WALTER A. SHARER, LCDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Walter Sharer '38

Date of birth: March 16, 1916

Date of death: December 2, 1943

Age: 27

Lucky Bag

From the 1938 Lucky Bag:

Loss

Walter was lost when USS Capelin (SS 289) was lost in early December 1943, possibly to a mine or surface attack.

His wife was listed as next of kin.

Silver Star

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander Walter Allen Sharer (NSN: 0-81380), United States Navy, for gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy in the line of his profession as Sound Officer in the U.S.S. SALMON (SS-182) during four War Patrols in enemy controlled waters during World War II. As Officer-of-the-Deck, on one occasion, he sighted two enemy destroyers and maneuvered his boat into a favorable firing position. His skill in operating the sound gear and his gallant action during severe enemy counter efforts contributed directly to the success of the SALMON in sinking one enemy cruiser and one destroyer and in seriously damaging another cruiser with two torpedo hits. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commander in Chief Pacific: Serial 31
Action Date: World War II
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Division: U.S.S. Salmon (SS-182)

Though the citation above is a posthumous one, he was presented the award in person in March 1943.

Memorial Hall Error

Walter is listed in Memorial Hall as LT. Some documents — including the Silver Star citation above — have him as a LCDR. Posthumous promotion? The Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps of 1945 lists him as a Lieutenant. (Have been unable to locate a 1946 edition of this document.)

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 Ranger

Others at this command: LCDR William Sample '19, ENS John Daub, Jr. '36, ENS Floyd Garrett, Jr. '38, ENS Harry Howell '38, and ENS Richard Sampson '38.

Others at or embarked at this command: LT Donald Lovelace '28 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 41), LT William Pennewill '29 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 42), LTjg Harrington Drake '31 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 4), LTjg William Townsend '32 (Fighting Squadron (VF) 4), and LTjg Frederick Schrader '35 (Fighting Squadron (VF) 4).

January 1939

Ensign, USS Ranger

Others at this command: LCDR William Sample '19, ENS John Daub, Jr. '36, ENS Floyd Garrett, Jr. '38, ENS Harry Howell '38, and ENS Richard Sampson '38.

Others at or embarked at this command: LT Donald Lovelace '28 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 41), LT William Pennewill '29 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 42), LTjg Harrington Drake '31 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 4), LTjg William Townsend '32 (Fighting Squadron (VF) 4), and LTjg Frederick Schrader '35 (Fighting Squadron (VF) 4).

October 1939

Ensign, USS Ranger

Others at this command: ENS Harry Howell '38 and ENS Lemuel Cooke '39.

Others at or embarked at this command: LT William Pennewill '29 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 42), LTjg David Taylor, Jr. '35 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 4), LTjg Frederick Schrader '35 (Fighting Squadron (VF) 4), and LTjg Richard Bull, Jr. '36 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 41).

June 1940

Ensign, USS Ranger

Others at this command: LTjg Walter Bayless '36, ENS Lemuel Cooke '39, and ENS William Beck, Jr. '40.

Others at or embarked at this command: LT William Pennewill '29 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 42), LTjg Wendell Froling '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 4), LTjg Ralph Embree '36 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 4), LTjg Richard Bull, Jr. '36 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 41), and ENS Patrick Hart '37 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 42).

November 1940

Ensign, USS Ranger

Others at this command: LT George Ottinger '32, LTjg Walter Bayless '36, ENS Lemuel Cooke '39, and ENS William Beck, Jr. '40.

Others at or embarked at this command: LT William Widhelm '32 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 4), LTjg Wendell Froling '34 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 4), LTjg Ralph Embree '36 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 4), and LTjg Richard Bull, Jr. '36 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 41).

April 1941

Ensign, USS Ranger

Others at this command: LT George Ottinger '32, LTjg Walter Bayless '36, ENS Lemuel Cooke '39, and ENS William Beck, Jr. '40.

Others at or embarked at this command: LT William Widhelm '32 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 4), LTjg Ralph Embree '36 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 41), LTjg Richard Bull, Jr. '36 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 41), ENS John Erickson '38 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 42), and ENS Richard Crommelin '38 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 41).


Class of 1938

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