From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

John Kelley '38

Date of birth: March 4, 1916

Date of death: November 11, 1943

Age: 27

Lucky Bag

From the 1938 Lucky Bag:


John was lost when his F6F-3 Hellcat was shot down near Segi, Solomon Islands, on November 11, 1943. He was the executive officer of Fighting Squadron (VF) 33, operating from USS Independence (CVL 22).

His wife was listed as next of kin.


From naval aviation historian Richard Leonard via email on February 9, 2018:

  • Designated Naval Aviator # 7185, 2/25/1941
  • of rank LTJG from 1 Jul 1941 USN Register, 6/2/1941
  • VF-6 USS Enterprise (CV-6), 12/7/1941
  • Date of rank LT from 1 Jul 1942 USN Register, 6/15/1942
  • NAOTC VF OTU -1 NAAS Green Cove Springs, 7/8/1942
  • VF-33 (XO) Ondongo New Georgia PH KIA, 11/11/1943
  • Date of rank LCDR from 1 Jul 1944 USN Register, 6/15/1942 Note this was AFTER was missing

Distinguished Flying Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander John C. Kelley (NSN: 0-81238), United States Navy, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as Executive Officer of Fighting Squadron THIRTY-THREE (VF-33), in the Pacific area from September to November 1943. Lieutenant Commander Kelley led his division against a large force of Japanese planes near Empress Augusta Bay and shot down one enemy dive bomber. On a later occasion he maneuvered his plane through intense anti-aircraft fire and sent two Japanese planes crashing into the sea, although his own was badly damaged and burning.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 329 (August 1944)
Action Date: September - November 1943
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Company: Fighting Squadron 33 (VF-33)

Related Articles

Frank Quady '38 was also a member of Fighting Squadron (VF) 6 at the beginning of the war.

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 Memphis

Others at this command:

June 1940

Ensign, USS Aaron Ward

Others at this command:

November 1940

Ensign, under instruction, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida

Others at this command:

April 1941

Ensign, Fighting Squadron (VF) 6, USS Enterprise

Others at this command:

Others at or embarked at USS Enterprise:

LCDR Mark Crouter '20 (USS Enterprise)
LT Ralph Smith '26 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
LT Eugene Lindsey '27 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LT Edward Allen '31 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
LT Alfred Tucker, III '31 (USS Enterprise)
LTjg Arthur Ely '35 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LTjg Hubert Harden '35 (USS Enterprise)
LTjg Paul Riley '37 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
ENS John Eversole '38 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
ENS Ernest Wood, Jr. '38 (USS Enterprise)
ENS Edward Degarmo '40 (USS Enterprise)
ENS William Williamson, Jr. '41 (USS Enterprise)

Class of 1938

John is one of 72 members of the Class of 1938 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.