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Jolly Green John Francis Guilmartin, Jr. Jolly Green

PhD, Lt.Col. USAF (ret)

Professor of History, Ohio State University

guilmartin.jpg (18902 bytes)

Biography: John F. Guilmartin, Jr., is professor of military history at Ohio State University, Columbus. He is also a Vietnam War veteran, having flown over 120 combat missions. He attended the United States Air Force Academy, earning a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant and graduating with a B.S. in 1962. He trained as a helicopter pilot at Stead AFB, Utah, and went to Thailand in 1965 with the Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service. He flew missions in Thailand, Laos and North Vietnam and was awarded two Silver Stars. In 1966 he returned to the United States to study for his Master’s (1969) and Doctorate (1971) degrees at Princeton University. His first book, Gunpowder and Galleys, is derived from his dissertation. After receiving his Ph.D., Dr. Guilmartin returned to the Air Force Academy to teach history. In 1975 he volunteered for a second tour in Southeast Asia and participated in the evacuation of Saigon. His unit also flew in the operations involved in the Mayaguez incident; in 1995 he recorded their heroism in A Very Short War. Following the Vietnam War, Lt. Col. Guilmartin served in the Rescue staff tactics shop from 1978-79. He then became the editor of the Air University Review, the professional journal of the U.S. Air Force, and retired from the service in 1983. He taught at Rice University and the Naval War College before coming to Ohio State.

Professor Guilmartin is an authority on military history, maritime history, and the history of technology. He is an early modern Europeanist whose research focuses primarily on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He also is interested in aerospace history and has written about the Vietnam war and the Gulf war. He has also written America in Vietnam: The Fifteen Year War in 1991, and Galleons and Galleys in 2002.

An interesting assortment from a varied flying career...

Sikorsky H-19 Chickasaw

Piasecki (Vertol) H-21 Shawnee

Kaman HH-43B Huskie

Sikorsky HH-3E Jolly Green Giant

Sikorsky HH-53 Super Jolly Green Giant

Cessna T-37B Lockheed T-33 Cessna 310 (U-3) Convair T-29 Cessna T-41C

Selected Publications:


Gunpowder and Galleys: Changing Technology and Mediterranean Warfare at Sea in the Sixteenth Century

Gunpowder and Galleys: Changing Technology and Mediterranean Warfare at Sea in the Sixteenth Century

Cambridge University Press, 1974

Revised edition: United States Naval Institute, 2003

The sixteenth century is a pivotal time in military history, when the increasing quantity of gunpowder weapons fundamentally changed the face of warfare. Mediterranean naval warfare was no less affected by this phenomenon than other spheres of conflict, but historians have had a difficult time analyzing the changes because they used an inappropriate model: the theories of Alfred Thayer Mahan. In this seminal work, Guilmartin looks at Mediterranean galley warfare from a fresh perspective, and goes a long way towards unraveling the complexities of—as the title puts it—"Changing Technology and Mediterranean Warfare at Sea in the Sixteenth Century."

  Read an excerpt

Read John Keegan's comments     Order from Amazon. COM


America in Vietnam: The Fifteen-Year War

America in Vietnam: The Fifteen Year War

New York: Military Press 1991

This book concentrates on the period from 1960, the middle of a period in which the preservation of a non-communist South Vietnam became a U.S. national policy underwritten by military action, and 1975, when the fall of Saigon marked the failure of that policy. Over 200 fully captioned photographs, chosen for their quality, drama and relevance, have been carefully integrated with the text to create this in-depth commentary on the Vietnam War.   

  Read this book on-line


A Very Short War: The Mayaguez and the Battle of Koh Tang

A Very Short War: The Mayaguez and the Battle of Koh Tang

Number Forty-six: Texas A&M University Military History Series (1995). Foreword by John Keegan.

A Very Short War is a unique and compelling account of the Mayaguez-Koh Tang crisis by a soldier-historian. A former air rescue helicopter pilot stationed in Thailand in May 1975, Guilmartin revisits Mayaguez and Koh Tang—and the chaotic events leading up to the affair. He sheds new light on the politics, the tactics, the orders, the high-level decision makers, and the fighting men entangled in a crucial military action that nearly ended in disaster for U.S. forces. Arguing that the Mayaguez-Koh Tang operation demonstrates war's essential unpredictability, Guilmartin deftly explodes many of the popularly held myths that surround the nature of war.

  Read an excerpt

  Order the book from  Amazon. COM


Galleons and Galleys

Galleons and Galleys

Gunpowder and the Changing Face of Warfare at Sea, 1300-1650

Cassell (2002) Part of The History of Warfare series edited by John Keegan.

The turn of the sixteenth century witnessed the beginning of a revolution in warfare at sea, a revolution caused by the marriage of artillery to ships capable of true oceanic navigation. As a result, the countries of Europe spread their influence across the globe and made the world we live in today. But the galleons which carried black powder and European hegemony across the seas did not spring like Athena, full blown from the brow of Zeus. They evolved from oar-driven galleys as a result of a combination of technical and historical factors which Guilmartin examines in his latest work, Galleons and Galleys. In concise analytical chapters interspersed with case studies, he traces the history of ships and gunpowder across 350 years from the mid-Atlantic to the South China Sea.

  Read about the Spanish Armada       See a map of Chinese expansion

  Read a chapter     Order from Amazon. COM


Helicopters: (The Illustrated History of the Vietnam War)

Helicopters: (The Illustrated History of the Vietnam War, Vol. 11) with Michael O'Leary. New York: Bantam Books 1988.


  "The Tactics of the Battle of Lepanto Clarified: The Impact of Social, Economic, and Political Factors on Sixteenth Century Galley Warfare", New Aspects of Naval History: Selected Papers Presented at the Fourth Naval History Symposium, United States Naval Academy 25-26 October 1979. Edited by Craig L. Symonds. Annapolis, Maryland: the United States Naval Institute, 1981. pp. 41-65.

  "The Guns of the Santissimo Sacramento", Technology & Culture, 1983, Vol. 24, Number 4, pp. 559-601.

  "The Cutting Edge: An Analysis of the Spanish Invasion and Overthrow of the Inca Empire, 1532-1539", Transatlantic Encounters: Europeans and Andeans in the Sixteenth Century; (Kenneth J. Andrien and Rolena Adorno, eds.), Berkeley, University of California Press, 1991, pp. 40-69.

"The Military Revolution: Origins and First Tests Abroad," The Military Revolution Debate: Readings on the Military Transformation of Early Modern Europe, Clifford J. Rogers, ed. (Boulder, Colorado; Westview Press, 1995), pp. 299-333.

  "The Galley in Combat", MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, Volume 9, Number 2, (Winter 1997), pp 20-21.

   "Lepanto: The Battle that Saved Christendom?" Prepared for the Centre d'Études d'Histoire de la Défense conference Autour de Lépante: Guerre et Géostratégie en Méditerranée au Tournant des XVIe et XVIIe Siecles, Paris, 22-24 October 2001

For a more complete listing of John F. Guilmartin's publications, Click Here


  Guilmartin's Web Site at Ohio State University.

  "About Submarines", The Academic American Encyclopedia (1995 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia Version), © 1995 Grolier, Inc. Danbury, CT.

  Informal review of: The Last Battle: The Mayaguez Incident and the End of the Vietnam War, by Ralph Wetterhahn.

"Tchepone" an article on a Vietnam-era fighter pilot song.

A VHS of The History Channel's Tales of the Gun: Naval Guns in which Prof. Guilmartin appears.