CHARLES L. CROMMELIN, CDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Charles Crommelin '31

Date of birth: March 16, 1909

Date of death: March 28, 1945

Age: 36

Lucky Bag

From the 1931 Lucky Bag:


Loss

"Cdr Charles L Crommelin, in his F6F-3 Hellcat ready to launch from the USS Yorktown for a raid on the Marcus Islands in 1943."

From Crommelin.org:

After assuming command of Carrier Air Group 12 he was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism during the first carrier force raids on Japan in February 1945. On 28 March 1945 Commander Crommelin volunteered to fly from another aircraft carrier to participate in pre-invasion strikes on Okinawa. He never returned from that mission.

From naval aviation historian Richard Leonard in an email on March 9, 2018:

From USS Hornet (CV 12) War Diary:

CROMMELIN, CHARLES L. 70011 COMDR. USN Temp. Duty CCD5
Missing in action while on active temporary duty with staff, Commander Carrier Division FIVE, as a pilot of an F6F-5 on an authorized photographic mission over enemy territory 28 March 1945. Last seen crashing into water 500 yards off enemy shore after mid-air collision with another F6F-5.

CarDiv5 was Hornet, part of TF-58.1 at the time, running missions over Okinawa. If he was flying a photo mission off Hornet, VF-17 would have been the owner of any F6F photo plane. They were always assigned to the VF squadron and not to the VBF squadron. And we know he was flying photo missions not just because of the above, but the TF-58.1 war diary for the period has a photo on the cover specifically credited to the late Commander Charles L. Crommelin.

His wife was listed as next of kin.

Career

He earned his wings as naval aviator #3966 on January 27, 1933.

From Together We Served:

  • 1934-1940 VF-2 Bounty Hunters
  • 1939-1939 USS Lexington (CV-2)
  • 1942-1942 VF-5 Fighting Hell Cats
  • 1943-1944 USS Yorktown (CV-10)
  • 1943-1944 Carrier Air Group 5 (CAG-5)
  • 1944-1945 COMNAVAIRLANT/COMCARGRU 12
  • 1945-1945 USS Randolph (CV-15)

From Crommelin.org:

Charles flew Hellcats and was Commander of Carrier Air Group 5 aboard Yorktown. Later he commanded Carrier Air Group 12 aboard the USS Randolph. The book, "Crommelin's Thunderbirds" recounts the action experienced by Air Group 12.

Navy Cross

1931 Crommelin 2.jpg

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Commander Charles Lawrence Crommelin (NSN: 0-70011), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Fighter Plane and Commander of AIR GROUP TWELVE (AG-12), attached to the U.S.S. RANDOLPH (CV-15), during the first attack on Japan by Naval carrier-based planes on 17 February 1945. Acting as Strike Leader for a coordinated attack on a vital aircraft engine plant in the Tokyo area, Commander Crommelin courageously refused to turn back when he discovered, upon reaching the Japanese coast, that his engine was operating at greatly reduced power and he knew extremely adverse weather conditions made necessary a long trip over the Japanese mainland to the target area. Pressing home the attack in the face of intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire and fighter opposition, he was last to leave the target area, taking damage assessment photographs before delivering his own rocket and strafing attack. Commander Crommelin, by his outstanding professional skill, inspiring leadership and gallant devotion to duty, contributed materially to the serious damage of an important enemy installation, thus upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Service: Navy
General Orders: Commander 1st Carrier Task Force Pacific: Serial 0540 (September 12, 1945)

Distinguished Flying Cross

His two Distinguished Flying Crosses were presented to him by his father-in-law, Rear Admiral Elliott Buckmaster, Commandant of the Naval Air Center, San Diego, California.

From Hall of Valor:

SYNOPSIS: Commander Charles Lawrence Crommelin (NSN: 0-70011), United States Navy, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight during World War II. Commander Crommelin lead fighters in support of bombers raiding Marcus Island.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 325 (April 1944)
Service: Navy
Rank: Commander

From Crommelin.org:

Commander Charles L. Crommelin, who flew the Hellcat (Grumman F6F), was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for action as Commander of a Fighting Squadron in an attack on Marcus Island on 31 August 1943. The following November he was awarded a gold star in lieu of a second Distinguished Flying Cross for action as Commander of Air Group Five during the Gilbert Islands Campaign.

The citation read in part: "While leading an important reconnaissance flight over Mille Atoll on 21 November,in complete disregard for his personal safety and in the presence of determined anti-aircraft fire, he strafed one plane and was maneuvering to attack the other plane when his plane was struck by a shell which exploded within the cockpit, shattering the instruments and severely wounding him. With no vision in his left eye, his right wrist broken, a sever wound in his right chest, as well as many cuts and abrasions on his face, arms and body, and with forward visibility through the cockpit enclosure almost zero, despite loss of blood, he brought his plane back over one hundred miles and made a perfect landing aboard his carrier [the Yorktown]"

Namesake

USS Crommelin (FFG 37) was named for Charles and his brothers.

Related Articles

Richard Crommelin '38 was one of Charles' younger brothers.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

July 1931

Ensign, USS Arizona

Others at this command: LTjg James Smith, Jr. '25 and ENS Charles Palmer, Sr. '31.

Others at or embarked at this command: LTjg Leonard Southerland '27 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 3B).

October 1931

Ensign, USS Arizona

Others at this command: LTjg James Smith, Jr. '25, ENS Charles Palmer, Sr. '31, and ENS Lorenz Forbes '31.

Others at or embarked at this command: LTjg Leonard Southerland '27 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 3B).

January 1932

Ensign, USS Arizona

Others at this command: LTjg James Smith, Jr. '25, ENS Robert Coates '30, ENS Charles Palmer, Sr. '31, and ENS Lorenz Forbes '31.

Others at or embarked at this command: LTjg Leonard Southerland '27 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 3B).

April 1933

Ensign, Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 3B, USS Nevada

Others at this command: LTjg John Nelson '28.

Others at or embarked at USS Nevada: ENS Samuel Dealey '30 (USS Nevada), ENS Howard Abbott '31 (USS Nevada), ENS Dewitt Shumway '32 (USS Nevada), and ENS George Bellinger '32 (USS Nevada).

July 1933

Ensign, Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 3B, USS Nevada

Others at or embarked at USS Nevada: ENS Samuel Dealey '30 (USS Nevada), ENS Dewitt Shumway '32 (USS Nevada), ENS George Bellinger '32 (USS Nevada), ENS Milton Stephens '33 (USS Nevada), and ENS Thomas Peters '33 (USS Nevada).

October 1933

Ensign, Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 3B, USS Nevada

Others at or embarked at USS Nevada: LTjg Samuel Dealey '30 (USS Nevada), ENS Dewitt Shumway '32 (USS Nevada), ENS George Bellinger '32 (USS Nevada), ENS Milton Stephens '33 (USS Nevada), and ENS Thomas Peters '33 (USS Nevada).

April 1934

Ensign, Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 3B, USS Nevada

Others at or embarked at USS Nevada: ENS Dewitt Shumway '32 (USS Nevada), ENS George Bellinger '32 (USS Nevada), ENS Milton Stephens '33 (USS Nevada), and ENS Thomas Peters '33 (USS Nevada).

July 1934

Ensign, Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 3B, USS Nevada

Others at or embarked at USS Nevada: ENS Dewitt Shumway '32 (USS Nevada), ENS George Bellinger '32 (USS Nevada), ENS Milton Stephens '33 (USS Nevada), and ENS Thomas Peters '33 (USS Nevada).

October 1934

Lieutenant (j.g.), Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 3B, USS Nevada

Others at or embarked at USS Nevada: ENS Dewitt Shumway '32 (USS Nevada), ENS George Bellinger '32 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 2B), ENS Milton Stephens '33 (USS Nevada), and ENS Thomas Peters '33 (USS Nevada).

January 1935

Lieutenant (j.g.), Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 3B, USS Nevada

Others at or embarked at USS Nevada: ENS Dewitt Shumway '32 (USS Nevada), ENS George Bellinger '32 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 2B), ENS Milton Stephens '33 (USS Nevada), and ENS Thomas Peters '33 (USS Nevada).

April 1935

Lieutenant (j.g.), Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 3B, USS Nevada

Others at or embarked at USS Nevada: ENS Milton Stephens '33 (USS Nevada) and ENS Thomas Peters '33 (USS Nevada).

October 1935

Lieutenant (j.g.), Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 1B, USS Langley

Others at this command: LTjg Harrington Drake '31.

January 1936

Lieutenant (j.g.), Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 1B, USS Langley

Others at this command: LTjg Harrington Drake '31 and LTjg William Thorn '32.

Others at or embarked at USS Langley: LTjg Clarence Kasparek '32 (Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 4B).

April 1936

Lieutenant (j.g.), Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 1B, USS Langley

Others at this command: LTjg Harrington Drake '31 and LTjg William Thorn '32.

Others at or embarked at USS Langley: LTjg Clarence Kasparek '32 (Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 4B).

September 1937

Lieutenant (j.g.), Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida

Others at this command: LT Richard Moss '24, CAPT Paul Moret '30, LTjg Samuel Dealey '30, LTjg Albert Gray '31, 1LT Harold Larson '31, LTjg John Spiers '32, LTjg John Phillips, Jr. '33, LTjg Robert Isely '33, LTjg Edward Worthington '34, LTjg Frank Whitaker '34, LTjg George Nicol '34, ENS Herbert Carroll, Jr. '34, LTjg Philip Torrey, Jr. '34, LTjg Stuart Stephens '34, LTjg Walker Ethridge '34, LTjg William Drumtra '34, ENS David Taylor, Jr. '35, ENS Frederick Schrader '35, ENS Mark Eslick, Jr. '35, ENS Ralph Beacham '35, ENS Richard McGowan '35, and ENS Stanley Lipski '35.

Others at or embarked at this command: LCDR Arnold Isbell '21 (Training Squadron (VN) 4D8, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida), CAPT Ernest Pollock '28 (Training Squadron (VN) 2D8, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida), LT William Pennewill '29 (Training Squadron (VN) 1D8, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida), LTjg Claud Hughes '30 (Training Squadron (VN) 2D8, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida), and LTjg Alden Irons '31 (Training Squadron (VN) 2D8, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida).

January 1938

Lieutenant (j.g.), Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida

Others at this command: LT Richard Moss '24, CAPT Paul Moret '30, LTjg Samuel Dealey '30, LTjg Albert Gray '31, 1LT Harold Larson '31, LTjg John Spiers '32, ENS Glenn Dunagan '33, LTjg John Phillips, Jr. '33, LTjg Robert Isely '33, LTjg Edward Worthington '34, LTjg Frank Whitaker '34, LTjg George Nicol '34, LTjg Herbert Carroll, Jr. '34, LTjg Philip Torrey, Jr. '34, LTjg Stuart Stephens '34, LTjg Walker Ethridge '34, LTjg William Drumtra '34, ENS Clyde McCroskey, Jr. '35, ENS David Taylor, Jr. '35, ENS Frederick Schrader '35, ENS Norman Ostergren '35, ENS Ralph Beacham '35, ENS Richard Stephenson '35, ENS Richard McGowan '35, ENS Samuel Adams '35, and ENS Thomas Cummins '35.

Others at or embarked at this command: LCDR Arnold Isbell '21 (Training Squadron (VN) 4D8, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida), CAPT Ernest Pollock '28 (Training Squadron (VN) 2D8, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida), LT William Pennewill '29 (Training Squadron (VN) 1D8, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida), and LTjg Alden Irons '31 (Training Squadron (VN) 2D8, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida).

July 1938

Lieutenant (j.g.), Fighting Squadron (VF) 2, USS Lexington

Others at this command: LT John Duke '26.

Others at or embarked at USS Lexington: LT Clair Miller '29 (USS Lexington), LTjg John Speer '32 (USS Lexington), LTjg Robert Goodgame, Jr. '32 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2), LTjg Burden Hastings '33 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), LTjg George Klinsmann '33 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), LTjg Thompson Guthrie, Jr. '34 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2), ENS Thomas Edwards, Jr. '37 (USS Lexington), ENS Frank Case, Jr. '38 (USS Lexington), and ENS John Woodruff '38 (USS Lexington).

January 1939

Lieutenant (j.g.), Fighting Squadron (VF) 2, USS Lexington

Others at or embarked at USS Lexington: LT Clair Miller '29 (USS Lexington), LTjg John Speer '32 (USS Lexington), LTjg Burden Hastings '33 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), LTjg George Klinsmann '33 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), LTjg Thompson Guthrie, Jr. '34 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2), LTjg Richard McGowan '35 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), ENS Thomas Edwards, Jr. '37 (USS Lexington), ENS Frank Case, Jr. '38 (USS Lexington), and ENS John Woodruff '38 (USS Lexington).

October 1939

Lieutenant, Fighting Squadron (VF) 2, USS Lexington

Others at or embarked at USS Lexington: LT Clair Miller '29 (USS Lexington), LTjg Burden Hastings '33 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 2), LTjg Clyde McCroskey, Jr. '35 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2), LTjg Richard McGowan '35 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), ENS Otto Kolb, Jr. '36 (USS Lexington), ENS Allan Wussow '39 (USS Lexington), ENS Edward Seiler, Jr. '39 (USS Lexington), ENS Edward Price '39 (USS Lexington), and ENS Frank Kolb, Jr. '39 (USS Lexington).

June 1940

Lieutenant, Fighting Squadron (VF) 2, USS Lexington

Others at or embarked at USS Lexington: LT Clair Miller '29 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), LTjg Robert Fair '33 (USS Lexington), LTjg Clyde McCroskey, Jr. '35 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2), LTjg John Hunter '36 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2), ENS Allan Wussow '39 (USS Lexington), ENS Edward Price '39 (USS Lexington), and ENS Willard Sampson '40 (USS Lexington).

November 1940

Lieutenant, Fighting Squadron (VF) 2, USS Lexington

Others at or embarked at USS Lexington: LT Louis Shane, Jr. '26 (USS Lexington), LT Clair Miller '29 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), LT Baylies Clark '30 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), LTjg Robert Fair '33 (USS Lexington), LTjg Robert Isely '33 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), LTjg Clyde McCroskey, Jr. '35 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2), LTjg Joel Davis, Jr. '35 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 2), LTjg John Hunter '36 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2), LTjg Raymond Moore '37 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), LTjg Thomas Edwards, Jr. '37 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2), ENS Allan Wussow '39 (USS Lexington), ENS Edward Seiler, Jr. '39 (USS Lexington), ENS Edward Price '39 (USS Lexington), and ENS Willard Sampson '40 (USS Lexington).

April 1941

Lieutenant, Fighting Squadron (VF) 2, USS Lexington

Others at or embarked at USS Lexington: LT Louis Shane, Jr. '26 (USS Lexington), LT Donald Lovelace '28 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2), LT Weldon Hamilton '28 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 2), LT Clair Miller '29 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), LTjg Robert Fair '33 (USS Lexington), LTjg Joel Davis, Jr. '35 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 2), LTjg John Hunter '36 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2), LTjg Raymond Moore '37 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), LTjg Thomas Edwards, Jr. '37 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2), ENS Harry Bass '38 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 2), ENS Leonard Thornhill '38 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), ENS Roy Hale, Jr. '38 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2), ENS Allan Wussow '39 (USS Lexington), ENS Edward Seiler, Jr. '39 (USS Lexington), ENS Edward Price '39 (USS Lexington), and ENS Willard Sampson '40 (USS Lexington).


Class of 1931

Charles is one of 51 members of the Class of 1931 on Virtual Memorial Hall.