DONALD A. LOVELACE, LCDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Donald Lovelace '28

Date of birth: June 20, 1906

Date of death: May 29, 1942

Age: 35

Lucky Bag

From the 1928 Lucky Bag:


Loss

Don was lost on May 30, 1942, when one of his squadron-mates crashed their F4F-4 Hellcat into Don's on the deck of USS Yorktown (CV 5).

He was the executive officer of Fighting Squadron (VF) 3.

His wife was listed as next of kin. He has a memory marker in Virginia.

Remembrances

The pilots of the U.S. Navy Fighting Squadron 3 (VF-3) in front of a Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter, 5 March 1942.Standing (l-r): Newton H. Mason, Howard F. Clark, Edward R. Sellstrom, Willard E. Eder, Howard L. Johnson, John H. Lackey, Leon W. Haynes, Onia B. Stanley, Jr., Dale W. Peterson, Marion W. Dufilho, Rolla S. Lemmon. Sitting (l-r): Robert J. Morgan, Albert O. Vorse, Jr., Donald A. Lovelace, John S. “Jimmy” Thach, Noel A.M. Gayler, Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare, Richard M. Rowell.

From The First Team: Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway:

Executive officer of Fighting Three was Lieut. Donald A. Lovelace. Younger than [commanding officer John] Thach by one year and a member of the Naval Academy's Class of 1928, Lovelace likewise possessed a wide variety of naval aviation experience. Earning his wings in 1931, he spent three years in Utility Squadron Two (VJ-2S) aboard teh seaplane tender Wright, then flew Douglas P2D-1 twin-float torpedo planes with Patrol Three (VP-3F) based at NAS Coco Solo. His first carrier duty came in the summer of 1936 when he joined Scouting One (VS-1B) on board the Ranger (CV-4). Still aboard the Ranger, Scouting One in July 1937 became Scouting Forty-one (VS-41), and Lovelace worked his way up to flight officer. Shore duty in 1939-40 at the Naval Aircraft Factory intervened; then on 6 January 1941 he became executive officer of Fighting Three. In Don Lovelace the squadron discovered a quiet, conscientious, and thoughtful leader who fitted in well with the skipper's way of running the outfit. Thach and he became close friends.

Later in the book:

Don Lovelace reported in for temporary duty with Fighting Three, carrying in his pocket the permanent orders he had so long wanted—command of a fighting squadron. While stateside he had succeeded in changing his orders from commander of Scouting Ten to commander of Fighting Two. … Reporting in, Lovelace learned that Thach was heading out shortly with a mixed bag of pilots. His own VF-2 could not assemble as a unit for several weeks; so Lovelace volunteered his services in his old spot as executive officer of Fighting Three.

Distinguished Flying Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander Donald Alexander Lovelace (NSN: 0-62074), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism while participating in aerial flight, while serving as Pilot of an airplane in an Fighting Squadron TWO (VF-2), attached to the U.S.S. LEXINGTON (CV-2), in action against enemy forces in the Pacific War Area when his carrier was attacked by Japanese bombing planes on 20 February 1942. Lieutenant Commander Lovelace led his division in a vigorous and determined attack in the face of combined machine gun and cannon fire, against a formation of enemy bombers, and he, with the assistance of his teammate caused the destruction of one enemy bomber.

Service: Navy Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Battalion: Fighting Squadron 2 (VF-2)
Division: U.S.S. Lexington (CV-2)

Namesake

USS Lovelace (DE 198) was named for Donald; the ship was sponsored by his widow.

Related Articles

Edward O'Hare '37, Howard Clark '38, Richard Crommelin '38, and Marion Dufilho '38 were also members of Fighting Squadron (VF) 3 in early 1942.

Memorial Hall Error

Don is listed on the killed in action panel at the front of Memorial Hall, but his loss was an operational one.


Class of 1928

Donald is one of 17 members of the Class of 1928 in Memorial Hall.