ROGER N. STARKS, LT, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Roger Starks '38

Date of birth: May 22, 1916

Date of death: June 12, 1943

Age: 27

Lucky Bag

From the 1938 Lucky Bag:


Career & Loss

Roger served as an ensign on the USS Perry then went to the New London submarine base for instruction. He was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade on September 30, 1940. He then joined the R-12 coastal defense submarine.

From Find A Grave:

Lieutenant Starks was killed when shortly after noon on 12 June 1943, R-12, while underway to conduct a torpedo practice approach, she sounded her last diving alarm. As R-12 completed preparations to dive, the forward battery compartment began to flood. The collision alarm was sounded and a report was made that the forward battery compartment was flooding. Orders were given to blow main ballast, but the sea was faster. In about 15 seconds, R-12 was lost. The commanding officer, one other officer, and three enlisted men were swept from the bridge as the boat sank and were rescued. Forty-two lives were lost. R-12 was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 6 July.

His wife was listed as next of kin.

Navy and Marine Corps Medal

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy and Marine Corps Medal (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Roger Norton Starks (NSN: 0-81044), United States Navy, for heroic conduct when the U.S.S. R-12 (SS-89) was lost at sea, 12 June 1943. Lieutenant Starks, as Navigator and Second Officer, disregarded his personal safety and stood at his post directing efforts to save his ship. Although standing at the only possible exit, he made no effort to use it, although realizing that the uncontrolled flooding of the ship placed him in grave danger.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 321 (December 1943)
Action Date: June 12, 1943
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant
Division: U.S.S. R-12 (SS-89)

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.

July 1938

Ensign, USS Idaho

Others at this command: LT Neville McDowell '24, ENS Donald Patterson '37, ENS Macdonald Thompson '37, ENS Raymond Moore '37, and ENS Conde Raguet '38.

Others at or embarked at this command: LTjg James Murphy '31 (Observation Squadron (VO) 3).

January 1939

Ensign, USS Idaho

Others at this command: LT Neville McDowell '24, ENS Donald Patterson '37, ENS Macdonald Thompson '37, ENS Raymond Moore '37, and ENS Conde Raguet '38.

Others at or embarked at this command: LTjg Ralph Beacham '35 (Observation Squadron (VO) 3).

October 1939

Ensign, USS Perry

Others at this command: LTjg Johns Janney '36.

June 1940

Ensign, under instruction, Submarine Base New London, Connecticut

Others at this command: CDR Cassin Young '16, LT George MacKenzie, Jr. '31, ENS Earl Cassidy '37, ENS Greer Duncan, Jr. '37, ENS John Miller '37, and ENS Harry Woodworth '38.

Others at or embarked at this command: LTjg Robert Robertson '34 (Submarine Squadron 2, Submarine Base New London, Connecticut).

November 1940

Ensign, USS R-12

April 1941

Ensign, USS R-12


Class of 1938

Roger is one of 71 members of the Class of 1938 on Virtual Memorial Hall.