From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Frank Trotter '23

Date of birth: February 26, 1901

Date of death: June 8, 1942

Age: 41

Lucky Bag

From the 1923 Lucky Bag:


Frank was one of nine servicemen and three civilians killed on June 8, 1942 when two blimps (G-1 and L-2) collided at night off the New Jersey shore during an exercise to test an experimental photoflash bomb that would be used to illuminate submerged submarines. He was pilot of the blimp G-1.

He earned his wings as naval aviator (lighter than air) #4779 on April 3, 1933; he is listed as an Ensign, USNR. He is listed as a LTjg in the 1941 Register of Naval Reserve Officers; he was an "A-VS" with a date of rank of December 9, 1936. His "Pay Service as of Jan. 1, 1941" was 9 years, 11 months, 14 days. (Obtained his date of birth from this document.)


From researcher Kathy Franz:

Frank was born in Talihina, Oklahoma, and married Marjorie Pylant of Nashville on August 18, 1930, in Summit, Ohio. Frank’s father was Charles who died before 1920. His mother was Hattie who was a teacher at the ward school in Sapulpa in 1920, his sister was Naomi, and his brother was Adelbert.

Frank served as an official navy observer aboard the German airship Hindenburg in 1938, making several Atlantic crossings on that ship. He also was well known as a competitor in free balloon races. He competed in 1933 with Ward T. Van Orman in the Bennett race and a terrific storm carried their big bag into Canada. They crashed in northern Ontario and the two aeronauts lived in the wilds of the Temagami forest for a week before being found by woodcutters.

On July 2, 1943, at a celebration for the christening of the newest Goodyear-built K ship, Frank and eight other men lost in lighter-than-air flight were honored with a memorial tablet on a granite rock at the Wingfoot Lake station at Suffield, Ohio. The other honorees were: CDR Louis Maxfield '07, on the British ship ZR-2 in 1921, LCDR Zachary Lansdowne '09 in the Shenandoah crash in 1925, LT Charles Bauch on the U.S.S. Akron in 1931, LCDR Emory Coil '12 in 1921, LT Arthur R. Houghton in 1925, LT Henry Hoyt '14 in 1921, LT J. B. Lawrence in 1925, and LT C. G. Little in 1921.



The Lucky Bag gives his hometown as "Sapulpee." Google maps redirects this to Sapulpa, and a list of Oklahomans missing in action gives Sapulpa as his hometown as well. Have changed the Lucky Bag above to reflect this.

Related Articles

Clinton Rounds '27 was piloting the other airship.

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.

November 1940

Lieutenant (j.g.), naval reserve, Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey

April 1941

Lieutenant (j.g.), naval reserve, Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey

Class of 1923

Frank is one of 25 members of the Class of 1923 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of the alumni in Memorial Hall.