From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

James Preston '40

Date of birth: April 13, 1918

Date of death: April 16, 1945

Age: 27

Lucky Bag

From the 1940 Lucky Bag:


Bill was lost when USS Bryant (DD 665) was severely damaged by a kamikaze on April 16, 1945.

His parents were listed as next of kin. Bill is buried in West Virginia.

Silver Star

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander James Tate Preston (NSN: 0-85299), United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Executive Officer on board the U.S.S. BRYANT (DD-665), in action against enemy Japanese aircraft off Okinawa Shima in the Ryukyu Islands, 15 and 16 April 1945. Demonstrating remarkable skill and efficiency as evaluator in the Combat Information Center during repeated enemy aerial attack as the BRYANT proceeded to the assistance of the U.S.S. LAFFEY, Lieutenant Commander Preston, fully aware of the strength and force of the enemy's onslaught, maintained the CIC at maximum operating efficiency with the result that at no time was the ship attacked without prior warning. Persevering and determined, he continued his effective direction until killed at his post by the explosion of a bomb when an enemy plane struck the ship. His excellent evaluation and dissemination of information was a vital factor in conning the ship and bringing the guns to bear to afford the maximum amount of protection and his steadfast courage and unwavering devotion in the face of tremendous opposition was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

General Orders: Board Serial 035 (May 22, 1945)
Action Date: April 15 & 16, 1945
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Company: Executive Officer
Division: U.S.S. Bryant (DD-665)

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

Ensign, USS San Francisco

Others at this command:

April 1941

Ensign, USS San Francisco

Others at this command:

Others at or embarked at this command:

LTjg John Thomas '37 (Cruiser Scouting Squadron (VCS) 6)

Class of 1940

James is one of 91 members of the Class of 1940 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.