JOHN O. SPEER, LCDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

John Speer '32

Date of birth: May 25, 1908

Date of death: September 11, 1943

Age: 35

Lucky Bag

From the 1932 Lucky Bag:


Loss

From Find A Grave:

Husband of Edith Bower Speer who resided in Annapolis, Maryland during the war.

John served as a Commander, U.S.S. Savannah (CL-42), U.S. Navy during World War II.

He resided in Pennsylvania prior to the war.

During the Invasion of Salerno, John was "Killed In Action" when the Savannah was hit by a German radio-controlled Fritz X glide-bomb which pierced the armored turret roof of Savannah's No. 3 gun turret, passed through three decks into the lower ammunition-handling room, where it exploded, blowing a hole in her keel and tearing a seam in the cruiser's port side.

John was buried at sea and was awarded the Legion of Merit and a Purple Heart.

Service # O-071532

John was one of 197 officers and crew lost when USS Savannah (CL 42) was struck by a German radio-controlled Fritz X glide-bomb on September 11, 1943 while providing gunfire support for the landings at Salerno, Italy.

His wife was listed as next of kin.

Legion of Merit

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Legion of Merit (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander John O. Speer (NSN: 0-71532), United States Navy, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as First Lieutenant and Damage Control Officer of the U.S.S. SAVANNAH (CL-42) during the invasion of Italy. Lieutenant Commander Speer worked tirelessly to organize and train a prompt and effective crew in case of enemy attack. On 11 September 1943, when a hostile bomb struck, he was killed but his well-trained crew carried on and succeeded in controlling the flames and saving the ship.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 327 (June 1944)
Action Date: September 11, 1943
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Division: U.S.S. Savannah (CL-42)

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 1932

Ensign, USS West Virginia

Others at this command: CDR James Logan '10, LTjg Francis Jordan '29, ENS Philip Ashworth '31, ENS Ernest Hodge '32, and ENS John Everett, Jr. '32.

Others at or embarked at this command: LTjg Ted Marshall '24 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 4B).

January 1933

Ensign, USS West Virginia

Others at this command: CDR James Logan '10, LTjg Francis Jordan '29, ENS Philip Ashworth '31, ENS Ernest Hodge '32, and ENS John Everett, Jr. '32.

Others at or embarked at this command: LTjg Ted Marshall '24 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 4B).

April 1933

Ensign, USS West Virginia

Others at this command: CDR James Logan '10, LTjg Francis Jordan '29, ENS Philip Ashworth '31, ENS Ernest Hodge '32, and ENS John Everett, Jr. '32.

Others at or embarked at this command: LTjg Ted Marshall '24 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 4B) and ENS Willis Thomas '31 (Battleship Division 4).

July 1933

Ensign, USS West Virginia

Others at this command: CDR James Logan '10, ENS Philip Ashworth '31, ENS Ernest Hodge '32, ENS John Everett, Jr. '32, and ENS Ludwell Pickett, Jr. '33.

Others at or embarked at this command: ENS Willis Thomas '31 (Battleship Division 4).

October 1933

Ensign, USS West Virginia

Others at this command: CDR James Logan '10, ENS Ernest Hodge '32, and ENS Ludwell Pickett, Jr. '33.

April 1934

Ensign, USS Hale

July 1934

Ensign, USS Wickes

October 1934

Ensign, USS Wickes

October 1935

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Overton

January 1936

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Overton

April 1936

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Sturtevant

July 1936

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Sturtevant

January 1937

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Sturtevant

April 1937

Lieutenant (j.g.), communications officer, USS Sturtevant

September 1937

Lieutenant (j.g.), communications officer, USS Sturtevant

January 1938

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Lexington

Others at this command: LT William Eaton '21 and ENS Thomas Edwards, Jr. '37.

Others at or embarked at this command: LT John Duke '26 (Fighting Squadron (VF) 2), LT Ralph Smith '26 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), LT Renwick Calderhead '27 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), LTjg George Ottinger '32 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 2), LTjg Burden Hastings '33 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), LTjg George Klinsmann '33 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), LTjg William Kane '33 (Fighting Squadron (VF) 2), and LTjg Thompson Guthrie, Jr. '34 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2).

July 1938

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Lexington

Others at this command: LT Clair Miller '29, ENS Thomas Edwards, Jr. '37, ENS Frank Case, Jr. '38, and ENS John Woodruff '38.

Others at or embarked at this command: LT John Duke '26 (Fighting Squadron (VF) 2), LTjg Charles Crommelin '31 (Fighting Squadron (VF) 2), LTjg Robert Goodgame, Jr. '32 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2), LTjg Burden Hastings '33 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), LTjg George Klinsmann '33 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), and LTjg Thompson Guthrie, Jr. '34 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2).

January 1939

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Lexington

Others at this command: LT Clair Miller '29, ENS Thomas Edwards, Jr. '37, ENS Frank Case, Jr. '38, and ENS John Woodruff '38.

Others at or embarked at this command: LTjg Charles Crommelin '31 (Fighting Squadron (VF) 2), LTjg Burden Hastings '33 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), LTjg George Klinsmann '33 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2), LTjg Thompson Guthrie, Jr. '34 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2), and LTjg Richard McGowan '35 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2).

November 1940

Lieutenant, USS Chandler

Others at this command: ENS Edward DeLong '37.

April 1941

Lieutenant, USS Chandler


Class of 1932

John is one of 52 members of the Class of 1932 on Virtual Memorial Hall.