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

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

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

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.

Photographs

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:


Others at or embarked at this command:

LTjg Bruce Van Voorhis '29 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 4B)
ENS John Burgess '30 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 4B)

October 1934

Ensign, USS Maryland


Others at this command:


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:

April 1935

Ensign, USS Maryland


Others at this command:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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 Walker Ethridge '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6)
LTjg James Tyler '34 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
LTjg Philip Torrey, Jr. '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6)
ENS Webster Johnson '36 (USS Enterprise)
ENS Bruce Skidmore '37 (USS Enterprise)
ENS Ernest Wood, Jr. '38 (USS Enterprise)

January 1939

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


Others at this command:


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 Walker Ethridge '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6)
LTjg Philip Torrey, Jr. '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6)
ENS Webster Johnson '36 (USS Enterprise)
ENS Bruce Skidmore '37 (USS Enterprise)
ENS Ernest Wood, Jr. '38 (USS Enterprise)

October 1939

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


Others at this command:


Others at or embarked at USS Enterprise:

LCDR Mark Crouter '20 (USS Enterprise)
LT Alfred Tucker, III '31 (USS Enterprise)
LTjg Walker Ethridge '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6)
LTjg Philip Torrey, Jr. '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)
ENS Lester Wall, Jr. '39 (USS Enterprise)

June 1940

Lieutenant (j.g.), Torpedo Squadron (VT) 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 Edward Allen '31 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
LT Alfred Tucker, III '31 (USS Enterprise)
LTjg Walker Ethridge '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6)
LTjg Philip Torrey, Jr. '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6)
LTjg Hubert Harden '35 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
ENS Ernest Wood, Jr. '38 (USS Enterprise)
ENS Edward Degarmo '40 (USS Enterprise)

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.


Class of 1933

John is one of 38 members of the Class of 1933 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.