July 1999), naval officer, test pilot, public servant, was born in Pomona, California, the son of Sydney M. Engen, a stockbroker and later an Internal Revenue Service employee, and Dorothy Davenport Engen. Engen spent his childhood years in southern California, principally in Pasadena. When he was in fourth grade, he decided that he wanted to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and become a naval officer....

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Hichborn, Philip (04 March 1839–01 May 1910), naval officer and shipwright, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, the son of Philip Hichborn and Martha Gould. After he graduated from high school in 1855, Hichborn took work as a shipwright apprentice at the U.S. Navy’s shipyard at Charlestown. His reputation for excellent craftsmanship won him recognition from the navy in the form of special instruction in naval construction. After brief employment as a ship’s carpenter aboard the clipper ship ...

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Hunley, Horace L. (29 December 1823–15 October 1863), promoter and financier of three Confederate submarines, was born Horace Lawson Hunley in Sumner County, Tennessee, just north of Nashville, the son of John Hunley, a cotton broker, and Louise Lawson Hunley. In 1830, with his family, Horace moved, by way of Mississippi, to New Orleans, where his father had served during the War of 1812 at the Battle of New Orleans under General ...

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Loring, Charles Harding (26 December 1828–05 February 1907), naval officer and engineer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of William Price Loring and Elizabeth Harding. Charles had an elementary public school education and began working as a machine shop apprentice. However, he finished first among fourteen on competitive examinations and joined the navy on 26 February 1851. As the U.S. Navy became increasingly dependent on steam-propelled warships and with the American Civil War on the horizon, his engineering experience was a valuable asset. In 1852 he married Ruth Malbon; the couple had one daughter....

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Parsons, Edwin Charles (24 September 1892–02 May 1968), World War I combat pilot and U.S. naval officer, was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, the son of Franklin D. Parsons, an insurance executive in Springfield, Massachusetts, and Grace Steele. Edwin, called “Ted” throughout his life, graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1910 and, at his father’s urging, attended the University of Pennsylvania briefly. After declining his father’s invitation to learn the insurance business, Parsons traveled to southern California in about 1911....

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Rosendahl, Charles Emery (15 May 1892–14 May 1977), aviator, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Charles Oscar Rosendahl and Hannah Johnson. Rosendahl attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, graduating with a B.S. in engineering in 1914. He followed a fairly routine career in the navy for the next nine years, serving as a line officer on destroyers and cruisers and seeing duty in the European theater during World War I. During 1921–1923 Rosendahl served as an instructor in engineering at the Naval Academy....

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Taylor, David Watson (04 March 1864–28 July 1940), naval architect and naval officer, was born in Louisa County, Virginia, the son of Henry Taylor and Mary Minor, farmers. Taylor’s early education was at home before attending Randolph-Macon College from 1877 to his graduation in 1881. He received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in October 1881 and enrolled that month as a cadet-engineer, graduating in June 1885 with the highest academic marks achieved since the academy’s founding in 1845. Taylor served on the USS ...