LYMAN K. SWENSON, CAPT, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Lyman Swenson '16

Date of birth: October 23, 1892

Date of death: November 13, 1942

Age: 50

Lucky Bag

From the 1916 Lucky Bag:


Loss

1916 Swenson 2.jpg

Lyman was lost when USS Juneau (CL 52) was sunk at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on November 13, 1942. He was the ship's first and only commanding officer.

His (2nd) wife, Lauretta, was listed as next of kin.

Personal Life

"Captain Lyman K. Swenson, USN, ashore at Fox Harbor, Newfoundland, 14 June 1942, while he was in command of USS Juneau (CL-52)."

Lyman was previously married to Milo Abercrombie; they had two children together. The marriage ended in 1925 and turned incredibly bitter, including Milo making accusations of molestation. Lyman was awarded sole custody of the children (Cecilia and Lyman Jr.) by the California Appellate Court in 1929.

Career

Twelfth Naval District Headquarters, San Francisco, California Officers of the headquarters staff, December 1923. Those present are (front row, left to right): Captain Stanford E. Moses, USN, Assistant to the Commandant; Rear Edward Simpson, USN, Commandant, 12th Naval District; Captain George H. Barber, USN(MC), and Captain Ammen Farenholt, USN(MC). (rear row, left to right): Chief Pharmacist William T. Gildberg, USN; Lieutenant Errol W. Willet, USN(DC), (possibly); Lieutenant John H. Buchanan, USN; Lieutenant Commander John P. Bowden, USN; Lieutenant Albert H. Rooks, USN; Lieutenant Lyman K. Swenson, USN; Commander Albert S. Rees, USN, and Commander John Irwin, USN(SC). U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

From Wikipedia:

Swenson was born in Pleasant Grove, Utah and graduated from the Naval Academy on June 2, 1916. After service on board Vermont (BB-20) and USS Denver (C-14), he prepared for submarine duty. After serving on board USS D-1 (SS-17) during World War I, he was given command of H-6, 26 May 1919.

In 1921 he returned to surface ships, serving in USS Arkansas (BB-33) and USS New Mexico (BB-40), before commanding Isabel (PY-10) and then Destroyer Division 64. Juneau (CL-52) came under his command 18 December 1941 while still under construction. The newly promoted captain and the newly built light cruiser were both lost in the latter stage of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal 13 November 1942. Twice torpedoed during what historian S. E. Morison called the “wildest most desperate sea fight since Jutland”, Juneau sank rapidly, taking under the captain and most of her crew, including the five Sullivan brothers. This battle prevented the Japanese from landing reinforcements on Guadalcanal.

Navy Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Captain Lyman Knute Swenson (NSN: 0-9624), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the Light Cruiser U.S.S. JUNEAU (CL-52), during an engagement with Japanese naval forces near Savo Island on the night of 12 - 13 November, 1942. On this occasion the force to which Captain Swenson was attached engaged at close quarters and defeated a superior enemy force, inflicting heavy damage upon them and preventing the accomplishment of their intended mission. This daring and intrepid attack, brilliantly executed, led to a great victory for his country's forces. By his indomitable fighting spirit, expert seamanship, and gallant devotion to duty, Captain Swenson contributed largely to the success of the battle and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 313 (April 1943)
Service: Navy
Division: U.S.S. Juneau (CL-52)

Namesake

USS Lyman K. Swenson (DD 729) was named for Lyman; the ship was sponsored by his daughter.

Related Articles

Albert Rooks '14 was also on the staff of the Twelfth Naval District in December 1923.

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 1917

Ensign, USS Denver

March 1918

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS D-1

January 1919

Lieutenant, USS Birmingham

January 1920

Lieutenant, USS H-6

January 1921

Lieutenant, commanding officer, USS H-6

January 1922

Lieutenant, USS New Mexico

Others at this command: ENS Samuel Arthur '20 and ENS James Carney '21.

May 1923

Lieutenant, 12th Naval District

Others at this command: LT Albert Rooks '14.

July 1923

Lieutenant, 12th Naval District

Others at this command: LT Albert Rooks '14.

September 1923

Lieutenant, 12th Naval District

Others at this command: LT Albert Rooks '14.

November 1923

Lieutenant, 12th Naval District

Others at this command: LT Albert Rooks '14.

January 1924

Lieutenant, 12th Naval District

Others at this command: LT Albert Rooks '14.

March 1924

Lieutenant, 12th Naval District

Others at this command: LT Albert Rooks '14.

May 1924

Lieutenant, 12th Naval District

Others at this command: LT Albert Rooks '14.

July 1924

Lieutenant, USS Cuyama

September 1924

Ensign, USS Cuyama

November 1924

Ensign, USS Cuyama

January 1925

Lieutenant, USS Cuyama

March 1925

Lieutenant, USS Cuyama

May 1925

Lieutenant, USS Cuyama

July 1925

Lieutenant, USS Tennessee

Others at this command: LTjg William Butler, Jr. '20.

October 1925

Lieutenant, USS Tennessee

Others at this command: LTjg William Butler, Jr. '20.

January 1926

Lieutenant, USS Tennessee

October 1926

Lieutenant, USS Tennessee

Others at this command: LCDR Mervyn Bennion '10.

January 1927

Lieutenant, USS Tennessee

Others at this command: LCDR Mervyn Bennion '10.

April 1927

Lieutenant Commander, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: LCDR Warner Portz '15.

October 1927

Lieutenant Commander, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: LCDR Warner Portz '15 and ENS William Myers '26.

January 1928

Lieutenant Commander, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

April 1928

Lieutenant Commander, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

July 1928

Lieutenant Commander, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: CDR Franklin Van Valkenburgh '09.

October 1928

Lieutenant Commander, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: CDR Franklin Van Valkenburgh '09 and LTjg Walter Dey '24.

January 1929

Lieutenant Commander, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: CDR Franklin Van Valkenburgh '09 and LTjg Walter Dey '24.

April 1929

Lieutenant Commander, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: CDR Franklin Van Valkenburgh '09 and LTjg Walter Dey '24.

July 1929

Lieutenant Commander, commanding officer, USS Isabel

October 1929

Lieutenant Commander, commanding officer, USS Isabel

January 1930

Lieutenant Commander, commanding officer, USS Isabel

April 1930

Lieutenant Commander, commanding officer, USS Isabel

October 1930

Lieutenant Commander, commanding officer, USS Isabel

January 1931

Lieutenant Commander, commanding officer, USS Isabel

April 1931

Lieutenant Commander, commanding officer, USS Isabel

July 1931

Lieutenant Commander, commanding officer, USS Isabel

October 1931

Lieutenant Commander, commanding officer, USS Isabel

July 1934

Lieutenant Commander, commanding officer, USS Truxton

October 1934

Lieutenant Commander, commanding officer, USS Truxton

January 1935

Lieutenant Commander, commanding officer, USS Truxton

April 1935

Lieutenant Commander, commanding officer, USS Truxton

October 1935

Lieutenant Commander, commanding officer, USS Truxton

January 1936

Lieutenant Commander, commanding officer, USS Truxton

April 1936

Lieutenant Commander, 1st Lieutenant, USS Lexington

Others at this command: LT James Carney '21, LT William Eaton '21, ENS George Fuller '35, ENS John Eichmann '35, and ENS Richard McGowan '35.

Others at or embarked at this command: LTjg Eugene Lytle, Jr. '31 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 5B), LTjg Philip Ashworth '31 (Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B), LTjg George Ottinger '32 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 5B), and LTjg Truman Carpenter '32 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 3B).

July 1936

Lieutenant Commander, 1st Lieutenant, USS Lexington

Others at this command: CDR Melville Brown '10, LT William Eaton '21, ENS George Fuller '35, ENS John Eichmann '35, ENS Richard McGowan '35, and ENS Webster Johnson '36.

Others at or embarked at this command: LTjg Philip Ashworth '31 (Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B), LTjg Vernon Hain '31 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 3B), LTjg William Freshour '31 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 5B), LTjg George Ottinger '32 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 5B), LTjg Joseph Loughlin, Jr. '32 (Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B), and LTjg Truman Carpenter '32 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 3B).

January 1937

Lieutenant Commander, 1st Lieutenant, USS Lexington

Others at this command: LT William Eaton '21, ENS John Eichmann '35, ENS Richard McGowan '35, and ENS Webster Johnson '36.

Others at or embarked at this command: LTjg Lloyd Greenamyer '29 (Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B), LTjg Philip Ashworth '31 (Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B), LTjg Vernon Hain '31 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 3B), LTjg William Freshour '31 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 2B), LTjg George Ottinger '32 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 5B), LTjg Joseph Loughlin, Jr. '32 (Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B), LTjg Truman Carpenter '32 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 3B), LTjg Ludwell Pickett, Jr. '33 (Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B), and LTjg William Kane '33 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 5B).

April 1937

Lieutenant Commander, 1st Lieutenant, USS Lexington

Others at this command: LT William Eaton '21, ENS John Eichmann '35, and ENS Richard McGowan '35.

Others at or embarked at this command: LTjg Lloyd Greenamyer '29 (Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B), LTjg Philip Ashworth '31 (Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B), LTjg Vernon Hain '31 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 3B), LTjg William Freshour '31 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 2B), LTjg George Ottinger '32 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 5B), LTjg Joseph Loughlin, Jr. '32 (Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B), LTjg Truman Carpenter '32 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 3B), LTjg Ludwell Pickett, Jr. '33 (Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B), and LTjg William Kane '33 (Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 5B).

September 1937

Commander, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C.

January 1938

Commander, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C.

July 1938

Commander, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C.

January 1939

Commander, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C.

October 1939

Commander, commanding officer, Destroyer Division 64 & USS Twiggs

June 1940

Commander, commanding officer, Destroyer Division 64 & USS Twiggs

November 1940

Commander, commanding officer, Destroyer Division 17, USS Morris

April 1941

Commander, commanding officer, Destroyer Division 17, USS Morris


Class of 1916

Lyman is one of 16 members of the Class of 1916 on Virtual Memorial Hall.