Philip Carleton Koelsch Papers, 1962-1991 (bulk 1989-1991): Finding Aid
Published in September 2019
- Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
- Publisher Address:
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
- Call number: MS 528
- Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
- Title: Philip Carleton Koelsch Papers
- Dates: 1962-1991
- Bulk Dates: 1989-1991
- Size: 0.21 linear feet
- Container Summary: 34 folders
- Creator: Koelsch, Philip Carleton, 1921-1993
- Language(s) of material: English
- Abstract: Philip Carleton Koelsch was a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy Reserve and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1943. The Philip Carleton Koelsch Papers span from 1962 until 1991, with a bulk of the material produced between 1989 and 1991. The papers consist primarily of the manuscripts for Koelsch's episodic memoirs recalling his career as a Torpedo Officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II and his command of U.S.S. Wren (Destroyer: DD-568) from 1961 until 1962.
Biography of Philip Carleton Koelsch
Philip Carleton Koelsch was born on March 29, 1921 in London, England to Henry Augustus Koelsch, Jr. and Beulah Anne Hubbard Koelsch, and spent his early years in London and Switzerland while his father was serving overseas as an executive for the City Bank of New York (later Citicorp). The family returned to the United States in 1927, splitting time between New York and Washington, DC, only to return to London in 1932, when Koelsch's father was appointed Manager of the English Branches of the City Bank of New York. While living in London, Koelsch initially attended the Gibbs School, after which he was sent to the Westminster School.
Following the death of Koelsch's father in December 1937, the remainder of the Koelsch family returned to the United States. After establishing a residence in Virginia, Koelsch received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy from Senator Carter Glass, and subsequently began attending the Columbia Prep School in January 1939 in preparation for the Naval Academy entrance examinations. Having passed the examinations, Koelsch was admitted to the Naval Academy as a member of the Class of 1943 in June 1939.
After graduating from the Naval Academy in June 1942, Koelsch was assigned to duty as a Torpedo Officer aboard destroyers the Pacific, where he participated in the Battles of Guadalcanal and Vella Lavella. At the end of the war, he was attached to U.S.S. Frank Knox (Destroyer: DD-742) as Executive Officer, serving in Chinese waters. In 1947, he was appointed Flag Lieutenant and Aide to Vice Admiral Francis X. McInerney.
In 1949, Koelsch was ordered to Washington to study law and serve as an aide at the White House. Later that same year, rather than transfer to the JAG Corps, he resigned his regular commission in the United States Navy and accepted a commission in the Navy Reserve. Following his resignation, Koelsch enrolled at Georgetown University Law School, and ultimately completed his law studies at the University of Houston. Having returned to Texas, he joined Armco Steel Corporation.
In 1961, Koelsch was approached by the U.S. Navy to take command of the reserve destroyer U.S.S. Wren (Destroyer: DD-568) out of Galveston, Texas. Shortly thereafter, U.S.S. Wren was recalled to active duty during the Berlin Crisis of 1961. During her recall, U.S.S. Wren served first in the waters off Cuba and the Dominican Republic, and ultimately with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. In 1962, the Wren returned to reserve duty, whereupon Koelsch returned to Texas and founded a lime and dolomite production company. Concurrent with his return to inactive status, Koelsch assumed command of the Navy's six reserve destroyers of the Eighth Naval District in the Gulf of Mexico.
In 1972, Koelsch entered into a law partnership and was selected for promotion to flag rank. As a Rear Admiral, he commanded the Tenth Readiness Command, with responsibility for all naval reserve activity in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. Koelsch retired from the United States Navy Reserve in July 1979, from the Board of his lime company in 1981, and from his law partnership in 1983. Philip Carleton Koelsch died on June 4, 1993 in Houston, Texas.
Description of Contents
The Philip Carleton Koelsch Papers, comprising 0.21 linear feet of documentation, span from 1962 until 1991, with a bulk of the material produced between 1989 and 1991. The papers consist primarily of the manuscripts for Koelsch's episodic memoirs recalling his career as a Torpedo Officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II and his command of U.S.S. Wren (Destroyer: DD-568) from 1961 until 1962.
Included in the collection are memoirs, correspondence, photographs, and a newspaper clipping.
The Koelsch Papers are arranged alphabetically by document type into a single series with no subdivisions. The bulk of the collection consists of drafts of Koelsch's autobiographical essays. Titled collectively as "The Ears of Buddha," and published episodically in the Naval Academy Alumni Association's Shipmate magazine, the memoirs discuss Koelsch's experiences as a Torpedo Officer in the Pacific during World War II, duty as Flag Lieutenant to Vice Admiral Francis X. McInerney, command of the reserve destroyer U.S.S. Wren, and views on the moral implications of nuclear weapons, as well as reminiscences from his time as a midshipman. Included with the memoirs are letters sent and received from the Naval Academy Alumni Association and classmate C. Fred Wortham regarding the publication of Koelsch's reminiscences. Several additional documents pertain to Koelsch's command of U.S.S. Wren and his promotion to Rear Admiral, including his official portrait.
The Philip Carleton Koelsch Papers are arranged alphabetically by document type.
Access and Use
Access is unrestricted.
Copyright and Permission
The Philip Carleton Koelsch 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.
Acquisition and Appraisal
Provenance and Acquisition
Gift of C. Fred Wortham in November 1996. Accession No. 96-77.
Related Archival Material
Additional material pertaining to Philip Carleton Koelsch in this repository includes Koelsch's Midshipman Personnel Jacket (sealed until 2041) and Alumni Jacket.
Additional material pertaining to Philip Carleton Koelsch and the Koelsch Family can be found in the Philip Koelsch Papers, 1812-2016, MS 568 at Rice University's Woodson Research Center.
Materials Cataloged Separately
No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.
Processing and Other Information
Philip Carleton Koelsch Papers, MS 528
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:
Koelsch, Philip Carleton Alumni Jacket, RG 405, Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.
This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in September 2019. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in September 2019.
These materials have been indexed in the Naval Academy Library online catalog using the following terms. Those seeking related materials should search under these terms.
Name and Subject Terms
- Destroyers (Warships) -- United States -- History -- World War, 1939-1945
- Koelsch, Philip Carleton, 1921-1993
- McInerney, Francis X. (Francis Xavier), 1899-1956
- Nuclear weapons -- Moral and ethical aspects
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Naval operations, American
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American
- Wren (Destroyer : DD-568)
Essays/Memoirs - Extracts From The Ears of Buddha, 1989 April
Includes 19: To Flores in the Azores, regarding the reception of U.S.S. Wren in the Azores and Gibraltar; 20: Flog Him, regarding rumors that Koelsch had one of his men flogged aboard U.S.S. Wren; 21: One That Worked, regarding Koelsch's efforts to reform a troubled seaman; and 22: Finale, regarding Koelsch's time as Commander Reserve Destroyer Division Eighth Naval District.