Eller Chronicles Nov 91 p-7

The Eller Chronicles



2:00 P.M.

Ernest M. Eller House


Chancellor Richard R. Eakin

Vice Chancellor Marlene Springer

Dean of Graduate School and Associate Vice Chancellor

for Research, Diane Jacobs

Dean Allard, Director, Naval Historical Center

Dr. Peter Eller, accepting for Admiral Eller

Rev. F. Herbert Weber, nephew of Admiral Eller


Charles W. Calhoun, Chair, Department of History

You are invited to join us at a reception immediately following.

Eller Seminar Room

We are gathering today to honor Admiral Ernest M. Eller as an eminent naval historian and benefactor of East Carolina University and the Department of History. His distinguished career as a naval officer and historian is a credit to North Carolina.


ELLER HOUSE DEDICATION : East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, April 17, 1991

Address by Dean C. Allard, Director of Naval History

The Ernest M. Eller- House was dedicated at the East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, on 17 April 1791. The Eller House serves as the headquarters for the University's Maritime History department, which offers a nationally known graduate program of studies in naval and maritime history and in underwater archeology.

This honor- reflects Admiral Eller's generosity in donating his rich and extensive personal library to East Carolina University, his upbringing in the state of North Carolina, and the Admiral's distinguished career as a naval officer and naval historian.

Admiral Eller's son, Dr. Peter Eller, and his nephew, the Reverend F. Herbert Weber, represented the Eller family at the dedication ceremony. Other speakers included Richard M. Eakin, the Chancellor of the University; and the current Director of Naval History, Dr. Dean C. Allard.

In 1956. after thirty years of regular service in the Navy, "Judge" Eller was recalled from retirement to become the Director of Naval History in Washington, D.C. Over the next 14 years, he expanded and energized the Navy's historical program in order- to promote the understanding within the Navy and by the American public of the importance of the sea throughout world history.

More than 50 historical studies appeared during Admiral Eller's tenure as the Navy's ranking historian. Examples included the DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL FIGHTING SHIPS, a multi-volume series containing the histories of every ship that served in the Navy since 1775; another series containing American and foreign documents on the naval aspect of the American Revolution; and histories of naval operations during World War II and the Korean War.

He was responsible for many other achievements. In 1961, naval historians realized their longstanding dream of a naval museum in Washington when Admiral Eller, working with Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, the Chief of Naval Operations, arranged to establish the museum.

The entire naval historical program, as well as naval writers from the United States and abroad, require rich and easily used collections of historical books, documents, artifacts, and photographs. With typical energy Admiral Eller assured the expansion and effective management of these collections. Thousands of individuals were encouraged to put-sue the study of naval history by using these collections.


In addition, to being an inspiring leader, Admiral Eller is a skilled writer and scholar who won several Naval Institute prizes for- his essays. He made innumerable, direct contributions to every element of the Navy's historical program. Following his second retirement in 1970 as director of the Navy's historical program, he continued to contribute by publishing two major books. One of these, THE SOVIET SEA CHALLENGE, appeared in 1972, and was one of the first studies to sound the alert regarding the aggressive expansion of the Soviet navy. Later he edited an important study of the role of the Chesapeake Bay in the American Revolution.

In recognition of the admiral's monumental achievements, the Naval Historical Center established the Ernest M. Eller Reception Room at its current building in the Washington Navy Yard. This room, which contains exhibits depicting the Admiral's career, is used for conferences and other special events associated with the Navy's historical program.

Admiral Eller is a remarkably dedicated and selfless person. Every action that he took throughout his prolific career was based upon the firm conviction that sea power is of transcendent importance in assuring the greatness and freedom of any nation. Admiral Eller's many friends and admirers are delighted that this legacy will live on in the Maritime History program at East Carolina University.



Address by F. Herbert Weber

It is appropriate that this building be named in honor of one who has devoted his adult life to the service of his country in the United States Navy-- the branch of the Armed Forces assigned to the defense of our national interests in the high seas.

After serving in many . areas, Admiral Eller found himself in the midst of the action in World War 11 before our nation became actively involved. As the Assistant Naval Attaché to the American Embassy in London in the winter of 1940-411, he witnessed the terror of the "blitz" launched against London by Hitler's bombers. Following Peat-1 Harbor, Admiral Eller served in the Pacific Theatre with distinction as Assistant Gunnery and Training Officer on the staff of Admiral Nimitz. In this capacity he participated in the landings on the island of Kwajalein in addition to other operations.

Today it is of special interest to note that following World war II in 1950-51 he was Commander of the Middle East Force which included the Persian Gulf area where the recent war was fought. As such, he engaged in personal contact with the rulers of the Gulf States and informed himself on the history about the Persian Gulf States.


His last post of duty was as Director of Naval History and Curator. He filled this position with honor serving as the author of numerous publications and editing and overseeing the publication of many others.

Admiral Eller loves his country and possesses the deepest appreciation and understanding of its rich heritage of freedom. As a young man, having committed himself without reservation to the set-vice of his country, he firmly held true to that vow throughout his career- that spanned more than 40 year of honorable set-vice through periods of both peace and conflict. Though he excelled in his Naval career and never- flinched from the call of duty, today I would seek to go beyond that to introduce you to the man I know as a warm human being. I cannot speak with authority about his Naval career but I can speak with some authority about "he man I know as a great human being gifted with a delightful sense of humor.

In pondering his life, I think of him as a true "Renaissance Man." By that I mean one who has an unusually wide range of interests, one who is interested in virtually every at-ea of knowledge and one who possesses a keen and probing mind. An author of distinction in the field of Naval History, he is also a gifted writer in the field of Church History.

A warm human being, he is one who has been a role model for me throughout my life. The term "Christian Gentleman" describes him well. A man of strong faith, he is sensitive to other- people and their needs.

Knowing something of his roots helps in understanding his career. Growing up in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina in the shadow of the mighty North Carolina mountains, his character developed strength and integrity. Important in shaping the man was a strong and stable family that provided love and support. This has been continued throughout the years by his wife, Agnes, and two sons. Roaming the mountains he loved, he early developed a love of the land and growing things and the beauties of the natural world.

An accomplished scholar, historian and writer, he also possesses the soul of a poet. Today I would share with you a few excerpts from his writing that illustrate this.

We have recently celebrated Easter again. This segment is found in his description of an Easter Sunrise Service.

"Peace... hope... faith-- these are the fabric of the service. All parts of it there under the illumined dome of heaven are simple, peaceful, genuine. The sincerity of unquestioning faith fills Easter dawn with a majesty seldom met in life. It is a majesty born of the tide of faith that has been =-weeping the village through the week of services but has its springs in fat--off beginnings: the dangers of the frontier in Wachovia two hundred years ago,, the persecutions in. Bohemia centuries before then, the empty tomb in Judea in that first radiant dawn of death overcome.


"Near the close of the service, as the sun strikes fire on the eastern hills, the liturgy throbs with the sublime promise-. 'he was dead, and behold, He is alive forevermore; And he that believeth in Him, though he were dead, yet shall he live..."/1/

Here is a bit of his writing concerning Christmas.

"Slowly the notes recede, slowly die away into the distance until now the last singer has gone and no one or no thing looks down on the bowed heads under the glowing candle stars, except the massive chains of evergreens festooned above the choir loft, a great white star, and beneath it, glowing with soft, rich radiance, a copy of Correggio's master painting of the nativity. As this 'Night Devine' of his looks out over the quieted multitude it seems that the light radiating from the new-born infant spreads out and out and out into the church until the walls have dissolved and boundless space is aglow with candles that flicker, reach after, cling for, eternally strive to hold fast to the last words of the great dream whose echo still rolls in golden, soundless, waves across the infinite sea of flames. 'And on earth peace, good will toward men."'/2/

We close with quotation.

"One of the mysteries of man's strange journey is why some strive for the stars and others of small or great ability for the earth; and why the paths of little known men sometimes lead higher than the strivings of the great.../3/

Admiral Eller, this "Renaissance Man" and great human being, throughout his voyage through life has striven for the stars and set his course by the triple star of love of God, love of family and love of country.

  1. ) - "Bethania in Wachovia" by Ernest McNeill Eller, published by Bradford Printing Service, Winston-Salem, N.C. 1959. page 55.

  2. ) - "Salem Star and Dawn" by Earnest McNeill Eller, Published by Jarboe Printing Company 1962. Page 86

  3. ) - "Bethania in Wachovia" Page 1

  4. (Eds. Our thanks to Dr. Peter Eller, son of Admiral Eller for passing along this information)


    Capt. Ernest M. Eller
    Capt. Ernest M. Eller (Right) with Rear Adm. Joseph Bolger with two of King Ibn Saud's servants, outside breakfast room probably in Saudia Arabia circa 1949-50. Courtisy of Readm. E. M. Eller USN (Ret.)

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