Admiral William Howard Michael USN

Papa Bace in uniform LMy grandfather, Admiral William Howard Michael, is a pivotal character in JournalsFrom The Edge.  He was born in Baltimore Maryland in 1888.


Col. Jacob Michael 1775One of his ancestors was an American patriot Colonel Jacob Michael of the Army of Maryland who fought with George Washington at the Battle of Trenton.

Jacob Michael’s sword from the revolutionary war .Mimi Mikey Rev war sword


My grandfather graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1909 and joined the Navy.   He chronicled his experiences in WWI in an article written in 1934, titled   Pleasure and Pain in 1918 where he served as battalion surgeon and witnessed first hand the worst horrors of modern war.    He married Marcelle  Mortier in France before he returned home after the armistice and during the inter-war years they started a family,  with daughters Nancy and Jacqueline and their youngest son Ned.  Marcelle gave her husband his nickname “Bace” – her mispronunciation of his college football name, The Babe.  As a parent his children gave glowing accounts.  His son Ned wrote me, “from my view Papa Bace was into people, including his children, developing their own personality and being as independent as possible.  As an example, I recall once when Mama Marcelle  suggested to him that he speak to me about becoming a doctor.  His answer was along the lines of “..let the kid figure out what he wants to be in life.  It has to be his decision.”

Mom fishing

In 1939, my Grandfather was teaching a course at the United States Naval Academy.  His daughter, Jacqueline was home from private school in New York State and was allowed to attend a dance with future officers.  There she met a tall junior Midshipman from the island of Maui in the territory of Hawaii.  Their eyes locked and they were with each other exclusively for the rest of the evening.  In 1941 my Grandfather was stationed at Pearl Harbor and  Jacqueline was finishing her last year of high school at  Punahou  in Honolulu.   During the aerial attack by the Japanese, W.H. Michael turned the officer’s club into an aid station.  His wrote of his experience that day in a Harpers article Medical Action at Pearl Harbor (Dec.7th 1941)    Jacqueline was there when he received the bronze star for his actions that day.  Also in attendance was the dashing young naval officer whom she had met two years previous at the Naval Academy.  That officer was my father, John “Jack” H. Boyum who had fortunately been at sea on the heavy cruiser USS Northampton escorting the carrier USS Enterprise during the attack on that sunday.  The Northampton steamed into the devastated port on December 8th.

papa bus zoomMy grandfather retired as an Admiral to live out his days in Tidewater Virginia.  They owned three acres of land on the shore of Chuckatuck Creek.  Their home was filled with treasures and books gathered from his career travels throughout the world.  I enjoyed those treasures as a young boy but have come to realize that the richest one that he gave me was the key to unlocking an intangible understanding.   I didn’t learn how to use that key until much later in life.  Journals from the Edge  is the story of that discovery.




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