WILLIAM M. CORRY, JR., LCDR, USN
William Corry '10
Date of birth: October 5, 1889
Date of death: October 6, 1920
From the 1910 Lucky Bag:
Corry was born at Quincy, Florida. Admitted to the Naval Academy in June 1906, he graduated in 1910 and spent the next five years serving in the battleship USS Kansas. In mid-1915, Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Corry began instruction in aviation at Pensacola, Florida, and was designated Naval Aviator #23 in March 1916. He had flying positions with the armored cruiser USS Washington between November 1916 and May 1917, then was an officer on the armored cruiser USS North Carolina.
In August 1917, Lieutenant Corry began World War I service in France, where he commanded Naval Air Stations at Le Croisic and Brest during 1918 and early 1919. He was promoted to lieutenant commander in July 1918. Corry remained in France for the rest of 1919 and the first half of 1920, involved in removing U.S. Naval Aviation forces from Europe as part of the post-war demobilization.
In mid-1920, Lieutenant Commander Corry was assigned as aviation aide to the Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, stationed on the Fleet's flagship, USS Pennsylvania. On October 2, 1920, he was a passenger on a flight from Long Island, New York. The airplane crashed near Hartford, Connecticut. Though thrown clear of the wreckage, the injured Corry ran back to pull the pilot free of the flaming aircraft. Fatally burned during this rescue, William M. Corry died at Hartford on October 6. He posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his heroism.
William was naval aviator #23.
He was survived by his wife, parents, and three siblings. He is buried in Connecticut.
Medal of Honor
From Hall of Valor:
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander William Merrill Corry, Jr., United States Navy, for heroic service in attempting to rescue a brother officer from a flame-enveloped airplane near Hartford, Connecticut. On 2 October 1920, an airplane in which Lieutenant Commander Corry was a passenger crashed and burst into flames. He was thrown 30 feet clear of the plane and, though injured, rushed back to the burning machine and endeavored to release the pilot. In so doing he sustained serious burns, from which he died four days later.
From Hall of Valor:
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant Commander William Merrill Corry, Jr., United States Navy, for distinguished and heroic service as an Airplane Pilot making many daring nights over the enemy's lines, also for untiring and efficient efforts toward the organization of U.S. Naval Aviation, Foreign Service, and the building up of the Northern Bombing project.
Division: Northern Bombing Group
William's classmates erected a plaque in his honor in Memorial Hall.
Memorial Hall Error
William was a "Jr."; this suffix is missing from the Class of 1910 panel in Memorial Hall. (It is included on the plaque erected in his honor, however.)
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.
Others at this command: ENS Millington McComb '10.
Others at or embarked at this command: ENS James Webb '13 (Arkansas).
Ensign, USS Kansas
Lieutenant (j.g.), Naval Aeronatic Station, Pensacola, Florida
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Seattle
Others at or embarked at this command: LT Fred Perkins '06 (Destroyer Forces).
Lieutenant, commanding officer, Naval Air Station, La Croisic, France
Lieutenant Commander, Naval Base, Brest, France
Lieutenant Commander, Naval Headquarters, Paris, France