This survey covers the u.s. Naval Academy classes of 1924 through 1945 and is felt to include all of the Naval Academy submariners who lost their lives in World War II while serving in submarines.
Of the 375 submarine officers lost in the operating submarine environment during \fW II, 161 were graduates of the u.s. Naval Academy. (Ed. Note: The extent to which Military Academy officers have borne the brunt or losses in a war has been of considerable interest to historians. In this sense, the losses in submarines or Naval Academy grads was disproportionately high in the first two years of World War II — when 26 u.s. submarines were lost. However,in the next 18 months — when 26 more subs were lost — the Academy grads’ losses were somewhat lower than that or the non-grads. This is explained b7 the raot that in the beginning of WW II, the ofricers on the subs were almost exclusively Academy men. But in the last two years of the War — despite the fact that virtually all or the skippers were from the Naval Academy — U.S. submarines carried only 2 or 3 Academy grads out or the 7 or 8 officers onboard.
The overall cost or the submarine effort was high — 375 officers and 3,131 enlisted men were lost. With a base or 16,000 officers and men who manned the 288 submarines, a casualty rate or 22S is readily apparent, the largest of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II.
The 161 officers from the Academy constituted 42S of the 375 officers lost. The remaining 214 officers came from the reserves and from the enlisted men who were promoted to the officer ranks. This study in no way underrates their contribution. Without their assistance, the submarine effort would have foundered.
By rank, the OSNA submarine losses were one Captain, 21 Commanders, 50 Lieutenant Commanders, 64 Lieutenants, 18 Lieutenants (jg), and 7 Ensigns.
Numerically, the greatest losses for the first four classes by rank order are 20 from ’42, from ‘3 9, 15 from ‘4 3, 14 from ‘4 0. Percentage-wise (percentage lost of qualified submariners) the greatest losses for the first four classes by rank order are 28.0S for ’40, 23% for ’28, 7S for ’39, 21.6S for ’36. or the 161 Academy men lost, nine were casualties or unique incidents in which the submarines were not sunk. A brief for each follows.
- Samuel Howard Hunter, , LT(jg} ’38 — USS SEADRAGON (SS 194). In the Cavite Navy Yard on December 12, 1941, SEADRAGON was undergoing refit while alongside SEALION.A Japanese bomb that hit the SEALIONspewed off fragments that penetrated the conning tower of the SEADRAGON,instantlykillingLt(jg) Hunter. Hunter was the first submarine casualty of World War II.
- Howard Walter Gilmore, CDR ’26 — USS GROWLER (SS215). In the vicinity of New Hanover (Bismarck Archipelago), CDR Gilmore was mortally wounded on February 7, 1943, while ramming a Japanese patrol vessel at 17 knots. He ordered the GROWLER to dive (“Take Her Down”) while he lay on the bridge with a dead assistant OOD and a dead lookout nearby. GROWLER, severely damaged, was saved by his heroic action.
- William Wadsworth Williams, Ensign 1 43 –USS GROWLER (SS215). Ensign Williams was the assistant OOD on the bridge during the ramming of a Japanese patrol vessel in darkness on February 7, 1943. He and the remaining lookout were dead when the mortally wounded commanding officer ordered “Take Her Down.” See entry of CDR Gilmore, above.
- Thomas Fort Williamson, LCDR ’32 — USS s-31.While enroute Dutch Harbor from the Kurileson August 31, 1942, LCDR Williamson, the CO, was killed by an ex-plosion of a defective recognition flare.
- Reginald Marbury Raymond, LCDR ’33 — USS SCORPION (SS 278}. LCDR Raymond, a prospective commanding officer, was killed on the bridge or the SCORPION on August 29, 19~3. by an enemy bullet in a gun battle with a Japanese coastal defense craft.
- Willis Edward Maxon III, LT(jg) 1 ~3 — USS SKATE (SS 305). LT(jg) Maxon was seriously wounded by strafing during SKATE’s lifeguarding assignment off Wake Island on October 6, 19~3. His wounds did not appear fatal and SKATE continued her operations.Two days later his condition worsened and he died on October 8.His death was not in vain, however. SKATE was the first submarine to perform a successful life-guard mission, rescuing a total or six aviators.
- Paul Walker Pinson, LT(jg) — OSS CABRILLA (SS 288). CABRILLA, on her seventh war patrol, was on station in the Kuriles. After a severe depth charging and after eluding several patrol vessels, CABRILLA surfaced. LT(jg) Pinson was ordered to make an inspection of the top- side for damage. While on the main deck, he was swept overboard and was lost despite all efforts to rescue him — on April 7, 19~5.
- Montrose Graham McCormick, LCDR ’39. Plane crash. LCDR McCormick is included here because he made several war patrols and he never left the operating submarine environment. Pursuant to orders promoting him from the XO or one submarine to CO of another, he died enroute in a plane crash in the Asiatic area on April 19, 19~5.
- John Thomas Beahan, Ensign 1 45 — USS BLUEBACK (SS 326). Ensign Beahan was the most junior of the 161 Academy officers who were lost in the submarine service during World War II. He was instantly killed at 2200 on July 10, 19~5. by an accidental discharge or a .SO cal machine gun. He was buried at sea with appropriate honors on July 12, somewhere in the Java Sea between Surabaja and Sunda Strait.
I have excluded the loss or Admiral R. H. English, COHSUBPAC, and four or his starr officers from the table. To make the record complete, however, the story of their loss is included. Admiral English 1 11, CDR J. J. Crane 1 26 Force Engineer, LCDR J. 0. R. Coll 1 27 Force Gunnery and Torpedo Officer, CDR W. G. Myers ’26 prospec-tive relief for CDR Crane, and Captain R. H. Smith 1 20 COMSUBRON TWO, flew to San Francisco to attend a series of conferences. The plane, a Navy-manned PanAm Clipper, was unable to land in San Francisco because or dense fog.In searching for a lake landing site, presumably Clear Lake, the Clipper crashed into the mountains near Boonville, about 90 miles northwest of San Francisco, on January 19, 1943. Their loss was a devastating blow to the submarine effort in the Pacific.
Omitted from the table or losses are those USNA alumni who were captured by the Japanese when their subs were either scuttled or sunk outright. Briefs leading to their capture are given.
Ten USNA officers survived the sinking or PERCH, GRENADIER, and TANG. All suffered indescribable beatings and torture and all were repatriated at the war’s end.
PERCH was heavily damaged by enemy gunfire and depth charges. With no propulsion and sinking, she was scuttled on March 3, 1942, about 12 miles northwest of Surabaja. Taken prisoner were LCDR David A Hurt ’25, LT Beverley R. Van Buskirk 1 34, LT John F. Ryder 1 36, LT Kenneth G. Schacht 1 35, and LT(jg) Jacob J. Vandergrift ’39.
GRENADIER was ~atally damaged by aircraft bombs and scuttled in the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean, off Penang, Burma, on April 22, 1943 Captured were LCDR John A. Fitzgerald ’31, LCDR George H. Whiting ’36, LT Alfred J. Toulon Jr. ’39, and LT Arthur G. Mcintyre ’41.
The last submarine sunk with an alumni survivor was the TANG. In a surface attack, TANG fired her two remaining torpedoes at a crippled Japanese transport. The first torpedo ran true but the second broached and curved sharply (erratically) to the left, resulting in a dreaded circular run. At a speed of 46 knots, the torpedo completed ite 1,000-yard diameter circle quickly and struck TANG’s after torpedo room– on October 24, 1944, in the northern end of Formosa Strait. Of the two officer survivors, CDR Richard H. 0 1 Kane ’34 was the lone alumni survivor.