|Name||John G. Crommelin|
, Alabama , United States
|| October 02, 1902
|| November 02, 1996
Jul 08, 2007 08:37pm
|Info||by RADM James D. "Jig Dog" Ramage, USN(Ret) |
Character is hard to define, but I know it when I see it. While it is associated with leadership, it is not the same thing. Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin were great leaders, but all were without moral or ethical strength, i.e., character.
One of the great leaders who we in Naval Aviation during World War II admired was CDR John G. Crommelin, who served as air boss and executive officer in USS Enterprise (CV-6) during 1942 and 1943. During that time, four new commanding officers passed through the ship, and John provided the character, the underpinning of spirit, that saw the carrier through some trying times. The man was everywhere -- he spent many hours in the ready rooms and elsewhere on the ship. He was an excellent pilot and flew with the squadrons when we operated ashore in the forward area. He was the soul of the ship, the very embodiment of the name Enterprise in a way that dramatized the character of this strong leader. The "Big E" was the only fast carrier remaining in the South Pacific in the period of time between the loss of Hornet (CV-8) at the Battle of Santa Cruz in 1942 and the arrival of Essex (CV-9) and others in her class beginning in 1943. John Crommelin later played a key role in the 1949 struggle to save Naval Aviation. In placing his convictions before his career, Crommelin was forced into retirement as a result of his outspoken support of the carriers in a page of history known as "The Revolt of the Admirals." None who know him ever heard him express any regret for his courage in the face of overwhelming odds -- he knew what must be done, and he gave it his best shot regardless of the cost to him personally.
Examples of True Character
The Revolt of the Admirals offers the modern officer an opportunity to study the elements of true character. Others in the incident likewise decided that there were matters of principle more important than their careers. Leader of the charge was ADM Arthur Radford, who at the time was Commander in Chief, Pacific. CAPT Arleigh Burke, certain that he would not be selected for flag rank despite his invaluable wartime service, headed up Radford's Washington office. Concurrently, President Harry S (The Buck Stops Here) Truman's Secretary of Defense, Louis Johnson, canceled the carrier United States (CV-58), whose keel had just been laid. Secretary of the Navy John Sullivan then resigned in protest and soon afterward Chief of Naval Operations ADM Louis E. Denfeld was fired summarily for his stubborn support of Radford and Burke. The whole sordid affair shook the Navy, but junior officers in the Navy took heart from the positive aspects of the blood bath, for they knew that their leadership had the courage to stand up and be counted when it mattered. The actions by our Navy's leaders were truly examples of character and superb leadership. There are many others such as this over the years, but the Revolt of the Admirals stands as key in my time.
by Columbia Journalism Review
^ DART to the Montgomery, Alabama, Advertiser, for repressing its institutional memory. The paper's twenty-one-paragraph obituary on retired Navy Rear Adm. John G. Crommelin -- the lead story on the first page of its second section on November 5 -- was unrestrained in its admiration for a local "hero" of World War II, citing his "daring exploits," "superb skills," "unwavering love of the service," and "outspokenness . . . as the savior of naval aviation," and quoting colleagues who called him a "true American patriot" deserving of "high praise." It also mentioned, in passing, that after retirement from active duty in 1950, the admiral had "immediately embarked on a series of unsuccessful campaigns for the U.S. Senate." Noticeably missing was any signal to the nature of those Senate campaigns -- an oversight remedied by a reader's letter to the editor published on November 17. Quoting from campaign handouts, the reader noted Crommelin's promise that a vote for him would be a vote against the "Communist-Jewish Conspirators" [whose objective it is to] "desty Christianity, . . . eliminate all racial distinctions except the so-called Jewish race, which will then become the master race with headquarters in Israel and the United Nations . . . and from these two communications centers rule a slave-like world population of copper-colored human mongrels." The "hero article," the reader observed, "brought back the painful memory of the support Crommelin had received from some of the most influential people in Montgomery. Evidently his racist politics remain unimportant to the Advertiser and can be ignored by many of the same folks who were around back then."