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Aviator's Green Working Uniform Jacket - CO of USS Essex CV-9

Started by Geoff , Sep 12 2017 08:31 PM

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#1 Geoff

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 08:31 PM

Local Antique Mall find! After sitting in an auto repair shop for three hours while my SUV got new brakes last Saturday, I decided to stop at a nearby antique mall and take a stroll through the place - more to stretch my legs after sitting for hours rather than looking to spend more money. Saw this Navy Captain's Aviation Green Working jacket on display, and that it was named. I pulled out my cell phone and did a quick search and came up with Austin Wadsworth Wheelock, USNA '25, Naval Aviator, Captain and CO of the USS Essex in 1951-52 off of Korea, awarded the Legion of Merit with "V" device, later promoted to Rear Admiral. With that information I bit the bullet and bought the jacket. I've spent the last few days doing more research on Austin Wheelock.

 

Photo of Wheelock's aviator's green working jacket, with captain's rank and nice bullion embroidered Navy aviator wings. It looks like there is space for Wheelock to have worn ribbons underneath the wings. I understand that wearing ribbons on these green aviator's jackets were authorized during WW2 and Korea. Second photo is of the tag inside the jacket pocket, with "A W Wheelock" and date of "10-3-52". Note: The shirt and tie in the photo did not come with the jacket. I added those strictly for the photo.

 

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  • Wheelock uniform jacket.jpg
  • jacket label with name.jpg


#2 Geoff

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 08:34 PM

Here's a photo of Wheelock - presumably at the rank of Captain. Also a close-up of the embroidered navy aviator's wings on the jacket.

 

 

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  • wheelock_austin_w.jpg
  • uniform wings.jpg


#3 Geoff

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 08:41 PM

Austin Wadsworth Wheelock was born in New York on March 14, 1903, to parents George and Harriet (nee Tyler) Wheelock. Austin was accepted to the US Naval Academy and became a mid in 1921. He graduated in 1925. The school yearbook "Lucky Bag" lists Austin as participating in gymnastics and rifle team. He was also described as a voracious reader who, when seeing a classmate reading a book, always stopped and asked what the person was reading. 

 

photo from the 1925 USNA Lucky Bag yearbook of Austin Wheelock and the write-up about him.

 

 

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  • USNA 1925 yearbook pic.jpg


#4 Geoff

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 08:44 PM

It's getting late here, so off to bed for tonight. More to follow on Austin Wheelock's navy career and unexpected death at age 50 tomorrow! Hope you enjoy the topic! 



#5 CNY Militaria

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 09:23 PM

Great antique mall find! Always fun to research a name that is well known.



#6 67Rally

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 09:32 PM

What a nice find!! Great research effort. It would be cool to build out his captain-era ribbon rack.

#7 Geoff

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 02:47 AM

Thanks for the comments! Just a quick update before off to work. After graduating from Annapolis Wheelock was assigned to the USS Richmond (CL-9), a light cruiser of the Omaha class. The ship spent 1925 along the eastern seaboard of the US. In 1926 the Richmond transited the Panama Canal, and after maneuvers off of Hawaii, sailed to Shanghai, China  to join the Asiatic Fleet. 

 

Wheelock was promoted to Lt (jg) in 1927 and joined the USS Preble (DD-345), a Clemson class destroyer, on China duty. He served aboard the Preble between 1927 and 1929. His service on the Richmond and Preble earned him the China Service and the Yangtze Service medals.

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  • USS Preble.jpg


#8 doinworkinvans

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 04:49 AM

1951 paper clipping

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#9 doinworkinvans

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 04:52 AM

article

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#10 ParanormalTrooper

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 10:50 AM

Great find and research, thanks for sharing.

#11 Geoff

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 04:25 PM

Thanks for adding the newspaper article, Doinworkinvans! It's great to have a forum where collectors help each other out with info and research! 

 

In 1929 Wheelock was selected for aviator training and went to Pensacola Naval Air Station. He received his wings in 1930 and his first assignment as a newly minted Navy pilot was to the Naval Air Station at Pearl Harbor.

 

From 1932-33 he served aboard the USS Lexington (CV-2) with VT-1S - Torpedo Squadron 1.

 

In 1934-35 he was promoted to Lt and served aboard the Omaha class cruiser USS Marblehead (CL-12) as a scout pilot with VS-5B. While aboard the Marblehead VS-5B transitioned to a new aircraft - the Berliner-Joyce OJ2. Below is a photo of this aircraft from Wheelock's VS-5B squadron. Also below is a photo of the USS Marblehead at San Diego in 1935.

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  • Berliner-Joyce_OJ-2_of_VS-5 (2) low res.jpg
  • USS_Marblehead_(CL-12)_underway_in_San_Diego_harbor_on_10_January_1935_(NH_64611).jpg


#12 Geoff

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 04:33 PM

From 1935-36 Wheelock spent a year in the Hydrographic Office at the Navy Dept in Washington D.C.

 

In 1936 Wheelock returned to the USS Lexington for a second tour with one of their air squadrons. In 1938-39 Wheelock was promoted to Lt Cdr and transferred to the USS Yorktown (CV-5), where he served as a pilot with the Aircraft Battle Force, but which type of plane is unknown.

 

In 1940-41 Wheelock was back in Washington DC with the Navy's Aeronautics Office.

 

Photos below of the USS Lexington and USS Yorktown as they appeared in the 1930s.

 

 

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  • USS Lexington 1935.jpg
  • USS Yorktown.jpg


#13 Geoff

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 04:44 PM

In 1942 Wheelock was given his first ship command as the CO of the USS Matagorda (AVP-22), a Barnegat class Seaplane tender. THe ship performed escort duties and delivery of ordnance and aviation supplies to bases in the Caribbean and Atlantic coast of South America. THe Matagorda's home port during this time was San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

 

Wheelock was promoted to the rank of Captain in 1943. On Feb 1, 1945 he took over command of the USS Shipley Bay (CVE-85) at Pearl Harbor as it prepared to join the Okinawa Campaign. The Shipley Bay conducted combat operations off the coast of Okinawa in May and June, 1945. In July the Shipley Bay sailed to San Diego for repairs and overhaul. She returned to duty in September and helped ferry American forces home from the Pacific Theater as part of Operation Magic Carpet Ride.

 

Below are photos of the USS Matagorda (AVP-22), and the USS Shipley Bay (CVE-85).

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  • USS Matagorda pic 2 better.jpg
  • USS_Shipley_Bay_(CVE-85).jpg


#14 Geoff

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 04:53 PM

In October 1945 Wheelock was relieved of command of the USS Shipley Bay and spent the next year at Pensacola Naval Air Station as the Chief of Staff for that station and Deputy Chief of Technical Training. 

 

Below is the USS Shipley Bay's newsletter from October 1945 announcing the change of command from Capt Wheelock to Capt French.

 

 

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  • USS Shipley Bay newsletter Oct 1945.jpg


#15 Geoff

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 05:04 PM

In 1947 or 1948 Wheelock joined Admiral Forrest Sherman's staff aboard the USS Fargo (CL-106), the flagship for the US Navy's Med Fleet at that time. He served with Admiral Sherman until the admiral went to Washington as the new Chief of Naval Operations in 1949. I'm not sure where Wheelock landed during the period 1949-50. I haven't found any documents regarding him for this period. 

 

At the end of 1950 Wheelock was picked to command the USS Essex (CV-9). He was sworn in on Jan 16, 1951 and oversaw the Essex's recommissioning into the active fleet and preparations for combat operations as part of Task Force 77 off the coast of Korea. He served as captain of the Essex until late 1952. 

 

Below: photo of Captain Wheelock assuming command of the Essex on Jan 16, 1951, and a photo of the Essex off the coast of Korea. 

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  • Wheelock assumes command of Essex.jpg
  • USS Essex off of Korea.jpg


#16 Geoff

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 05:11 PM

Photos: first one was taken of the Essex's fight deck in January 1952 off the coast of Korea. The deck crew are clearing snow and ice off the deck.

Second photo: a F9F Panther jet from the carrier Bon Homme Richard flying over the carriers Essex, Bon Homme Richard, and Princeton off the coast of Korea. I particularly like this photo because I knew one of the Panther pilots from Bon Homme Richard - Lt Cdr William Small. Bill began his Navy career in WW2 and flew a Hellcat over Iwo Jima during the campaign for that island. He went back into combat in Korea flying Panthers (he had a photo of himself sitting in the cockpit of his jet on the Bon Homme Richard on his desk at work.) He was very proud of his Navy service. Nice to be able to tie my friend's service in with this topic about Wheelock!

 

 

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  • USS Essex with snow on deck.jpg
  • F9F Panther flying over carrier TF 77 Korea.jpg


#17 Geoff

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 05:21 PM

In September 1952 Austin Wheelock was selected for promotion to Rear Admiral. His promotion took place in early 1953. I have not uncovered the circumstances yet, but in late October or early November of 1953 Wheelock was admitted to Bethesda Naval Hospital, and he died on November 12, 1953 at the age of 50 years. He left behind a wife, Cecilia Kimball (nee Gordon) Wheelock. Austin and Cecilia married on September 28, 1932 in Rochester, NY, and she joined him in Hawaii during his stint at NAS Pearl Harbor. Wheelock also left a young son.

 

From his service that I've uncovered, Wheelock was awarded the China Service medal, Yangtze Service medal, American Defense medal, American Campaign medal, Pacific Theater medal with one campaign star, WW2 Victory medal, Korean Service medal and UN Korean Service medal. His highest award was the Legion of Merit with V" device. I'm not sure when that was awarded to him. 

 

Below: The only photo I've discovered of Rear Admiral Austin Wheelock

 

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  • Rear Admiral Wheelock.jpg


#18 firefighter

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 05:22 PM

Amazing find and history


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