Edward Atkins as a student

"On Which We Serve: Where Life-Lessons are Learned," by Edward Atkins, is a first-person account of a young sailor's experiences working on the flight deck of a World War II aircraft carrier.

Edward Atkins in the navy

"On Which We Serve: Where Life-Lessons are Learned" is an exciting and informative World War II first-person account of activities on the flight deck of a World War II fleet aircraft carrier. Originally titled "Flight Deck: A Pictorial Essay of a Day in the Life of an Airdale," this two-part book consists of 774 pages with 355 full-page National Archive photographs. Each photo has a caption that seamlessly segues into a half-page discussion of life lessons learned on that flight deck. 

These topics are based on First Principles such as responsibility, accountability, respect for others and self, earned self-esteem (those who have such will never do anything antisocial), empathy, trustworthiness, and similar values and virtues. The title also embraces the Navy motto:

  • Honor (to see one's duty),
  • Commitment (to do one's duty) and
  • Courage (to fulfill one's duty).
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Edward Atkins, the author, kneeling beside an F4U Corsair whose 2,000-hp unmuffled engine is powering a 13-foot propeller (page 389).

The author was transferred to the V-1-F Airdale Division one week before this photo was taken.

He had not yet been issued the standard blue clothe cap, goggles, blue shirt and nonslip flight deck shoes.