From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

John Pye '39

Date of birth: August 8, 1917

Date of death: January 12, 1945

Age: 27

Lucky Bag

From the 1939 Lucky Bag:


1939 Pye 1.jpg

John was lost when USS Swordfish (SS-193) was sunk, probably by enemy vessels, off the Ryukyu Islands on January 12, 1945. He was the boat's executive officer.

His wife was listed as next of kin. John has a memory marker in Arlington National Cemetery.

Unable to find citations for the Silver Star or Bronze Star medals he was awarded.


From Fleet Organization:

  • Duty USS Nashville (CL-43) 1 Jul 1939 - 1 Nov 1940
  • Under Instruction Submarine School 1942
  • Torpedo & Gunnery Officer USS Swordfish (SS-193) May 1943
  • Executive Officer USS Swordfish (SS-193) Apr 1944 - Jan 1945
  • Acting Captain USS Swordfish (SS-193) 31 Aug 1944
  • Ensign 1 Jun 1939
  • Lieutenant (j.g.) 1 Jun 1942
  • Lieutenant (T) 15 Jun 1942
  • Lieutenant Commander (T) 15 Mar 1944

Silver Star

From the Newport Mercury on February 2, 1945:

Lieutenant Commander John B. Pye, USN, son of Vice Admiral William S. Pye, USN, Naval War College president, and Mrs. Pye, has been awarded the Silver Star and the Bronze Star for his feats as a submarine torpedo officer, according to word received by his father Tuesday.

The citation accompanying the Silver Star, which was signed by Admiral Chester Nimitz, read, in part: "For gallantry and intrepidity in action, in personal duty as torpedo officer of a United States submarine during a war patrol in enemy controlled waters. His careful and efficient maintenance of torpedoes and high degree of proficiency in operating equipment under his care contributed directly to his vessel's success in sinking and damaging enemy vessels totalling 23,000 tons.

"His inspiring leadership and coolness under trying conditions of severe enemy counter measures greatly assisted his ship in successful evasion tactics and completion of his patrol. His conduct throughout was an inspiration to the officers and men of his ship and in keeping with the traditions of the United States Navy."

Commander Pye, 28, is married and has a two-year-old son. He was graduated from the Naval Academy in 1939. His home is in Crockett, Cal.


John's father was a Vice Admiral and 1901 US Naval Academy graduate who retired with 44 years of service, including acting Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Fleet and president of the Naval War College.

Related Articles

His brother, William Pye, Jr. '28, was lost in 1938 when his fighter crashed following a mid-air collision off the coast of southern California.

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.

October 1939

Ensign, USS Nashville

Others at this command:

June 1940

Ensign, USS Nashville

Others at this command:

November 1940

Ensign, USS Nashville

Others at this command:

April 1941

Ensign, USS Nashville

Others at this command:

Class of 1939

John is one of 78 members of the Class of 1939 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.