RADFORD C. WEST, LTCOL, USMC

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Radford West '37

Date of birth: August 22, 1913

Date of death: February 8, 1951

Age: 37

Lucky Bag

From the 1937 Lucky Bag:

Loss

1937 West 1.jpg

From Find A Grave:

Radford Carter West was born in Oklahoma City, OK on August, 22, 1913. His parents were Leonard Hancock West and Louise Radford. His was known by the nickname "Doc" throughtout his military career.

Lieutenant Colonel West was a member of Headquarters Squadron, 33rd Marine Air Group. On February 8, 1951, while flying in a C-45 Beech Navigator, his aircraft crashed near Taegu, Korea killing him.

Awards/Medals for LTC Radford Carter West

  • Silver Star Korea - 1950
  • Legion of Merit w/ Combat "V" Okinawa - 1945
  • Gold Star in Lieu of the 2nd Legion of Merit with Combat "V" Korea - 1950
  • Bronze Star with Combat "V" Okinawa Shima, Ryukyus
  • Air Medal Korea - 1950
  • American Defence Service Meddal with Base clasp Hawaii 1941
  • Presidential Unit with 2 Bronze Stars - 2nd MarAirWing, Okinawa - 1945
  • Presidential Unit Citation with 2 Bronze Stars 1st Marine Division - Korea 1950
  • Army Distinquished Unit Citation with Emblem 1stMarine Air Wing, Okinawa 1945
  • American Campaign Medal US 1942-1945
  • Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 1 Bronze Star - Asiatic-Pacific Area Okinawa Gunto Operation 1945
  • European-Africian-Middle eastern Campaign Medal - Euorpean Area
  • Victory Medal World War II 1941-1945
  • Korean Service Medal with 3 Bronze Stars - Korean Area Inchon Landing North Korean Agression Communist China Agression 1950-1951
  • United Nations Service Medal Korea 1950-1951

New York Times Feb. 25, 1951 pg.7 MARINE AIR WAR VETERAN DEAD IN KOREAN CRACK-UP

News of the death in a plane accident in Korea of Lieut. Col. Radford Carter West, United States Marine Corps, was received here yesterday.

Colonel West. whose widow. Mrs. Virginia West, and three children live at 610 West 116th Street, New York, was a much-decorated pilot who saw extensive service in the Pacific and in Europe during World War II. He had been in Korea with Marine Air Group 33 since last July and had recently received the Silver Star Medal for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action."

Colonel West had just been reassigned to what he had described as a "safe' job on the staff of the Fifth Air Force. He was killed Feb. 5, with other military personnel, when a C-54 transport overshot a runway in the Korean area.

Born in Oklahoma City, he served in the Navy three years as a pharmacist mate before entering the Naval Academy, from which he was graduated in 1937.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Colonel West was at Pearl Harbor. He was one of the few pilots stationed there who managed to get a plane in the air during the Japanese attack. In 1944 he had the part as observer with the Royal Air Force in the invasion of Normandy.

The Daily Oklahoman Wed Feb. 14, 1951 pg. 2 Col 3

LT. COL. RADFORD C..WEST, 37, Oklahoma City Marine air hero of World War II, has been killed in action in Korea.

His stepmother, Mrs. Leonard H. West, 223 NW 33, was informed Tuesday by the airman's wife, Mrs. Virginia West, New York City, after she was notified by the defense department.

The defense department said the veteran of Pearl Harbor, D-Day, and the Okinawa Invasion had been killed in a plane crash somewhere in the Korean area. No other details were given.

A career Marine, Col. West was born In Oklahoma City. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1937 and was commissioned in the Marines. In 1939 a drill team which he commanded was placed on exhibition at the New York World's fair.

In 1940 he was assigned to duty in the Pacific, and on December 7, 1941, was at Pearl Harbor. He was one of the few pilots stationed there who managed to get a plane in the air during the Japanese attack.

Later, when Japanese submarines threatened what was left of the Pacific fleet, West was on daily air patrol. Then, late In 1942, he was transferred back to the United States to instruct Marine airman at Jacksonville, Fla.

In 1944 he was assigned as an acting observer with the Royal Air Force in England for specialization in night fighter tactics. It was in this capacity that he participated in the Normandy invasion.

After VE-day Col. West was transferred to the Pacific, and was on the staff of the commanding general in the Okinawa Invasion.

It was on Okinawa that Col. West singlehandedly manned an exposed Control Tower under enemy attack after the enlisted personnel had abandoned it. For this action he was awarded the Bronze Star.

His squadron shot down a record number of Japanese bombers during the Okinawa campaign, and for this Col. West was awarded the Legion of Merit. He also was the holder of the Air Medal with five clusters, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Purple Heart.

On the day he was killed, Col West was awarded the Silver Star.

Alter his service In the South Pacific, Col. West was transferred to the United States, until July, 1950, when he was assigned to the Korean area.

Besides his wife and stepmother he is survived by three children: Glenn, 14; Radford, 7; and Kathleen, 4 and a stepbrother, William Goshorn, 1223 NW 22.

He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Career

Radford was commanding officer of Marine Night Fighting Squadron (VMF(N)) 531 for one month, from 13 October 1944 to 10 November 1944. (The squadron was stateside, and he was "detached for overseas service.")

In 1946 he was "commanding officer of the Marine air detachment at Lambert-St. Louis Field."

During the Korean War, he was deputy commander of Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 33 — though other sources (or perhaps other times) list him as the commanding officer.

From naval aviation historian Richard Leonard:

6/3/1940 - 1LT USMC - Date of rank 1941 Register
10/14/1940 - 1LT USMC - NAS Pensacola designated Naval Aviator # 6748
6/2/1942 - CPT USMC - Date of rank 1942 Register
8/7/1942 - MAJ USMC - Date of rank 1943 Register
8/8/1942 - MAJ USMC - VMF-211 (CO) NAS Palmyra
5/4/1944 - LTC USMC - Date of rank 1944 Register
8/3/1944 - LTC USMC - HedRon-53 MCAS Cherry Point attached
10/15/1944 - LTC USMC - VMF(N)-531 (CO) MCAS Cherry Point
11/4/1944 - LTC USMC - VMF(N)-531 (CO) MCAAF Kinston
11/9/1944 - LTC USMC - VMF(N)-531 MCAAF Kinston detached FA ComAirFMForPac
11/30/1944 - LTC USMC - TAD HQ MAG-44 MAW-3 MCAS Ewa
1/16/1945 - LTC USMC - HQ ComAirFMForPac MCAS Ewa attached
1/16/1945 - LTC USMC - HQ ComAirFMForPac MCAS trnsf TAD MAW-4 Majuro
4/1/1945 - LTC USMC - MAG-43 (OpnsO) in transit to Kadena Airfield Okinawa
4/25/1945 - LTC USMC - MAG-43 (OpnsO) Kadena Airfield Okinawa

Silver Star

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Colonel Radford Carter West (MCSN: 0-5570), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Tactical Air Coordinator of Marine Aircraft Group THIRTY-THREE, in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 6 October 1950. Assigned the mission of executing deep air support attacks against assembled enemy installations in the vicinity of P'yongyang, Lieutenant Colonel West skillfully directed the attack from an extremely low altitude and personally made numerous passes while subjected to fierce hostile anti-aircraft fire. By his courageous leadership, professional skill and steadfast devotion to duty, he aided directly in destroying three enemy tanks repair buildings, seven vehicles and three tanks and in damaging other hostile installations and equipment, thereby upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Action Date: October 6, 1950
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Regiment: Marine Aircraft Group 33
Division: 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

Legion of Merit

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Legion of Merit to Lieutenant Colonel Radford Carter West (MCSN: 0-5570), United States Marine Corps, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States while serving as night operations officer for the Air Defense Command and Fighter Command on Okinawa Shima, Ryukyu Islands, from 4 April to 10 June 1945. Lieutenant Colonel West, by virtue of unceasing energy and great professional knowledge and skill in handling all night fighter aircraft, succeeded in so indoctrinating the night fighter pilots operating in the Ryukyus area that forty enemy aircraft were destroyed by them. Despite adverse conditions of bat weather and frequent enemy air attacks, he continually managed the operations of night fighter aircraft in a highly efficient manner, thereby materially contributing to the success of a most difficult operation. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Heroes U.S. Marine Corps, 1861 - 1955: Jane Blakeney
Action Date: April 4 - June 10, 1945
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Legion of Merit

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Legion of Merit with Combat "V" (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Colonel Radford Carter West (MCSN: 0-5570), United States Marine Corps, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Executive Officer and Deputy Commander of Marine Aircraft Group THIRTY-THREE during action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea from 31 July to 10 December 1950. An outstanding leader and administrator, Lieutenant Colonel West diligently applied his distinctive abilities in organizing and supervising the Group Staff in combat, and in rendering invaluable assistance to the Group Commander in the performance of his many duties. As Deputy Commander, he served in an advisory capacity to the pilots of his group and personally led them in aerial attacks against enemy positions. Working long hours under the most adverse conditions, he organized and directed the establishment of a combined airbase operational unit at Yonp'o Airfield, Korea, to service and control the many tactical and transport aircraft operating therefrom, thereby providing excellent air support for friendly forces in the Chosin Reservoir Area. By his outstanding leadership, professional skill and steadfast devotion to duty throughout, Lieutenant Colonel West upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. (Lieutenant Colonel West is authorized the Combat "V".)

General Orders: Heroes U.S. Marine Corps, 1861 - 1955: Jane Blakeney
Action Date: July 31 - December 10, 1950
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Regiment: Marine Aircraft Group 33


Class of 1937

Radford is one of 45 members of the Class of 1937 in Memorial Hall.