Captain “Hell Roaring” Mike Healy: From American Slave to Arctic Hero

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2017-01-27 15:18Z by Steven

Captain “Hell Roaring” Mike Healy: From American Slave to Arctic Hero

University Press of Florida
2017-04-35
352 pages
6.125 x 9.25
Hardcover ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-3368-6
Paper ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-5485-8

Dennis L. Noble, Senior Chief Petty Officer (Retired)
United States Coast Guard

Truman R. Strobridge

Foreword by James C. Bradford and Gene Allen Smith, Series Editors

One of the Coast Guardā€™s great heroes and the secret he kept hidden

In the late 1880s, many lives in northern and western maritime Alaska rested in the capable hands of Michael A. Healy (1839-1904), through his service to the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service. Healy arrested lawbreakers, put down mutinies aboard merchant ships, fought the smuggling of illegal liquor and firearms, rescued shipwrecked sailors from a harsh and unforgiving environment, brought medical aid to isolated villages, prevented the wholesale slaughter of marine wildlife, and explored unknown waters and lands.

Captain Healy’s dramatic feats in the far north were so widely reported that a New York newspaper once declared him the “most famous man in America.” But Healy hid a secret that contributed to his legacy as a lonely, tragic figure.

In 1896, Healy was brought to trial on charges ranging from conduct unbecoming an officer to endangerment of his vessel for reason of intoxication. As punishment, he was put ashore on half pay with no command and dropped to the bottom of the Captain’s list. Eventually, he again rose to his former high position in the service by the time of his death in 1904. Sixty-seven years later, in 1971, the U.S. Coast Guard learned that Healy was born a slave in Georgia who ran away to sea at age fifteen and spent the rest of his life passing for white.

This is the rare biography that encompasses both sea adventure and the height of human achievement against all odds.

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Hiding in Plain Sight: Hell-Roaring Mikeļ»æ

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-12-22 23:53Z by Steven

Hiding in Plain Sight: Hell-Roaring Mike

We’re History
2015-12-03

James M. O’Toole, Clough Professor of History
Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts


Captain Healy aboard the Revenue Cutter Bear, with his pet parrot, c.1895. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

The Coast Guard icebreaker Healy is back in its home port of Seattle after four months at sea. On September 5, 2015, it had become the first United States vessel ever to reach the North Pole unaccompanied. In fact, it was only the fourth American ship ever to make it all the way to 90 degrees north latitude. En route, the 16,000-ton monster with a crew of nearly ninety (together with teams of scientists) sometimes had to plow through more than four feet of iceā€”it was built to be able to make it through tenā€”a procedure done by running up onto the ice and allowing its own weight to open the path. With support from the National Science Foundation and working with Geotraces, an international study of the oceans, the ship collected ice, water, and air samples and analyzed them in onboard laboratories, measuring the effects of the warming climate. In completing its mission, the ship did honor to its namesake and predecessor in Arctic waters, Captain Michael Healy (1839-1904) of what was then called the Revenue Cutter Service. His picturesque public career would be remarkable in itself. But his personal story adds to its drama and significance, because he was the Coast Guardā€™s first African American captain…

Read the entire article here.

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