Thach, John, ADM

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Last Rank
Last Primary NEC
131X-Unrestricted Line Officer - Pilot
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1965-1967, Commander in Chief US Naval Forces Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR)/Commander US Naval Forces Europe (COMUSNAVE
Service Years
1927 - 1967

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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Michael Kohan (Mikey), ATCS to remember Thach, John (Jimmy), ADM.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
Pine Bluffs, AR

Date of Passing
Apr 15, 1981
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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Last Known Activity
John Smith Thach was born in Pine Bluffs, Arkansas, on April 19, 1905. In 1923 he was appointed to the U. S. Naval Academy, where, on June 20, 1927, he was graduated and commissioned an Ensign in the U. S. Navy. Admiral Thach was assigned to the battleships USS MISSISSIPPI and USS CALIFORNIA, until he was ordered to flight training at Pensacola, Florida in 1929. In January 1930, Admiral Thach was designated a Naval Aviator and was assigned to his first operational squadron.

Form the beginning, Admiral Thach proved himself a highly capable pilot, becoming recognized as one of the Navy's aerial gunnery experts, repeatedly shooting top scores in every type of combat aircraft he flew.

During the next few years of his career, Admiral Thach's superior performance qualified him to be a test pilot and flight instructor and to receive a letter of commendation in 1940 for "exceptional skill and technique in aerial gunnery and bombing; efficient and meticulous operation of a squadron gunnery department; marked ability to train other pilots in fighting plane tactics and gunnery."

When the United States entered World War II, Admiral Thach was a Lieutenant Commander commanding Fighter Squadron Three, embarked on the aircraft carrier USS SARATOGA. At the time, Admiral Thach was one of the top fighter tacticians in the Navy. Intelligence reports from the Sino-Japanese was convinced him that the Navy's top carrier fighter, the F4F Grumman Wildcat, was no match for the superior flying performance of the Japanese Zero. Admiral Thach sought to devise a means to give his squadron a fighting chance against the Zero. The result, which he worked out with match skickson his kitchen table, was the famous "Thach Weave" still used today by modern jets fighters. He initiated the practice of having U. S. fighter planes operate in pairs, instead of trios. The pair would weave back and forth as they encountered the Zero, thus providing the wingman the opportunity to shoot at the Zero on his partners tail and vice versa. This tactic proved highly successful at the Battle of Midway.

Admiral Thach returned to Pearl Harbor to instruct other pilots in the use of his new technique. Later in the war, Admiral Thach was assigned to the Fast Carrier Task Force as Air Operations Officer, where he developed the system of blanketing enemy airfields with a continuous patrol of carrier-based fighters. The tactics is credited with destroying the air offensive capabilities of Japan. His direction of the Navy's final offensive blows to the Japanese mainland led to an invitation to participate in the Japanese surrender aboard the battleship USS MISSOURI.

Admiral Thach continued his distinguished career after the war, commanding the aircraft carrier USS SICILY in the Korean conflict, and later, the carrier USS FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT. He was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral in November of 1955, Vice Admiral in January of 1960, and to Admiral in March of 1960. In recognition of his work, the Navy annually awards the best anti-submarine warfare aircraft squadron "The Admiral Thach Award". In 1965, Admiral Thach was ordered to duty as Commander-in-Chief of U. S. Naval Forces in Europe and served there until his retirement in May 1967, after more than 40 years of service. Admiral Thach died on 15 April 1981.
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 Ribbon Bar
Naval Aviator Wings

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)USS Saratoga (CV-3)USS Yorktown (CV-5)VF-3 Tomcatters
USS Sicily (CVE-118)USS Franklin D.Roosevelt (CVA-42)CNO - OPNAVCommander in Chief US Naval Forces Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR)/Commander US Naval Forces Europe (COMUSNAVE
  1923-1927, US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)
  1942-1942, USS Saratoga (CV-3)
  1942-1942, USS Yorktown (CV-5)
  1942-1943, VF-3 Tomcatters
  1950-1951, USS Sicily (CVE-118)
  1953-1954, USS Franklin D.Roosevelt (CVA-42)
  1960-1964, CNO - OPNAV
  1965-1967, Commander in Chief US Naval Forces Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR)/Commander US Naval Forces Europe (COMUSNAVE
 Colleges Attended 
United States Naval Academy
  1923-1927, United States Naval Academy
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