Published by the Officers and Men of the U.S.S. Lexington as a Permanent Record of the Ship's Activities in World War II
To those men whom we knew so well; To those men, those friends, Who only a short while ago Laughed, as you and I do now, Who, beside us, worked and fought, And finally, gave their lives That you and I might go on Living as we've always lived;
We have just emerged from a great war, fought to guarantee our own individual freedoms and to grant an opportunity for all peoples of the world to achieve human dignity. With this great victory over the Fascist and Nazi Tyrannies, the democracies of the world have repudiated methods of force, aggression, and oppression as steps to World Power. The freedom loving peoples of the world have, in solemn unity and with tragic sacrifice, defeated Germany, Italy and Japan in order that our progress toward a Free World. A true brotherhood of Nations might continue.
Out of the Rubble and Ruin of World War II a new spirit of progress and freedom must emerge. We must never forget the great sacrifice just made by the People of America, Great Britain and The Soviet Union. We must achieve a Great National Strength, both spiritual and material, and firmly resolve to defend our Liberties wherever and whenever they are threathened. We of The Lexington are pround of the part our ship has played in helping to secure the rights of man. This book was assembled to commemorate the epic struggle of our carrier against The Land, Sea and Air Forces of the Japanese Empire.
The mysteries of our Myths are as startling as the futilites of fate. The U.S.S. Lexington has played host to Admiral's pennant not flying above the island structure...and only on two occasions did the Valiant Lady suffer damage of the hand of the enemy. Both hits occured while the ship was without a Flag.
The Flagship Lexington is proud that it was chosen to be the home of Admirals. The honor thus bestowed upon her lent her new dignity and increased her fighting efficiency. Her Admirals were many. Shown on these pages are a few of the great men who gave of their services from the Flag deck of the Carrier "L."
Captain Felix B. Stump, U.S. Navy
The first Skipper of the Lexington was Captian (now Rear Admiral) Felix B. Stump. A graduate of the Naval Academy Class of 1917 with a strong background in carrier war and carrier techniques, he took over the helm of the new Lexington with a vigerous hand and in short order had won for her the reputation of being a "hot" carrier.
Under Captian Stump the Lexington participated in the first attack on Wake Island, attacks in the Gilberts, the landings on Tarawa, and the first longrange strike deep into Jap waters against Palau. A capable administrator and a skilful seaman, he won the affection and deep respect of all hands. Within two minutes after the Lex was torpedoed on the night of 4 December 1943 the Skipper was on the bull-horn ( public address system ). "Men, this is the Captian. We have taken a torpedo hit in our stern and the rudder seems badly damaged. Stand firm and cool. Each man must do his job calmly and efficiently. Don't worry! That's my job. I got you in here and I'll get you out." The story of how Captain Stump steered the Lex out of the Marshalls and back to Pearl Harbor by using only the main engines is now a Lexington legend. The Skipper was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral on 10 April 1944 and was given command of division of Escort Carriers. The Lex has always reserved a special place in her affection for "the man who started her out right." He was recently awarded the Navy Cross for commanding his "Jeeps" so well that they crippled and turned back a major enemy Task Group.
Captain Ernest W. Litch, U.S. Navy
Captain (now Rear Admiral) Ernest W. Litch relieved Rear Admiral Stump as skipper of the Lexington on 10 April 1944. The Lex was Flagship for Task Force 58 under Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher and Captain Litch assumed the responsibility with an easy, practiced hand.
A slight, dark man with swift, darting eyes, he soon proved that he had the fire, ability and personality to take up where Admiral Stump had left off and keep the Lex right at the top of the list of operating carriers. On the night of 15 June 1944 while supporting the occupation of Saipan the Lex underwent a heavy dusk torpedo attack. Captain Litch with exceptional skill dodged two torpedos and flicked the stern of the Lex out of way of flaming attacker which had just been set afire by Lexington guns. A master seaman and a cool operator in emergencies, he brought the Lex through the most trying days of the war with flying colors. He kept faith with the Lexington tradition by receiving a promotion to the rank of Rear Admiral on 30 January 1945. Rear Admiral Litch received command of a divison of Escort Carriers and took part in a number of engagements in the 7th Fleet with his CVE's. A fighting skipper, a graduate of the Naval Academy Class of 1920, he made a notable contribution to the winning of the Pacific war.
Captain Thomas H. Robbins, Jr., U.S. Navy
Captain Thomas H. Robbins Jr., relieved Rear Admiral Litch on 30 January 1945 as Commanding Officer of the "Blue Ghost." A large, imposing figure with a vigorous, agile demeanor, he was introduced to the crew of the Lex by Rear Admiral Litch as "the best Captain in the Navy." Captain Robbins is the perfect blending of the scholar and the fighting man, the orator and the understanding human being. He assumed easily the role of Captain of the Lexington and bred into his officers and men his own feeling of pride in her accomplishments.
When Captain Tom addressed the crew it was considered an event. His voice, pitch and delivery resembled closely that of the late President Roosevelt and his own enthusiasm about a forthcoming strike never failed to communicate itself to the crew. Captain Robbins will be remembered with gratitude by numerous Prisoners of War of the Japanese for his quick responce to their physical needs and for the inspirational message which he sent to them by message drop. Lex planes dropped 32,981 pounds of supplies to their suffering comrades. In his message Captain Robbins applauded the courage of these men who had suffered the fanaticism and tyranny of the Nips. He received many letters of thanks from them. They said that the Lex had made the hour of victory a Christmas, New Year's and Thanksgiving all rolled into one. While under the command of Captain Robbins the Lexington became the first Essex class carrier to enter Tokyo Bay. Captain Robbins is a graduate of the Naval Academy Class of 1920 and was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral on 16 November 1945. He left the Lexington in Tokyo Bay to take a post in Washington, D.C., in the office of Secretary of the Navy.
A graduate of the Naval Acadmey Class of 1924 Commander Sutliff came to the Lex as her first Exec. with a broad background in Naval Aviation. He went through the agonies of putting the ship into commission and stayed with her long enough to watch her perform with skill and distinction on 5 and 6 October 1943 when we attacked Wake Island. He left the Lex to take the important post of Chief of Staff to the Commander of Carrier Division 1. He was relieved on 12 October 1943 by Commander Bennett W. Wright.
Commander Bennett Wood Wright U.S. Navy
Commander Bennett Wood Wright was the Air Officer for the Lex before he relieved Commander Sutliff as Exec. A baldish, amiable man with cleancut features, he brought the Lex through some of her most exciting days and won the distinction of being the first to fly a plane from the Lex's flight deck and land it aboard. Commander Wright received a promotion to Captain on 7 May 1944 and left the Lex to become Aide to the Assisstant Secretary of Navy.
Commander James Mills Lane, U.S. Navy
Already recognized as one of the Navy's outstanding Navigators, Commander James M. Lane stepped up to the spot of Exec. as relief for Commander Wright. His performance as Navigator for the Lexington had been brilliant and he brought the same efficiency and integrity to his new job. Commander Lane was Executive Officer during the First Battle of the Philippines Seas and the strikes launched in support of the occupation of the Marianas. He was promoted to the rank of Captain on July 22, 1944 and was relieved by Commander L. B. Southerland. Captain Lane is a graduate of the Naval Academy Class of 1926.
Commander Leonard Bradshaw Southerland, U.S. Navy
Commander Leonard B. Southerland stepped into the number 2 spot on 22 July 1944 after an already long tour of duty aboard the Lex as Commander of Air Group 16 and Air Officer. A loved and respected figure, his intimate knowledge of the officers, men, and traditions of the Lex made him a splendid choice. "Shiek" Southerland is a tall, gangling man who is easily mistaken for Abraham Lincoln. His peculiar talent is being a terrific guy to work for and when the burns he received on November 5 from the Kamikaze hit made it necessary for him to leave us for hospitalization it was a great disappointment to all. Commander Southerland is a graduate of the Naval Academy Class of 1926 and the winner of the Legion of Merit for his grand work as Air Group Commander aboard the Lex.
Commander Thomas Anthony Ahroon, U.S. Navy
Commander Thomas Ahroon took over the "hot" seat" in an emergency relieving Comdr. Southerland who had just been seriously burned. He commanded the repairing of the damage from the Kamikaze hit and the handling of the wounded with skill and coolness and in short order had the Lex back in excellent fighting trim. His firm devotion to duty and outstanding leadership while performing two key tasks - Air Officer and Executive Officer - won for him a permament assignment as Exec. and the Legion of Merit. "Typhoon" Ahroon was with the Lexington for 14 months and is remembered as one of her most colorful figures and capable officers. His "Crystal Ball" and his battle cry "habba habba" which reduced launching and landing times by precious minutes are proud Lexington traditions. Commander Ahroon received a promotion to Captain on 24 September 1945 and was relieved by Commander E. O. Wagner to take a post in Washington, D.C.
Commander Edwin O. Wagner, U.S. Navy
Commander Edwin O. Wagner joined the Lexington in Tokyo Bay where he relieved Captain Ahroon as Exec. on 24 September 1945. The new boss walked into the demobilization hysteria and an Admiral's Annual Military Inspection. He handled both with the skill of an old timer. The Lexington received high praise from Admiral Sprague for the excellent condition of the ship, due largely to Comdr. Wagner's excellent organization and supervision. A well-built man with a clean-cut face and blonde hair, his pleasant manner and keen understanding of the problems of the Lex have won for him the respect and confidence of officers and men alike. Commander Wagner is a Brooklyn man and a graduate of the Naval Acadmey Class of 1940.
Commander Roland Stieler, U.S. Navy
Commander Roland Stieler, U.S.N., relieved Captain Wagner in Febuary of 1946 while the U.S.S. Lexington was at anchor off the coast of California. The task before him was not an easy one. The aircraft carrier had undergone a complete metamorphosis in regard to personnel and Navy existence. His was the job of converting a fighting war ship, staffed with men who had seen the Navy only in time of emergency, into a peacetime operating vessel. His fairness and understanding attitude won for him a high prestige with the men and officers. Rugged in stature and pleasing in personality, he acquired respect and admiration with everyone aboard. The major problem confronting him was overcome in short order. Reconversion was tough, but under his expert guidance, all hands cooperated and the Lexington continued to operate with the vigor and stamina that won her wide acclaim during the period of war.