Don C. Wallace and President Woodrow Wilson

In 1919, following World War I, President Woodrow Wilson sailed to France aboard the President’s Ship, the USS George Washington. The purpose of this trip was an attempt to craft the League of Nations agreement.

Radio communications was young and not very efficient. Because Don C. Wallace, was the head radio operator aboard the USS George Washington during World War I, he was appointed to select thirty-six radio operators of his choice for the purpose of keeping communications going between the ship and Washington, D.C. while crossing the Atlantic.

According to a 1986 interview with Wallace the radio installation should have taken several weeks, but it was completed in three days and they set sail before all the tests were completed.

Wilson was interested in the communications and asked to visit the radio room. Wallace, still a teenager, told the President it would be okay as long as he sat in the corner.

Upon reaching France they remained at anchor and handled all the radio traffic to and from the states.

Wallace made provisions for the Wilson to speak directly to his Secretary of War. But when Wallace keyed the microphone the president was struck with mic fright. Several minutes passed before he said a word.

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