U.S. Naval War College Commemorates 100th Anniversary of Founder’s Death

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (NNS) — Rear Adm. Stephen B. Luce, founder of U.S. Naval War College (NWC), served as its president from Oct. 6, 1884 until June 22, 1888. He retired from the Navy on Feb. 1, 1889, but continued to write and lecture at NWC until his death at age 90 on July 28, 1917.

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Luce’s death, NWC hosted a small ceremony at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church Cemetery. Luce’s great, great grandniece, Anne Dubose Joslin, was the guest of honor at the ceremony.

Adm. Luce was my father’s mentor in every way, and for all the right reasons: intellect, determination, compassion, faith, honor and the resolute principles which dictated for him right from wrong,” said Joslin. „Luce was a visionary, ideological as well as pragmatic. He imagined the world as one interconnected entity, and tried to share his dream with as many people as would listen. America could be its best only if it had a superior, well-educated and well-funded Navy.”

In the 1860s, Luce was assigned to the Naval Academy faculty which was then located in Newport, Rhode Island. There, he realized that his branch of service was not providing training or education in key professional areas. The Naval Academy had no text for seamanship, so Luce wrote it and it stood as the Navy’s standard for 40 years. Since the time of his combat service in the 1860s, Luce had realized that there was no place in the Navy to study the most important and the central issue for a professional officer in the armed forces: war. Therefore, he founded NWC in 1884.

„It was entirely through his personal vision and understanding of the needs for naval education that both the Naval War College and the Naval Training Station were established here in Newport,” said John Hattendorf, the emeritus Ernest J. King professor of maritime history at NWC. „Luce’s vision for the college focused on several major areas of study and activity that still guide us today: strategy, operations, wargaming, intentional law, and maritime history.”

Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, NWC’s current president, and Joslin laid a wreath on Luce’s gravesite to conclude the ceremony.

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