WILLIAM S. GARRETT, LT, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

William Garrett '18

Date of birth: September 24, 1896

Date of death: February 18, 1925

Age: 28

Lucky Bag

From the 1918 Lucky Bag:


The Class of 1918 was graduated on June 28, 1917 due to World War I.

Loss

"Vice Admiral Harry McL. P. Huse, USN, Commander, U.S. Forces in European Waters. With members of his staff, January 1921.
Those present are (from left to right):
Lieutenant Moses B. Byington, Jr;
Captain David W. Todd;
Vice Admiral Huse;
unidentified Marine orderly;
Lieutenant Commander Lucius C. Dunn;
Lieutenant James C. Bequette; and
Lieutenant William S. Garrett.
The border of the original print is inscribed: "To Mrs. W.V. Pratt from her cousin Harry P. Huse, Vice Admiral, U.S.N." Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Collection of Admiral William V. Pratt, USN."

From The Morning Sun (Yuma, Arizona) on February 19, 1925:

Making too short a turn preparatory to landing at the Yuma aviation field yesterday, shortly before noon, Lieut. W.S. Garrett, piloting plane D Avalon 2-2 in which was Mechanic Chris A. Funk, dropped 150 feet to his death, he being nearly cremated in the resulting blast of flame which shot from the broken gasoline tank, Funk jumping from the plane just before it landed, and though badly burned, his life was saved.

Funk's escape was nothing short of a miracle. When the plane nosed down in a tail spin he threw himself sideways, from the aircraft, falling twenty feet away from the machine, but the explosion of the gas tank poured the blazing gasoline over his face and hands and legs, and by rolling away from the plane in the send he obliterated the flame.

Norman C. Conway, engineer of Yuma, a friend of Lieut. Commander Ralph Wood of the visiting squadron of six airplanes from San Diego, reached Funk first, and after hasty attention to his burns he was rushed to the Yuma hospital, where he received prompt and careful attention at the hands of Dr. W.C. Cain and the nursing staff of the institution.

Never a Chance
It was impossible for any of Garrett's comrades to attempt a rescue, which would have been fruitless, for he must have died almost instantly, and when the flames had subsided he was lying outside the cockpit of the plane a mere shape of a man. The tail and a blade of propellor were all that was left of the perishable parts of the plane, and even the metal parts were twisted and melted into an unrecognizable mass.

The the members of the squadron rushed the 300 yards that separated their unfortunate companion from the remainder of the escadrille, and though attempts were made to throw sand on the fiercely blazing aircraft, it was eaten up by the hungry element before their endeavors had any effect, and realizing the hopelessness of their task, all attention was concentrated on relieving Funk of his agony.

Commander's Opinion
In Lieut. Commander Ralph Wood's testimony it was shown that the deceased aviator was a skilled pilot, of three years' training, and that on attempting to land on the field the first time Garrett crossed north to south the narrower of the two ways, and in all probability finding that his speed was too great to pull up in the prescribed area, rose again and circled.

At the west end of the ground, and still in the circle the plane banked sharply to the left, spun round in a downward direction, and crashed, a column of smoke immediately leaping up from the spot following the sound of a loud report.

He appears to be buried, without any mention of rank or service, in California… but the date of birth on the headstone (1897) is at odds with that in the Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps of 1918 (1896).

Service

William was aboard the gunboat USS Sacramento (PG 19) in 1917.

In June 1923 he was detached from USS Pennsylvania to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida.

"W.S. Garrett" earned his wings as naval aviator #3116 on January 11, 1924.

Related Articles

Millington McComb '10 and Samuel Arthur '20 were also members of this squadron.

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.

March 1918

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Sacramento

January 1919

Lieutenant, USS Sacramento

January 1920

Lieutenant, USS Pittsburgh

Others at this command: ENS Frederick Buse '20.

January 1921

Lieutenant, USS Pittsburgh

Others at this command: ENS Frederick Buse '20.

January 1922

Lieutenant, USS Pennsylvania

Others at this command: LTjg Dixie Kiefer '19, ENS John Lenhart '21, and ENS Leonard Lyons, Jr. '21.

May 1923

Lieutenant, USS Pennsylvania

Others at this command: ENS Rogers Ransehousen '21 and ENS Hugh Hadley '22.

September 1923

Lieutenant, under instruction, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida

Others at this command: LT Henry Mullinnix '16, LT Thomas Fisher '18, LT Ten Eyck Veeder, Jr. '19, LTjg Charles Porter '20, LTjg Olin Miner '20, LTjg Vilas Knope '20, LTjg Arnold Isbell '21, and 2LT Harold Hail '21.

November 1923

Lieutenant, under instruction, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida

Others at this command: LT Henry Mullinnix '16, LT Thomas Fisher '18, LT Ten Eyck Veeder, Jr. '19, LTjg Charles Porter '20, LTjg Olin Miner '20, LTjg Vilas Knope '20, LTjg Arnold Isbell '21, and 2LT Harold Hail '21.

May 1924

Lieutenant, for assignment, Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet, USS Aroostook

Others at this command: LCDR Grattan Dichman '07, LT Conrad Krez '16, and LT Thomas Fisher '18.

July 1924

Lieutenant, Observation Plane Squadron 2

Others at this command: LCDR Millington McComb '10, LT Conrad Krez '16, and LT Hugo Schmidt '16.

September 1924

Lieutenant, Observation Plane Squadron 2

Others at this command: CDR Grattan Dichman '07 and LT Hugo Schmidt '16.

November 1924

Lieutenant, Observation Plane Squadron 2

Others at this command: LT Hugo Schmidt '16.

January 1925

Lieutenant, Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet, USS Aroostook

Others at this command: LCDR Millington McComb '10, LTjg Frederick Buse '20, LTjg Samuel Arthur '20, LTjg Arnold Isbell '21, and LTjg Frederick Kahn '21.


Class of 1918

William is one of 14 members of the Class of 1918 on Virtual Memorial Hall.