MARK H. CROUTER, CDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall
Mark Crouter '20

Date of birth: October 3, 1897

Date of death: November 13, 1942

Age: 45

Lucky Bag

From the 1920 Lucky Bag:

1920 Crouter LB.jpg

Mark Hanna Crouter

Union, Oregon

"Mard"

WHEN Mark dropped anchor in this port, he had the jump on all of us. It takes a good man to win a blue ribbon in a baby show, but the other contestants in his part of Oregon were outclassed.

He has a handclasp that will bust a couple of fingers and a hug that rivals a grizzly bear's. That hug comes in handy in wrestling, where he shines. A broken rib kept him out of the running Youngster year, but nothing short of brain fever will keep him out this year.

Mark doesn't bone. He looks at the pictures a few minutes and then he is through for the day. Still he doesn't resemble bird's-eye maple in the least and you will have to admit that a man that can get away with murder as he does, is good.

Mark is never rhino, always smoking, and usually telling about that cold forty he met on the train. If you want the very best kind of a shipmate, and a seagoing egg at that, here's one.

"Where're you goin'? Let's catch one here."

Honors: Buzzard; Wrestling Squad, 3.


The Class of 1920 was graduated in June 1919 due to World War I. The entirety of 2nd class (junior) year was removed from the curriculum.

1920 Crouter LB.jpg

Mark Hanna Crouter

Union, Oregon

"Mard"

WHEN Mark dropped anchor in this port, he had the jump on all of us. It takes a good man to win a blue ribbon in a baby show, but the other contestants in his part of Oregon were outclassed.

He has a handclasp that will bust a couple of fingers and a hug that rivals a grizzly bear's. That hug comes in handy in wrestling, where he shines. A broken rib kept him out of the running Youngster year, but nothing short of brain fever will keep him out this year.

Mark doesn't bone. He looks at the pictures a few minutes and then he is through for the day. Still he doesn't resemble bird's-eye maple in the least and you will have to admit that a man that can get away with murder as he does, is good.

Mark is never rhino, always smoking, and usually telling about that cold forty he met on the train. If you want the very best kind of a shipmate, and a seagoing egg at that, here's one.

"Where're you goin'? Let's catch one here."

Honors: Buzzard; Wrestling Squad, 3.


The Class of 1920 was graduated in June 1919 due to World War I. The entirety of 2nd class (junior) year was removed from the curriculum.

Loss

1920 Crouter 1.jpg

Mark was lost when USS San Francisco (CA 38) was severely damaged during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on November 13, 1942. He was the executive officer.

His wife was listed as next of kin. He has a memory marker in Oregon.

Remembrances

From Naval History and Heritage Command:

MAtt 1/c Leonard R. Harmon and Commander Mark H. Crouter of San Francisco (CA-38)

Two decades separated their births; half a continent separated their birthplaces. One man graduated from the Naval Academy with the Class of 1919, the other enlisted in 1939. One man was white, the other black. The former had no limitations in his service, the latter, because of his race, could only serve in the messman branch. Yet circumstances drew them together in one ship, in one battle, and saw each give up his “life in the defense of his country.”

Mark Hanna Crouter—born in Baker, Ore., on 3 October 1897—was appointed midshipman on 21 June 1916. Known as someone who could achieve academic success without effort (and who exhibited a “handclasp that will bust a couple of fingers”) he graduated with the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1919. Over the next two decades, “Mard” Crouter, “the very best kind of shipmate,” served in cruisers, gunboats, and battleships, from Siberia to Hampton Roads.

Leonard Roy Harmon—born in Cuero, Texas, on 21 January 1917—enlisted in the U.S. Navy at Houston on 10 June 1939 as a mess attendant third class (MAtt3/c). After receiving training at the Naval Training Station, Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia, he traveled in the heavy cruiser Tuscaloosa (CA-37) to join her sister ship San Francisco (CA-38). Harmon reported onboard the San Francisco on 28 October 1939. Advancements in rate followed: to MAtt2/c on 16 August 1940, and to MAtt1/c on 5 November 1941, a little over a month before Pearl Harbor.

On 11 May 1942, Commander Crouter reported onboard the San Francisco as her executive officer. Less than six months later, he distinguished himself in the Battle of Cape Esperance on 11 October 1942, the ship’s “high morale and outstanding skill displayed by the officers and men during the engagement” directly attributed to the “organization and training [that] he did so much to perfect.”

On 12 November 1942, less than a month after Cape Esperance, the San Francisco was covering a force of transports disembarking reinforcements off Guadalcanal when Japanese land attack planes, carrying torpedoes, attacked. During the ensuing engagement, one of the enemy aircraft crashed the San Francisco despite a withering barrage of antiaircraft fire, and caused “considerable damage and intense fires,” demolishing the after control station and burning out Battle II, which put the after antiaircraft director and radar out of commission. One officer and 15 men were either killed outright or died of their injuries soon thereafter. Four officers—including Crouter—and 25 men were wounded, most suffering horrible burns. The San Francisco transferred the wounded men to the transport President Jackson (AP-37)—with one exception.

“Rather than submit to transfer for medical treatment,” Crouter, although in “intense pain and waning strength” from severe burns on both legs, insisted on remaining on board “so that he could be returned to duty in a minimum of time,” exhibiting “sturdy endurance and courageous disregard for his own personal safety.” MAtt1/c Harmon had exhibited “unusual loyalty on behalf of” Crouter. It seems most likely that Harmon attended to the wounded executive officer before the young mess attendant had to proceed to his battle station later, since San Francisco fought again that night, this time in a desperate surface engagement at close quarters in the confined waters off Guadalcanal.

The San Francisco suffered heavy damage from Japanese guns ranging from 14-inch shells to machine gun bullets. During the battle, a projectile plowed into Crouter’s cabin and exploded, inflicting fatal wounds. Harmon, meanwhile, was rendering “invaluable service in caring for the wounded and evacuating them to a dressing station” until, as he was working as a stretcher bearer topside near the cruiser’s secondary battery 5-inch mounts amidships, a 6-inch projectile from the secondary battery of the Japanese battleship Hiei struck in the vicinity and exploded. Shouting “Look out, Doc!” Harmon moved to shield Pharmacist’s Mate Third Class Lynford L. Bondsteel from the lethal fragments, pushing him to the deck. Although Bondsteel managed to get his courageous shipmate below, Harmon died of his wounds soon thereafter.

Mark Crouter and Leonard Harmon were each awarded the Navy Cross, posthumously, and the Navy honored each in the naming of a destroyer escort. In Harmon’s case, it proved a double tribute, for he was the first African-American in the U.S. Navy to have a ship named for him. In 1975, a building at NAS North Island was named for him.

“I feel proud always,” AAMM Leonard Roy Harmon, II, his grandson, said in 1982, “I feel he has set us an example to follow.”

Navy Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Commander Mark Hanna Crouter (NSN: 0-55937), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Executive Officer of the Heavy Cruiser U.S.S. SAN FRANCISCO (CA-38), during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands Area on the night of 12 and 13 November 1942. Although suffering from severe wounds received at the outset of the engagement, Commander Crouter, with sturdy endurance and courageous disregard for his own personal safety, remained aboard his ship rather than submit to transfer for medical treatment. Determined to render further assistance in the conduct of the SAN FRANCISCO, despite intense pain and waning strength, he carried on with grim perseverance until he was killed during the course of night action against the enemy. His unyielding devotion to duty was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

General Orders: Commander South Pacific Area and Force: Serial 066 (November 24, 1942)
Service: Navy
Company: Executive Officer
Division: U.S.S. San Francisco (CA-38)

Silver Star

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Commander Mark Hanna Crouter (NSN: 0-55937), United States Navy, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished service in a duty of great responsibility as Executive Officer of the U.S.S. SAN FRANCISCO (CA-38), during operations against the enemy in the South Pacific Area culminating in a highly successful night action against an equal or superior force on the night of 11 - 12 October 1942. In a large measure, the heavy damage inflicted by the SAN FRANCISCO was due to his splendid leadership in operation and administration. The high morale, coolness, skill and teamwork displayed by officers and crew in night battle is attributable to a great extent to the organization and training which he did so much to perfect. His gallant actions and dedicated devotion to duty, without regard for his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commander in Chief Pacific: Serial 030517 (June 29, 1945)
Action Date: October 11 - 12, 1942
Service: Navy
Company: Executive Officer
Division: U.S.S. San Francisco (CA-38)

Namesake

USS Crouter (DE 11) was named for Mark.

Related Articles

James Haselden, Jr. '20 was Mark's roommate; they are also on the same page of the 1920 Lucky Bag.

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 1921
Ensign, USS Elcano
January 1922
Ensign, USS Smith Thompson
May 1923
Lieutenant (j.g.), unreadable
July 1923
Lieutenant (j.g.), for assignment, Destroyer Squadrons
September 1923
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Percival
November 1923
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Percival
January 1924
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Percival
March 1924
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Percival
May 1924
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Percival
July 1924
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Percival
September 1924
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Percival
November 1924
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Percival
January 1925
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Percival
March 1925
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Percival
May 1925
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Percival
July 1925
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Percival
October 1925
Lieutenant (j.g.), Navy Receiving Station, Seattle, Washington
January 1926
Lieutenant (j.g.), Navy Receiving Station, Seattle, Washington
October 1926
Lieutenant, Navy Receiving Station, Seattle, Washington
January 1927
Lieutenant, Navy Receiving Station, Seattle, Washington
April 1927
Lieutenant, Navy Receiving Station, Seattle, Washington
October 1927
Lieutenant, Navy Receiving Station, Seattle, Washington
January 1928
Lieutenant, 16th Naval District

April 1928
Lieutenant, USS Elcano
July 1928
Lieutenant, USS Elcano
October 1928
Lieutenant, USS Elcano
January 1929
Lieutenant, executive officer, USS Luzon
April 1929
Lieutenant, executive officer, USS Luzon
July 1929
Lieutenant, Destroyer Squadron Staff, USS Paul Jones
October 1929
Lieutenant, USS Black Hawk
January 1930
Lieutenant, USS Black Hawk
April 1930
Lieutenant, USS Bullmer
October 1930
Lieutenant, Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia
January 1931
Lieutenant, Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia

Others at this command:
April 1931
Lieutenant, Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia

July 1931
Lieutenant, Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia

October 1931
Lieutenant, Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia

January 1932
Lieutenant, Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia

April 1932
Lieutenant, Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia

October 1932
Lieutenant, commanding officer, USS Keywadin
January 1933
Lieutenant, commanding officer, USS Keywadin
April 1933
Lieutenant, commanding officer, USS Keywadin
July 1933
Lieutenant, commanding officer, USS Keywadin
October 1933
Lieutenant, commanding officer, USS Keywadin
April 1934
Lieutenant, commanding officer, USS Keywadin
July 1934
Lieutenant, commanding officer, USS Keywadin
April 1935
Lieutenant, Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command:

Others at or embarked at Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.:
LT Elmer Kiehl '20 (Naval Gun Factory)
LTjg Howard Gilmore '26 (Naval Gun Factory)
LTjg Sidney Smith '26 (Naval Gun Factory)
October 1935
Lieutenant Commander, Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command:

Others at or embarked at Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.:
LT Elmer Kiehl '20 (Naval Gun Factory)
January 1936
Lieutenant Commander, Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command:

Others at or embarked at Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.:
LT Elmer Kiehl '20 (Naval Gun Factory)
April 1936
Lieutenant Commander, Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command:

Others at or embarked at Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.:
LT Elmer Kiehl '20 (Naval Gun Factory)
LT Julian Jordan '25 (Receiving Station)
July 1936
Lieutenant Commander, Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.


Others at or embarked at Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.:
LCDR Elmer Kiehl '20 (Naval Gun Factory)
LT William France '24 (Naval Gun Factory)
LT Julian Jordan '25 (Receiving Station)
January 1937
Lieutenant Commander, engineering officer, USS Enterprise
April 1937
Lieutenant Commander, engineering officer, USS Enterprise
September 1937
Lieutenant Commander, engineering officer, USS Enterprise

Others at this command:

Others at or embarked at this command:
LT Bruce Van Voorhis '29 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
LTjg James Tyler '34 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
January 1938
Lieutenant Commander, engineering officer, USS Enterprise

Others at or embarked at this command:
LT Bruce Van Voorhis '29 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
LTjg James Tyler '34 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
July 1938
Lieutenant Commander, engineering officer, USS Enterprise


Others at or embarked at this command:
LCDR William Ault '22 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LT Bruce Van Voorhis '29 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
LTjg Alfred Tucker, III '31 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LTjg John Phillips, Jr. '33 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LTjg Walker Ethridge '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6)
LTjg Frank Whitaker '34 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LTjg James Tyler '34 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
LTjg Philip Torrey, Jr. '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6)
January 1939
Lieutenant Commander, engineering officer, USS Enterprise


Others at or embarked at this command:
LCDR William Ault '22 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LT Bruce Van Voorhis '29 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
LTjg Alfred Tucker, III '31 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LTjg John Phillips, Jr. '33 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LTjg Walker Ethridge '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6)
LTjg Frank Whitaker '34 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LTjg Philip Torrey, Jr. '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6)
October 1939
Lieutenant Commander, engineering officer, USS Enterprise


Others at or embarked at this command:
LT Gilbert Carpenter '30 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LTjg John Phillips, Jr. '33 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LTjg Walker Ethridge '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6)
LTjg Frank Whitaker '34 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LTjg Philip Torrey, Jr. '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6)
LTjg Arthur Ely '35 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LTjg Hubert Harden '35 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
June 1940
Lieutenant Commander, engineering officer, USS Enterprise


Others at or embarked at this command:
LT Ralph Smith '26 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
LT Eugene Lindsey '27 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LT Edward Allen '31 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
LTjg John Phillips, Jr. '33 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LTjg Walker Ethridge '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6)
LTjg Frank Whitaker '34 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LTjg Philip Torrey, Jr. '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 6)
LTjg Arthur Ely '35 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LTjg Hubert Harden '35 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
November 1940
Lieutenant Commander, engineering officer, USS Enterprise


Others at or embarked at this command:
LT Ralph Smith '26 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
LT Eugene Lindsey '27 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LT Edward Allen '31 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
LTjg Arthur Ely '35 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LTjg Paul Riley '37 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
April 1941
Lieutenant Commander, engineering officer, USS Enterprise


Others at or embarked at this command:
LT Ralph Smith '26 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
LT Eugene Lindsey '27 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LT Edward Allen '31 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 6)
LTjg Arthur Ely '35 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
LTjg Paul Riley '37 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
ENS John Eversole '38 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6)
ENS John Kelley '38 (Fighting Squadron (VF) 6)
ENS Frank Quady '38 (Fighting Squadron (VF) 6)


Class of 1920

Mark is one of 28 members of the Class of 1920 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of alumni in Memorial Hall.