From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Louis Roth '13

Date of birth: May 24, 1890

Date of death: July 6, 1923

Age: 33

Lucky Bag

From the 1913 Lucky Bag:


From the 1913 Lucky Bag

Louis was lost on July 6, 1923 when he died, probably of exposure, while aboard Navy balloon A-6698, near Port Stanley, Ontario, Canada.

From the Evening Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) on July 7, 1923

From The Evening Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) on July 10, 1923:

WASHINGTON, July 10—Admiral Moffett, chief of Naval Bureau of Aeronautics, issued the following statement:

"The death of Lieut. Roth is one of the most unfortunate and tragic happenings in the history of naval aviation and is keenly felt by all of his brother officers.

He died in the line of duty, in the service of his country and in advancement of aeronautics. Those who had the good fortune to know him know of his many sterling and lovable qualities both as an officer and as a man."

From The Evening Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) on July 10, 1923:

Last Log of Lost Gas Bag Tells of Shots
PORT STANLEY, Ont., July 10—The log of the ill-fated naval balloon A-6698 was obtained by International News from Capt. George Wilson, of the fishing tug Onajag, who discovered the body of Lieut. L. J. Roth in Lake Erie. The last entry in the log is "11 a.m. Thursday: altitude, 12,000 feet; ballast, none; position, over Erie." Another entry describes a narrow escape from death, when two shots grazed their gas bag as Roth and his companion, Lieut. T. B. Null, flew over Fort Frankton, Ind. The data on their experience over Fort Frankton reads: "Two shots fired at us over Fort Frankton, Ind., heard bullet near bag."

From The Evening Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) on July 7, 1923, when he was first reported missing:

Cedar Rapids is anxiously awaiting from the national balloon race which will tell of the safety of Lieut. Commander L. J. Roth, son of City Finance Commissioner and Mrs. Louis Roth, commander of the navy's entry in the race, the only ship unaccounted for early today.

One report declares that Commander Roth's balloon the A-6698 has been seen over Massachusetts, while another has it that his balloon was over Lake Erie. Thirteen balloons left Indianapolis July 4 in the race, an event considered one of the most hazardous in the field of flying.

Commander Roth is considered one of the most experienced flyers in the service, having had rigid training in both lighter-than-air and heavier-than-air type of craft. He participated in the international balloon race in 1921 and was regarded as a likely contender for honors in this year's event. He has commanded numerous flight expeditions in nearly all kinds of naval aircraft and was a member of the picked crew selected by the navy department to take charge of the giant dirigible ZR-38 which was built for the United States in England but which exploded on its trial flight over Hull. The order that included Commander Roth was cancelled and this fact saved him from what might have been death or serious injury as practically all of the ZR-38's trial crew were killed.

Commander Roth was born and reared in Cedar Rapids, was graduated from the local high school in 1908 and 1909 was appointed to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, he being recommended for entrance by Senator Cummins. He was graduated from the academy in 1913 and has been in active service ever since. During the World war he served aboard the USS New Mexico and in 1918 was one of the crack gunners of the Pacific fleet in its maneuvers. Shortly after that time he entered the aviation branch of the service, was sent to Pensacola, Fla., later to Norfolk, Va., and then to the dirigible service at Lakehurst, NJ.

In a letter to his parents recently, Commander Roth told briefly of the plans for the balloon race, mentioning in particular his friend, Lieut. H.E. Honeywell, of St. Louis, who he said was one of the best balloonists in the service. Until reported landing near Rochester, NY last night, Lieut. Honeywell was listed with Commander Roth as among the missing pilots.

Accompanying Commander Roth as his aide is Lieut. T. B. Null, of Lakehurst.

He is buried in Iowa.

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.

January 1914

Ensign, Michigan

Others at this command:

January 1915

Ensign, USS Hancock

January 1916

Ensign, USS Machias

January 1917

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS McDougal

March 1918

Lieutenant, USS Kentucky

January 1919

Lieutenant, USS New Mexico

Others at this command:

January 1921

Lieutenant Commander, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida

Others at this command:

May 1923

Lieutenant, Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey

Others at this command:

July 1923

Lieutenant, Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey

Others at this command:

Class of 1913

Louis is one of 9 members of the Class of 1913 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.