HARLAN R. DICKSON, LCDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Harlan Dickson '36

Date of birth: September 16, 1914

Date of death: February 5, 1944

Age: 29

Lucky Bag

From the 1936 Lucky Bag:

Loss

Lieutenant Commander John L. Nielsen, USN (left) and Lieutenant Commander Harlan R. Dickson., USN. At the Navy Department, Washington, DC, circa July 1943. Both men served in Bombing Squadron Five (VB-5) on USS Yorktown (CV-5) during the early months of the Pacific War.

From Find A Grave:

Ensign Dickson was designated Naval Aviator #8038 in 1941. Graduated US Naval Academy, Class of 1936. During the first six months of the Pacific war, while flying with Bombing Squadron Five (VB-5) from USS Yorktown (CV-5), he distinguished himself during the Raid on Tulagi and the Battle of Coral Sea in early May 1942 and the Battle of Midway in June. He subsequently served with four other scouting and bombing squadrons and took command of Bombing Squadron Eighteen (VB-18) in September 1943. Lieutenant Commander Dickson was killed in an aircraft crash in California on 5 February 1944.

Richard Leonard, a naval aviation researcher, confirmed in an email on December 29, 2017 that Harlan was commanding officer of Bombing Squadron (VB) 18 and was at NAAS Watsonville, California, at the time of his death.

He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Navy Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant Commander Harlan Rockey Dickson, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Scouting Plane in Scouting Squadron FIVE (VS-5), attached to the U.S.S. YORKTOWN (CV-5), in action against enemy Japanese forces at Tulagi Harbor on 4 May 1942, and in the Battle of the Coral Sea on 7 and 8 May 1942. These attacks, vigorously and persistently pressed home in the face of heavy anti-aircraft fire, and on 8 May opposed also by enemy fighters, resulted in the sinking or damaging of at least eight enemy Japanese vessels at Tulagi and the sinking of one carrier and the sinking or severe damaging of another in the Coral Sea. Lieutenant Commander Dickson's conscientious devotion to duty and gallant self-command against formidable odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Action Date: May 4, 7 & 8, 1942
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Company: Scouting Squadron 5 (VS-5)
Division: U.S.S. Yorktown (CV-5)

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Navy Cross to Lieutenant Harlan Rockey Dickson, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Scouting Plane of Scouting Squadron FIVE (VS-5), attached to the U.S.S. YORKTOWN (CV-5), during the "Air Battle of Midway," against enemy Japanese forces on 4 - 6 June 1942. Defying extreme danger from concentrated anti-aircraft fire and fierce fighter opposition, Lieutenant Dickson, with utter disregard for his own personal safety, participated in persistent and vigorous attacks against the Japanese invasion fleet. His gallant intrepidity and loyal devotion to the accomplishment of a vastly important objective contributed in large measure to the success achieved by our forces and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Action Date: June 4 - 6, 1942
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant
Company: Scouting Squadron 5 (VS-5)
Division: U.S.S. Yorktown (CV-5)

Namesake

USS Harlan R. Dickson (DD 708) is named for Harlan; the ship was sponsored by his mother, Mildred.


Class of 1936

Harlan is one of 38 members of the Class of 1936 in Memorial Hall.