Navy Cross - WWII Coast Guard, Army, Army Air Force, Civilian

There are 22 heroes from the Coast Guard, Army, Air Force and a civilian who received the Navy Cross during WWII. Their citations are listed alphabetically by last name.

  • Coast Guard - 6
  • Army - 4
  • Army Air Force - 11
  • Civilian - 1

* Indicates Killed in Action (KIA), Missing in Action (MIA), Prisoner of War (POW), or Died Non-Battle (DNB)

Coast Guard

CLARK, PAUL LEAMAN
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Paul Leaman Clark, Fireman First Class, U.S. Coast Guard, for extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty in action against the enemy while serving as Engineer of a landing boat attached to the U.S.S. JOSEPH T. DICKMAN (AP-26) during the assault on and occupation of French Morocco from 8 to 11 November 1942. When a hostile plane strafed his boat with machinegun fire, mortally wounding the bow man and severely injuring the coxswain, Fireman First Class Clark with quick initiative immediately withdrew from the beach. Speeding toward the U.S.S. PALMER, he placed the wounded men aboard and, although his craft was riddled by enemy bullets, courageously returned to his station at the beach and completed his boat's mission. The conduct of Fireman First Class Clark throughout this action reflects great credit upon himself, and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 319 (October 1943)
Home Town: Jersey City, New Jersey

EVANS, RAYMOND J.
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Raymond J. Evans, Chief Signalman, U.S. Coast Guard, for extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty in action against the enemy while serving as a member of the crew of a HIGGINS boat assisting in the rescue of a group of Marines of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, FIRST Marine Division, who had become surrounded by enemy Japanese forces on a beachhead of Guadalcanal, Solomons Islands, on 27 September 1942. Although he knew that his boat was to be used for the purpose of drawing enemy fire away from other craft evacuating the trapped Marines, Chief Signalman Evans, with utter disregard for his own personal safety, volunteered as a member of the crew. Gallantly remaining at his post during the entire evacuation and with every other member of his crew killed or wounded, he maintained control of the boat with one hand on the wheel and continued to fire his automatic machine gun with the other, until the last boat cleared the beach. By his great personal valor, skill and outstanding devotion to duty in the face of grave danger, he contributed directly to the success of his mission by saving the lives of many who otherwise might have perished.

Born: at Bellingham, Washington
Home Town: Seattle, Washington

GILL, WARREN CALAVAN
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Warren Calavan Gill, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, U.S. Coast Guard, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Officer in Charge of small boats for the amphibious assault at Salerno, Italy, on 10 July 1943. Lieutenant (j.g.) Gill, while directing the lowering of small boats from U.S.S. LST THREE HUNDRED FIFTY-SEVEN (LST-357), which was under enemy fire, was seriously wounded. Despite his wounds he continued with utmost intrepidity to efficiently carry on his duty as commander of the assault flotillas, giving last-minute instructions to the officers and crews. He then collapsed and his injuries were found to be so severe that many months of hospitalization will be required for recovery. Lieutenant (j.g.) Gill's heroism was an inspiration to all officers and men of the flotilla. Because of this and the patient and thorough instruction he had carried out in the landing technique throughout the training periods and the landings in Algeria and Sicily, the performance of this boat in the assault was most admirable. The conduct of Lieutenant (j.g.) Gill throughout this action reflects great credit upon himself, and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Home State: Oregon

HIRSHFIELD, JAMES A.
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to James A. Hirshfield, Commander, U.S. Coast Guard, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. CAMPBELL (WPG-32) during action against an enemy submarine in the Atlantic War Area on 22 February 1943. Surprising the hostile undersea craft on the surface during escort operations, Commander Hirshfield, in a quick attempt to ram, collided with the vessel and destroyed it in a fierce attack by depth charges and point-blank fire. Although painfully wounded by flying shell splinters, he gallantly remained in command throughout the action and during the subsequent period while the Campbell was towed safely into port with several prisoners from the sunken submarine. Commander Hirshfield's inspiring leadership and the valiant devotion to duty of his command contributed in large measure to the outstanding success of this vital mission and reflects great credit upon the United States Naval Service.

Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 317 (August 1943) & 332 (November 1944)
Home Town: San Antonio, Texas

JESTER, MAURICE D.
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Maurice D. Jester, Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Coast Guard, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. ICARUS (WPC-110) during a successful action on 9 May 1942, with an enemy German submarine. The conduct of Lieutenant Commander Jester throughout this action reflects great credit upon himself, and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 304 (July 1942)

WALSH, QUENTIN R.
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Quentin R. Walsh, Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Coast Guard, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of a specially trained U.S. Naval reconnaissance party at Cherbourg, France, on 26 and 27 June 1944. Lieutenant Commander Walsh enterd the port of Cherbourg with Army troops three weeks after D-Day of the Normandy Invasion, and penetrated the eastern half of the city. While leading his party through scattered pockets of resistance, he engaged in street fighting and accepted the surrender of 750 Germans, 400 at the naval arsenal and 350 at nearby Fort du Homet. He secured the release of 52 captured U.S. Army paratroopers who were being held prisoner in the fort. His aggressive leadership and outstanding heroism were instrumental in the surrender of the last inner fortress of the Cherbourg arsenal and considerably expedited its occupation and use by the Allied forces. The conduct of Lieutenant Commander Walsh throughout this action reflects great credit upon himself, and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 338 (May 1945)
Born: February 2, 1910 at Providence, Rhode Island
Home Town: Denton, Maryland

Army Air Force

BARBER, REX T.
barber_rexCitation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Rex T. Barber, First Lieutenant (Air Corps), U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism while serving as Pilot of a P-38 fighter airplane in the 339th Fighter Squadron, 37th Fighter Group, THIRTEENTH Air Force, U.S. Army Air Forces, attached to a Marine Fighter Command in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands on 18 April 1943. Participating in a dangerously long interception flight, First Lieutenant Barber contacted a formation of two enemy bombers escorted by six fighters in a complete surprise approach. Quickly engaging the enemy, he pressed his tactical advantage and struck fiercely, destroying one Japanese bomber at such close range that fragments from the explosion lodged in the wings of his plane, and shooting down the escorting enemy fighter plane which had been attempting to divert the attack. His brilliant airmanship and determined fighting spirit throughout a daring and vital mission were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Armed Services.

Home Town: Culver, Oregon

EARECKSON, WILLIAM O.
Synopsis:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to William O. Eareckson, Colonel, U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces while serving with Bomber Command, ELEVENTH Air Force, U.S. Army Air Forces, in action in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska. On 3 June 1942, Japanese carrier planes attacked ill-prepared Dutch Harbor on Unalaska Island. Colonel Eareckson led a flight of B-26s through impossible weather in an attempt to find and attack the Japanese fleet with torpedoes, which he had scrounged from the Navy. After two relatively unsuccessful attacks, the enemy fleet withdrew and occupied Attu and Kiska Islands at the western end of the Aleutian chain. Colonel Eareckson's bombers attacked enemy island bases and shipping whenever fog and gale-force winds permitted. Colonel Eareckson earned the respect and devotion of his men by flying in every position--from left-seater to tailgunner. The Aleutian campaign ended with the Japanese evacuation of Kiska in August 1943.

Other Award: Distinguished Service Cross (WWII)

GATES, CHARLES R.
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Charles R. Gates, First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism while serving a pilot of an unarmed aircraft during operations against the enemy in the Tokyo Bay area on 13 August 1945. Despite intense fire from enemy anti-aircraft batteries and nearby naval vessels, First Lieutenant Gates courageously landed in the waters of the Tokyo Bay and rescued three carrier aircraft survivors, thereby saving them from inevitable capture of death. His courage, determination, airmanship and complete devotion to duty throughout were outstanding and in keeping with the highest traditions of the Military Service.

HALE, WILLIAM
hale_willisCitation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to William Hale, Major General, U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism and courageous devotion to duty as Commanding General of the SEVENTH Air Force, U.S. Army Air Forces, while leading a heavy Bombardment Squadron during attacks against strongly held enemy bases on Nauru Island and the Tarawa Island during the period 20 to 23 April 1943. Participating in a daring flight over enemy- controlled territory, Major General Hale led his squadron in a brilliantly executed bombing attack upon securely fortified enemy positions and succeeded in inflicting severe damage upon Japanese personnel and material. His forceful and inspiring leadership throughout a vital and hazardous mission, and his superior airmanship combined with the gallant fighting spirit of his command, reflect great credit upon the United States Armed Service.

*HINE, RAYMOND K. (MIA)
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Raymond K. Hine (0-431436), First Lieutenant (Air Corps), U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism while serving as Pilot of a P-38 fighter airplane in the 339th Fighter Squadron, 37th Fighter Group, THIRTEENTH Air Force, U.S. Army Air Forces, attached to a Marine Fighter Command in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands on 18 April 1943. Lieutenant Hine participated in a Lightning fighter attack to Bougainville on a special interception mission. This mission was the longest planned fighter interception ever completed, consisting of a 494 mile, low-altitude, indirect approach to the estimated position of the enemy formation, which was located with faultless precision, achieving complete tactical surprise. The enemy force consisted of two bombers escorted by six fighters and the coordination, calculated attack of our aircraft not only destroyed in flames the primary target, the heavy bombers, but accounted for a confirmed total of six enemy aircraft. Lieutenant Hine flew win on First Lieutenant Besby Holmes in the attacking section of the flight, and stayed in formation with him in spite of the fact that Lieutenant Holmes experienced difficulty in dropping his wing tank when the enemy formation was first sighted. Together they attacked the Zeroes pursuing Lieutenant Barber, and broke up their attack. Together they attacked and helped to destroy a third enemy bomber flying low over the water near Koila Point, which was finally exploded by Lieutenant Barber. They then engaged a number of Zeros, and it appears that Lieutenant Hine accounted for one of three shot down during this stage of the engagement. At about that time his left engine was observed to be smoking, and he was last seen losing altitude south of Shortland Island and since has been missing in action. Lieutenant Hine by his firm courage, flying skill, faultless air discipline contributed largely to the perfect timing and teamwork which were the prerequisites of success.

Home Town: Marion County, Indiana
Awards: Navy Cross (WWII), Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Purple Heart

HOLMES, BESBY FRANK
holmes_besbyCitation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Besby Frank Holmes, Captain (Air Corps), [then First Lieutenant), U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism while serving as Pilot of a P-38 fighter airplane in the 339th Fighter Squadron, 37th Fighter Group, THIRTEENTH Air Force, U.S. Army Air Forces, attached to a Marine Fighter Command in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands on 18 April 1943. Participating in a dangerously long interception flight, First Lieutenant Holmes contacted a hostile formation consisting of two Japanese bombers and six escorting fighters in a complete surprise approach. Skillfully out-maneuvering the enemy, he pressed home his tactical advantage and struck fiercely, destroying one of the violently attacking enemy fighters. Shortly thereafter, upon sighting a lone enemy bomber approaching Kahili, First Lieutenant Holmes immediately took the offensive and sent the hostile plane flaming into the sea. His brilliant airmanship and determined fighting spirit throughout a daring and vital mission were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Armed Services.

Commander, Southern Pacific Fleet: Serial 001038 (June 17, 1943)
Born: December 5, 1917 at San Francisco, California
Home Town: San Francisco, California
Awards: Navy Cross (WWII), Legion of Merit, 3@ Distinguished Flying Crosses, Air Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal

LANPHIER, THOMAS G., JR.
lanphier_thomasCitation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Thomas G. Lanphier, Jr., Captain (Air Corps), U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism while serving as Pilot of a P-38 fighter airplane in the 339th Fighter Squadron, 37th Fighter Group, THIRTEENTH Air Force, U.S. Army Air Forces, attached to a Marine Fighter Command in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands on 18 April 1943. Leading a division of fighter planes at dangerously low altitude in the longest planned interception mission ever attempted, Captain Lanphier contacted the assigned objective, consisting of two enemy bombers and six escort fighters, with complete tactical surprise and launched a fierce, determined attack. In the ensuing engagement he operated with such daring courage and excellent marksmanship that he sent the leading bomber crashing in flames, and subsequently shot down one of the hostile fighters when it furiously attacked his plane. The outstanding professional skill and inspiring leadership displayed by Captain Lanphier under extremely adverse conditions contributed greatly to the remarkable success of this vital mission and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Armed Services.

Born: November 27, 1915 at Panama City, Panama
Home Town: McCall, Idaho

MITCHELL, JOHN W.
Synopsis:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to John W. Mitchell, Major, U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism while serving as Pilot of a P-38 fighter airplane in the 339th Fighter Squadron, 37th Fighter Group, THIRTEENTH Air Force, U.S. Army Air Forces, attached to a Marine Fighter Command in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands on 18 April 1943. Major Mitchell was commander of a dangerously long interception flight, leading his formation in destroying two Japanese bombers and six enemy fighters. His brilliant airmanship and determined fighting spirit throughout a daring and vital mission were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Armed Services.

Other Award: Distinguished Service Cross (WWII), Navy Cross (WWII)

RAIRIGH, JOHN E.
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to John E. Rairigh (0-753303), First Lieutenant (Air Corps), U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service as Senior Pilot of a PBY-5A Rescue Plane in the 4th Emergency Rescue Squadron, TWENTIETH Air Force, U.S. Army Air Forces, in action in the Sea of Japan on 30 July 1945. First Lieutenant Rairigh courageously set out to rescue a downed pilot twelve miles off the northern cost of Honshu, Japan, knowing full well that completion of the mission would mean ditching his plane under adverse conditions and after dark in the open sea in the vicinity of the Task Force from which he had started. The rescue of the downed pilot was accomplished under fire from an enemy destroyer. Shortly after take-off he was advised that one of his fighter escorts had been shot down in a position relatively nearer the Japanese destroyer than that of the first rescue. With complete disregard for his own safety, Lieutenant Rairigh landed and commenced the rescue of the second pilot while under continuous fie by automatic weapons from the enemy destroyer. When the line which was being used to bring the second downed pilot aboard parted, he circled his plane down wind towards the approaching destroyer in order to make an up-wind approach towards a more favorable rescue point. With the second pilot safely aboard, the plane was forced to fly through heavy anti-aircraft fire on reaching the shore line on the return trip. Upon arrival over the Task Force and although never having made an open sea landing at night, he skillfully made use of the meager aids which could be afforded under the circumstances by the ships available and set his plane down with no injury to his crew or the rescued pilots. His skill and courage were at all times in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Com3rdFl Serial 0455 (August 4, 1945)
Home Town: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

SAUNDERS, LAVERNE G.
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Laverne G. Saunders, Brigadier General [then Colonel], U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service as Commanding Officer of the 11th Bombardment Group (H), THIRTEENTH Air Force, U.S. Army Air Forces, in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands on 18 November 1942. Brigadier General Saunders led his group of bombers in a daring daylight raid on enemy shipping in the face of severe antiaircraft and enemy fighter opposition in the Buin-Tonolei area of the Solomon Islands. At least two 1,000-pound bomb hits were scored on enemy vessels and 12 enemy aircraft were destroyed. After his own airplane was badly damaged and it became necessary to land his plane in enemy territory, he skillfully accomplished a water landing near shore thereby permitting the remaining members of his crew to reach safety. Brigadier General Saunders' outstanding courage, daring airmanship and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Armed Service.

Born: at Stratford, South Dakota
Home Town: Stratford, South Dakota

THOMPSON, JOHN ARCHIBALD
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to John Archibald Thompson, Captain, U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service as Commanding Officer and Pilot of a P-39 fighter airplane in the 67th Fighter Squadron, 58th Fighter Group, FIFTH Air Force, U.S. Army Air Forces, in action against enemy forces at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, during the period 27 August 1942 through 25 September 1942. Captain Thompson led his fighter squadron in determined bombing and ground strafing attacks on enemy troops and surface forces, thereby contributing materially to the defense of Henderson Field despite the handicap of primitive operating conditions and shortage of equipment. In particular, on 8 September, with units of his squadron, Captain Thompson covered the withdrawal of our raiding forces to their boats in remarkably successful and complete evacuation operations. Captain Thompson's outstanding courage, daring airmanship and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 313 (April 1943)
Home Town: Tacoma, Washington

Army

AYERS, RUSSELL G.
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Russell G. Ayers, Colonel, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism and meritorious devotion to duty during the assault against Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands. Colonel Ayers, as Commanding Officer of the 106th Infantry Regiment, Reinforced, attached to a tactical group of the FIFTH Amphibious Corps, on 19 April 1944, led the assault against the island of Eniwetok, which, in spite of determined enemy resistance, resulted in the reduction and capture of that island. He, by his extraordinary heroism under fire, his constant disregard for his own safety, and his leadership set a distinguished example to his officers and men and contributed materially to the capture of Eniwetok Atoll. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Armed Forces of the United States.

HALL, ROBERT (ROBIN) KERR
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Robert (Robin) Kerr Hall (0-241961), Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while Commanding the 3d Battalion, 164th Infantry Regiment, Americal Division, U.S. Army, in action against the enemy on 24 and 25 October 1942, at Lunga Point, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. When a Marine battalion was under heavy attack by overwhelming Japanese forces, Lieutenant Colonel Hall ordered his troops to advance by forced march to their relief, succeeding by his skill and leadership in repulsing a Japanese regiment. The outstanding leadership and gallant actions of Lieutenant Colonel Hall during this action reflect highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.
Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 318 (September 1943)

Born: November 21, 1895 at Fargo, North Dakota
Home Town: Fargo, North Dakota

LESTER, KENNA M.
lester_kennaCitation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Kenna M. Lester (35283249), Staff Sergeant [then Corporal], U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy while his company was attached to a Marine regiment in the Torokina River area, Bougainville, British Solomon Islands, on 18 December 1943. Sergeant Lester was the leader of a squad of a reconnaissance patrol, sent beyond our lines to determine the strength, dispositions and installations of Japanese positions. Due to dense jungle growth the patrol entered an enemy position entrenched in well-camouflaged bunkers and fox holes, in which it was exposed to fire from three sides. Although the patrol took cover before the enemy opened fire, it was evident that the Japanese had discovered its presence. Sergeant Lester requested and obtained permission from the patrol leader to make a diversion. He crept through the jungle to the rear of the enemy's position and when only eight feet from a Japanese bunker, signaled his comrades to begin their withdrawal, and then threw grenades into the position in front of him. Two survivors emerged from the bunker which he destroyed and then delivered rapid and accurate fire into the other enemy entrenchments, thus drawing attention from his comrades who withdrew without casualties. Sergeant Lester, although wounded three times, remained at his post until the patrol had reached safety, whereupon he broke off the action and rejoined his squad. His bravery, aggressiveness and heroic devotion to duty enabled his patrol to accomplish its mission successfully, and his actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Armed Forces.

Born: December 4, 1915 at Bud Mountain, West Virginia
Home Town: Bud Mountain, West Virginia

Civilian

*SHANK, DR. LAWTON E. (POW)
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Dr. Lawton E. Shank, Civilian (U.S. Army Reserve), U.S. Civilian, for extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy as Physician to American Contractors, Naval Air Station, Wake Island, while associated with the naval defenses on Wake Island on 9 December 1941. At about 1100, while in the camp hospital, during an intensive bombing and strafing attack in the course of which the hospital was completely destroyed and several persons therein killed or wounded, Doctor Shank remained at his post and supervised the evacuation of the patients and equipment. With absolute disregard for his own safety, and displaying great presence of mind, he was thus enabled to save those still living and to establish a new hospital in an empty magazine. Doctor Shank's display of outstanding courage and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Born: April 29, 1907 at Steuben County, Indiana
Home Town: Angola, Indiana