JAMES K. AVERILL, CDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

James Averill '27

Date of birth: October 15, 1904

Date of death: March 26, 1944

Age: 39

Lucky Bag

From the 1927 Lucky Bag:


Loss

1927 Averill 1.jpg

James was lost on March 26, 1944 when the aircraft he was aboard crashed immediately after takeoff from USS Lexington (CV 16). He was Chief of Staff for Carrier Division 11 at the time of his loss, and was returning to the flagship (USS Yorktown (CV 10).

From naval aviation historian Richard Leonard via email on April 12, 2018:

Averill was killed in a crash taking off from USS Lexington. My list has him "ComTG 58.4 (CoS) KIFA VT-5 TBF crash T/O from CV-16 BNR."

He was in a VT-5 (USS Yorktown) TBF in which he had flown over to Lexington from Yorktown.

War Diary USS Yorktown CV-10

March 26, 1944 – Sunday

Steaming as before in task group 58.3 in cruising disposition 5R-1. At 0602 the U.S.S. SUAMICO, U.S.S. ASHTABULA, U.S.S. EICHENBERGER and U.S.S MANNING of task unit 50.15 were sighted. At 0657 the force formed fueling disposition 5-F. The fueling operations continued throughout the morning and afternoon. This ship went alongside the U.S.S. SUAMICO at 0701 and completed receiving fuel and aviation gasoline at 1026. Upon completion of fueling this ship took position in the carrier zigzag line. Upon completion of fueling the task group, cruising disposition 5R-1 was formed, axis 070°(T). During the afternoon, TBF#13, piloted by Lt(jg) Rubner was launched to transport Commander J. K. Averill, USN., Chief of Staff, Comcardiv 11, to the U.S.S. LEXINGTON. This plane crashed on take-off from the U.S.S. LEXINGTON and Commander Averill was killed in the crash or failed to get clear of the plane and drowned. The pilot and radioman were recovered by a destroyer and later returned to this ship. CTF 58 operation plan #4-44 delivered aboard revealed that this task group was a part of a striking force aimed against Japanese-held Palau, Yap, and Woleai Islands.

I have seen it written that Averill's death was so disheartening to RAdm Ginder that it effected his performance as a task group commander and hastened his removal from combat.

He earned his wings as naval aviator #3791 on March 9, 1931 as a LTjg.

His wife was listed as next of kin; he was also survived by two brothers and a sister.

Service

From Find A Grave:

Chief of Staff & Aide to Commander, Carrier Division Eleven. Commanding Officer, Naval Reserve Aviation Base, St. Louis, MO. Patrol Squadron 10. Fighting Squadron 5, U.S.S. Yorktown (CV-5). Aviation Squadrons, Scouting Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

Legion of Merit

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Legion of Merit with Combat "V" (Posthumously) to Commander James Kent Averill (NSN: 0-61326), United States Navy, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Aide, Chief of Staff and Operations Officer attached to the Staff of the Commander, Carrier Division ELEVEN, embarked in the U.S.S. SARATOGA and the U.S.S. YORKTOWN, during combat operations against Japanese forces in the Pacific War Area, from 29 January 1944 to 26 March 1944. Without regard for the tempo of operations and long hours involved, Commander Averill rendered invaluable assistance to his commanding officer in the planning and execution of extended operations against the Japanese, including support of the landing on and subsequent capture of the Marshall Islands, and in the planning for the first carrier strikes against the Western Caroline Islands. A brilliant administrator, Commander Averill, by his aggressive leadership and professional skill, contributed essentially to the success of these vital operations. His zealous efforts and gallant conduct consistently characterized his performance of duty, which was at all times in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. (Commander Averill is authorized to wear the Combat "V".)

Service: Navy
Rank: Commander

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.

January 1928

Ensign, USS Bridge

Others at this command: LCDR Ryland Tisdale '15.

April 1928

Ensign, USS Bridge

Others at this command: LCDR Ryland Tisdale '15.

July 1928

Ensign, USS Bridge

October 1928

Ensign, USS Utah

Others at this command: LTjg Lawrence McPeake '24 and ENS Charles Hill, Jr. '27.

January 1929

Ensign, USS Utah

Others at this command: ENS Charles Hill, Jr. '27.

April 1929

Ensign, under instruction, Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island

July 1929

Ensign, USS Kane

October 1929

Ensign, USS Kane

January 1930

Ensign, USS Kane

April 1930

Ensign, USS Kane

July 1931

Lieutenant (j.g.), Patrol Plane Squadron (VP) 10S, Naval Air Station Pearl Harbor

October 1931

Lieutenant (j.g.), Patrol Plane Squadron (VP) 10S, Naval Air Station Pearl Harbor

January 1932

Lieutenant (j.g.), Patrol Plane Squadron (VP) 10S, Naval Air Station Pearl Harbor

April 1932

Lieutenant (j.g.), Patrol Plane Squadron (VP) 10S, Naval Air Station Pearl Harbor

October 1932

Lieutenant (j.g.), Patrol Plane Squadron (VP) 10S, Naval Air Station Pearl Harbor

January 1933

Lieutenant (j.g.), Patrol Plane Squadron (VP) 10S, Naval Air Station Pearl Harbor

April 1933

Lieutenant (j.g.), Patrol Plane Squadron (VP) 10F, Naval Air Station Pearl Harbor

July 1933

Lieutenant (j.g.), Patrol Plane Squadron (VP) 10F, Naval Air Station Pearl Harbor

October 1933

Lieutenant (j.g.), Patrol Plane Squadron (VP) 10F, Naval Air Station Pearl Harbor

April 1934

Lieutenant (j.g.), Patrol Plane Squadron (VP) 10F, Naval Air Station Pearl Harbor

July 1934

Lieutenant (j.g.), Patrol Plane Squadron (VP) 10F, Naval Air Station Pearl Harbor

October 1934

Lieutenant (j.g.), Naval Air Station Anacostia, Washington, D.C.

January 1935

Lieutenant (j.g.), Naval Air Station Anacostia, Washington, D.C.

April 1935

Lieutenant (j.g.), Naval Air Station Anacostia, Washington, D.C.

October 1935

Lieutenant (j.g.), Naval Air Station Anacostia, Washington, D.C.

January 1936

Lieutenant (j.g.), Naval Air Station Anacostia, Washington, D.C.

April 1936

Lieutenant (j.g.), Naval Air Station Anacostia, Washington, D.C.

July 1936

Lieutenant (j.g.), Naval Air Station Anacostia, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: LTjg Carlton Hutchins '26.

January 1937

Lieutenant (j.g.), Naval Air Station Anacostia, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: LT Charles McDonald '24 and LT Carlton Hutchins '26.

April 1937

Lieutenant (j.g.), Naval Air Station Anacostia, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: LT Charles McDonald '24 and LT Carlton Hutchins '26.

September 1937

Lieutenant (j.g.), Fighting Squadron (VF) 5, USS Yorktown

Others at or embarked at USS Yorktown: LCDR James Craig '22 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 5), LT William Ault '22 (USS Yorktown), LT Henry Dozier '27 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), LT Robert Winters '27 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), LT Finley Hall '29 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), LT John Collett '29 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 5), LT Lloyd Greenamyer '29 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), LTjg Robert Donaldson '34 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), ENS Hubert Harden '35 (USS Yorktown), ENS Milton Ricketts '35 (USS Yorktown), ENS Webster Johnson '36 (USS Yorktown), and ENS Bethel Otter '37 (USS Yorktown).

January 1938

Lieutenant (j.g.), Fighting Squadron (VF) 5, USS Yorktown

Others at or embarked at USS Yorktown: LCDR James Craig '22 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 5), LT William Ault '22 (USS Yorktown), LT Henry Dozier '27 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), LT Robert Winters '27 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), LT Lloyd Greenamyer '29 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), LTjg Gilbert Carpenter '30 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6), LTjg Robert Donaldson '34 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), ENS Hubert Harden '35 (USS Yorktown), ENS Milton Ricketts '35 (USS Yorktown), ENS Webster Johnson '36 (USS Yorktown), and ENS Bethel Otter '37 (USS Yorktown).

July 1938

Lieutenant (j.g.), Fighting Squadron (VF) 5, USS Yorktown

Others at this command: LTjg Edward Worthington '34.

Others at or embarked at USS Yorktown: LCDR James Craig '22 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 5), LT James McDonough '24 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 5), LT Henry Dozier '27 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), LT Robert Winters '27 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), LT Lloyd Greenamyer '29 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), ENS Ned Wentz '33 (Carrier Division 2), LTjg Robert Donaldson '34 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), LTjg Stuart Stephens '34 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 5), ENS Milton Ricketts '35 (USS Yorktown), and ENS Bethel Otter '37 (USS Yorktown).

January 1939

Lieutenant (j.g.), Fighting Squadron (VF) 5, USS Yorktown

Others at or embarked at USS Yorktown: LCDR James Craig '22 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 5), LT Henry Dozier '27 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), LT Robert Winters '27 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), LT Lloyd Greenamyer '29 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 5), LTjg Ned Wentz '33 (Carrier Division 2), LTjg Edward Worthington '34 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), LTjg Robert Donaldson '34 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), LTjg Stuart Stephens '34 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 5), LTjg Milton Ricketts '35 (USS Yorktown), and ENS Bethel Otter '37 (USS Yorktown).

October 1939

Lieutenant (j.g.), Fighting Squadron (VF) 5, USS Yorktown

Others at this command: LTjg John Curtis '35.

Others at or embarked at USS Yorktown: CDR William Sample '19 (Aircraft, Battle Forces), LTjg Edward Worthington '34 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 5), LTjg Stuart Stephens '34 (USS Yorktown), LTjg Milton Ricketts '35 (USS Yorktown), LTjg Samuel Adams '35 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 5), LTjg Thomas Cummins '35 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 5), LTjg Jack Moore '36 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 5), LTjg John Daub, Jr. '36 (Carrier Division 2), and ENS Andrew Gardner '39 (USS Yorktown).

June 1940

Lieutenant, commanding officer, Naval Reserve Aviation Base, St. Louis, Missouri

November 1940

Lieutenant, commanding officer, Naval Reserve Aviation Base, St. Louis, Missouri

April 1941

Lieutenant, commanding officer, Naval Reserve Aviation Base, St. Louis, Missouri


Class of 1927

James is one of 43 members of the Class of 1927 on Virtual Memorial Hall.