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An Interview with Ima Black, a WWII-era WAVES Sailor

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Mutis A. Capizzi, Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) hosted Mrs. Ima Black, widow of the Navy’s first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Delbert Black, for a tour of the National Museum of the United States Navy (NMUSN) Sept. 20, 2019. The tour gave Black a chance to see pieces from NHHC’s expansive collection, including uniforms and memorabilia from her husband’s service as well as her own time in service as a Navy Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES). President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the establishment of the WAVES on July 30, 1942. Establishing the WAVES was a lengthy effort, but just one year later in July 1943, 27,000 women wore the WAVES uniform.

It also allowed NHHC staff the opportunity to learn more about Black and her effect on the Navy’s history. In these short interviews, Black describes her experience in the Navy.

What inspired you to join the Navy?

How did your parents react to your enlistment?

What was your first experience on a Navy base like?

How did you meet Delbert Black?

What is your advice to women in service today?

Do you have any advice for junior Sailors in the Fleet today?

How did you feel about the Navy naming a ship for your husband?

Why do you think Delbert Black was chosen for MCPON?