Class History: 1934

As Graduation Day for the Class of 1934 approached, the likelihood was that, like the previous depression year class, it could commission only half its graduates. Any first classman wishing to seek or take a job on the outside was encouraged to do so, and the Naval Academy cooperated by facilitating job seeking interviews with civilian firms. At the proverbial last minute, commissions were made available for all 463 graduates. 362 took commissions in the Navy and Marine Corps.

Twenty five new Marine officers reported forthwith to Basic School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The new ensigns, four years together by the Bay, were scattered, perhaps not far and wide, but among various units of the Navy of 8,000 officers and 80,000 men.

All these new officers had revocable commissions, and hanging over their heads was a Damoclesian sword that couldn't be removed until probationary exams were passed. Great changes took place at the end of two years. Revocable commissions became permanent with the passage of the required examinations. '34 was now free to marry, and shocking it was to see how many disregarded Admiral Hart's advice that, "there's plenty of time after you're thirty." Pensacola became available to those qualifying for aviation, and New London for future submariners. The staff corps made their enticements, and the Bureau of Navigation chose this time to put through the first of a long series of change of duty orders, mostly to different type ships on the West Coast, although many went Asiatic.

108 members of '34 became aviators, and sixty submariners. Six became naval constructors and eight civil engineers. There were eleven E.D.O.'s and ten A.E.D.O.'s. Six joined the Supply Corps.

Induction Of '34 into flight training began in the summer of 1936, and by coincidence of the release from the two year injunction on marriage, there was also a great influx of fresh caught Navy and Marine Corps wives into Pensacola in that same summer, marking the beginning of many enduring family friendships.

There were ninety four Navy, including six lighter than air, ten Marine Corps, one Coast Guard, one Naval Reserve, one Army captain and one RCAF flying officer who graduated from Pensacola with '34, and some of them were certified to be genuine naval aviators by a young Navy captain named Bill Halsey during his tenure as commandant of the air station.

In that same summer of 1936, the first eleven of the total of sixty classmates who eventually earned their dolphins entered Sub School. By the time of Pearl Harbor, most of the sixty were moving in as execs of the fleet type, or to command the smaller S , R and 0 class boats. In these few short years, the training and experience they received had given them the skills and professional knowledge required for the wartime commands they were to receive within a matter of months. Fifty three commanded submarines in combat. Three skippers, Ed Blakely, Bob Brinker and Ben Oakley, were killed in action when their boats were sunk. Dick O'Kane was taken prisoner when his boat was hit by one of his own faulty running torpedoes, and was not repatriated until the end of the war. Four classmates, Charley Fell, John McMahon, Bob Robertson and Verne Skjonsby, were lost as execs when their boats were sunk by the enemy. Bev Van Buskirk, also an exec, was taken prisoner when his boat was damaged and had to be scuttled to prevent capture. He, too, was repatriated at the end of hostilities, and given his own command.

'34 began duty on the far China Station in 1936, serving in all branches. Routine operations were underway at Chefoo and Tsingtao and up the Yangtze when, on 7 July 1937, Japanese and China's Nationalist troops clashed in North China at the Marco Polo Bridge, and the second Sino Japanese war began. Ships were despatched to protect American interests at Shanghai and other coastal ports. '34 was in the Whangpoo, helping take American refugees out of Shanghai, when the Japanese hit Chapei by air, land and sea. And '34 was on board the PANAY when she was bombed, strafed and sunk by Japanese planes while patrolling the Yangtze near Nanking on 12 December 1937. At Shanghai, the Japanese levelled their guns and trained out torpedo tubes, and ours were trained out in turn, but nobody pulled the trigger.

Among its many distinctions, '34 contributed more Japanese linguists five than any other class. For a short time, all were in Japan together, on overlapping, three year bachelor tours, in which they truly integrated into Japanese life. All five were reunited, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, in the Fleet Radio Unit, and spent the rest of the war reading Japanese messages for Naval Intelligence.

The next common experience after the probationary exams was more examinations for promotion to j.g.; the good news about this was that most of the exams had already been taken the year before.

Navy strength had hit rock bottom with the Depression. There were some exceptions, the most fortunate for us being the conversion of two battlecruiser hulls into the LEXINGTON and SARATOGA. A "cruiser bill" emerged in President Coolidge's time and became the genesis for the likes of the INDIANAPOLIS, ASTORIA and NEW ORLEANS. The RANGER, our first aircraft carrier built from the keel up, joined the Fleet in 1934, along with our own Class.

These were the newer ships to which '34 was introduced on graduation. Most classmates, however, served in the ten OMAHA class cruisers, the fifteen battleships and the renowned four pipe destroyers. The four carriers, counting the original LANGLEY, were easy to enumerate, but even future submariners needed a program to know the numbers on their boats.

The construction of the BROOKLYN cruisers, the CRAVEN destroyers, the ENTERPRISE, YORKTOWN and four submarines was authorized by a corollary of the NRA. While these were under construction, better aircraft were being furnished the carriers, and more importantly, tactics were being developed and refined.

Meanwhile, down at Vieques Island, the Marines, who had lived through the lean years with the Navy, were practicing beach landings from motor launches, Higgins boats and later more suitable craft. At nearby Culebra Island, Navy ships were practicing shore bombardment.

The outbreak of the war in Europe in 1939 spurred the completion of plans for the ESSEX carriers, newer submarines, CLEVELAND and BALTIMORE cruisers, FLETCHER destroyers and auxiliaries. It also led to the establishment of the National Research Council and the Naval Research Laboratory, bringing more scientists and private industry to the betterment of the Navy and Marine Corps.

During `34's Plebe Summer, the Navy had commissioned the NAUTILUS, last of the three largest U.S. submarines built up to that time, the other two being the ARGONAUT, built as a minelayer, and the NARWHAL. By the time '34 graduated, a newer submarine had been designed and built the CUTTLEFISH, first of the "fleet type" boats. She carried fewer torpedoes than the larger boats, but required a smaller crew and was faster and more maneuverable. From this basic design over the next few years came the PORPOISE class, the SALMON, the SARGO and finally the GATO, commissioned 31 December 1941 and representing in a most timely fashion the creation by design evolution of a standard submarine superbly suited for the type of war and enemy we had to fight in the Pacific.

In July of 1941, the U.S. took over Iceland from the British, and thereafter coordinated escort of convoy operations between the East Coast and a movable point called MOMP, for Mid Ocean Meeting Point, generally to the southward of Iceland, where British escorts took over.

One of the thrills associated with Iceland was the sortie of the BISMARCK, which became the object of a coordinated search and attack by British and U.S. flying boats and surface ships. Classmates in Battleship Divisions 3 and 5 and the escorting destroyers were happy that one of our classmates flying liaison with the Coastal Command found the German battleship, which sighting led to the destruction of BISMARCK.

The Pacific Fleet had moved its base to Pearl Harbor in 1940 and almost immediately had gone on stand by alert. Repeated alerts somehow became routine, and brought complacency. So it was that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor achieved complete surprise, despite security measures that were believed good enough. Our losses were catastrophic, in both ships and human lives. And yet it might have been worse: there were no carriers present in Pearl Harbor December 7th, and our submarines were apparently overlooked, although present. In fact, NARWHAL and TAUTOG combined gunfire to shoot down an attacking torpedo plane.

Pearl Harbor was only part of the Japanese plan. The Philippines and Admiral Hart's Asiatic Fleet caught it the next day. Resistance by shorebased aircraft, Army and Navy, and the likes of CANOPUS, WILLIAM B. PRESTON, MARBLEHEAD, and supply and rescue missions by SHARK and SWORDFISH were but tokens in the face of overwhelming power.

Wake island, garrisoned by some 500 Americans, mostly Marines, and recently reinforced by a few 5" coast defense and 3" anti aircraft guns, and a squadron of Marine fighter planes, beat off a Japanese invasion attempt started 8 December the only occasion in the entire war when an amphibious attack was thrown back with loss. '34 was there and got a hit on an enemy cruiser with a bomb from his F4F. After all our aircraft became unflyable he was a key factor in the last ditch ground defenses that held out for two heroic weeks against irresistible odds before being overrun and taken prisoner.

Four days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the submarines GUDGEON, POLLACK and PLUNGER had departed for war patrols in waters around Japan. POLLACK would be the first SubPac boat to sink a Japanese merchantman, and GUDGEON would get the first warship, a submarine. POMPANO, DOLPHIN and TAUTOG were sent a few days later to the Marshall Islands, where they attacked shipping and later conducted reconnaissance required for carrier strikes.

Twenty nine submarines were thrust into the path of Japan's invading forces bent on the conquest of Southeast Asia. Here were the first triumphs of the war for us. SWORDFISH was the first submarine to sink a Japanese ship, while SEAWOLF, SALMON, SAILFISH and S 38 inflicted significant damage on the powerful enemy. As the onslaught spread, these courageous boats were forced to withdraw to bases in western Australia, where submarine tenders repaired them, replenished their armaments and sent them back to continue their harassment of the enemy. Lost in these operations were SEALION, SHARK, PERCH and S 36.

The U.S. shipbuilding program went into high gear 'round the clock, presaging plenty for the future. Likewise, patriotic responses from thousands of people answered the nation's call for mobilization. Some in fact had been put on active duty long before Pearl Harbor, but now there was a rush. Ninety four of '34 who had gone civilian after graduation were back in.

Three carriers were not in Pearl Harbor December 7th; the ENTERPRISE, returning after having delivered the Marine aircraft squadron to Wake island, the LEXINGTON, delivering planes to Midway, and the SARATOGA, enroute the West Coast for upkeep and repair. The former two were used in early 1942 on hit and run raids, about the only thing we were capable of doing at the time. The ENTERPRISE group raided Kwajalein and the LEXINGTON group Rabaul, both in February. New arrival YORKTOWN joined forces with LEXINGTON and in March pounded Lae and Salamaua. Then another new arrival, HORNET, took on board Jimmy Doolittle's B 25s, and aided and abetted by the Class of '34, in April, took some of the war to Tokyo.

As 1942 progressed, the war with Japan continued to spread over vast areas as U.S. naval striking forces began to retaliate. In addition to destroying enemy naval forces and shipping, our submarines performed an ever increasing number of chores, such as landing troop detachments and coast watchers, rescue of refugees and beleaguered troops, delivery of supplies, aviation fuel and bombs, and life guarding for aircraft strikes. They picked up 504 aviators of all services during the war. A series of outstandingly capable and resourceful submarine tenders operated at various forward sites. In the Central Pacific, tenders were to operate from Midway, Majuro, Guam and Saipan. In the Southwest Pacific, they would base at Perth, Brisbane, Milne Bay and Subic Bay.

Meanwhile, surface remnants of the Asiatic Fleet, together with Dutch and Australian ships, had resisted Japanese invasion plans at the Battle of the Java Sea at the end of February, and at a sequel in March-April. The ships' crews, including some classmates of ours, showed a lot of courage and determination, but what they demonstrated most was the futility of trying to fight a modern surface action without air cover to counter enemy air power. The same thing had happened to the British when REPULSE and the PRINCE OF WALES were lost to Japanese shorebased air power on 10 December 1941.

Flushed with conquest, the Japanese now sought to secure Tulagi in the Solomons and Port Moresby in New Guinea, in order to provide shore based air mastery over the area and consummate Admiral Yamamoto's avowed intention of annihilating the U.S. Fleet before help could come from new construction. This brought on the Battle of the Coral Sea in early May, the first naval battle in which opposing ships never sighted each other. LEXINGTON and YORKTOWN, escorted by CHICAGO, two Australian cruisers and a few destroyers made up our side, under command of RADM Fletcher. On 8 May the two opposing, carrier groups came to grips. SHOKAKU and ZUIKAKU were put out of action for two months, which would include the upcoming Battle of Midway. On our side, LEXINGTON was hurt so badly she bad to be abandoned and sunk, while YORKTOWN was also damaged.

Undaunted by rebuff in the Coral Sea, the enemy now concentrated on the invasion and occupation of Midway and the western Aleutians. Admiral Yamamoto included practically the entire Japanese Navy in the total of 162 warships and auxiliaries allotted to the mission: an advance force of sixteen submarines, the original Pearl Harbor striking force of four big carriers and their escorts, a Midway occupation force of 5,000 men in twelve transports and protected by two battleships, six heavy cruisers and numerous destroyers, a main body consisting of seven battleships and a light carrier, and the Northern Force of two light carriers, two heavy cruisers, four transports and destroyers, whose mission was to lure defenders away from Midway and occupy the Aleutians.

Admiral Nimitz in Pearl Harbor had no such strength, but he did have the advantage of having shore based Marine aircraft and a defending garrison of Marines at Midway, as well as Navy PBYs, good intelligence of Japanese plans from intercepted messages read by the Fleet Radio Unit at Pearl Harbor, and a carrier task force built around ENTERPRISE, HORNET and YORKTOWN, with Admiral Spruance destined to become the guiding genius of battle.

The two opposing forces in the Aleutians never came to grips, and the Japanese landed troops in the western Aleutians and inflicted some damage on Dutch Harbor. Our side consisted of cruisers, destroyers and six ancient S boats, and it seems fair to say the only thing they encountered was miserable weather, although later the submarines, reinforced by eight fleet boats and additional S boats from the Atlantic, effectively cut the Japanese supply lines to Attu and Kiska, leading to the isolation and abandonment of these remote islands. S 31, skippered by the. first member of our Class to have a submarine combatant command, torpedoed a merchant ship off the Kurile Islands on 26 October 1942, recording the first sinking by a '34 submariner. During these operations, S 27 and GRUNION were lost, the latter taking our John McMahon.

Midway itself was of course a classic air battle and turning point of the war. In their worst defeat in history, the Japanese lost their entire fast carrier group, together with its complement of planes and pilots, and numerous surface ships as well. Our losses were severe: a lot of damn good pilots, including classmates "Red" Parks of the Marine Air Detachment on Midway, Royal Ingersoll of the HORNET and Charley Ware from the ENTERPRISE; Marty Ray, another classmate, was Chief Engineer of the HAMMANN, alongside YORKTOWN furnishing power to the stricken carrier following the battle, and was lost when a Japanese submarine fired torpedoes that did both ships in.

We had submarines at Midway, too, and the NAUTILUS sank the damanged carrier, SORYU, after the battle, about the only enemy ship still afloat after the stunning losses inflicted by Navy and Marine aircraft.

In the course of the war, Navy and Marine Corps pilots destroyed over 15,000 enemy aircraft in the air and on the ground, sank 174 Japanese warships, including thirteen submarines, totalling 1,600,000 tons, and in the Atlantic destroyed sixty three German U Boats. In combination with surface forces, Navy and Marine aircraft helped sink another 157,000 tons of warships and 200,000 tons of merchant ships, plus another six Japanese and another twenty German U Boats.

And where does the Class of 1934 fit into this picture of Navy and Marine Corps Aviation? Let us remember that Naval Aviation began officially in 1911. So it stands to reason that, come 1941 45, our Class "arrived" for positions of command in aviation squadrons, air groups and on air staffs. We grew up together.

Following graduation from, flight training, '34 pilots joined the various squadrons flying every type of plane the Navy and Marine Corps had. In operations, there was a change as whole squadrons began to turn in the record performances previously accomplished by individual pilots. Three new aircraft carriers joined the fleet, raising the operational total high enough to equip peacetime forces with a respectable seagoing air arm.

Only in the field of lighter than air was there a serious setback. Crashes of the AKRON and the MACON sounded the death knell of the Navy's rigid airship program, and in spite of favorable reports from investigating committees, continued successes in Germany, and repeated recommendations, the rigid airship was finished. By association, non rigids almost followed them into oblivion.

Thirty years after the Navy had acquired its first airplane, and only nineteen years after it had acquired its first aircraft carrier, Naval Aviation faced the supreme test of war. When it was called upon to carry the fight to the enemy, it not only carried out its tasks but forged ahead to become the very backbone of fleet striking power in World War II.

War in the North Atlantic was a miserable and frustrating experience for the Navy. In 1942, German submarines were sinking merchant ships faster than we could build them, and the Germans were building U Boats a whole lot faster than the very low rate we were sinking. The scarce numbers of surface escorts dictated that priority be given to getting convoys through, rather than going after one submarine and leaving the convoys exposed to attack by others.

Scientists were brought to the field of tactics, organizing standard operating procedures, with code names for rapid use, for every conceivable situation. Shore based air cover for convoys, with measures for high frequency direction finding HF/DF location of submarines, was extended as far and as quickly as possible. Trying to cut the lead time of shipbuilding, priorities were given to produce a rush of DEs, greatly improved ASW specialists, which could fire a pattern of fast sinking depth charges before sonar contact was lost. We finally got permission to base aircraft in the Azores. Scientists developed a new radar the Germans never detected, giving shore based aircraft a free hand surprising and attacking U Boats proceeding on the surface between their bases and operating areas. Hunter killer groups of CVEs and DDs or DEs effectively filled the final gap in air coverage.

All this, however, was a long time coming, and there were still dark gaps in the coverage, but the crisis was being licked but by tiny bit as the waters of 1942 flowed under the keels. Actually, the spring of 1943 was when the scales swung in our favor.

'34 lost two classmates early in the North Atlantic: Dewey Johnston in the REUBEN JAMES, and Art Newman in the TRUXTON. In fact, the REUBEN JAMES was lost in the "'undeclared" Battle of the Atlantic, before we were officially at war.

The long awaited and much debated second front in "Europe" turned up first in North Africa in the fall of 1942. Using the longer, southern route and effective HF/DF, the Americans managed to avoid the U Boats completely, and despite a brief but brisk initial resistance by the Free French, who afterwards cooperated, did a creditable job of doing something else new for the first time. RANGER and four CVEs provided air cover and ASW patrols enroute and at the landings, while an assortment of surface ships ranging in age from the new MASSACHUSETTS to the old TEXAS and DALLAS, provided gunfire support.

Very few in '34 had ever heard of a place called Guadalcanal when, after the rebuff of Japanese plans at the Battle of the Coral Sea, Admiral King dictated that here would be the stopper against further enemy incursion and the start of the long road back. That stinking little island was to be the stage for the bitterest campaign in U.S. history, involving seven major naval engagements, at least ten pitched land battles and innumerable skirmishes, not least of which was gaining permission of the Europe minded Joint Chiefs of Staff to go there in the first place.

Complete surprise was achieved during daylight of 7 August 1942, and that afternoon the air strip was secured. By the evening of the 8th, beachheads on both the Guadalcanal and Tulagi sides of the Sound were in our hands.

Right after midnight, Japanese surface units attacked our forces guarding the waters to the northward and southward of Savo Island, and in half an hour of night torpedo and gunfire action sank the QUINCY, VINCENNES, ASTORIA, and the Australian CANBERRA. The destroyer JARVIS, having been damaged in an air attack the previous day, had the misfortune to be passing through the same waters later in the morning, enroute Sydney for repairs, and was sunk by A torpedo plane from Rabaul. Our only scores were that of the S 44, which on the loth sank a Japanese cruiser retiring from the fray, and the fact that Henderson Field was allowed to make ready to receive planes by the 15th.

In the third week of August, the Japanese planned a major reinforcement of Guadalcanal. Warned by friendly coast watchers, the Americans sent the ENTERPRISE, SARATOGA and WASP groups to the area, and on the morning of 24 August, opposing forces engaged in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. It was essentially another air battle, with some improved anti aircraft support from the NORTH CAROLINA and the ATLANTA, both recently arrived from the Atlantic. The Japanese lost a light carrier, while our damages were slight. However, SARATOGA was torpedoed by an enemy submarine on the 31st, necessitating another down time of about three months. Marine aircraft from Henderson field chased off Japanese transports, but not before they had landed some 1500 reinforcements on the western side of Guadalcanal.

Piecemeal re supply by both sides continued for the next several weeks, destroyer transports of the U.S. by day and the Japanese Tokyo Expresses by night. On 15 September, Japanese submarines at'tacked a force including WASP and HORNET which was escorting a convoy of six transports bringing Marines from Espiritu Santo. One sank the WASP. Another, firing at HORNET, hit and sank the O'BRIEN instead, and put a hole in the NORTH CAROLINA. The convoy got through.

Despite heroic actions on the part of the Marines ashore, it was apparent the Japanese were entrenching more and more on Guadalcanal, and the Navy was again running out of ships. Mid October was the nadir of service wide morale.

ENTERPIRSE and HORNET, with screens reinforced by another anti aircraft cruiser, SAN JUAN, and the SOUTH DAKOTA, were at sea on 25 October, when around noon, a PBY operating out of Espiritu Santo, reported contact with a Japanese carrier some 200 miles away. A search and attack mission was launched, but without success. Contact reports kept coming in throughout the evening and early morning hours, however, and the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands commenced at first light. In another of the now familiar air battles against each other's carriers, two opposing strikes passed enroute. The Japanese gave what proved to be a death blow to the HORNET, while her dive bombers, led by '34, put the SHOKAKU out of action. At the end of the day's fighting, both sides retired. The loss of the HORNET reduced our carrier strength to ENTERPRISE and SARATOGA, both badly damaged. Enemy losses were the SHOKAKU and the light carrier, ZUIHO, both out of action, and about a hundred aircraft and an equal number of pilots from their rapidly diminishing complement.

Large U.S. reinforcements for the Marines on Guadalcanal were planned on 11 12 November: four transports and three freighters, escorted by four cruisers and nine destroyers, and covered by WASHINGTON, SOUTH DAKOTA and eight more destroyers. The ENTERPRISE was to join the latter group if repairs were completed in time.

Unloading operations were terminated at dusk on the 12th, when the transports and freighters retired to the eastward. After escorting them clear, the escorts returned to Iron Bottom Sound after dark to meet a beefed up Tokyo Express, and a slugfest ensued. Rear Admirals Scott and Callaghan lost their lives, as did many others, but our forces stopped, the scheduled bombardment that night, and destroyed eleven loaded Japanese transports the next day.

On the evening of the 14th, WASHINGTON and SOUTH DAKOTA and four destroyers went into the Sound to stop another edition of the Tokyo Express reported as fourteen ships, including a battleship and four cruisers. This night action featured the firepower of the U.S. battleships, primarily the WASHINGTON, and despite the fact that two U.S. destroyers were sunk, and the other two put out of action, the lone enemy battle ship was sunk and the rest of the force dispersed.

Meeting yet another nighttime Tokyo Express on 30 November, a much stronger U.S. force encountered six enemy destroyers, which although surprised, reacted with such speed and effectiveness with their "long lance" torpedoes that MINNEAPOLIS, NEW ORLEANS, PENSACOLA and NORTHAMPTON were put out. of action, as opposed to the loss of a single enemy destroyer to cruiser gunfire.

Following these mutually attritional night actions, Tokyo Expresses were reduced to dumping troops and rubber floats of supplies overboard off Tassafaronga, and in January 1943, the Japanese decided to write off Guadalcanal, although the final evacuation was not completed until early February.

As Morison writes in his final paragraph on the island, "Guadalcanal should ever remain a proud name in American military history, recalling desperate fights in the air, furious night naval battles, frantic work at supply or construction, savage fighting in a sodden jungle, nights broken by screaming bombs and the explosion of naval shells……..The jagged cone of Savo island, forever brooding over the once blood thickened waters of Ironbottom Sound, stands as a perpetual monument to the men and ships who here rolled back the enemy tide."

Among those who helped roll back the tide were sixty five surface sailors of '34 (not counting the submariners). Five lost their lives: John Wilson in the GREGORY, Juan Pesante in the PRESTON, Tom Hines in the SAN FRANCISCO, Herb Carroll in the ASTORIA and Creighton Wheeler in the JUNEAU. Archie Stone went down in the PECOS not far away.

General MacArthur had landed at Port Moresby on New Guinea at about the same time our Marines landed on Guadalcanal, and had crossed to the northern coast of that island about the same time Guadalcanal was secured. In a two pronged offensive, General MacArthur now conducted a series of base to base hops along the northern shore of New Guinea, with a view to breaking the enemy's hold on the western end of the Bismarck Archipelago and exposing the Philippines, while at the same time South Pacific forces under Admiral Halsey took the island hopping route up the Slot from Guadalcanal, with the idea of destroying Munda, from whence so many Tokyo Expresses had come, seizing Bougainville, and together with MacArthur, neutralizing Rabaul, the major enemy base in the area. Our classmates were with MacArthur in the PT Boats, APDs and amphibious craft as he successively assaulted and invested Gona and Buna, Nassau Bay, Lae, Salamaua, Finschafen, Arawe and finally Cape Gloucester, at the opposite end of New Britain from Rabaul; all with air support from our flying boats and the U.S. Army Air Forces. Some credit must also be given, in the latter phases of these operations at least, to the fact that our fast carriers operating in the Marianas drew all Japanese naval aircraft away from New Guinea. S Boats out of Brisbane continued to patrol off Japanese bases, as they had done since the original Guadalcanal landing, sinking cargo ships and small men of war.

Starting with the Russell islands in February of 1943, '34 was also helping Halsey as he directed the stepping stones up the Slot: Rendova, Munda, Kula Gulf, Kolombangara, Vella Gulf, where our destroyers finally fought a successful night torpedo action instead of just leading or tailing the cruisers, Vella Lavella and Empress Augusta Bay and its associated night naval battles, including Arleigh Burke's off Cape St. George. Rabaul was by passed to take Manus in March, and General MacArthur had open sea between himself and the Philippines.

Farther to the north, SubPac boats were blockading the powerful naval base at Truk, sinking ships leaving or entering. In the Gilberts, NAUTILUS and ARGONAUT were creating an important diversion by landing the Marines making up Carlson's Raiders on Makin Island, where they wiped out enemy defenders. Meanwhile, submarines out of western Australia were patrolling the Dutch East Indies, Philippines and South China Sea, cutting the Empire's lifelines of oil and raw materials. New names, like GUARDFISH, SILVERSIDES, TRIGGER and TROUT, were being emblazoned in history books. By the end of 1942, a total of 147 Japanese ships had been sent to the bottom with more to follow.

'34 Navy and Marine aviators were in the Solomons beginning at Guadalcanal and ending at Bougainville. They struck Rabaul in the beginning of the end for the laps, first from the carriers, then polished it off from bases in Bougainville in daily sweeps and strikes.

Another notable event of this period was the shooting down of the aircraft carrying Admiral Yamamoto and his staff. '34 Marines helped Admiral Mitscher, ashore at Guadalcanal, act on intelligence of Admiral Yamamoto's flight schedule furnished by the Fleet Radio Unit, Pearl Harbor, and as a matter of fact, there but for the grace of God and the short range of the F4Us, would have been '34 leading the raid instead of the P 38s of the 13th Army Air Force.

'34 developed advanced techniques in night and all weather flying in the early part of the war, when the ceilings were low and the nights plenty black, especially for those early morning catapult shots.

Admiral Nimitz established the Fifth Fleet in March 1943, and put Admiral Spruance in command, with instructions to drive through the Central Pacific while Halsey and MacArthur were driving up from the Southern and Southwestern Pacific. Vast distances from many bases necessitated exacting itineraries for long range rendezvous, but on the other hand, new construction was making the Navy stronger every day, giving the practiced amphibians more tools and ships with which to work.

During this year, the Japanese were driven out of the Solomons, their bases in the Bismarcks were isolated, and those in the Gilberts were invaded. Submarines supported these operations while continuing their stranglehold on Japanese supply routes in the China Sea and Empire waters. Sixty five newconstruction submarines, nine commanded by '34, joined the Pacific forces. Over 300 enemy ships were sent to the bottom, and in addition, many special missions were performed. New submarines cropped up as candidates for the "Hall of Fame", such as BOWFIN, HARDER, SEAHORSE and WAHOO. And at last, the costly torpedo defects which had persisted for over two years were finally corrected. WAHOO, one of the top submarines of the entire war, sank nineteen Japanese ships in 1943 and her execs were '34 O'Kane and Skjonsby. She was lost in the Sea of Japan in October, taking Verne with her. BOWFIN, FLYING FISH, GAR, GRAYLING, SEADRAGON, SEARAVEN and S 30, all commanded by our classmates, sank a total of twelve ships and damaged several others. For the greatly increased successes achieved by our boats, however, a heavy price was exacted, the loss of seventeen boats and most of their crews. ARGONAUT with our classmate, Bob Robertson, was lost in January, and GRAYLING, with Bob Brinker, in September.

Those present at Tarawa will never forget the fouled up landing schedule resulting from a miscalculated current, delaying all boats and grounding many on the coral reefs. The ships could not provide gunfire support for fear of hitting our own troops, and the enemy pinned down some Marines on the beach and had a shooting gallery set up with the stranded landing craft, with little interference for a time from naval gunfire. The Marines who did get ashore, by intrepid assaults on invested defenders, managed to establish a marginal beachhead and hold it throughout a long night, and next day the reserve fought its way ashore. Around noon the current started cooperating, and this was also the turn of the tide ashore. Tarawa was a costly undertaking, but the lessons learned were helpful in landings to come.

One such was Kwajalein on the last day of January 1944. With undefended Majuro as a preliminary, the landings on the world's largest coral atoll were a model of timely precision and cooperation between ground, air, amphibious and gunfire support functions, and by nightfall every D day objective had been achieved. What little effort the Japanese Navy made to resist was confined to submarines, and four of these were sunk by our DEs and destroyers. Their carrier aircraft were committed to the defense of Rabaul at the time.

Admiral Spruance conducted his fast carriers on a, three day raid on Truk as a preliminary to the invasion of Eniwetok, and effectively eliminated it as a base for either ships or aircraft, destroying some 300 planes, two destroyers and several auxiliaries in the process. Enemy ships fleeing the lagoon were picked off by our surface and submarine sailors. In mid-February, the Navy Marine Corps team took Eniwetok and broke the crust of the Japanese defense perimeter. We lost Frank Whitaker at Eniwetok.

Submarines provided vital photographic reconnaissance for the Marshall Islands invasion and although the Japanese fleet did not oppose the assault, our boats were lying in wait. TARPON and SEARAVEN, commanded by '34, were in this group. For the carrier air strikes, submarines were similarly concentrated around the targets to rescue downed aviators and destroy escaping shipping. BASHAW, BLACKFISH, SEARAVEN and TANG, commanded by '34, participated in these operations. TANG rescued a record twenty two downed aviators and managed to polish off five of the escaping ships.

Guam and Saipan were next on the hit list, and even before Eniwetok was secured, carrier strikes coordinated with intensive patrols by submarines were mounted against the Marianas and the enemy capacity to resist us there. The Nipponese obviously recognized our intentions, laying on a mass deployment of their own submarines along the approaches they expected us to take, but it was they who got the bitter end of the stick. Some of our new DEs had arrived in the area, and led an ASW effort that sank seventeen enemy subs. And when the Combined Fleet, with newly trained replacement aviators, left Philippine waters, they were seen and reported by our submarines while passing Surigao and San Bernardino Straits, and further reported and attacked after rendezvous at Tawitawi. A total of twenty of our submarines were deployed in the Philippine Sea to warn of and attack opposing forces. HARDER started the fireworks by sinking five Japanese destroyers in daring attacks off the Japanese anchorage at Tawitawi, thereby giving Admiral Toyoda a real case of jitters before the upcoming big battle. An all '34 wolfpack consisting of PINTADO, PILOTFISH and SHARK II ravaged convoys bound for the Marianas, sinking seven ships of an eight ship convoy heavily laden with troops, arms, ammunition and fuel. BLUEFISH and FLYING FISH, both skippered by '34, also bagged several ships during this period.

The contact reports of our submarines reached Admiral Spruance while Saipan was being assaulted in mid June, and caused him to postpone the Guam landing and deploy for a clash with the Japanese Combined Fleet. '34 participated in the "Marianas Turkey Shoot", as we later referred to the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Our classmates were in the aircraft, in the submarines and in the ships of Spruance's Fifth Fleet. This was the greatest carrier battle of the war, and our victory was so complete that Japanese naval air could never again engage on terms other than suicidal. Besides destroying enemy air, the fast carrier task groups, with help from the submariners, also carried out its second mission of covering the Saipan landing. Charley Brewer was lost in these operations.

Following up the successes of these air and surface operations in the Marianas, our submarines got two big prizes. CAVELLA, commanded by '34, and ALBACORE sank the large Japanese carriers SHOKAKU and TAIHO.

Saipan was secured in June, Tinian in July and Guam in August.

Back in the Atlantic, North Africa, despite a lot of trouble with the Kasserine Pass and "Dirty Gertie from Bizerte", had been secured in early May 1943. in July, the Allies conducted their first really opposed landings, on the southern coast of Sicily, and U.S. naval gunfire support was found equal to the task of neutralizing enemy opposition, including tank assaults. General Patton overran the defending garrisons in commendable time, reaching Palermo on the 22nd. On the 24th, Mussolini was overthrown, and the decision was made to invest the Italian mainland as soon as possible. This turned out to be 9 September, and at Salerno, where the severity of beachhead fighting ranks with that of Tarawa. There was no pre assault naval gunfire shore bombardment because the Army wouldn't have it, believing that it tipped off what otherwise might be a surprise. There was no surprise, the noise of the roaring motors of the landing craft being enough by itself to shatter pre dawn quiet. Fortunately, the Army's artillery got ashore and set up before any serious counterattacks developed, and thereafter there was plenty of effective fire support from the ships, which Marshal Kesselring himself acknowledged as the reason he eventually abandoned the fiercely contested beachhead.

And speaking of fiercely contested beachheads, Anzio, where the Allies landed on 22 January 1944, ranks at the top of anybody's list. The Army wanted a flanking maneuver to break the stalemate following the Salerno landing, but the Germans were capable of handling both the original front and the flank.

The Normandy landings, after many delays and concerted build ups, took place on 6 June 1944, and the invasion of southern France in August. Both gave '34 front row seats. Omaha Beach was a near casualty, but the overall success of those two landings opened the second front the Russians had been crying for, and led to the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany. The steady attrition of enemy aircraft in the Battle of Britain and on the Eastern Front, together with the protracted bombing of Germany, virtually eliminated enemy air resistance, and we enjoyed superiority of the air.

In the second half of 1944, in the Pacific, submarines added five more aircraft carriers to the list of ships sunk, including the largest ship ever to be sunk, the 60,000 ton carrier, SHINADO, sent to the bottom by ARCHERFISH. SEALION 11, in a running battle with a high speed task force, in a single attack, sank the battleship KONGO along with one of the newest Japanese destroyers. DARTER and DACE sank two heavy cruisers racing to oppose the Leyte landings and BERGALL, commanded by '34, also sank a heavy cruiser in the South China Sea. RAY, commanded by '34, torpedoed the heavy cruiser KUMANI, putting her out of action off the Philippines for naval aviators to complete her destruction a few days later. BLUEGILL and FLASHER, commanded by '34, sent enemy destroyers to an appropriate section of Davy Jones's Locker.

In the China Seas, submarines continued the relentless assault on Japanese shipping, cutting their convoy routes to ribbons. The attrition of tankers in particular choked off the supply of oil to Japan. The submarines ASPRO, BERGALL, BLUEGILL, FLASHER, HAMMERHEAD, JACK, RAY, SEADRAGON and SNOOK, all commanded by '34, were in the thick of it and made major contributions to the enemy's demise. TANG was a one boat war all by herself, sinking twenty four ships in one nine month period.

1944 was indeed a historic year for U.S. submarines. They accounted for the loss of two and a half million tons of enemy merchant shipping and the destruction of 400,000 tons of the Imperial Japanese Navy. It was also a historic year for the Class of 1934. Fifty two had command of submarines in combat, with a phenomenal record of collective accomplishment. Nineteen boats were lost, including ROBALO, with Charley Fell as exec, and GROWLER, with Ben Oakley in command. SHARK 11, commanded by Ed Blakely, and TANG, commanded by Dick O'Kane, were lost on the same day, October 24th, only a few miles apart.

Following the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Task Force 38 conducted air raids on Peleliu, Ulithi and Formosa, and the scarcity of opposition led to the decision to accelerate the Leyte landings to 20 October. '34 had a hand in getting this intelligence to Admiral Halsey.

The initial landings at Leyte were made with slight, if any resistance, but the reaction of the Japanese Navy resulted in the Battle for Leyte Gulf. Their surface forces were in two groups, and both were coming from the South China Sea, one group heading. for the San Bernardino Straits, the other foe the Surigao Straits. A third force, to the northward, a carrier group virtually without aircraft, was meanwhile to lure U.S. carriers away from the scene, sacrificing itself if necessary, in order to let the first two groups .get at the landing area. Impulsive Bill Halsey went for the bait, and although his carrier aircraft had inflicted heavy damage on both enemy surface groups the day before, nevertheless both started their passages of the straits. The Surigao Straits group was repulsed by PT Boats, destroyers, cruisers and Admiral Ofdendorf and his old battleships, crossing the T for the first time since Togo at Tsushima. But the San Bernardino group found the entrance to Leyte Gulf undefended, and proceeded to rough up the jeep carriers furnishing air support for the landings.

A personal touch to the history of the Battle for Leyte Gulf comes from one of our classmates who was Exec of one of the CVEs: "I was too scared to think of anything while it was going on, but afterwards I reflected over the irony that Miss Mattie Cook, from my home town, had spent twenty five years in the Orient trying to make Christians out of the Japs, and here one Sunday morning, they come over the horizon and in five minutes make a damn good Christian out of mel"

Three weeks before Leyte, the JCS decided to forget about Formosa and the Burma uppercut and concentrate on Luzon, which MacArthur had always advocated. Lingayen Gulf, to the north of Manila, was decided on, with airfields on Mindoro as a prerequisite. The latter was taken on 15 January of the new and decisive year of 1945, and by the end of the month, Army aircraft were operating out of two fields there, as well as from bases on Leyte, while Halsey, now independent, took Task Force 38 into the South China Sea, conducting strikes on Formosa, northern Luzon and Hainan.

Japanese air power had been reduced to such a state of impotency that there were less than 200 Army airplanes available to oppose the landings at Lingayen Gulf, but when Kamikaze tactics were employed, every one of them became hazardous to the health of shipboard sailors. Our own Dick Boutelle was lost in NASHVILLE off Mindoro. Beginning 13 December with the attacks on the convoy carrying the Mindoro landing force, Kamikazes sank twenty of our ships, heavily damaged twenty four others and lightly damaged another thirty five. Fortunately for us, the Luzon defenders had just about run out of Kamikazes by the time we assaulted Lingayen Gulf. Enemy surface units tried a night attack at Lingayen Gulf, but were beaten off by PT Boats, and the REDFISH frustrated attacks by Japanese Navy aircraft by picking off a carrier approaching the area.

Although the war in the Pacific was primarily an air and submarine effort against the Japanese, our classmates were in command of destroyers and amphibious ships, heads of departments of cruisers and battleships, and on the staffs directing operations. Their accomplishments in convoy escort, hunter killer groups, the screens for the big task forces, and closein and long range fire support for amphibious landing forces were legion. A few examples will make the point that their service and overall contribution were vital to the successful prosecution of the war at sea. And the risks they took and the dangers they faced would, at times, make an airman or submariner happy with his own problems.

On 26 March 1943, a force commanded by Rear Admiral Charles (Beauty) McMorris, in his flagship RICHMOND, consisting of SALT LAKE CITY and four destroyers, intercepted and fought a retiring action against a Japanese force that was twice its size and had twice its firepower. The Battle of Kormandorski Islands, fought in daylight, lasted about three and a half hours. SALT LAKE CITY was quite effective in firing at the two heavy cruisers at ranges of eight to twelve miles, but it was taking some hits also. McMorris had just ordered a southward retirement when another hit in SLC flooded the after engine room. She slowed and finally stopped, but she continued to fire. McMorris directed RICHMOND to lay a smoke screen to hide SLC from the enemy and to maneuver to help her. He also ordered three of his four destroyers to make a torpedo attack on the fast closing enemy force. One of our classmates in one of the DDs said later each of the ships BAILEY, COGHLAN and MONAGHAN quaveringly acknowledged the order on TBS and set out to attack. The Japanese admiral, startled to see the aggressiveness of the three destroyers, could not see SLC's condition and, fearing bombers from Dutch Harbor, soon providentially decided to retire westward, with the three destroyers in pursuit. BAILEY got close enough to fire five torpedoes, but no hits were scored.

Another classmate, in command of CORRY (DD 463) while she was engaged in hunter killer operations in the vicinity of the Azores in March 1944, directed the attack on a submarine resulting in its destruction. This was U 801, and forty seven survivors were taken on board. CORRY, during this same period, assisted in the destruction of another submarine.

On 6 June 1944, while engaged in counter battery fire in a close fire support mission at Normandy, CORRY was sunk by a mine and shore battery fire. After abandoning ship, the survivors were picked up after a terrible ordeal of two hours under fire from enemy shore guns, resulting in additional casualties.

Another classmate also made a career serving in destroyers, being in command of several and finally a Des Div. In December 1943, he became CO of LANSDALE, which was in the exciting action at Anzio. In April 1944, while escorting a convoy in the Mediterranean, LANSDALE shot down four German torpedo aircraft, but one torpedo hit and sank her. 235 survived and 47 were lost.

Two of our classmates served in RENO (CLAA 96) from 1943 to 1945, one as Chief Engineer and the other as Gunnery Officer. This and other ships of this type provided invaluable AA support to the various carrier task forces roaming the Pacific. RENO had the distinction of shooting down nineteen enemy aircraft, some of which were the dreaded and hard to hit Kamikazes, before receiving a submarine torpedo hit which severely damaged her in November 1944.

George Davis was captain of the WALKE in the pre assault bombardment at Lingayen Gulf when his ship was hit by a Kamikaze, and he was killed in the ensuing conflagration. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions.

ARKANSAS, NEW YORK, and TEXAS took on inland targets at OMAHA and UTAH beaches on D Day, 6 June 1944. They helped clear beach exits with shell fire in the afternoon. Many casualties were taken by GI's moving ashore and inland because, to protect the secrecy of our landing sites, our air forces could not bomb the shore batteries prior to D Day. The Chief of Staff of the 1st Division later wrote to Admiral Hall, "We positively could not have crossed the beaches without that gunfire support." On the evening of D Day, when General Gerow set up his headquarters on the beach, his first message to General Bradley, aboard AUGUSTA, was: "Thank God for the United States Navy."

After the successful landing at Lingayen Gulf, the Philippines were pretty much an Army story, but '34 lost Hank Jurado on Mindoro and Tom Truxtun (also USMA '37) on Luzon.

The Marianas afforded SubPac a tender base 3000 miles closer to Tokyo than Pearl Harbor, and air bases from which B 29s could bomb Japan and get back. Iwo Jima, "where uncommon valor was a common virtue," was needed as an emergency landing field for the big bombers and as a base from which fighters could escort them to Japan and back.

The Japanese Navy's efforts to interfere with our plans were confined to submarine offenses, including an underwater version of the Kamikaze, and were adequately handled by our ASW DEs, CVE aircraft and destroyers. Fast carrier strikes over a full two day period of 16 17 February damaged Tokyo airfields and aircraft plants, effectively completing the isolation of Iwo Jima's defenders. They, heeding the lessons of Peleliu, had built Iwo and Mt. Suribachi into a virtually impregnable fortress of reinforced, interconnecting tunnels and caves, well camouflaged and with mobile artillery. They apparently accepted the fact we would get ashore, and determined to sit out the preliminaries and destroy the invaders later, under conditions uninhibited by naval gunfire.

An intense pre assault combination of air strikes and shore bombardment and an efficient landing got the Marines ashore but failed to destroy defensive capacity. This had to be done by the Leathernecks themselves, and it took four savage days of desperate yard by yard advanced for them to take Mt. Suribachi and another month to secure the island.

Phil Torrey was lost on one of the air strikes on Japan, and John Butler was lost on Iwo Jima. Walker Ethridge was lost while on the tail of a Kamikaze attacking his carrier.

Targets for U.S. submarines were becoming scarce on the high seas, but there still remained other tasks for the 156 fleet boats now active. Allied air attacks were on the increase and there were hundreds of lifeguard missions. There were special gun patrols for submarines to clear out Japanese home waters of small craft which could warn of approaching air strikes. And there were many areas to be searched for the scarce but important ships still trying to get through in the hopeless re supply of the war that was rapidly being lost.

Commodore Perry had landed at Okinawa in 1853 and exacted a treaty guaranteeing friendly treatment for American ships. Almost a century later, the U.S. Navy was to lose more ships there than in any campaign in its long history.

B 29s had been incendiary bombing large urban areas of Japan since Iwo Jima, and fast carrier air strikes of 18 21 March destroyed some NO enemy aircraft, thus preventing any heavy participation of Japanese air at Okinawa until after D Day.

An amphibious support force of escort carriers, minecraft and mortar firing gunboats and a bom­bardment group up of battleships and cruisers, both with attendant destroyers, were in the area from D­-8. As a preliminary to the assault on Okinawa itself, an assault group lifting an infantry division and using the covering forces mentioned, on 28 March took Kerama Rhetto with little trouble. It proved to be an invaluable base for re fueling and re supply, emer­gency repair, medical treatment and evacuation, and in another aspect, a junkyard of ships.

Preceded by five full days of air bombing and shore bombardment, the landings at Okinawa went off without a hitch. The fact that there was little interference by the defenders was either a tribute to the effectiveness of our gunnery and bombing or a decision on their part to withhold initial counterattack in order to make a more damaging one later from the honeycombed caves and tunnels they had prepared.

Together with in depth defense ashore, the enemy's reliance was in the well demonstrated destructive capacity of the Kamikaze and a last ditch effort of surface forces, principally their last and best battleship, the YAMATO, without air cover, to pick off any ships the Kamikazes left afloat. This surface attempt came to naught, as U.S. submarines reported its sortie from the Inland Sea, and flying boats tracked it thereafter. The fast carrier aviators sank everything but four damaged destroyers which fled the scene.

The really tough in shore defense and the Kamikaze attacks began 6 April. The radar pickets, being in most cases the first ships seen by Kamikaze. pilots, bore the brunt of the attacks, although ships in close support of the landings received their share of attention. The total number of Japanese aircraft involved is not known, but the Japanese Navy counted 3700 sorties between 6 April and 22 June, when resistance ceased, and those of the Japanese Army most likely amounted to 2600 more.

A dedicated Kamikaze is a frightening and relentless thing, more often than not pressing home his attack despite the efforts of the combat air patrol, VT fused and 40mm. projectiles and damage caused by them. Many a black shoe classmate wished he had been capable of flying, or submerging, or both !

One of our classmates had the dubious distinction of reporting the first Baka bomb to come to the attention of Naval Intelligence.

The Navy lost thirty four ships sunk, 368 damaged, and close to 5,000 officers and men killed or missing. But Okinawa was Japan's last stand. There was talk, even after its capture, of a prospective loss of a million American lives taking the home islands, but Japan's doom was handwritten on the wall in indelible ink.

The Sea of Japan had been "out of bounds" for submarines since the loss of the WAHOO in 1943, and was known to be mined. In June 1945, nine SubPac submarines formed, into three wolfpacks and equipped with mine detecting sonar were sent to penetrate the minefields and patrol the "Emperor's Lake." One wolfpack, known as "Risser's Bobcats," consisted of FLYING FISH and TINOSA, both com­manded by '34, and BOWFIN TINOSA had rescued ten airmen from a downed B 29 enroute. Shooting commenced on the 9th and continued for twelve days, resulting in the destruction of twenty seven enemy merchantmen and one submarine. The group exited through La Perouse Strait only to find BONEFISH missing, a sad ending to an otherwise perfect operation.

The last shots of the submarine war were fired 14 August by TORSK, and all submarines were called into bases to await the Japanese surrender. These undersea warriors had accounted for 1,178 merchant ships sunk, totaling five million tons, and 214 warships for 578,000 tons. It had been a long war for '34. Most had been in it from start to finish, and they .had achieved a superb record. They had served with competence and bravery through many war patrols as execs and navigators to earn the commands they duly received. Boats commanded by '34 sank 175 enemy ships, both merchantmen and men of war. In addition, they rescued 125 downed aviators, destroyed countless small craft by gunfire and performed innumerable special missions. Nine of our classmates were lost at sea with their boats, with two surviving as POWs at war's end.

'34 was in the air leading three carrier task group strike planes on the electronics plant southeast of Tokyo when the war ended. After all acknowledgements were received from the leaders of the fighter sweeps not to bomb or strafe any enemy installations, '34's fighter sweep leader called and said, "What do I do now there are seven Rats (Japanese) above me and it looks like they are going to attack." The '34 air group commander thought this over for a few seconds he didn't want to start another war, neither did he want to lose any pilots. So he said, "'Shoot them down gently." They got four of the seven. The others fled. Admiral Halsey sent out the message, "Splice the main brace." Vice Admiral McCain radioed, "Rumored no more pee in pole cat."

'34's air group had the fighter pilot who shot down the last Kamikaze the day after the war was over. He was attacking the British carrier operating with our forces. The British admiral sent our pilot a case of Scotch.

'34 was in the air over the MISSOURI when the surrender was signed. It was a grand parade of all the carrier planes in the fleet. Afterward, '34 dropped food, cigarettes and medical supplies for our POWs in many camps in Japan.

Looking back to that youthful summer of 1930, one of the companies marched in Plebe Summer Competition to the strains of "Madelon," and sang these naive yet prescient words:

"Here's to you, the Class of Thirty Four, Full of spirit as in days of yore.
In our minds, your name will ever ring, Loyal praises we will sing.
In our hearts, we'll be both true and bold.
While we're fighting for the Blue and Gold.
May your glory live forevermore,
Thirty Four, Thirty Four, Thirty Four!"

The sentiment is still there, and now we've got the days of yore!

Following the Japanese surrender, we all celebrated V J Day, basked in glory a little while, then demobilized. "Magic Carpet," despite all its annoyances and downright gripes, did an efficient job of getting the guys home and reducing the Marine Corps and Navy from a position of plenty in mid-1945 to a point at the end of that year where we had to depopulate Peter in order to let Paul have enough men to get underway.

Nevertheless, the new United Nations was being set up, and with a Security Council, the lack of which had been the undoing of the late League of Nations, this effective world organization was going to make wars obsolete and everybody amenable. Nobody noticed, for a while, that unlike everyone else, the Soviets never demobilized.

What caught more of our attention was the fight over unification of the Armed Services, particularly the inference on the part of the Air Force that the nuclear bomb and the Strategic Air Command had made the Army, Navy and Marines no longer necessary. Some of the battles in the Pentagon were more intense, if less bloody than those of World War 11, and the fighting spilled over I into Congress, never really to be settled to the genuine satisfaction of anyone.

Then Communism raised its ugly head from beneath the Soviet cloak in Eastern Europe, causing the deliberate birth of the Marshall Plan and the hurried creation of NATO, thus making the Cold War official by announcing to the world that an attack against any member was an attack against all.

We didn't make this announcement, or make such arrangements in the Orient, probably because even those who thought about it at all didn't believe it necessary. But the Soviets, in cahoots at the time with the Communist Chinese, noticed our preoccupation with demobilization and unification, figured that neither the new U.N. nor the U.S. would go to war over such a small issue, and decided to let the up to strength North Korean People's Army absorb their brethren south of the 38th parallel.

The first three months of the Korean War, from the initial 25 June 1950 invasion until the Inchon landing were a series of desperate holding actions and retreats to a defensible perimeter. Our one objective was to maintain a bridgehead around the port of Pusan and to prevent South Korean and American soldiers from being overrun and thrown into the Sea of Japan. Within this perspective, the naval history was divided into four principal efforts: the flights of carrier aircraft, including Marines, on close air support, armed reconnaissance and interdiction; naval gunfire support and bombardment along the East Coast; the unopposed amphibious landing of Army troops at Pohang and the amphibious redeployment of the 3rd R.O.K. division; and the timely arrival of the U.S. Marines.

The Inchon landing, which the Marines spearheaded following the successful defense of the Pusan Perimeter, was an unqualified success, and caused the abandonment of North Korean attack plans and their precipitate retreat north of the 38th latitude to the inviolable banks of the Yalu, where after some hurried and face saving deliberations, the Chinese Communists came to their assistance, in a big way, presenting the U.N. with an entirely different war, which the U.S. didn't want to escalate into World War Ill.

Many weeks of bloody fighting remained on the ground, in the air, and on the mined seaways, but in the end matters ended up at the Negotiating Table, with the contesting forces behind their respective sides of the original 38th parallel.

The Korean conflict was a War in which the United States deliberately chose to accept something less than total victory in the interest of averting a major and possibly nuclear war. We didn't exactly win it, but on the other hand, South Korea was saved, and Communist aggression exposed and defeated.

'34 was there from the beginning to the Negotiating Table, and shared all the fright, misery and boredom.

'34 was also present at the Beirut Crisis in 1958.

At a second war we couldn't win Vietnam units of the Marine Corps and the Seventh Fleet kept turning up at decisive places, from Fleet and Type Commanders, Corps Commanding Generals .back to Washington, and all along the chain of command, our remaining flag and general officers were in the thick of this, the last war in which our services could be utilized. As some astute commentator remarked in afterthought, perhaps with more than a trace of seriousness, the only way to end that war was to declare to the world that, having won it, we were going home!

Our history would scarcely be complete if it failed to mention some of the technical areas in which '34 excelled. Since the weapons with which we fought consisted of ships, aircraft, guns and missiles, the fifty years of this golden anniversary witnessed great innovations. The hardware of our naval trade was employed in war as we have shown, but developments in which '34 took part were, to mention a few. Gyro gunsights and fire control equipment, torpedoes, our modern guns, mines, guided missiles Terrier, Tartar and Talos, and Polaris; most of today's modern naval aircraft and their armament. in addition three classmates in succession commanded NORTON SOUND the Navy's missile test ship. one classmate fired the X 17 missile with atomic warheads in Project Argus the last atomic missile shots fired through the atmosphere. The Naval Material Command had four of its principal commanders, at its inception in 1966, come from the ranks of 1934 flag officers.

At the higher echelons of command, our classmates, in addition to Area and District Commanders, were to be found in both the Marines and the Navy, as Fleet and Type Commanders, reaching four star rank in three instances.

For those of us who either voluntarily or involuntarily left the Navy and entered civilian life, there were great achievements as well. our classmates became physicians, lawyers, writers, teachers, judges, engineers, editors, college presidents, professors and merchant sailors. As executives in the purely commercial pursuits, we have Chairmen of the Board, Presidents,. Directors, Chief Executive Officers, aircraft and aerospace consultants plus individual leaders in the many diverse companies that make up our industrial base. Many of these same "civilians" put their uniforms on and fought alongside the career naval officers during each of our country's last three wars. The stamp of "Service" was upon them, and they served our nation with a full measure of patriotism in their special fields.

Not enough has even been inferred in these few pages about the courage, perseverance and devotion, the trials, horrors and deaths of the members of the Class of 1934 who participated in these events. The fabulous aviators, the relentless submariners, the Marines who assaulted the beaches and rooted out defenders, those who manned the carriers, battleships, cruisers, and destroyers all must share credit as well as sympathy with other classmates who handled a lot of amphibious chores such as underwater demolition and landing craft deployment, ASW in small boats and training centers, re fueling and resupply in gigantic, even miraculous proportions, damage control teams' heroisms, SeaBee construction, ship repair in advanced bases, repair and new construction stateside, and never ever to be forgotten, the support and love of the girls we left behind US.

"So lift your glasses, lift them high,
And pledge allegiance true,
So long as sunsets gild the sky
Above the ocean's blue.
And when our race on earth is run,
And all our toils are through,
May we all gather up above,
A wearing Navy Blue."

EDITOR'S NOTE: In preparing this "History" your editors were guided by the principle that we and those who may follow us in the years to come would want to know, "How did the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1934 influence our nation's history?" Although acts of heroism, or sacrifice, or technical contributions are made by individuals, except for those who gave their lives in action against the "enemy", we have not mentioned names.

Our reasons for playing down the "individual" in favor of the "Class" were: first, we hoped the ex­ploits of a single person would be immersed in the contribution of our Class, for this is ourClass history; second, we wanted to avoid the danger of having inadvertently failed to mention someone whose own exploit may have exceeded in importance that of one mentioned by name.

The reader will note that much of this material centers on activities in World War II, rather than on the remaining forty six years of our fifty year "history". This arises because, whether we like it or not, the Naval Academy is a Trade School, whose purpose it is to train midshipmen and build their characters so that they may take their places in the U.S. Navy as naval officers. The "trade" learned requires proficiency in the maritime arts and sciences, so that in time of war or emergencies, these officers may fight and lead our nation's forces to victory in the defense of our country. Everything else we may have learned is secondary to preparing us for a naval career while imbuing us with the strength of character and personal attributes of an "officer and a gentle man." Hence the emphasis on our contributions to wartime endeavors.

That World War II is at the focus of our history comes from the fact that it was "Our War". Unfortunately, each generation in our history has had a war it calls "The War". Until that Utopia of Tennyson's "Locksley Hall" arrives, "when the war drums throb no longer, and the battle flags are furled," Americans seem tied to that sad state of affairs. For our generation, and our Class, World War II is "The War", and one in which our Class played so great a role in combat, in sacrifice, and finally in victory.

A.R.G.

SUMMARY: NAVAL RECORD OF 1934

(1) Entered 599 Graduates 463 Non graduates 136
(2) Included in Class
3 Admirals
8 Vice Admirals
45 Rear Admirals
4 Lieutenant Generals USMC
1 Major General USMC
6 Brigadier Generals USMC
Many leaders in Industry and Professions not specifically recorded
(3) Citations
2 Medals of Honor (Richard H. O'Kane; George F. Davis)
62 Navy Crosses
16 Distinguished Service Medals
82 Silver Star Medals
83 Legion of Merit Medals
44 Distinguished Flying Crosses
8 Navy and Marine Corps Medals
131 Bronze Star Medals
59 Air Medals
57 Presidential Unit Citations
250 Assorted Commendation Medals and other Unit Citations, including Army, Air Force, and Joint Service
15 Purple Hearts
38 Foreign Decorations
---- Not a bad record!---­

Class 1934 Graduates Killed In Action, World War II

Avise, John E. F.O. Royal Canadian AF North Africa
Ayer, Donald H. Ist LT, Royal Can. Army Hoch Wold Forest
Blakely, Edward N. CDR, USN USS Shark China Sea
Boutelle, Richard R. CDR, USN USS Nashville Asiatic rea
Brewer, Charles W. CDR, USN USS Essex Near Guam
Brinker, Robert M. LCDR, USN USS Grayling Western Pacific
Butler, John A. LTCol, USMC   Iwo Jima
Carroll jr, Herbert F. LT, USN USS Astoria Battle of Savo IsI.
Davis ' George F. CDR, USN USS Walke I Ingayan Gulf, P.I.
Ethridge, Walker CDR, USN USS Bataan Sea of Japan
Fell, Charles W. CDR, USNR USS Robalo Asiaatic Area
Hine, Thomas R. LT, USN USS San Francisco Guadalcanal.
Inngersoll, Royal R.II LT, USN USS Hornet Battle of Midway
Johnston, Dewey G. LT, USN USS Reuben James North Atlantic
Jurado, Enrique L. LTCol, USA Phillipine 0 Boats Bataan. P.I.
McMahon, John M. LT, USN USS Grunion Kiska, Aleutians
Oakley jar, Homas B. CDR, USN USS Growler China Sea
Parks ' Floyd B. MAJ, USMC VF 221 Off Midway
Pesante, Juan B. LT, USN USS Preston Off Guadalcanal
Ray Jr, Martin H. LT, USN USS Hammann Battle of Midway
Robertson, Robert N. LT, USN USS Argonaut Off New Britain
Skjonsby, Verne L. LCDR, USN USS Wahoo Sea of Japan
Stone jr, Archibald LT, USN USS Pecos Java, Asiatic Area
Torrey, jr Phillip H. CDR, USN USS Lexington Air Strike Tokyo
Truxtan, Thomas LTCol, USA 210th Field Artillery, Tabio Luzon
Ware, Charles R. LT, USN USS Enterprise Battle of Midway
Wheeler, Creighton L. USS Juneau Solomon's Islands
Whitaker, Frank M. LCDR, USN USS Bunker Hill Eniwetok Area
Wilson, John M. LT, USNR USS Gregory Off Guadalcanal

Profile of 1934 Graduates, February 14, 2004

  • Graduated: 463
  • Commissioned: 362
  • Killed InAction, WW 11: 29
  • Alive, Location Known: 49 
 

© 2018 United States Naval Academy Alumni Association & Foundation 410-295-4000