Sprague, Clifton A.F., VADM

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Last Rank
Vice Admiral
Last Primary NEC
132X-Unrestricted Line Officer - Naval Flight Officer
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1950-1951, 132X, 17th Naval District
Service Years
1917 - 1951
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral

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This Military Service Page was created/owned by Robert Cox, YNCS to remember Sprague, Clifton A.F. (Ziggy), VADM USN(Ret).

If you knew or served with this Sailor and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
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Date of Passing
Apr 11, 1955
Location of Interment
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I created this profile of VADM Sprague as part of my research of the Battle Off Samar.  Sprague was the Commander of the American Task Unit 77.4.3 (Taffy III).  The little escort carriers (CVEs) he commanded were an intergal part of winning the war in the Pacific.

Please add VADM Sprague to your list of shipmates and visit often.

See my website for more insight:  

Please visit my Battle Off Samar famous Naval officer profiles:

  • VADM Thomas Sprague
  • ADM Felix Stump
  • VADM Ralph Ofstie
  • RADM William Sample
  • RADM Robert Copeland
  • RADM Leon Kintberger
  • CDR Ernest Evans

    Clifton Albert Frederick "Ziggy" Sprague
    United States Navy

    Commander Task Unit 77.4.3 (Taffy III)
    Commander Carrier Division 25
    at Samar, October 25, 1944

     The success attendant upon the efforts to escape the devastating enemy fire was remarkable almost to the point of being unexplainable. After being under enemy fire for two and one half hours at ranges closing to under 10,500 yards, this Task Unit lost one carrier, and two DD's and one DE. These escorts were lost as a result of their heroic torpedo attack into the center of the enemy under very heavy fire. U.S.S. ST. LO (Ex MIDWAY) was lost sometime later after the enemy had begun retirement as a result of a successful suicide dive into the middle of her flight deck and subsequent explosions. From almost the beginning of the action, heavy funnel and FS smoke was laid by all vessels; this, together with a providential rain squall, seemed to bother the enemy fire control parties to an unusual degree, resulting at times in lulls in the firing, and perhaps indicating lack of use of radar fire control for surface gunnery.

    The Japanese gunnery was good as to mean range, poor as to advance range, and with excellent patterns. It is believed they had an airborne spotter overhead. The fact that a large number of shells were AP, non-explosive, resulted in much loss damage from hits received. In summation, the failure of the enemy main body and encircling light forces to completely wipe out all vessels of this Task Unit can be attributed to our successful smoke screen, our torpedo counter-attack, continuous harassment of enemy by bomb, torpedo, and straffing air attacks, timely maneuvers, and the definite partiality of Almighty God.


    All of the Ship's Histories are now in place.  Click on the ship name under Assignments to read.  I'm still working on the Shore Stations.


    Other Comments:
  • Entered the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1914 and graduated one year early on June, 28, 1917 in response to World War 1. 
  • Nicknamed "Ziggy" at the USNA. 
  • Served in the Atlantic on the Gun Boat Wheeling during World War 1 employed on combat patrol and escort duties in the Azores and Gibraltar areas.
  • Was designated as one of the Navy's first 300 Flight Officers in August 1921. 
  • Credited with assisting inventor Carl Norden with improvements to aircraft carrier arresting gear on Lexington and Saratoga in the late 1920s. 
  • Was the first U.S. Navy Pilot to fly a non-stop round trip flight from Hawaii to Midway Island in February 1934. 
  • Was CO of Sea Plane Tender Tangier during the Japanese Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941. 
  • Commanded the fast carrier Wasp in 1943 and 1944. 
  • Promoted to Rear Admiral in June 1944. 
  • His Task Unit 77.4.3 fought off the superior Japanese Centre Force at Leyte Gulf (Battle Off Samar) on October 25, 1944. 
  • Served as Commander of Carrier Division 26 at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. 
  • Commanded Carrier Division 2, embarked on USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) which operated against the Japanese home islands of Kyushu, Honshu, and Hokkaido in the summer of 1945.
  • Was Commander, Navy Air Group for Operation Crossroads nuclear tests in July 1946. 
  • In November 1950, was the first U.S. Navy Admiral to fly over the North Pole. 
  • The guided missile frigate USS Clifton Sprague (FFG-16) commissioned March 21, 1981.
  • Inducted into the Carrier Aviation Hall of Fame in 1985.
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    Command at Sea

     Duty Stations
    US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)US NavyNaval Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API), NAS Pensacola, FLSchool Assignments - Staff
    NAS PensacolaNAS AnacostiaUSS Saratoga (CV-3)USS Lexington (CV-2)
    VP-8 Fighting TigersNAS NorfolkUSS Yorktown (CV-5)Naval War College (Faculty Staff)
    NAS Seattle/SandpointUSS Wasp (CV-18)USS Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70)USS Bennington (CV-20)
    USS Ticonderoga (CV-14)USS Shangri-la (CV-38)USS Kearsarge (CV-33)11th Naval District
      1914-1917, US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)
      1917-1919, 110X, USS Wheeling (PG-14)
      1919-1919, 111X, USS Manley (DD-74)
      1920-1920, 111X, USS Tennessee (BB-43)
      1920-1920, 137X, Naval Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API), NAS Pensacola, FL
      1920-1921, 137X, Naval Flight Training
      1921-1922, 132X, NAS Pensacola
      1922-1923, 132X, USS Wright (AV-1)
      1922-1923, 132X, VS-1
      1923-1926, 132X, NAS Anacostia
      1923-1926, 132X, Naval Aircraft Factory, Philadelphia
      1926-1928, 132X, USS Saratoga (CV-3)
      1926-1928, 132X, USS Lexington (CV-2)
      1926-1928, 132X, NAS Hampton Roads
      1928-1929, 132X, USS Lexington (CV-2)
      1929-1931, 132X, US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)
      1931-1933, 132X, USS Wright (AV-1)
      1931-1934, 132X, VP-8 Fighting Tigers
      1934-1936, 132X, NAS Norfolk
      1936-1939, 132X, USS Yorktown (CV-5)
      1939-1939, 132X, Naval War College (Faculty Staff)
      1939-1940, 132X, USS Patoka (AO-9)
      1940-1940, 132X, Naval War College (Faculty Staff)
      1940-1942, 132X, USS Tangier (AV-8)
      1942-1943, 132X, Commander Gulf Sea Frontier
      1943-1943, 132X, NAS Seattle/Sandpoint
      1943-1943, 132X, Boston Navy Yard
      1943-1944, 132X, USS Wasp (CV-18)
      1944-1944, 132X, USS Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70)
      1944-1944, 132X, Carrier Division 25 (COMCARDIV 25)
      1945-1945, 132X, USS Bennington (CV-20)
      1945-1945, 132X, USS Ticonderoga (CV-14)
      1945-1945, 132X, Carrier Division 2 (COMCARDIV 2)
      1945-1945, 132X, Carrier Division 26 (COMCARDIV 26)
      1945-1945, 132X, USS Natoma Bay (CVE-62)
      1945-1945, 132X, USS Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70)
      1946-1946, 132X, USS Shangri-la (CV-38)
      1946-1946, 132X, Joint Task Force-1 (JTF-1)
      1946-1948, 132X, Primary Flight Training, NAS Corpus Cristi, TX
      1948-1948, 132X, Carrier Division 6 (COMCARDIV 6)
      1948-1948, 132X, USS Kearsarge (CV-33)
      1949-1950, 132X, 11th Naval District
      1949-1950, 132X, 12th Naval District
      1950-1951, 132X, Commander Alaskan Sea Frontier
      1950-1951, 132X, 17th Naval District
     Combat and Non-Combat Operations
      1917-1918 World War I/Convoy Duty - Azores and Gibraltar areas
      1941-1941 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Attack on Pearl Harbor
      1941-1941 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Battle of Wake Island
      1941-1943 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Air Strikes on Marcus and Wake Islands
      1944-1944 Leyte Campaign (1944)/Battle of Samar29
      1944-1944 New Guinea Campaign (1943-44)/Battle of Morotai
      1944-1944 Mariana and Palau Islands Campaign (1944)/Battle of Philippine Sea
      1945-1945 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater
      1945-1945 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Okinawa Gunto Operation1
      1945-1945 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Iwo Jima Operation
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