JOHN H. ROCKWELL, JR., CDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

John Rockwell, Jr. '40

Date of birth: March 29, 1919

Date of death: February 13, 1956

Age: 36

Lucky Bag

From the 1940 Lucky Bag:

Loss

From The Kingston Daily Freeman from Kingston, New York on February 16, 1956:

A helicopter pilot says he has found the body of navy Cmdr. John Hobart Rockwell Jr., 37, in a wrecked jet plane in Nevada. Rockwell's plane crashed Monday in snow-covered mountains 30 miles north of Fallon, Nev. Rockwell was one of the navy's jet speed record holders. The crash occurred during gunnery practice. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. John H. Rockwell, live at Rochester, N. Y. He was the father of five sons.

John is buried in California; his wife is next to him.

Navy Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant Commander John Hobart Rockwell, Jr., United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Torpedo Plane in Air Group NINETY-FOUR (AG-94), attached to the U.S.S. LEXINGTON (CV-16), in action against the enemy at the important fleet anchorage near Kure, Honshu, Japan, on 24 July 1945. As Squadron Commander and as pilot and leader of a flight of nine carrier based torpedo bombers, making a coordinated attack against major units of the Japanese Fleet in their heavily defended anchorage, in the face of intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire from harbor positions and from the several ships dispersed throughout the area, Lieutenant Commander Rockwell skillfully deployed his flight for attack runs against a battleship and a heavy cruiser, and pressed home his attack on the camouflaged ships, personally diving through broken clouds and scoring direct hits on the cruiser, leaving the ship listing and down by the stern. His outstanding leadership and initiative so facilitated the bombing of other pilots in his squadron that several hits were scored on the cruiser, and the battleship suffered damaging near misses. He then rendezvoused his flight over the Inland Sea of Japan and conducted the planes safely back to the Task Force, a distance of about 250 miles, without loss. His actions contributed materially to the destruction of both ships, and his determination and heroic conduct were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commander 2d Carrier Task Force Pacific: Serial 01917 (September 24, 1945)
Action Date: 24-Jul-45
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Company: Naval Torpedo Squadron
Regiment: Air Group 94 (AG-94)
Division: U.S.S. Lexington (CV-16)

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 Commander John Hobart Rockwell, Jr., United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Torpedo Plane in Air Group NINETY-FOUR (AG-94), attached to the U.S.S. LEXINGTON (CV-16), in action against the enemy at the important fleet anchorage near Kure, Honshu, Japan, on 24 July 1945. As Squadron Commander and as pilot and leader of a flight of nine carrier based torpedo bombers, making a coordinated attack against major units of the Japanese Fleet in their heavily defended anchorage, Lieutenant Commander Rockwell so skillfully deployed his flight for making attacks on a heavy cruiser that, despite intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire from ship and shore batteries, he obtained two direct hits himself on the target, while four other members of his flight also obtained direct hits, the flight thus making a substantial contribution to the destruction of the ship that day. Despite the damaged condition of his plane due to anti-aircraft, he nevertheless rendezvoused his flight over the Inland Sea and led the planes safely back to the carrier. His skillful airmanship resulted in heavy damage being inflicted upon the enemy, and his leadership and heroic action were at all times inspiring and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commander 2d Carrier Task Force Pacific: Serial 01913 (September 23, 1945)
Action Date: 28-Jul-45
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Company: Naval Torpedo Squadron
Regiment: Air Group 94 (AG-94)
Division: U.S.S. Lexington (CV-16)

Distinguished Flying Cross

His gravestone lists the Distinguished Flying Cross among his awards; unable to find this citation.


Class of 1940

John is one of 89 members of the Class of 1940 in Memorial Hall.