JOHN L. PHILLIPS, JR., LCDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

John Phillips, Jr. '33

Date of birth: March 23, 1910

Date of death: February 16, 1944

Age: 33

Lucky Bag

From the 1933 Lucky Bag:


Biography

1933 Phillips 3.jpg

From the 1953 edition of the book "Double Three Roundup," published by the class of 1933:

Phil spent three and a half years in the MARYLAND before going to Pensacola. After receiving his wings in January 1938, he was ordered to VT-6, first in the YORKTOWN, then the ENTERPRISE. He returned to Pensacola as an instructor in September 1940 and in March 1943 was ordered to fit out and command VT-7. This became VT-6 that summer and John became Air Group Six Commander later the same year. His group did much of the pioneering in night tactics for ComAirPac. Phil was lost on 16 February, 1944, after directing the attack against enemy ships and installations in the vicinity of Truk Atoll. He was awarded the Navy Cross, 2 Air Medals and the Purple Heart.

Phil married Eleanore S. Gill from Philadelphia on June 22, 1935, in Seattle, Washington. Their daughter, Eleanore Diane, was born in 1940. Diane resembles her father in many ways; she is active in sports, church and scouts, and is studying piano and dancing.

In 1948 Eleanore married Leonard R. Snyder, who is in the publishing business in Philadelphia. Their address is 8231 Forrest Avenue in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania.

Loss

1933 Phillips 1.jpg

From Find A Grave:

On 16FEB1944, Lt. Cdr. John Phillips was commanding Air Group Six during the attack at the major Japanese fleet base at Truk. Flying an F6F Hellcat from USS INTREPID with Ens. John R. Ogg (BuPers #176896), he was overseeing the strikes against shipping trying to leave the base. Neither Phillips or Ogg returned and no radio contact was heard.

His wife was listed as next of kin.

Wartime Service

1933 Phillips 2.jpg

Prior to the war, he was a founding member of Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6 in 1938. Later, he was commanding officer of Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6 from November 10, 1943 until he took command of Air Group (CAG) 6 following the death of "Butch" O'Hare '37 in late November 1943.

John was piloting an Avenger torpedo bomber, outfitted with radar, and was credited with two air-to-air kills on the night of November 26, 1943 — one of three American aircraft aloft when Butch O'Hare was killed. For many years John's radioman/gunner was — likely unfairly — blamed for accidentally shooting down O'Hare.

Navy Cross

Two sites list John as a recipient of the Navy Cross, but both give the same obviously-wrong citation that has LCDR Butch O'Hare's name at the end and also says he died in the action (November 26, 1943).

Several Naval Academy alumni registers list him as a recipient, but have been unable to find contemporary reference to the award.

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.

July 1933

Ensign, USS Maryland

Others at this command: LTjg John Shaffer, III '30, ENS Arthur Vorpahl '32, ENS Robert Strickler '32, ENS Truman Carpenter '32, and ENS Joseph Bourland '33.

Others at or embarked at this command: LTjg Bruce Van Voorhis '29 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 4B) and ENS John Burgess '30 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 4B).

October 1934

Ensign, USS Maryland

Others at this command: LTjg John Shaffer, III '30, ENS Joseph Bourland '33, and ENS Frank Whitaker '34.

Others at or embarked at this command: ENS Robert Strickler '32 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 4B).

January 1935

Ensign, USS Maryland

Others at this command: LTjg John Shaffer, III '30, ENS Joseph Bourland '33, and ENS Frank Whitaker '34.

April 1935

Ensign, USS Maryland

Others at this command: LTjg John Shaffer, III '30 and ENS Joseph Bourland '33.

Others at or embarked at this command: ENS Frank Fernald '33 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 4B).

October 1935

Ensign, USS Maryland

Others at this command: LTjg Louis LeHardy '26, ENS George Davis, Jr. '35, ENS Lawrence Edge '35, and ENS Roscoe Dillen, Jr. '35.

Others at or embarked at this command: ENS Frank Fernald '33 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 4B).

January 1936

Ensign, USS Maryland

Others at this command: LTjg Louis LeHardy '26, ENS George Davis, Jr. '35, ENS Lawrence Edge '35, and ENS Roscoe Dillen, Jr. '35.

Others at or embarked at this command: ENS Frank Fernald '33 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 4B).

April 1936

Ensign, USS Maryland

Others at this command: LTjg Louis LeHardy '26, ENS George Davis, Jr. '35, ENS Lawrence Edge '35, and ENS Roscoe Dillen, Jr. '35.

Others at or embarked at this command: ENS Frank Fernald '33 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 4B).

July 1936

Ensign, USS Maryland

Others at this command: ENS George Davis, Jr. '35, ENS Lawrence Edge '35, ENS Roscoe Dillen, Jr. '35, and ENS Otto Kolb, Jr. '36.

Others at or embarked at this command: ENS Frank Fernald '33 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 4B).

July 1938

Lieutenant (j.g.), Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6, USS Enterprise

Others at this command: LCDR William Ault '22, LTjg Alfred Tucker, III '31, and LTjg Frank Whitaker '34.

Others at or embarked at USS Enterprise: LCDR Mark Crouter '20 (USS Enterprise), LT Bruce Van Voorhis '29 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6), LT Gilbert Carpenter '30 (USS Enterprise), LTjg James Tyler '34 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6), LTjg Philip Torrey, Jr. '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6), LTjg Walker Ethridge '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6), ENS Webster Johnson '36 (USS Enterprise), ENS Bruce Skidmore '37 (USS Enterprise), and ENS Ernest Wood, Jr. '38 (USS Enterprise).

January 1939

Lieutenant (j.g.), Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6, USS Enterprise

Others at this command: LCDR William Ault '22, LTjg Alfred Tucker, III '31, and LTjg Frank Whitaker '34.

Others at or embarked at USS Enterprise: LCDR Mark Crouter '20 (USS Enterprise), LT Bruce Van Voorhis '29 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6), LT Gilbert Carpenter '30 (USS Enterprise), LTjg Philip Torrey, Jr. '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6), LTjg Walker Ethridge '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6), ENS Webster Johnson '36 (USS Enterprise), ENS Bruce Skidmore '37 (USS Enterprise), and ENS Ernest Wood, Jr. '38 (USS Enterprise).

October 1939

Lieutenant (j.g.), Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6, USS Enterprise

Others at this command: LT Gilbert Carpenter '30, LTjg Frank Whitaker '34, and LTjg Arthur Ely '35.

Others at or embarked at USS Enterprise: LCDR Mark Crouter '20 (USS Enterprise), LT Alfred Tucker, III '31 (USS Enterprise), LTjg Philip Torrey, Jr. '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6), LTjg Walker Ethridge '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6), LTjg Hubert Harden '35 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6), ENS Bruce Skidmore '37 (USS Enterprise), ENS Ernest Wood, Jr. '38 (USS Enterprise), and ENS Lester Wall, Jr. '39 (USS Enterprise).

June 1940

Lieutenant (j.g.), Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6, USS Enterprise

Others at this command: LT Eugene Lindsey '27, LTjg Frank Whitaker '34, and LTjg Arthur Ely '35.

Others at or embarked at USS Enterprise: LCDR Mark Crouter '20 (USS Enterprise), LT Ralph Smith '26 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6), LT Alfred Tucker, III '31 (USS Enterprise), LT Edward Allen '31 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6), LTjg Philip Torrey, Jr. '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6), LTjg Walker Ethridge '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6), LTjg Hubert Harden '35 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6), ENS Ernest Wood, Jr. '38 (USS Enterprise), and ENS Edward Degarmo '40 (USS Enterprise).

November 1940

Lieutenant (j.g.), Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida

Others at this command: LCDR George Grove '15, CDR William Sample '19, LT Finley Hall '29, LT John Yoho '29, LT William Pennewill '29, LT Lance Massey '30, LT Albert Major, Jr. '32, LT Daniel Gothie '32, LT Dewitt Shumway '32, LT George Bellinger '32, LT John Spiers '32, LT Martin Koivisto '32, ENS Frank Peterson '33, LTjg Charles Ware '34, LTjg Charles Brewer '34, CAPT Floyd Parks '34, LTjg Frank Whitaker '34, LTjg George Nicol '34, LTjg Philip Torrey, Jr. '34, LTjg Walker Ethridge '34, LTjg Allan Edmands '35, LTjg John Powers '35, LTjg Richard Stephenson '35, LTjg Victor Gadrow '35, LTjg Porter Maxwell '36, LTjg Roy Krogh '36, LTjg Frank Henderson, Jr. '37, LTjg John Thomas '37, LTjg John Boal '37, LTjg Richard Hughes '37, ENS Alphonse Minvielle '38, ENS Carl Holmstrom '38, ENS Charles Anderson '38, ENS Charles King '38, ENS Charles Reimann '38, ENS Curtis Howard '38, ENS Donald Smith '38, 2LT Douglas Keeler '38, ENS Edmundo Gandia '38, ENS Eric Allen, Jr. '38, ENS Frank Quady '38, ENS Frank Case, Jr. '38, ENS Harry Bass '38, ENS Harry Howell '38, ENS Howard Clark '38, ENS Howard Fischer '38, ENS James Ginn '38, 2LT James Owens '38, ENS Jep Jonson '38, ENS John Kelley '38, ENS John Erickson '38, 2LT John Maclaughlin, Jr. '38, ENS John Eversole '38, ENS Leonard Thornhill '38, ENS Marion Dufilho '38, ENS Osborne Wiseman '38, ENS Oswald Zink '38, ENS Richard Crommelin '38, ENS Robert Seibels, Jr. '38, ENS Roy Green, Jr. '38, ENS Roy Hale, Jr. '38, ENS William Brady '38, ENS William Tate, Jr. '38, and ENS William Lamberson '38.


Class of 1933

John is one of 38 members of the Class of 1933 on Virtual Memorial Hall.