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Howard E. Orem Papers, 1919-1956: Finding Aid

Published in November 2015

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 428
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Howard E. Orem Papers
  • Dates: 1919-1956
  • Size: 5.29 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 manuscript box, 3 flat boxes
  • Creator: Orem, Howard E.
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Howard E. Orem was an admiral in the United States Navy and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1922. The papers are largely the product of Vice Admiral Orem's service with Cruiser Divisions Six and Seven during World War II, his command of U.S.S. Houston (Light cruiser: CL-81), his tour as Commander Naval Forces, Germany, and his time as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy.

Biography of Howard E. Orem

Howard Emery Orem was born on November 4, 1900 in Corning, California to Horatio and Agnes Elizabeth Orem. In 1918, he received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy from Oregon's Second Congressional District, and graduated as a member of the Class of 1922.

During the first five years of his Navy career, Orem saw service aboard U.S.S. Idaho (Battleship: BB-42), U.S.S. Newport News (Transport: AK-3), U.S.S. William B. Preston (Destroyer: DD-344), U.S.S. Tennessee (Battleship: BB-43), and U.S.S. Lawrence (Destroyer: DD-250), with duties spread across the Pacific Battleship Squadron, the Asiatic Station, and the Scouting Fleet. In 1927, he returned to Annapolis for further instruction in mechanical engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School, ultimately receiving a Master of Science from Columbia University in July 1929. After receiving his degree, Orem returned to the Battle Fleet aboard U.S.S. Maryland (Battleship: BB-46) and U.S.S. Waters (Destroyer: DD-115).

Following two years at the Philadelphia Navy Yard (1932-1934), Orem was attached to U.S.S. New York (Battleship: BB-34), where he was appointed Assistant Gunnery Officer in May 1936, with a subsequent promotion to Gunnery Officer in February 1937. Detached from the New York, Orem returned to the Naval Academy as an instructor in electrical engineering, remaining in that role until May 1939.

After the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Orem was assigned to the staff of Commander Cruiser Divisions Six and Seven, serving as Executive Officer of U.S.S. Wichita (Heavy cruiser: CA-45) and as Chief of Staff to Rear Admiral Robert C. Giffen. Serving in this capacity from June 1939 until June 1943, Orem saw duty with North Atlantic and Arctic convoys, off Guadalcanal in the Battle of Rennell Island, in support of Allied landings in French Morocco during Operation Torch, and in the Aleutian Islands. Shortly before the end of World War II, he received command of U.S.S. Houston (Light cruiser: CL-81), where he remained until June 1946.

In August 1946, Orem was once again assigned to instruction, completing the course at the National War College in June 1947. Following his course of study, he saw duty on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet as Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics before receiving orders as Deputy Director in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations' International Affairs Division in June 1948. Orem was subsequently promoted to Director of International Affairs, remaining in that office until he received command of Amphibious Group Four out of Little Creek, Virginia in December 1950.

Orem's next tour of duty brought him to Europe as Commander Naval Forces, Germany in June 1952. Detached from that command in April 1954, he returned to Washington to serve as Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, later retitled as Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Plans and Policy. On December 7, 1955, Orem was assigned to his final active duty post as member of the Joint Strategic Survey Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after which he was transferred to the retired list on May 1, 1957 with the rank of Vice Admiral.

Following his retirement from the United States Navy, Orem served as President of the New Jersey Easter Seals, member of the Boards of Directors of Canadian Javelin Limited and Norwalk Powdered Metals Corporation, and as Chairman of the Valley Metallurgical Processing Company. He also served as Director of Research at Stevens Institute of Technology from 1957 until 1968. Howard Emery Orem died on June 21, 1995 in Williamsburg, Virginia.

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Description of Contents

The Howard E. Orem Papers, comprising 5.29 linear feet of documentation, span from 1919 until 1956, with a majority of the documentation falling between 1941 and 1956. The papers are largely the product of Vice Admiral Orem's service with Cruiser Divisions Six and Seven during World War II, his command of U.S.S. Houston (Light cruiser: CL-81), his tour as Commander Naval Forces, Germany, and his time as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy.

Included in the collection are speeches, photographs, action reports, and scrapbooks. Additionally, the scrapbooks contain dispatches and ephemera.

The Howard E. Orem Papers are arranged alphabetically by document type into a single records series with no subdivisions. The bulk of the collection is contained in three volumes; each part photograph album and part scrapbook, with each covering a distinct time period. The first volume is the product of Orem's midshipman experiences at the Naval Academy as a member of the Class of 1922, with a heavy emphasis on the Academy's summer practice cruises. A second volume, entitled "War Album," is the product of Orem's World War II experiences. This leather bound album covers each of Orem's duty stations in the Atlantic and Pacific, and offers a photographic record of his service with Admiral Robert C. Giffen. The volume is also a partial product of Orem's command of U.S.S. Houston, which extended past the end of hostilities. The final volume is the product of Orem's commands of Amphibious Group Four and Naval Forces, Germany. In addition to chronicling events, the volumes also contain numerous images of the various locales visited by Orem throughout his career.

The remainder of the collection is composed primarily of speeches delivered by Orem, spanning from World War II through the end of his U.S. Navy career. The speeches, delivered to the officers and crew serving under Orem, as well as various civic organizations, address topics such as Orem's World War II experiences, the morality of war, American military policy, and memorials to U.S.S. Houston. Other documents rounding out the collection include a World War II action report, several photographs, and a briefing for Operation Torch.

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The Howard E. Orem Papers are arranged alphabetically by document type.

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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Howard E. Orem 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.

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.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Gift of CDR Charles A. Orem in July 1997 and March 2001. Accession Nos. 97-50 and 01-03.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional material pertaining to Howard E. Orem's career and midshipman experiences may be found in his Midshipman Personnel Jacket (sealed until 2019) and Alumni Jacket, both available in Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Howard E. Orem Papers, MS 428

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in November 2015. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in November 2015.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Giffen, Robert C. (Robert Carlisle), 1886-1962
  • Guadalcanal, Battle of, Solomon Islands, 1942-1943
  • Houston (Light cruiser : CL-81)
  • Midshipmen -- United States -- Conduct of life
  • Naval convoys -- Arctic Ocean -- History -- World War, 1939-1945
  • Naval convoys -- Atlantic Ocean -- History -- World War, 1939-1945
  • Operation Torch, 1942
  • Orem, Howard E.
  • United States -- Military policy
  • United States Naval Academy -- Midshipmen -- Cruises
  • United States Naval Academy -- Social life and customs
  • United States. Naval Forces, Germany
  • United States. Navy. Amphibious Group 4
  • Wichita (Heavy cruiser : CA-45)
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- Africa, North
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- Alaska -- Aleutian Islands
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Naval operations, American

Genre Terms

  • Manuscripts
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Speeches (documents)
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Action Report - Task Force Eighteen January 29-30, 1943, 1943 February 19

Report of the Battle of Rennell Island during the Japanese evacuation of Guadalcanal.

Box 1 Folder 2

Anecdote - Encyclopedia Britannica, undated

Anecdote from Convoy PQ 17 regarding the Encyclopedia's entry on the 4th of July.

Box 1 Folder 3

Briefing - U.S.S. Wichita en route to Casablanca, 1942 November (approximate)

Delivered to officers and crew of Wichita in preparation for participation in Operation Torch/Allied landings in Morocco.

Box 2[OS] Folder 1

Photograph Album/Scrapbook, 1950-1953

Includes photographs and clippings regarding Orem's command of Amphibious Group Four, including the CAMID VI exercises; Orem's visit to Monrovia for the Liberian Presidential Inauguration; and his time as Commander, Naval Forces Germany, including images of sites throughout West Germany.

Box 3[OS] Folder 1

Photograph Album/Scrapbook - United States Naval Academy, 1919-1922

Includes photographs and memorabilia regarding the Naval Academy grounds; midshipman cruises to the West Coast, Panama, and the Mediterranean; the 1919 Army-Navy Game; hops and balls; and Academy musical events.

Box 4[OS] Folder 1

Photograph Album/Scrapbook - War Album, 1941-1946

Includes images of U.S.S. Wichita and other American warships en route to and in Iceland; damage to U.S.S. Kearny; Admiral Giffen and his staff; Task Force 99 operations between Iceland and Scapa Flow; the visit of King George VI to the Home Fleet; attacks on Convoy PQ 17; Operation Torch; the closing naval operations of the Guadalcanal Campaign; visit of Secretary of the Navy Knox; operations in the Aleutians; and Orem's command of U.S.S. Houston. Also includes dispatches, ephemera, and certificates.

Box 1 Folder 4

Photographs - Convoy PQ 17, 1942 July 4

Images of German aerial attacks on Convoy PQ 17 and the track chart for U.S.S. Wichita.

Box 1 Folder 5

Photographs - Guadalcanal/Battle of Rennell Island, 1943 January 29

Images of Japanese aircraft being shot down by U.S. Navy forces.

Box 1 Folder 6

Speech - Address by Captain Howard E. Orem Delivered at Church Services on board U.S.S. Houston, 1946 March 10

Address on the nature of war and morality.

Box 1 Folder 7

Speech - NATO Defense College, 1956 December 20

Remarks while serving as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Germany, on U.S. military policy and its roots in national policy and objectives.

Box 1 Folder 8

Speech - Navy Day 1955, 1955 October 27

Remarks on the role of the Navy in protecting shipping, the advent of nuclear power, and the role of naval power in the making of national policy. Delivered in Portland.

Box 1 Folder 9

Speech - Personal Recollections of Howard E. Orem Covering the Period from June 1939 to June 1943, 1943

Covers pre-war preparations, North Atlantic Lend-Lease convoys, neutrality patrols in the GIUK gap, attacks on convoy PQ 17, Allied assault on French Morocco, final assaults on Guadalcanal, and operations in the Aleutians.

Box 1 Folder 10

Speech - Tampa Shipbuilding Co., Inc., 1945 (approximate)

Remarks on the role of repair vessels, fleet auxiliaries, logistics, and the destroyer escort program.

Box 1 Folder 11

Speech - Task Force Organizations, 1943 (approximate)

Initial organization of the Navy's Atlantic patrol forces leading up to, and in the early days of, World War II.

Box 1 Folder 12

Speech - U.S.S. Holder, 1953 (approximate)

Remarks while serving as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Germany, on the Holder, the future role of the German Navy, and countering the Soviet Navy.

Box 1 Folder 13

Speech File, 1945-1952

Speeches at the St. Albans School Government Club, the 1945 Governors Conference, the Lambert Meter company, the Houston Optimist Club, the D.A.R., Harvard University, and the 1952 Liberian Presidential Inauguration. Topics include World War II in the Pacific, post-war national security, memorials honoring U.S.S. Houston, post-war demobilization, the founding of South Korea, and communist containment. Also includes addresses to the crew of U.S.S. Houston.

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