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kcmo

USS Bonefish (SS-223) KIA PH & SS Medals

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Perhaps if the skipper got a NC for one or more of these patrols word also came down to make sure some "deserving" crew members were granted lower awards so the EM didn't feel left out. Knowing when the paperwork was submitted would provide a major clue as to what(which) patrols the award covered.

 

This triggered a memory for me...I wonder if the submarine awards were kind of like the Armed Guard ones. What happened was the AG officer would submit their after action report. The report was then reviewed by multiple offices, who would mark up the report, ranging from naval intelligence, weapons engineers, etc. One of the stops was the Navy's awards board, where they would make the determination of who from the report received awards. They would then include a document with their recommendation...The AG officer, a Silver Star, the senior enlisted present, another Silver Star, and then the rest, typically, Commendations. Sometimes, if the after action reports were poorly written, the AG officer ended up with a Commendation, and the enlisted, often nothing. Similarly, a very well written report netted an AG officer with a recommedation for the Navy Cross (though it was later downgraded to a Silver Star...)

 

Anyway...long and short of it was that awards board document would then be forwarded with the report onto it's next stop...then next...all the way to the Secretary of the Navy, who would then approve the report and contents thereof - to include the awards recommended by the awards board.

 

Once those awards were approved, citations for each Sailor were generated and put into their files. Very often, the citations for the "en masse" Commendations were all the same with only the name and service number changed on the document.

 

I wonder if the submarine awards could have been handled very similarly...a successful patrol would be reported, the awards board would recommend awards, and so on down the list with the award citations being written long after the action took place by a typist sitting in a windowless office in Washington DC.

 

Just a thought...


Only a weak society needs government protection or intervention before it pursues its resolve to preserve the truth. Truth needs neither handcuffs nor a badge for its vindication. -Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Peace is not the absence of war, but the defense of hard-won freedom. -Anton LaGuardia


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This triggered a memory for me...I wonder if the submarine awards were kind of like the Armed Guard ones. What happened was the AG officer would submit their after action report. The report was then reviewed by multiple offices, who would mark up the report, ranging from naval intelligence, weapons engineers, etc. One of the stops was the Navy's awards board, where they would make the determination of who from the report received awards. They would then include a document with their recommendation...The AG officer, a Silver Star, the senior enlisted present, another Silver Star, and then the rest, typically, Commendations. Sometimes, if the after action reports were poorly written, the AG officer ended up with a Commendation, and the enlisted, often nothing. Similarly, a very well written report netted an AG officer with a recommedation for the Navy Cross (though it was later downgraded to a Silver Star...)

 

Anyway...long and short of it was that awards board document would then be forwarded with the report onto it's next stop...then next...all the way to the Secretary of the Navy, who would then approve the report and contents thereof - to include the awards recommended by the awards board.

 

Once those awards were approved, citations for each Sailor were generated and put into their files. Very often, the citations for the "en masse" Commendations were all the same with only the name and service number changed on the document.

 

I wonder if the submarine awards could have been handled very similarly...a successful patrol would be reported, the awards board would recommend awards, and so on down the list with the award citations being written long after the action took place by a typist sitting in a windowless office in Washington DC.

 

Just a thought...

 

Dave, having done a lot of submarine reading over the years, my understanding is that "successful" patrols - in short as deemed by ships sunk, etc, and decided by the regional command the subs belonged to, then allowed the Captain of the submarine to submit various crew members for various awards. So if the Captain may have gotten a Navy Cross or Silver Star as a result of ship performance, that then allowed the award of medals below that in precedence to other members of the crew. Not an "automatic" process, but sort of. Individual acts of heroism or merit also would or could of course be recognized as such, but otherwise, the level of award to the Captain triggered the Captain having the ability to perhaps award "x" number of awards below his. A number of WW2 submarine accounts detail how it all worked. This is not to say that they were not deserving, just that this was the process and way it worked out at times.

 

Others will likely be able to weigh in on that as well.


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I don't know if this adds merit to how the awards were processed but I looked up the skipper and came up with his (3) Navy Cross awards all of which were after the loss of the Bonefish. Maybe this adds some weight to how the rest of the crew including CQM Johnson might have ended up with his in 1946.

 

*EDGE, LAWRENCE LOTT
(First Award)
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lawrence Lott Edge (0-074855), Commander, U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. BONEFISH (SS-223), during the SIXTH War Patrol of that vessel in enemy Japanese controlled waters of the Pacific, from 5 September to 8 November 19445. Despite intense enemy air and surface opposition, Commander Edge skillfully maneuvered his ship into a favorable position to launch four well-placed and brilliantly executed torpedo attacks and sink three enemy ships totaling 22,000 tons and damaged two additional vessels totaling 8.900 tons. In addition, he effectively conducted the rescue of two downed friendly aviators. A bold tactician, Commander Edge expertly avoided enemy countermeasures and brought his ship safely to port. His inspiring leadership and devotion to duty in the fulfillment of this hazardous patrol reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.

CINCPAC, Serial 01155 (February 9, 1945)
Born: November 15, 1912 at Columbus, Georgia
Home Town: Columbus, Georgia
Awards: 3@ Navy Crosses (WWII), Purple Heart

 

 

*EDGE, LAWRENCE LOTT
(Second Award)
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lawrence Lott Edge (0-074855), Commander, U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. BONEFISH (SS-223), during the SEVENTH War Patrol of that vessel in the East China Sea Area from 6 April to 7 May 1945. Despite the constant danger of navigating in shoal waters and the possibility of aerial bombings and detection by shore-based enemy radar and patrol vessels, Commander Edge daringly penetrated enemy minefields and successfully performed a special mission in this area. In addition, he captured two enemy aviators while performing lifeguard duties and skillfully evaded severe enemy anti-submarine measures to bring his ship safe to port. His conduct throughout the entire mission was an inspiration to his officers and men and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

CINCPAC, Serial 031326 (July 23, 1945)
Born: November 15, 1912 at Columbus, Georgia
Home Town: Columbus, Georgia
Awards: 3@ Navy Crosses (WWII), Purple Heart

 

 

*EDGE, LAWRENCE LOTT
(Third Award)
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting a Second Gold Star in lieu of a Third Award of the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lawrence Lott Edge (0-074855), Commander, U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. BONEFISH (SS-223), during the EIGHTH War Patrol of that vessel in the Japanese Sea off the west coast of Honshu, Japan. Fully aware of the extreme dangers involved, Commander Edge left port in his veteran submarine on 28 May 1945, to conduct one of the First War Patrols to be made in this area. Boldly penetrating strong anti-submarine barriers, he entered the supposedly inviolable waters of the Japan sea and, with superb skill and daring, maneuvered the Bonefish into shallow, confined waters to launch his devastating torpedo attacks against enemy targets vital to the Japanese war effort. Striking with devastating speed and precision, Commander Edge succeeded in sending two valuable ships to the bottom despite strong hostile countermeasures. While continuing this smashing offensive, overwhelming counterattacks were encountered which caused the loss of this outstanding submarine and her gallant commanding officer. A forceful and inspiring leader, Commander Edge, by his brilliant seamanship, initiative and indomitable perseverance, maintained in the face of tremendous odds, contributed essentially to the infliction of extensive damage and destruction on the enemy during this urgent mission and to the success of our sustained drive to force the capitulation of the Japanese Empire. His courage and resolute devotion to duty throughout reflect the highest credit upon himself, his intrepid command and the United States Naval Service.

BdofAwdsSubPac, Serial 0508 (September 13, 1945)
Born: November 15, 1912 at Columbus, Georgia
Home Town: Columbus, Georgia
Awards: 3@ Navy Crosses (WWII), Purple Heart

 

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Aerialbridge,

 

This is all I have found in reference to his Silver Star Citation online. I would "assume" the actual citation had more detail.

 

 

Chief Quartermaster Stuart E. Johnson, Jr., United States Navy, was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action while serving aboard the U.S.S. BONEFISH (SS-223) during war patrols in enemy-controlled waters during World War II. His gallant actions and dedicated devotion to duty, without regard for his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.

 

I believe that this is a very typical submarine citation. Not sure if you are going to find a lot more than that, ever. The record of the sub for the war patrols in question often IS the citation, of sorts.

 

Consider that the attack team or conning tower team on a WW2 sub had to be very well trained and very efficient, quick, and good at rapid evaluation and decision making and execution of duties, to succeed at sinking ships, and that their role wasn't like ground troops in that they typically would not have the opportunity for an individual act of valor or heroism per se, but rather that their actions were as part of a team that acted in concert to sink ships. The submarine Captain as commander and the final authority, would receive the highest award, with lessor roles receiving lower level awards. I suspect it was viewed not as a "higher rank gets the highest medals" but rather as a reflection of the higher level of responsibility, and thus higher role in the success or lack of, of that sub.

 

If you know what war patrols he served on the Bonefish for, you can see which of the patrols were deemed "successful" and then will see what the sub did which led to the awards to him and others. In looking at the Bonefish record, they did alright for sure. Postwar, when Japanese records were reviewed and contrasted with submarine crew claims, there was a recalculation of and rectification of claims and as a result, awards. Some ships subs claimed as damaged or hit but not observed to sink, were found to have actually sunk, and the opposite too. I would assume that some additional awards were given as a result.


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This is not to say that there are not sub awards for individual actions or heroism or value - there sure are.

 

What I have noted are just some observations on a lot of them.


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As an aside, I am aware of a Bronze Star award to a Motor Machinists Mate 2nd Class on the USS Harder. Likely he was assigned to the engine room.

 

The citation is not for a specified act of valor either, but more along the lines of this Silver Star citation.

 

So why a Bronze Star? To an engine room NCO? My guess is because the Captain of the Harder was Commander Sam Dealy, who was the recipient of the Silver Star, Navy Cross, AND Medal of Honor. Being part of a Medal of Honor crew on a sub probably allowed for the award of more awards to crew than if the highest award to the sub was a Silver Star - and I do NOT say that with the intent to ever denigrate any Silver Star recipient.


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KCMO, one other thing... I cannot recall offhand what the role of the Chief Quartermaster was on a submarine in the attack. Maybe some of our other submarine historians can weigh in. But I am pretty sure there was a role in the attack team, perhaps with the charting or timing, the scribe, something along those lines, something during battle stations or an attack, that if memory serves me right put them right there in the control room with an important role during attacks.

 

I think it is likely and possible that the USS Harder Motor Mac I mentioned had a battle station there too.

 

Great sub group too by the way :)


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Another option to think of that didn't come to mind earlier... I have a uniform from Father Jake Laboon in my collection. He earned the Silver Star on the USS Peto for rescuing a downed pilot during the war. He's pretty well documented so I didn't need to pull his full service record. However, I wanted to get the exact verbiage for his Silver Star and ordered the Navy award card for his medal. The award card had his entire citation on it, and the citation was specfic to that action. Of course, it was a "one off" heroism award...and many others seem to be "patrol" awards. However, I wonder if our QMC's award card might have more of an actual citation on it? Might be worth the $10 to pull the card and find out...


Only a weak society needs government protection or intervention before it pursues its resolve to preserve the truth. Truth needs neither handcuffs nor a badge for its vindication. -Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Peace is not the absence of war, but the defense of hard-won freedom. -Anton LaGuardia


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I have a Navy Commendation grouping to a junior officer on a late war submarine. He received his award for going over the side and into the water, with the sub surfaced in daylight off the Japan coast, to cut loose parachute lines from the chute of a downed (& KIA) B-29 crew member in the water. The parachute lines got entangled in the props when they moved in on the surface to effect the possible rescue. He went over the side and under the boat wit a knife to free the chute and also to be able to recover the man.

 

His citation is specific to those actions.


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Dave, I have never pulled an award card so if you can PM me any information you might have on it I'll give that a shot.

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