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senior destroyer commanders, Asiatic Fleet

April 17 2009 at 7:54 AM
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Nelson  (no login)

 
Guys,

I have some questions regarding the later war and postwar careers of the five senior Asiatic Fleet destroyer commanders--the COs of one squadron (DesRon 29) and three divisions (DesDiv 57, 58, 59)--in place early in the war. I know that three of them later attained flag rank, but the other two officers seemingly finished the war with nary a trace remaining. In each case, I would appreciate knowing what service each performed subsequently in the war, whether he survived, his final rank attained in the U.S. Navy, etc. The five officers:

1. Capt. (postwar Vice Admiral) Herbert Victor Wiley, commanding DesRon 29. He had enjoyed an amazing and very lucky prewar career in naval aviation, surviving the crashes of both dirigibles AKRON in April 1933 (one of only three crewmen to do so) and MACON in February 1935. Well after leaving the Asiatic Fleet, he was given the command of WEST VIRGINIA (BB 98), winning the Navy Cross for his performance at the battle of Surigao Strait, 24-25 Oct 1944. Pretty complete history, but anything else of significance?

2. Cmdr. Edwin M Crouch, commanding DesDiv 57. He does not seem to have figured in many, if any, of the sharp American destroyer actions that took place in the NEI. Last seen aboard WHIPPLE (DD 217), in which he participated in the decision to depart the scene of PECOS's (AO 6) sinking on 1 Mar 1942. His later war service has been impossible for me to find (or at least in the sources I possess).

3. Cmdr. (postwar Rear Admiral) Thomas Howell Binford, commanding DesDiv 58. He led his division in the battle of Badoeng Strait, 19-20 Feb 1942, for which he won the Navy Cross. Later led four American DDs in the battle of the Java Sea, and also during the escape of these same four ships via Bali Strait to Australia. I cannot find anything about his later war service.

4. Cmdr. Paul Hopkins Talbot, originally commanding DesDiv 59. He led the gallant torpedo and gun attack on Japanese troop transports at Balikpapan, 23-24 Jan 1942, for which he won the Navy Cross. Relieved of that command less than a week later, 30 Jan 1942, Talbot disappeared thereafter from the SW Pacific. It is possible that he was wounded and/or recalled stateside for hero display or for some other reason. I cannot find evidence of his later war service or his promotion to flag rank in my sources.

5. Lt. Cmdr. (postwar Vice Admiral) Edward Nelson Parker, originally commanding USS PARROTT (DD 218) in DesDiv 58. He ably fought his ship in the battle of Balikpapan, 23-24 Jan 1942, for which he was awarded his first Navy Cross, and on 30 Jan 1942, he relieved Cmdr. Paul Talbot as CO of DesDiv 59. Parker led two American destroyers at the battle of Badoeng Strait, 19-20 Feb 1942, for which he won a second Navy Cross. In early November 1942, while in command of CUSHING (DD 376) sunk by enemy action off Guadalcanal, he was awarded his third Navy Cross. Any info on what he did after 1942?

These commanding officers won four Navy Crosses in the NEI, one each by Cmdrs. Talbot and Binford, and two by Lieut. Cmdr. Parker, in only two battles, one of them a major bloody nose for ABDA naval forces. No such awards were made for the battle of the Java Sea, although of course Capt. Albert H. Rooks, commanding officer of HOUSTON (CA 30), won the Medal of Honor (posthumously) for his performance during the period ending 27 Feb 1942 (curiously, not including the battle of Sunda Strait, 28 Feb-1 Mar 1942, in which Rooks was killed in action). It is of interest that Lt. William J. Giles, Jr., was not awarded the Navy Cross, for his splendid navigation for the destroyer division passing at speed through Bali Strait during the night of 1 Mar 1942, for which his commanding officer on JOHN D. EDWARDS (DD 216) had strongly recommended him.

Answers appreciated, thanx.

Nelson

 
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Klemen L.
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Cmdr. Thomas Howell Binford,

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April 20 2009, 8:08 PM 

Hello Nelson,

Here is a short biography I found about Rea-Admiral Binford from the book 10,000 Famous Freemasons from A to J Part One by William R. Denslow.

binford.jpg

lp,

Klemen

 
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Nelson
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vital stats on the five Asiatic Fleet DD officers

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April 21 2009, 6:39 PM 

Klemen,

Thanks for the information on Vice Admiral Binford. By the by, some of these flag ranks were obtained during the officer's active career; others were due to a "bump up" one rank at retirement. I don't know which was which in every case. Here are the vital statistics, complete or partial, for the five officers about whom I originally inquired. There are a few contradictions, so they will require some additional research.

Commanding Destroyer Squadron 29, Captain (later Vice Admiral) Herbert Victor Wiley: b. May 16, 1891; d. April 28, 1954. I wrote d. May 1954 in another thread, but I believe his d.o.d. of April 28, 1954, is the correct datum. Navy Cross, but NOT for action in the NEI.

Commanding Destroyer Division 57, Commander (later Captain) Edwin M. Crouch: graduated USNA, Class of 1921, so born in either 1899 or 1900; died on or about July 30, 1945, after the torpedoing and sinking of USS INDIANAPOLIS, on which he was a passenger.

Commanding Destroyer Division 58, Commander (later Vice Admiral) Thomas Howell Binford: b. August 25, 1896; d. August 1973 (I THINK after his birthday). Navy Cross for action at Badoeng Strait.

Commanding Destroyer Division 59 until late January 1942, Commander (later Vice Admiral) Paul Hopkins Talbot: b. April 3, 1897; d. September 8, 1974. Navy Cross for action at Balikpapan.

Commanding Destroyer Division 59 as of late January 1942, Lieutenant Commander (later Vice Admiral) Edward Nelson Parker: b. July 26, 1904 (his medal citations specify d.o.b. of July 7, 1904); d. October 15, 1989. Three Navy Crosses, for actions at Balikpapan, Badoeng Strait, and Solomons Islands, all in 1942.

Nelson

 
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Kevin Denlay
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Binford

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April 21 2009, 11:50 PM 

I was fortunate enough some time ago to buy four 'books' that belonged to Binford, two with his signature and 'property of' stamp on, and two which were photo albums. However I have never been able to ID too many of the folks in the photos at the gatherings (of an officers party). One of the albums (the party) was 'supposedly' taken on Java, but I doubt the provenance of that. On a wall in the background however there is a life ring / preserver from USS Stewart, IIRC.

 
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Mark E Horan
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Re: promotions

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April 22 2009, 11:38 PM 

Nelson;

While not 100%, a "tombstone" promotion was awarded to anyone that was awarded the Navy Cross. Thus, it is likely that these men were serving Rear Admirals when they retired.

Mark

 
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Nelson
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Re: promotions

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April 23 2009, 1:51 AM 

Mark,

< While not 100%, a "tombstone" promotion was awarded to anyone that was awarded the Navy Cross. Thus, it is likely that these men were serving Rear Admirals when they retired. >

Yeah, and it's that darned "not 100%" which is the devil in the dustbin and the wombat in the woodpile. In other instances, at least in the army, the bump-up came at retirement, so there was the practical value of augmented retirement pay....though again, it does not seem to have been automatic. I think if the officer's previous promotion came too close to retirement--a common example was when an officer retired prematurely not long after promotion, but before the mandatory 64 years of age--or if he was somehow undeserving or generally unpopular, there was no such promotion.

No way is this graven in stone (i.e., it needs corroboration), but I think that Herbert V. Wiley had been promoted to vice admiral sometime before his forced medical retirement. For the others, certainly so in the case of Thomas H. Binford, you are likely on the money regarding the retirement or tombstone promotion to vice admiral.

Big question to you: What is--or could be--going on with Commander (eventually Vice Admiral) Paul H. Talbot? During a very dark period when the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army, and all their friends to be counted anywhere were being rocked and socked and bloodied aplenty, along comes Cdr. Talbot with his division of ancient tin cans, and delivers a sweet torpedo and gun attack that sinks or damages an undetermined number of Japanese troopships, AND gets away clean as a whistle (soon being awarded, most deservedly, a Navy Cross). So, six days later, he is relieved as commander of DesDiv 59 and whisked away to Australia. Okay, the United States needed sterling plate heroes to be paraded around and shown off, right? WRONG!! Talbot was still in Oz cooling his heels and waiting for transport home two months later, and he didn't return stateside until WEST POINT (AP 23)* departed Melbourne on 6 Apr 1942! What was going on?? Here the U.S. Navy had an aggressive and inspired DD division leader and he was just wasted in Australia? After all, Crouch, Binford, and Parker weren't relieved of their divisions, and despite two Navy Crosses in the NEI, Lieut. Cdr. Parker didn't get another destroyer division right away, but was given the command of CUSHING (DD 376). I just don't get Talbot's relief....unless self-requested (but if so, why when he was so badly needed?). Any notions?

*By coincidence, or perhaps not coincidence, the very ship he would later be assigned to as XO.

Nelson

 
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Mark E Horan
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Re: Relief

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April 23 2009, 3:47 AM 

Nelson;

There were many scheduled personnel moves in the works prior to 7 December 1941. These duty changes usually involved a positive career change for those relieved (they were going somewhere after all) and their reliefs were getting command.

I strongly suspect that his relief was scheduled to occur, that his relief, Lt.Cdr. Edward Nelson Parker, USNA25 was slated for his division command, and that Lt. John Nelson Hughes, USNA31 was slated to take over USS Parrott (or at the very least another destroyer) prior to the outbreak of the war.

Others, such as Couch, were on the upcoming promotion list, which necessarily would have come with a change of duty prior to July 1942 in peacetime and likely sooner with the war on.

Mark

 
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Don Kehn, Jr.
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Relief , a question, and more

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April 23 2009, 5:56 AM 

Mark,

Very interesting! If you don't mind my asking, what basis do you have for assuming John Nelson Hughes was going to be given a destroyer BEFORE the war? I am just curious about this because--as you well know--Joshua James Nix (USNA 30) got command of EDSALL in mid-OCT 1941 as a LT, and this was, by common consent, "quite a break for Mr. Nix."

In the midst of so much good, clean print and the nice, firm numbers, there are always those who enjoy tossing a little smoke-grenade of delicious apocrypha...In that vein: there is anecdotal evidence--unsubstantiated but there nonetheless--that LT CDR E. Mason Crouch was not a happy (or altogether healthy) camper when he left EDSALL. Far from it. We have wondered whether this played some part in Nix's appointment. (At least one very peculiar account of the changeover in command reached me during my research, but I discounted it as too outlandish.)

{There were also those who did not take kindly to Crouch's decision to clear the area after WHIPPLE returned to p/u the survivors of PECOS, but that may be another matter.}

CDR Eccles strongly urged his superiors to utilize surplus Asiatic Fleet officers who had survived the campaign--and who he felt were extremely capable-- as a nucleus for new crews & ships. It doesn't strike me as an unsound suggestion...although Wiley(?) didn't take kindly to some of Eccles' sharp comments.

Don

 
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Nelson
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Re: Relief

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April 23 2009, 8:26 AM 

Mark,

You wrote:

< I strongly suspect that his relief was scheduled to occur, that his relief, Lt. Cdr. Edward Nelson Parker, USNA25 was slated for his division command... >

I'm not saying I don't wanta believe, but in fact I'm muy dubious. Not a few men of both services held orders for their imminent transport back to the States, but the war threw a terrible monkey wrench into the works and their orders got put on hold. Three realities would argue against your version of events:

1. Every evidence indicates that Parker's elevation to division commander was a temporary thing--though perhaps more than as acting commander--meant only to hold the line. In November 1942, upon winning his third Navy Cross, Parker was no longer a division commander, who despite his repeated bravery in action, remained a lieutenant commander and was back to being a destroyer commanding officer (albeit of a modern can). His division commander, Cdr. T. Murray Stokes, sailed and died aboard Parker's CUSHING (DD 376) the night she was lost in the Solomons.

2. Commander Paul Talbot was cooling his heels and then some in Oz, waiting for transport stateside. Even if he was performing admin duty of some sort until he departed, didn't the U.S. Navy have better use for such an audacious destroyer division commander? It's not like we were winning the naval war in the NEI hands down. I also call to your attention that going into 1944, Talbot was still a commander (despite his NC) and serving as XO...nicht CO...of a troopship (albeit a megatroopship). I have been provided a photo of him in late 1943/early 1944, standing with his boss on WEST POINT, and still wearing three gold rings on his sleeves. This was part of the grand scheme that the navy had planned for such a warrior?

3. IMO, the only senior American destroyer division commander still performing as such was Cdr. Thomas Binford, who fought his division bravely if without effect at Java Sea. I don't know what Crouch or his boss Wiley were up to at the time, but both seem conspicuously absent from belligerent events. And after the intrepid Parker led his two-ship section at Badoeng Strait, he sort of disappears, too. Ironically, one of the most professionally superb--and last--acts accomplished by American DDs acting in divisional strength was their escape through Bali Strait and across the Indian Ocean to safety. Thereafter, we have a series of brave single-destroyer events, most of which led to their destruction.

None of those instances strike me as examples of the sound use of experienced senior personnel, intended as the best measures for at least the short-term prosecution of the war.

Don wrote:

< {There were also those who did not take kindly to Crouch's decision to clear the area after WHIPPLE returned to p/u the survivors of PECOS, but that may be another matter.} >

Yeah, the vast majority of them still afloat in the Indian Ocean. To be fair to Crouch, it must be pointed out that the decision was made as a concensus by him, Abernathy (PECOS), and Karpe (WHIPPLE), but I think it is also fair to surmise that a different man...or different men...would have made a different decision.

Nelson

 
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Nelson
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Stokes and Parker in the naval battle of Guadalcanal

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April 23 2009, 5:12 PM 

Mark,

I found the following description of the naval battle of Guadalcanal, mid-November 1942, in which Lt. Cdr. Edward N. Parker (CO of CUSHING, DD 376) won his third Navy Cross and Cdr. T. Murray Stokes (ComDesDiv 10) lost his life. Until May 1942, Lt. Cdr. Stokes had been commanding officer of GRAYSON (DD 435). For more in this website, see

http://www.skotfred.com/guadal1.txt

but here are a few snippets from same:

"In anticipation of a possible course reversal during the approach or during the battle, [R/Adm Daniel J. Callaghan] had placed his senior destroyer officer, Captain Robert G. Tobin, ComDesRon 12, in the rear division of destroyers, which were the AARON WARD, BARTON, MONSSEN and FLETCHER. Of these, only the latter had the new SG surface-search radar that could reliably make out targets and plot them at 25,000-30,000 yards, as the cruisers HELENA and BOISE had done at the Battle of Cape Esperance. Heading the lead division of destroyers was his other divisional commander, Cdr Murray Stokes, ComDesDiv 10; these were the CUSHING, LAFFEY, STERETT and FLETCHER, the latter again a brand new ship with SG radar. Callaghan may not have known it, but in L/Cdr [Edward N.] "Butch" Parker of CUSHING, the leading one of his thirteen ships, he probably had his most single battle-aware and experienced destroyer captain, as Parker had fought in the Asiatic Fleet in the desperate months after Pearl Harbor."

While the writer does carelessly place FLETCHER (DD 445) in both DesDiv 12 and DesDiv 10 [as we shall soon read, O'BANNON (DD 450) was the trailing destroyer in DesDiv 10], he does establish Cdr. Stokes as ComDesDiv 10, with Lt. Cdr. Parker as captain of the flagship. The account continues a bit later:

"Cdr Stokes, ComDesDiv 10 in CUSHING, advised ComTaskGroup 67.4 by TBS radio: 'Three unidentified ships 45 degrees on our port bow. Be alert.' In fact YUDACHI and HARUSAME would have been in that direction, but a good 5000 yards off. Had CUSHING somehow seen them? Hammel*, having interviewed L/Cdr Parker of CUSHING, makes no mention of such an early sighting."

And later yet:

"ComDesDiv 10, Cdr Murray Stokes in CUSHING, bulled through the crowded TBS circuit to ask Admiral Callaghan at 0143: 'Shall I let them have a couple of fish?' LAFFEY and STERETT had just made the turn to port to follow CUSHING. O'BANNON now turned 45 degrees left at 0144 to follow STERETT..."

It may be indeed that Lt. Cdr. Edward N. Parker was at the time being groomed to be the commander of a destroyer division, and in fact he had had some experience as such while in the Asiatic Fleet, but certainly in November 1942, he was back at being the commanding officer of a destroyer. Thus I must conclude that his relief of Cdr. Paul Talbot as ComDesDiv 59, Asiatic Fleet, had been both fortuitous and transitory. I for one would like to know more about Parker's later wartime career, not to mention Talbot's.

*The Hammel referred to in the preceding text is Eric Hammel, DECISION AT SEA.

Other sources include

C.W. Kilpatrick, NIGHT BATTLES IN THE SOLOMONS
Samuel E. Morison, THE STRUGGLE FOR GUADALCANAL
Theodore Roscoe, UNITED STATES DESTROYER OPERATIONS IN WORLD WAR II (in abridged softcover as TIN CANS)

Nelson

 
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Kit
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Cmdr. Stokes NOT KIA in naval battle of Guadalcanal

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April 23 2009, 6:28 PM 

Nelson,

I visited a couple of websites to learn if Cmdr. T. Murray Stokes got a gong for the battle in which he allegedly lost his life. What I learnt was that yes, he did, the Navy Cross, but no, he was apparently NOT killed in that action.

The 'In Memory' section of the website you have previously cited

http://cushing.0catch.com/memorial.htm

lists both the men lost in that battle (their surnames are capitalised) AND those who died later in the war or who succumbed after the war to the toll of time (their surnames are in lower case, and they include that of T. Murray Stokes). So, I fear that you misread those names as all of them KIA in the battle of Guadalcanal. As further proof, here is Stokes's citation for the Navy Cross:

http://www.homeofheroes.com/members/02_NX/citations/03_wwii-nc/nc_06wwii_navyS.html

STOKES, THOMAS M.
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Thomas M. Stokes, Commander, U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commander, Destroyer Division TEN (DesDiv 10), during an engagement with Japanese naval forces near Savo Island on the night of 12-13 November, 1942. On this occasion the force to which Commander Stokes was attached engaged at close quarters and defeated a superior enemy force, inflicting heavy damage upon them and preventing the accomplishment of their intended mission. This daring and intrepid attack, brilliantly executed, led to a great victory for his country's forces. By his indomitable fighting spirit, expert seamanship, and gallant devotion to duty, Commander Stokes contributed largely to the success of the battle and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 313 (April 1943)
Born: February 2, 1899 at Fulton, Alabama
Home Town: Meridian, Mississippi

The citation does NOT indicate his Navy Cross as having been awarded posthumously. Dare I say we might as well....

I had a thought that you may have already stumbled upon the answer to one of your questions. Could Cmdr. Talbot have been relieved because of age? As they say, war is a young man's game - or at least for such things as piloting fighter aircraft, leading infantry attacks on defended positions, and perhaps commanding the small ships of destroyer divisions. But from your vital stats posting, then I noted that Binford was a year older than Talbot, and he certainly stayed in place. I share your curiosity, as I would have thought given the grave exigencies of the hour, coupled with his experience and gallantry in action, Talbot's staying in place as ComDesDiv 59 would have been preferred to his batting round Oz for two months. As far as Parker was concerned, it is very probable that he needed to get his sea legs in modern destroyers (versus the Asiatic Fleet relics) and more seasoning before being given command of an entire destroyer division. But that would argue, as you have done, that his rising to command of such a division in the Asiatic Fleet was precipitous rather than planned.

Kit

 
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Nelson
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Re: Cmdr. Stokes NOT KIA

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April 23 2009, 8:09 PM 

Hey Kit,

...get it right! Yeah, yeah. I went to both of those websites and do wholeheartedly agree that you're on the money: Cdr. T. Murray--or Thomas M.--Stokes did not lose his life aboard CUSHING at Guadalcanal, 13 Nov 1942. Another naval officer to pursue now (and thanks a LOT!). Tried already to find additional vital stats on the Social Security Death Index, but nada using both Thomas and Murray as possible first names, as well as T. Murray and T Murray. Not everyone is included on the SSDI, including a couple of my high school classmates, so nothing to conclude from the exclusion of his name.

Again, yeah, something is going on with Cdr. Paul Talbot. Inexplicable that after the single effective aggressive action by American tin cans in the NEI he would be yanked away, only to essentially loaf for a couple months around Melbourne before getting a ship home. And then more than halfway through the war would be relegated as exec of a large troopship. Don't make no sense. I'm postulating that his relief was self-requested and/or the result of health issues.

Nelson

 
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Don Kehn Jr
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Re post-NEI careers of officers

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April 24 2009, 8:03 PM 

Hi all,

I think something is being overlooked here that may be pertinent: the Asiatic Fleet ceased to exist organizationally around February 14; Destroyer Divisions 57/58/59 and DesRon 29 may have still existed temporarily on paper, but I am not sure there was still a Desdiv 57/58/59 functioning once they got to Australia. I may be wrong about this, but I do know March 1942 was a period of fairly significant changes in the USN command structure.

Talbot may have had health issues, or maybe not. I suspect these men were given some R&R time after what they had been through. And our destroyers were not about to become involved in offensive operations at that moment.
On the other hand, CDR E. Paul Abernathy of PECOS was on a transport going home almost immediately, however, since his AR was written aboard one (perhaps MT VERNON)--this around 7 March or so, IIRC.

Just a few thoughts on a subject I agree is worthwhile. And it would be just as valuable & interesting to know what befell RNN and RN commanders in their immediate post-NEI careers.

Don


 
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Kit
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Re: Cmdr. Stokes NOT KIA

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April 25 2009, 2:29 AM 

Nelson,

I've dicovered Vice Admiral Thomas Murray Stokes's date of death well after the war ended: on Christmas day 1989. This is the Washington Post's obituary on him, published Dec 28, 1989:

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-1230697.html

"Thomas M. Stokes, 90, a retired Navy vice admiral who was a much decorated destroyer commander in the Pacific in World War II, died of pneumonia Dec. 25 at Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Charles Town, W.Va.
Adm. Stokes, a farmer near Charles Town since retiring from the service in 1956, took part in some of the most dramatic episodes in the early months of the war against the Japanese.
He commanded the destroyer GRAYSON as part of the escort of the carrier HORNET, from which then-Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle launched his famous raid against Tokyo on April 18, 1942.
At the end of May 1942, the future admiral was given command of Destroyer Division 10, and he led it into the Solomon Islands..."

So, a bit more info on his postwar life, but nothing on his wartime role in the free-of-charge part of this obit that we didn't know previously.

Kit

 
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Nelson
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obituary for VAdm Thomas Murray Stokes

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April 25 2009, 3:32 PM 

Thanks, Kit, I'll go over to the Univ. of New Hampshire and read the entire obituary. If anything new, I shall post it here. Of course, with Stokes, we are getting a bit far afield from the destroyer squadron and division commanders in the NEI, but I suppose in this instance it's necessary because I muddied the waters with his premature death.

Nelson

 
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Nelson
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USN flag officers: Part I. VAdm Thomas M. Stokes

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April 25 2009, 10:25 PM 

The following is a thumbnail biography of VAdm Thomas Murray Stokes, b. Feb 2, 1899; d. Dec 25, 1989, garnered mainly from his obituary in the WASHINGTON POST, Dec 28, 1989, but with one fill-in from the NAVY REGISTER, and that given in [brackets].

Stokes graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1922, having enlisted in the USN in 1917, before being appointed as midshipman the following year. At some point, he received a masters degree in engineering from Columbia University, which influenced his later career (q.v.). The part of his obit which Kit was able to read takes one to his appointment as ComDesDiv 10 in May 1942 and the obituary then gives a reasonably detailed account of the naval battle of Guadalcanal in mid-November 1942, which won Stokes a Navy Cross. Thereafter, he became XO on HELENA (CL 50), but he was transferred to staff duty aboard MASSACHUSETTS (BB 59) in June 1943, one month before HELENA was torpedoed and sunk at Kula Gulf, New Georgia. During 1944, Stokes was named to head the marine engineering department at the USNA. Sometime after the war ended, he commanded IOWA (BB 61). Stokes [was promoted to rear admirial on August 1, 1948, with a specialty in naval engineering], and he retired in 1956, with the promotion to vice admiral on the retired list. At the time of his death, he had a brother, Phillip G. Stokes, who was a rear admiral retired from the U.S. Navy.

I wish we could find that kind of detail for the NEI senior destroyer officers. I'll post whatever I can find on them in the NAVY REGISTER.

Nelson

 
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Don Kehn, Jr.
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Biographical bits on Asiatic Flt C.O.s

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April 26 2009, 8:12 PM 

Hello,

From Jack Michel's valuable book MR. MICHEL's WAR --

Welford Charles Blinn, LT CDR USS POPE (DD-225)
Retired as RADM June 30, 1948. Died Feb. 10, 1990. Won three (3) Navy Crosses, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart for his wartime service. [As one of my late Asiatic Fleet pals used to say, "Not too shabby."]
In Michel's own words, "I remember him as a thoughtful, considerate person. He was an excellent shiphandler and steady in difficult circumstances. I believe the loss of the POPE touched him deeply. His last action aboard ship was to urge the crew to get clear of the sinking ship before the Japanese cruisers came within range again." [Fortunately for POPE the IJN cruisers were ordered to slow down when they ran into a dense rain squall. They also had fuel concerns.)

David Albert Hurt, LT CDR, USN, C.O. USS PERCH (SS-176)
Transferred in April 1942 to Ofuna (IJN interogation) camp in Japan from Makassar. Returned home to Annapolis, MD after the war but died in a hunting accident Novemeber 11, 1945(?) with the rank of CAPT.

When PERCH was cornered & sunk (by SAZANAMI and USHIO) on 3 March, the men were all p/u by the latter tokugata DD. A Japanese sailor, a petty officer perhaps, waved a copy of "Asahigraph" magazine in front of the Americans depiciting the great victory at Pearl Harbor. An Asiatic fleet vet made a mock baseball swing: lucky homerun...

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

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April 29 2009, 1:13 AM 

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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Robert Bergstrom
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combat medal rule

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April 29 2009, 2:07 AM 

Hi Nelson, can you expand on the "combat medal rule". I have never heard of that or seen it used in any communication before. You can contact me offline at pbybergstrom@comcast.com if you like.

Thanks

 
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Jim Broshot
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Edward Nelson Parker

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April 29 2009, 3:27 AM 

FWIW, Edward Nelson Parker is buried as a Vice Admiral.

http://www.usna.edu/cemetery/PDF%20Files/Section%209/1747-%20Parker,%20E.%20N.pdf

 
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