Interior view of airship bug

History of Aviation Collection

Treasures @ UT Dallas

Special Collections Department

Monday - Friday: 9 AM - 6 PM
Second Saturday of the month:
9 AM - 1 PM or by appointment

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Phone: 972-883-2570
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Eugene McDermott Library,
Special Collections
800 West Campbell Road,
Richardson, TX 75083-0643

The Vice Admiral Charles E. Rosendahl Lighter-than-Air Collection

Charles Emery Rosendahl was born on May 15, 1892 in Chicago, Illinois to Charles Oscar and Johanna Rosendahl, née Johnson.

Throughout the First World War he served on a number of cruisers both in the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean in the latter theater to escort troop convoy ships. Six month before the Armistice, Rosendahl reported to duty at a Fuel Oil Testing Plant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He then became an Engineering Officer on various destroyers in that function until he was detached on July 30, 1919. He received his designation as Naval Aviator for Airships in November of 1924 and was a navigator on the USS Shenandoah at the Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, New Jersey.

He held the rank of a Lieutenant Commander on navigation watch when the Shenandoah crashed because of a storm near Ava, Ohio in September 1925. With six of the surviving crewmen, Rosendahl was able to land the forward section of the dirigible safely on the ground. In 1926, Rosendahl was Executive Officer and later became Commanding Officer on the USS Los Angeles. In the second half of that year, Rosendahl assumed additional duties in the preparation of the World Flight of the Graf Zeppelin from Lakehurst as a U.S. Naval Observer and also being a guest of Captain Hugo Eckener. In June 11, 1934 Rosendahl assumed command of the Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, New Jersey. During that time he continued being a U.S. Naval Observer on board the Hindenburg flying in the Atlantic Ocean. The Naval Air Station was under his command, when the Hindenburg fatally crashed over Lakehurst on May 6, 1937.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Rosendahl both served on several battle ships and fulfilled his duties in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy and Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, mainly responsible for lighter-than-air developments. In 1942 Rosendahl took command of the cruiser USS Minneapolis which was severely damaged during a battle at Tassafaronga by the Japanese, off Guadalcanal at the end of November 1942. Upon ending his command of the USS Minneapolis, he assumed in May 1943 in the rank of a Rear Admiral the position as Chief of Naval Airship Training at the Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, New Jersey. There he commanded experimental and flight testing and oversaw the Training Center at the Naval Airship Training Center at Moffett Field, California among other outfits. Rosendahl’s command ended in summer of 1946 as Admiral with the title of Chief of Naval Airship Training and Experimentation.

Vice Admiral Charles Emery Rosendahl USN (Retired) died on May 14, 1977 of natural causes at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital at the age of eighty-four.

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