From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Merlin Paddock '40

Date of birth: March 15, 1917

Date of death: April 16, 1945

Age: 28

Lucky Bag

From the 1940 Lucky Bag:


Merlin was lost while flying a combat mission with Fighting Squadron (VF) 23 near Kagoshima, Japan on April 16, 1945.

His wife was listed as next of kin.


From Find A Grave:

Navy Lt. Commander Merlin Paddock, World War II, son of Rev. and Mrs. John A. Paddock, was born on March 15, 1917. He is a 1934 graduate of Osmond High School and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.

Lt. Commander Paddock was officially declared missing in action and presumed dead following a bombing attack on units of the Japanese Navy near Kagoshina, Japan, on April 16, 1945. His carrier plane was shot down over Kyusha Island. Lt. Commander Paddock was seen bailing from his plane after it was hit.

His body was returned to the United States in 1948 and he is buried in Osmond City Cemetery. He was survived by his wife, Marjorie, two daughters, his parents, brothers John and Irving and sister Ruth Voorhees.

Navy Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander Merlin N. Paddock, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Fighter Plane and Commander of an Air Group, Fighting Squadron TWENTY-THREE (VF-23), attached to the U.S.S. LANGLEY (CV-27), during action against major units of the Japanese Fleet off the southwestern coast of Kyushu, Japan, on 7 April 1945. Ordered to strike an enemy light cruiser after escorting our torpedo and dive bombers to the area through extremely adverse weather, Lieutenant Commander Paddock flew in over his assigned target in bold defiance of the enemy's concentrated anti-aircraft fire. Courageous and determined, he promptly maneuvered for maximum striking power and, despite the low visibility, pressed home his attack with devastating speed and skill, scoring a direct bomb hit to neutralize the shattering gunfire and enable our torpedo bombers to complete the destruction of this vital hostile Fleet unit. By his superb airmanship, daring tactics and cool courage, maintained in the face of tremendous odds, Lieutenant Commander Paddock contributed materially to the success of our aerial offensive against the Japanese and his brilliant leadership and valiant devotion to duty throughout the fierce action reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.

Action Date: 7-Apr-45
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Company: Fighting Squadron 23 (VF-23)
Division: U.S.S. Langley (CV-27)

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.

June 1940

Ensign, USS Minneapolis

Others at this command:

November 1940

Ensign, USS Minneapolis

Others at this command:

April 1941

Ensign, USS Minneapolis

Others at this command:

Class of 1940

Merlin is one of 91 members of the Class of 1940 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.