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USN flag officers: Part II. Admirals Wiley, Binford, Talbot, and Parker

April 29 2009 at 1:13 AM
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Nelson  (no login)


Response to obituary for VAdm Thomas Murray Stokes

 
Gents:

As promised, I did check the sequence of U.S. NAVY REGISTERs held by the government documents collection, University of New Hampshire. As UNH is NOT a full govt docs library, this collection is substantially incomplete, beginning only in 1949. The NAVY REGISTER is not as extensive a compendium as is the ARMY REGISTER, e.g., it does not have a deceased listing for those commissioned and warrant officers who died during a given year (the naval officer's name simply no longer appears in the year following his death). Also, while the register initially lists the regular and reserve officers on active duty and those on the retired list, the volumes published beginning in the late 1950s or so no longer include the retired officers, unless they had been recalled to active duty. Nonetheless, a good deal of information may be gleaned from the available volumes. Mark is correct, in that at least three of the four men chronicled were promoted to their final rank--or so it seems--only after retirement, and on the basis of one or more combat medals awarded during wartime.

Herbert Victor WILEY, b. May 16, 1891; d. April 28, 1954; USNA, Class of 1912 or 1913. Promoted captain July 1, 1941, the highest rank he attained in active service. At the outbreak of war he was ComDesRon 29, Asiatic Fleet. Awarded the Navy Cross for his role in the action at Surigao Strait, October 1944, in which he commanded the old battleship USS WEST VIRGINIA (BB 48). He retired in January 1947, and was promoted to rear admiral on the retired list on the basis of the medal awarded for his gallantry in combat. His putative tombstone rank of vice admiral is very much in need of corroboration. There is the possibility that he received another bump-up in flag rank because of the skill and bravery he had exhibited prewar in saving almost the entire crew of the rigid airship USS MACON, which he commanded when she crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

Thomas Howell BINFORD, b. August 25, 1896; d. August 1973; USNA, Class of 1919. Awarded the Navy Cross for his leadership role as ComDesDiv 58 in the battle of Badoeng Strait, February 1942. Skillfully withdrew his division, less USS POPE (DD 225), through Bali Strait on the night of March 1, 1942. Promoted captain during the war and rear admiral on March 1, 1948. In about 1949, he completed the Junior Course, Naval War College, and in 1953, the Command and Staff Course there. He retired in June 1954, and was promoted to vice admiral on the retired list on the basis of the medal awarded for his gallantry in combat.

Paul Hopkins TALBOT, b. April 3, 1897; d. September 8, 1974; USNA, Class of 1918. Awarded the Navy Cross for his leadership role as ComDesDiv 59 in the battle of Balikpapan, January 1942. On May 30, 1942, he was assigned, with his current rank of commander, as XO of USS WEST POINT (AP 23), a position he still held on July 4, 1942, with his rank still specified as commander. However, he had been promoted to captain on June 17, 1942, so either his promotion was delayed until he left WEST POINT or it was back-dated sometime after he had left the ship. That rank was the highest he attained in active service. He retired in March 1948 and was promoted to rear admiral on the retired list on the basis of the medal awarded for his gallantry in combat. One must assume that in 1948, when his fellow ex-Asiatic Fleet DD division commander Thomas Binford's career was thriving, Paul Talbot was passed over and he thereupon retired. His putative tombstone rank of vice admiral is very much in need of corroboration.

Edward Nelson PARKER, b. July 26, 1904; d. October 15, 1989; USNA, Class of 1925. Awarded Navy Cross thrice for his roles in the battles of Balikpapan, Badoeng Strait, and Guadalcanal, all in 1942. Promoted captain July 20, 1943, rear admiral September 1, 1952, and vice admiral August 19, 1960. His specialties continued to be in ordnance engineering and weapon systems, with graduation from the General Line School by 1960. He did not attend any of the higher level courses offered at the Naval War College. Nonetheless, by 1963, the year he retired, he stood No. 28 on the Navy List, one number ahead of the more well known VAdm. William Raborn, who retired the same year that Parker did. I cannot find evidence that Parker was bumped up one rank in retirement, to full admiral, on the basis of his three Navy Crosses. Note that Parker predeceased by two months and ten days his old boss on USS CUSHING (DD 376), Commander Thomas Murray Stokes, ComDesDiv 10, at the naval battle of Guadalcanal, November 1942, for which both were awarded the Navy Cross.

Questions to anyone--Don? Mark?--who has better sources than I do for the U.S. Navy's commissioned officers:

What year did Herbert V. Wiley graduate from Annapolis?
What were the final or tombstone ranks of Herbert V. Wiley and Paul H. Talbot, who should have been rear admirals on the basis of the combat medal rule, and Edward N. Parker, who should have been a four-star admiral on the basis of the combat medals rule....unless that rule ends at some particular rank, e.g., that of vice admiral (only suggesting that as a possibility). Whatever you've got, thanks.

Nelson

 
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Responses

  • combat medal rule - Robert Bergstrom on Apr 29, 2009, 2:07 AM
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  • Edward Nelson Parker - Jim Broshot on Apr 29, 2009, 3:27 AM
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  • Re: DesRon 29 Officers - Mark E. Horan on Apr 29, 2009, 4:18 AM
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  • A matter of rank - Nelson on Apr 29, 2009, 6:49 PM
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