Richard Gunther Crommelin
(1917 - 1945)
LCdr. Richard Crommelin in the cockpit of his Hellcat fighter, 1944
See Richard Crommelin in a wartime home video
filmed, narrated and edited by fellow flyer, Maurice Proctor.
Richard graduated from the Naval Academy in 1938 and was assigned to the battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB-38). He later served in the Pacific as a Wildcat (Grumman F4F) aviator aboard the first carrier to bear the name USS Yorktown (CV-5). Flying off the Yorktown he took part in the early raids on the New Guinea ports of Lae and Salamaua and shot down two Japanese Zeros during the Battles of the Coral Sea, for which he received the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism.
His citation read in part: “…for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy… Crommelin conducted a determined and decisive attack against an enemy Japanese four-engine patrol plane which resulted in the destruction of that plane, thereby preventing the detection of our forces by the enemy. His aggressive spirit of fearlessness in facing great odds to make eight successive attacks against six enemy fighters attacking our surface forces and harassing our anti-Torpedo Plane patrol resulted in the destruction of two enemy fighters and severe damage to several others. His conduct in these engagements was characterized by unusual leadership, prompt and sound judgment in the accomplishment of his mission and a complete disregard for his own personal safety.”
A month later, in the Battle of Midway, he earned a Gold Star in lieu of a second Navy Cross for his disruption of an eighteen-plane enemy attack. He was put in command of Fighting Squadron 88 in August 1944. His brilliant career continued until July 1945 when, two months after the death of his brother Charles, he was killed when his plane collided with another plane in his squadron, in action during heavy fog near Hokkaido, Japan.
He was married to Ann Walkley.
[Source material courtesy of war historian, Makoto Tanaka, Tokyo.
The action report is archived at the National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.]