HARRY B. BASS, LCDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Harry Bass '38

Date of birth: July 4, 1916

Date of death: August 20, 1944

Age: 28

Lucky Bag

From the 1938 Lucky Bag:

Early Life

1938 Bass 1.jpg

From Wikipedia:

Bass was born in Chicago, Illinois, but the family later moved to Beaumont, Texas. He was raised a Presbyterian. He attended Averill Elementary School and Beaumont High School, graduating on June 2, 1932. He served on the Student Council, Faculty Advisory Council, high school paper, and yearbook. He first attended South Park College, now Lamar University, for one year and then the West Point-Annapolis Coaching School, in Columbia, Missouri for the 1933-1934 school year. He then entered the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on June 11, 1934, having secured an appointment through his guardian uncle's Arkansas representative since the Texas appointments were taken. Earning several awards while there, he graduated on June 2, 1938 and was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy. He never married.

Bass became an Eagle Scout on August 14, 1930 in Beaumont's Troop 6 under Scoutmaster Harry P. Jirou. He attended the 3rd World Scout Jamboree in Birkenhead, England as the youngest of the 13 Scouts making the trip from Beaumont. He also visited Paris and New York City during this trip. Bass received some notoriety for remarks he made that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post about the Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, wearing a "sloppy" Scout uniform. The Clifton Steamboat Museum in Beaumont, Texas has a large gallery celebrating his life and accomplishments.

Later Life and Loss

From Wikipedia:

Following graduation from the Naval Academy and commissioning as an Ensign, Bass was first assigned to the cruiser USS New Orleans (CA-32) from 1938-1939. He then served on the destroyer USS Farragut (DD-348) from 1939-1940. He was then assigned to flight training and designated a naval aviator on February 18, 1941 and assigned to bombing squadron VB-2 on board the USS Lexington, flying an SBD Dauntless. He was soon fighting in World War II in the Pacific. His first air-to-air combat action occurred on February 20, 1942 when the Lexington was engaged by two groups of Japanese planes. One of the battles he took part in was the Battle of the Coral Sea. He was awarded both of his Navy Crosses during his time on board the Lexington — one for sinking an enemy ship and one for helping sink a carrier. Bass survived the later sinking of the Lexington.

In July 1942 Bass was reassigned as a fighter pilot and was assigned to VF-29, of which he eventually became commander, on board USS Santee. The Santee was in the Atlantic Ocean when Bass arrived, but eventually was sent to the Pacific theater of operations. He transferred from the Santee and VF-29 in April 1944. Bass was awarded his Silver Star and Air Medal during his time on board the USS Santee. He then transferred to USS Kasaan Bay as commander of VF-74. During this time he participated in the operations in North Africa. Bass died when his F6F Hellcat fighter plane was shot down by German anti-aircraft fire over Southern France on August 20, 1944 near Vanosc, France. Bass was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart posthumously. He was initially buried by French civilians in a church cemetery at St. Bonnet Le Froid, Vanosc, France, but in September 1948 his remains were moved to Roselawn Memorial Park, located in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The USS Brinkley Bass (DD-887) was named in his honor. This ship was laid down on December 20, 1944 at Orange, Texas, by the Consolidated Steel Corporation; launched on May 26, 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Verna Maulding Bass (his mother); and commissioned on October 1, 1945, with Cmdr. Philip W. Winston in command.

Memorials erected in honor of Bass include those in Les Villettes, France and at the Dishman Scout Service Center in Beaumont, Texas.

Navy Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant, Junior Grade Harry Brinkley Bass (NSN: 0-81320), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Dive Bomber in Bombing Squadron TWO (VB-2), attached to the U.S.S. LEXINGTON (CV-2), in action against enemy Japanese forces over enemy-controlled waters near Lae and Salamaua, New Guinea on 10 March 1942. Lieutenant Bass pressed home, in the face of heavy anti-aircraft fire, a vigorous and determined dive bombing attack on enemy ships, sinking one of them. Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Bass' outstanding courage, daring airmanship and determined skill were at all times inspiring and in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commander in Chief Pacific: Serial 6 (April 13, 1942
Action Date: March 10, 1942
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Junior Grade
Company: Bombing Squadron 2 (VB-2)
Division: U.S.S. Lexington (CV-2)

Navy Cross

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, Junior Grade Harry Brinkley Bass (NSN: 0-81320), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Dive Bomber in Bombing Squadron TWO (VB-2), attached to the U.S.S. LEXINGTON (CV-2), in action against enemy Japanese forces during the Air Battle of the Coral Sea on 7 May 1942. In the face of heavy anti-aircraft fire and fierce fighter opposition, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Bass, leading a flight of his squadron, dived his plane at an enemy Japanese aircraft carrier and released his bomb with calm accuracy. By grim determination and expert appraisal of his objective, he contributed materially to the high percentage of hits inflicted by his particular squadron and assisted in ultimate destruction of the enemy carrier. His individual action was an important factor in the collective success of those United States Naval forces which engaged in the enemy in the Battle of the Coral Sea. Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Bass' outstanding courage, daring airmanship and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commander in Chief Pacific: Serial 13 (June 29, 1942
Action Date: May 7, 1942
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Junior Grade
Company: Bombing Squadron 2 (VB-2)
Division: U.S.S. Lexington (CV-2)

Silver Star

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Lieutenant Harry Brinkley Bass (NSN: 0-81320), United States Navy, for gallantry and intrepidity in action as pilot of a Navy Fighter plane of Escort Fighting Squadron TWENTY-NINE (VF-29), attached to the U.S.S. SANTEE (CVE-29), during the assault on and occupation of French Morocco from 8 November to 11 November 1942. Lieutenant Bass, as acting Squadron Leader, distinguished himself on 10 November 1942, when he led a three plane attack on a hostile airfield. This attack resulted in the destruction of six hostile planes and damage to four others. On other occasions Lieutenant Bass skillfully led attacks against hostile gun emplacements, aircraft, and truck columns which resulted in extensive destruction of hostile planes, trucks, and equipment. The skill, coolness under fire, and expert leadership displayed by Lieutenant Bass in the attacks mentioned above, in which nineteen airplanes and fourteen trucks were destroyed, and two 75-mm. guns silenced, reflect great credit upon the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commander in Chief Atlantic Fleet: Serial 00189 (March 24, 1943)
Action Date: November 8 - 11, 1942
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant
Company: Fighting Squadron 29 (VF-29)
Division: U.S.S. Santee (CVE-29)

Distinguished Flying Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Lieutenant Commander Harry Brinkley Bass (NSN: 0-81320), United States Navy, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as Commanding Officer, Fighting Squadron SEVENTY-FOUR (VF-74), based on the U.S.S. KASAAN BAY (VF-74), during the amphibious invasion of Southern France in August 1944. Lieutenant Commander Bass was the leader of a flight of planes which on several occasions conducted with great skill and daring, armed reconnaissance missions deep into enemy territory. He repeatedly and with fearless determination carried out low level strafing attacks on troop concentrations, motorized convoys and strong points which seriously disrupted the advance of our ground forces. In addition, Lieutenant Commander Bass, on one instance initiated an attack on an enemy aircraft resulting in its almost instantaneous destruction. The persistent and skillful execution of his missions in the face of heavy anti-aircraft fire was strongly instrumental in the acquisition of valuable information relative to enemy movements and concentrations, which was utilized to great advantage in the disposition and conduct of offensive operations by the Allied Armies. The skillful and courageous leadership, and outstanding devotion to duty displayed by Lieutenant Commander Bass were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commander 8th Fleet: Serial 5520 (October 31, 1944)
Action Date: August 1944
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Company: Fighting Squadron 74 (VF-74)
Division: U.S.S. Kasaan Bay (CVE-69)


Class of 1938

Harry is one of 69 members of the Class of 1938 in Memorial Hall.