ROBERT J. DURETTE, LCDR, USN
Robert Durette '41
Date of birth: July 4, 1917
Date of death: September 11, 1950
From the 1941 Lucky Bag:
Robert was lost on September 11, 1950 when his jet went missing from Pomona Naval Air Station, New Jersey.
From the Cumberland News on September 14, 1950:
Stanley Burke’s Son-In-Law Is Still Missing
Word has been received here that Lt. Comdr. Robert J. Durette, 33, a Navy combat veteran and jet plane pilot, has been missing since Monday on a flight from Pomona Naval Air Station near Atlantic City, N. J.
Comdr. Durette is the husband of the former Miss Mary Jean Cox, step-daughter of Stanley Burke, l2 Fifth Street, and daughter of Mrs. Burke. She is a graduate of Pennsylvania Avenue School, class of 1936 and met her husband while modeling in San Francisco, Calif.
The couple has been residing at Pleasantville. N. J., since Comdr. Durette was stationed at Pomona. They have two small daughters, Toni Ann Durette, age five, and Roberta Jean Durette, age four.
Comdr. Durette is a native of New Hampshire and attended the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis prior to World War Il. He served in the Pacific Theater for several years.
Mrs. Burke went to Pleasantville as soon as word was received that her son-in-law was missing. No details are available: however authorities said the missing veteran was on a routine flight with two other jet planes. He failed to return although the other planes landed safely.
Robert was involved in two aircraft incidents in 1944, both while in a F4U Corsair with Fighting Squadron (VF) 84. The first was on October 3, 1944 near San Clemente Island, California; the second while conducting carrier landing qualifications aboard USS Takanis Bay (CVE 89) on November 27, 1944.
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.
Ensign, USS Mississippi