Willard M. Sweetser addressing the crew of U.S.S. Hickox, ca.1943.
Willard M. Sweetser addressing the crew of U.S.S. Hickox, ca.1943.

Guide to the Willard M. Sweetser Papers, 1898-2008

MS 399

A collection in the
Special Collections & Archives Department,
Nimitz Library

Naval Academy Seal

United States Naval Academy
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5029

Prepared by: David D'Onofrio

October 2009

Descriptive Summary

Provenance:
The Willard M. Sweetser Papers were donated to the Special Collection & Archives Department by Willard M. Sweetser, Jr. Accession No. 09-03.
Size:
3 linear feet.
Access:
Access to the Willard M. Sweetser Papers is unrestricted.
Copyright:
The Willard M. Sweetser Papers are the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.
Permission:
It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information
Preferred Citation:
Willard M. Sweetser Papers, MS 399
Special Collections & Archives Department
Nimitz Library
United States Naval Academy

Biographical Sketch

Willard M. Sweetser, son of Willard B. Sweetser, was born in Portland, Oregon on June 9, 1902. After one year of study at the Severn School in Severna Park, Maryland, Sweetser entered the United States Naval Academy in 1922.

Following graduation from the Naval Academy on June 3, 1926, Sweetser was assigned to U.S.S. Marblehead (Light Cruiser: CL-12). During this assignment, Sweetser attended Naval Aviation School in Hampton, Virginia and Torpedo School in Newport, Rhode Island. After completing Torpedo School, he was transferred to U.S.S. Charles Ausburn (Destroyer: DD-294). In January 1929, Sweetser was assigned to U.S.S. Lexington (Aircraft Carrier: CV-2).

Sweetser began the 1930s with a transfer to foreign service, serving in the Philippines and as part of the Yangtze River Patrol aboard U.S.S. Panay (Gunboat: PR-5). In 1933, Sweetser joined the 4th Marine Regiment in Shanghai, during which time he was assigned to study the Russian language. In September 1934, Sweetser returned to the United States, having been assigned as an instructor in Naval Science at Yale University. After a two-year tour at Yale, he was again sent to sea in June 1936, serving aboard U.S.S. Mississippi (Battleship: BB-41). After two years in the Pacific, Sweetser transferred back to the East Coast to serve aboard U.S.S. Wyoming (Battleship BB-32). Following his service aboard Wyoming, Sweetser was again assigned to Yale University as a Naval Science instructor.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Sweetser left Yale and returned to sea duty as captain of the newly completed U.S.S. Lardner (Destroyer: DD 487), which entered commissioned service on May 13 1942. After a brief tour in the South Pacific, Sweetser returned to the East Coast to take command of U.S.S. Hickox (Destroyer: DD-673) upon that ship's commissioning on September 10, 1943. Sweetser rounded out his wartime service with tours as commander of Destroyer Division 92 and as a member of the Chief of Naval Operations' staff. Sweetser was awarded two Commendation ribbons, two Bronze Stars, and a Silver Star.

After World War II, Sweetser served two tours at the American Embassy in Belgrade as a Naval Attaché to Yugoslavia, during which time he served as the U.S. representative to the International Conference to Consider Free Navigation of the Danube in July 1948. Following his diplomatic service, Sweetser served tours as a professor of Naval Science at Dartmouth College, commander of Destroyer Squadron 32, and Chief of Staff to the Commander, Hunter Killer Force, Atlantic. In his final assignment, Sweetser again would serve in a diplomatic role as attaché in the American Embassy in Moscow. Following his retirement from the Navy with the rank of Rear Admiral in 1956, Sweetser pursued a Master of Science degree at Purdue University. After graduation, Sweetser taught mathematics at LaSalle University in Philadelphia until 1972. Willard Merton Sweetser died on November 30, 2007, at the age of 105.

Scope and Content Note

The Willard M. Sweetser Papers, comprising 3 linear feet of documentation, span the bulk of Sweetser's career in the U.S. Navy, from his time as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy in 1921, until his retirement in 1956. In varying levels of detail, the papers describe Sweetser's duties and experiences as a member of the Yangtze River Patrol, and as a Naval Attaché at the U.S. Embassies in Belgrade and Moscow.

The collection is composed of varying document types, including letters (primarily incoming), memoranda, invitations, visiting cards, press clippings, books, photographs, orders, event programs, travel permits, identification cards, and ephemera, such as luggage tags and tickets. The papers also include a single scrapbook.

The Sweetser Papers are organized into four series by document type and office of origin. UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY FILES consists primarily of a scrapbook containing photographs, event programs, and awards from throughout Sweetser's naval career. The majority of materials pertaining directly to Sweetser's naval career are found in UNITED STATES NAVAY FILES. Broken into four sub-series, the files focus primarily on Sweetser's duties as a member of the Yangtze River Patrol, and as a Naval Attaché at the U.S. Embassies in Belgrade and Moscow, but also include materials from his service as captain of U.S.S. Lardner. Documents and ephemera tangentially or loosely related to Sweetser's naval career, such as reference works on Russia and travel materials, such as Aeroflot luggage tags, can be found in SUBJECT FILES AND PERSONAL EPHEMERA. Photographs documenting Sweetser's naval career as a diplomat and surface warfare officer, as well as life as a midshipman at the Naval Academy, can be found in PHOTOGRPAHS.

Research interests served by the Sweetser Papers, in addition to biographical inquiries, include the general nature of diplomatic service in the U.S. Navy and the service of U.S.S. Panay on the Yangtze River.

Series Descriptions

UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY FILES, 1921-1949 and 1977. (Boxes 1 and 7 [OS])

Arranged alphabetically by document type.

Documentation of Sweetser’s time as a midshipman at the Naval Academy, as well as his later interactions with the Naval Academy Alumni Association. The materials pertain largely to special events, such as dances, Army-Navy football, and graduation. Included in the series are certificates, correspondence, ephemera, greeting cards, a lesson schedule, and a scrapbook.

The scrapbook, spanning from 1921 to 1949, includes photographs, dance programs, football programs, certificates, press clippings and postcards. The scrapbook also contains material pre and postdating Sweetser’s time at the Naval Academy, including awards from the Severn School, his appointments as Commander and Captain, and a citation for a Silver Star.

Additional material pertaining to the United States Naval Academy can be found in PHOTOGRAPHS.

UNITED STATES NAVY FILES, 1931-1956. (Boxes 1-4)

Organized into four sub-series by office or duty station.

Documentation of Sweetser's career in the United States Navy, focusing primarily on his duties with the Yangtze River Patrol, and as a Naval Attaché.

General: Arranged alphabetically by document type.

Documentation, of a general nature, of several unrelated aspects of Sweetser's career in the United States Navy. The materials pertain to awards received by Sweetser, security clearance, social protocol, U.S.S. Lardner, and Sweetser's retirement. Included in the sub-series are letters, certificates, identification cards, handbooks, orders, a pocket diary, and a 16mm motion picture film.

The 16mm, silent, motion picture film depicts the "Crossing the Line" ceremony of the U.S.S. Lardner. Photographs of U.S.S. Lardner, as well as a rescue operation probably carried out aboard Lardner or Hickox can be found in PHOTOGRAPHS.

Additional awards and certificates from Sweetser's naval career can be found in the scrapbook in UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY FILES.

Yangtze River Patrol: Arranged alphabetically by document title or type.

Documentation of events and duties during Sweetser's tour aboard U.S.S. Panay of the Yangtze River Patrol. The materials pertain specifically to Sweetser's duty as an armed guard aboard steamer I'Ling, salvaging of the steamer I'Ping, and the ransoming of Captain Charles Baker by Chinese Communists. Included in the sub-series are memoranda, log entries, and a map.

Attaché to Belgrade, Yugoslavia: Arranged alphabetically by document type.

Documentation related to Sweetser's service as a Naval Attaché at the American Embassy in Belgrade. The materials focus on the social nature and protocol of diplomatic duty, as well as the International Conference to Consider Free Navigation of the Danube. Included in the sub-series are invitations, incoming letters, incoming and outgoing visitor cards, diplomatic lists, press clippings, handwritten notes, schedules, orders, certificates, identification cards, and ephemera.

Included in the sub-series are several documents, including visiting cards and certificates, in the Serbian language.

Attaché to Moscow, USSR: Arranged alphabetically by document type.

Documentation of Sweetser's service as a Naval Attaché at the American Embassy in Moscow, USSR. The materials pertain to the social nature of diplomatic service, as well as Sweetser's travels, and specific Soviet public events, such as the Physical Culture Parade and celebrations for May Day. Included in the sub-series are incoming letters, diplomatic lists, event tickets, event programs, visiting cards, invitations, maps, travel permits, account statements, and handwritten notes.

Included in the sub-series are several documents in the Russian language.

SUBJECT FILES AND PERSONAL EPHEMERA, 1898-2008 (Boxes 4-6 and 8 [OS])

Arranged alphabetically by document type or subject.

Documents and ephemera relating to various topics of personal and professional interest to Sweetser. The materials pertain to such varied topics as the history of the Russian Navy, Soviet satellite armies, the Church of St. George Oplenac, the dedication of the United States Naval Academy Alumni House, historic United States Navy vessels, and travel in the Soviet Union. The series also includes professional development material from the U.S. Naval War College. Included in the series are books, press clippings, event programs, airplane [and railway] tickets, pamphlets, luggage tags, and a map.

All of the U.S. Naval War College Publications within this series are also available in the general collections of Nimitz Library.

PHOTOGRAPHS, 1922-1953 (Boxes 6 and 8[OS])

Arranged alphabetically by subject type.

Photographs, primarily black-and-white, depicting various events from Sweetser's career in the U.S. Navy. In addition to group and individual portraits featuring Sweetser, the photographs also depict the United States Naval Academy (including buildings and grounds, football, parades, and the Class of 1926 commencement), various U.S. Navy vessels (including U.S. Ships Panay, Lardner, and Charles Ausburn), a visit to an allied military cemetery in Murmansk, Russia, and World War II battle scenes. Included in the series are photographic prints, postcards, and printouts.

The photographs of World War II battle scenes include unidentified depictions of what appear to be European ruins and the recovery of refugees or prisoners of war in the Pacific.

Included in the series is a photograph of President Warren G. Harding reviewing the Brigade of Midshipmen, and a photograph of President Lyndon B. Johnson at an unidentified event.

Container List

Box Folder  
1 UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY FILES
1 Acceptance Letter, June 23, 1922
2 Alumni Association Materials, 1977 and undated
3 Christmas Cards, 1922
4 Diploma, June 3, 1926
5 Graduation Ticket, June 3, 1926
6 Naval History Lesson Schedule, 1923
UNITED STATES NAVY FILES/General
7 Citations and Awards, 1941-1944
8 Identification Cards, 1956, 1964 and undated
9 Motion Picture (16mm) - U.S.S. Lardner "Crossing the Line" Ceremonies, undated
10 Navy Speaker's Guide, 1958
11 "Operation and Engagement Stars," 1945-1946
12 Orders, July 20, 1951
13 Pocket Diary, undated
14 Retirement Materials, 1956
15 Security Clearance, 1953
16 Social Usage and Protocol: A Handbook Compiled for Officers of the United States Navy, 1951-1954
Yangtze River Patrol
17 "Log of Armed Guard from U.S.S. Panay on board S.S. I'Ling During Trip NR. 160 down from Ichang to Hankow," October 1931

Account of attack on I'Ling by shore forces. Includes written statements by crew members.

18 "Log of H.E. Case in Connection with Ransom of Captain Chas. Baker," February 1932
19 Map - Nanking-Shanghai-Hangchow Area, undated
20 "Salvaging S.S. I'Ping," February 1932
Attaché to Belgrade, Yugoslavia
21 Certificates (Serbian), 1946 and 1948
22 Correspondence, 1947
23 Correspondence, 1948

Includes a memorandum of instructions for officers attached to the American Embassy in Belgrade.

24 Correspondence, 1949
25 Correspondence, undated
26 Correspondence - Greeting Cards, 1948
27-28 Correspondence - Greeting Cards, undated
Box Folder
2 1 Correspondence - Greeting Cards, undated
2 Correspondence - Postcards, 1947-1948 and undated
3 Correspondence - Postcards (Blank), undated
4 Delegation Rosters - International Conference to Consider Free Navigation of the Danube, July 1948
5 Diplomatic Corps Magazine Supply Card, undated
6 Diplomatic Passport, 1946
7 Hotel Receipts, undated
8 Identification Card (Serbian), 1947
9 Liste du Corps Diplomatique [Diplomatic List], April 1947
10 Liste du Corps Diplomatique [Diplomatic List], October 1947
11 Liste du Corps Diplomatique [Diplomatic List], April 1948
12 [Memorandum] (Russian) - Travel in Czechoslovakia, undated
13 Notes and Sketches, undated
14 Orders, 1946 and undated
15 Press Clippings, 1948 and undated

Articles pertaining to access to the Danube and the U.S. Navy's presence in the Mediterranean.

16 Social Appointments - Invitations, January - April 1947
17 Social Appointments - Invitations, May - August 1947
18 Social Appointments - Invitations, October - December 1947
19 Social Appointments - Invitations, January - April 1948
20 Social Appointments - Invitations, May - June 1948
Box Folder
3 1 Social Appointments - Invitations, July - August 1948
2 Social Appointments - Invitations, September - October 1948
3 Social Appointments - Invitations, November 1948
4 Social Appointments - Invitations, December 1948
5 Social Appointments - Invitations, January - February 1949
6 Social Appointments - Invitations, March - May 1949
7 Social Appointments - Invitations (Loose), 1947 and undated
8 Social Appointments - Schedule, undated
9 Special Guide to Restaurants in Soho and West End, undated
10 Statement of Balance, 1948
11 Visiting Cards, undated
12-14 Visiting Cards (Received), undated
Attaché to Moscow, USSR
15 Commissary Statements, 1955
16 Correspondence, 1954-1956
17 Customs Forms (Russian), 1954
18 Diplomatic List, January 1954
19 Diplomatic List, July 1954
20 Diplomatic List, January 1955
Box Folder
4 1 Event Program - USSR Physical Culture Parade, June 1954
2 Event Tickets - Victory Day and May Day, 1955
3 Identification Card (Russian), [1948]
4 Invitations, 1953-1956
5 Invitations, undated
6 Maps (Atlas), 1953
7 Maps (Loose), 1953-1954
8 Notes (Handwritten), undated
9 Occupational Force Travel Permit, undated
10 Telephone Directory, April 1955
11 Travel Permits (Finnish and Turkish), 1955
12 Visiting Cards, undated
13 Visiting Cards (Received), undated
SUBJECT FILES AND PERSONAL EPHEMERA
14 Airline Ticket, undated
15 Biographical Material, 2008 and undated
16 Books - [Church of St. George, Oplenac] (Serbian), 1935
17 Books - Graf, H. The Russian Navy in War and Revolution (English Translation), 1923

Title also available in the Nimitz Library General Collection (DK265.G65).

Box Folder
5 1 Books - Graf, H. The Russian Navy in War and Revolution (Russian Edition, Copy 1)
2 Books - Graf, H. The Russian Navy in War and Revolution (Russian Edition, Copy 2)
3 Books - [Military Primer Cyrillic and Latin: With Instruction for Reading and Writing] (Serbian), 1932
4 Books - Testimonies which Cannot be Refuted: Statements by Refugee Soldiers of the Soviet Satellite Armies, undated
5 Event Program - United States Naval Academy Alumni House Dedication, October 13, 1945
6 Event Program (Serbian) - Dundo Maroje (play), undated
7 Identification Card - LaSalle College, undated
8 List of Passengers: S.S. America, United States Lines, December 1946
9 Luggage Tags, undated
10 Pamphlet - Ships of the Navy, [1927]
11 Press Clippings, 1898, 1962 and undated
Includes images of U.S. Ships Brooklyn, Oregon, Iowa, New York, and Panay.
12 Travel Documents and Tickets, undated
Box Folder
6 1 U.S. Naval War College Publications - Information Service for Officers, 1948-1949

Title also available in the Nimitz Library General Collection (Bound Periodicals).

2 U.S. Naval War College Publications - Sound Military Decision: Including Estimate of Situation and Formulation of Directives, 1938

Title also available in the Nimitz Library General Collection (V163.U55 1938).

3 U.S. Naval War College Publications - Sound Military Decision, 1942

Title also available in the Nimitz Library General Collection (V163.U55 1942).

4 Visiting Cards, undated
PHOTOGRAPHS
5 Battle Scenes (World War II) - [Japanese Refugee/Prisoner of War] Rescue, undated
6 Battle Scenes (World War II) - Unidentified [European] Ruins, undated
7 Dartmouth Scenes, undated

Images feature Dartmouth College ROTC swearing-in and award ceremonies.

8 Moscow Scenes - Greeting Cards (Blank), 1953
9 Naval Academy Scenes - Buildings and Grounds, ca. 1922-1926

Images feature U.S.S. Reina Mercedes and an aerial view of the Naval Academy.

10 Naval Academy Scenes - Football, ca. 1922-1926
11 Naval Academy Scenes - Parades and Formations, ca. 1922-1926

One image features President Warren G. Harding reviewing the brigade.

12 Portraits (Group) - Crew of U.S.S. Panay, undated
13 Portraits (Group) - Naval Academy Chapel Ushers, 1925
14 Portraits (Group) - Unidentified
15 Portraits (Individual) - Sweetser, Willard M., undated
16 Ships - Unidentified, undated
17 Ships - U.S.S. Block Island (Aircraft Carrier: CVE-106), undated

Images feature Rear Admiral Dan Gallery.

18 Ships - U.S.S. Hickox (Destroyer: DD-673), [1943]

Images of ceremony on deck, possibly for ship's launch and christening.

19 Ships - U.S.S. Lardner (Destroyer: DD-487), 1942

Images of construction and christening ceremonies.

20 Ships - U.S.S. Mississippi (Battleship: BB-41), undated
21 Ships - U.S.S. Panay (Gunboat: PR-5), undated
22 Ships - U.S.S. Toledo (Heavy Cruiser: CA-133), undated
23 Special Events and Ceremonies - Murmansk Alliance Military Cemetery, undated
24 Special Events and Ceremonies - Unidentified, undated
25 One image features President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Box Item
7[OS] UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY FILES (Oversize)
1 Scrapbook, 1921-1949

Includes certificates for Sweetser’s appointments as a Midshipman, Commander, and Captain, as well as a citation for a Silver Star, and a graduation certificate from Armed Forces Information School.

Box Folder
8[OS] SUBJECT FILES AND PERSONAL EPHEMERA (Oversize)
1 Map - Dartmouth College, undated
PHOTOGRAPHS (Oversize)
2 Portraits (Group), undated

Images feature the Naval Academy football team, and members of the [Class of 1926].

3 Ships - U.S.S. Charles Ausburn (Destroyer: DD-294), undated
4 Naval Academy Scenes - Graduation [rolled], June 3, 1926