Ghormley, Robert Lee, VADM

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Last Rank
Vice Admiral
Primary Unit
1945-1946, General Board, Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV)
Service Years
1906 - 1946
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral

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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Kent Weekly (SS/DSV) (DBF), EMCS to remember Ghormley, Robert Lee, VADM USN(Ret).

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Contact Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
Annapolis, MD

Date of Passing
Jun 21, 1958
Location of Interment
Not Specified
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Last Known Activity
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Other Comments:

Was relieved by Admiral Halsey as COMSOPAC in 1942.

In the spring of 1942 Ghormley was appointed Commander of the South Pacific Area (COMSOPAC), arriving in New Zealand on 19 June 1942. Only ten days later Admiral King suggested that the time was right for the first American offensive of the war, an attack into the lower Solomon Islands. Both Ghormley and MacArthur declared that their forces were not ready for this, but on 4 July 1942 reconnaissance aircraft discovered that the Japanese were building an airbase on Guadalcanal. If this base had been completed, then it would have covered the flanks of a Japanese advance towards Port Moresby and even for an attack on Australia. Ghormley and MacArthur had no choice but to go along with King's plans, and prepare to attack Guadalcanal.

Ghormley worked fast, issuing his plans on 16 July, and the attack itself was made on 7 August 1942. The Marines landed unopposed, and quickly captured the Japanese airfield, soon renamed Henderson Field, but after that things began to go wrong. The basic problem was the poor command structure. Although Ghormley was the overall US naval commander in the area, direct command over the fleet at Guadalcanal was held by Admiral "Black Jack" Fletcher, while the amphibious forces were commanded by R.K. Turner. Fletcher and Turner both took part in the actual campaign, while Ghormley remained in New Zealand (eventually moving to Noumea on New Caladonia). A radio blackout during the early days of the campaign meant that Ghormley had no effective control over the course of the fighting, and could do nothing to stop Fletcher from removing his carriers on 9 August. This forced Turner to withdraw his transport ships, and left the marines isolated.

Two months into the campaign, Ghormley had still not visited Guadalcanal, and on  18 October 1942 he was replaced as COMSOPAC by Admiral Halsey.

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 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)US NavyCommander in Chief Pacific Fleet (CINCPACFLT)/Commander Pacific Fleet (COMPACFLT)Commander Battle Force (CTF-60), COMSIXTHFLT
Military Sealift Fleet Support Command  (MSC/MSFSC), Military Sealift Command Headquarters (MSCHQ)Under Secretary of the Navy (UNSECNAV), Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV)Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV)CNO - OPNAV
Naval War College (Staff)Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO), CNO - OPNAVState Department, Washington, DC, Naval Support Unit (NSU)Commander in Chief US Naval Forces Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR)/Commander US Naval Forces Europe (COMUSNAVE
  1902-1906, US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)
  1906-1908, USS West Virginia (ACR-5)
  1908-1909, USS Buffalo (1892)
  1909-1910, USS Charleston (C-22)
  1910-1911, USS Maryland (ACR-8)
  1911-1913, Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet (CINCPACFLT)/Commander Pacific Fleet (COMPACFLT)
  1911-1913, USS CALIFORNIA (ACR-6)
  1913-1916, US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)
  1916-1918, USS Nevada (BB-36)
  1917-1918, Commander Battle Force (CTF-60), COMSIXTHFLT
  1917-1918, Commander Battleship Squadron TWO
  1918-1920, Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS), Military Sealift Fleet Support Command (MSC/MSFSC)
  1920-1920, USS Niagara (SP-136)
  1920-1922, USS Sands (DD-243)
  1923-1925, Under Secretary of the Navy (UNSECNAV), Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV)
  1925-1927, USS Oklahoma (BB-37)
  1927-1930, General Board, Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV)
  1930-1931, Commander Battle Force (CTF-60), COMSIXTHFLT
  1930-1931, USS California (BB-44)
  1931-1932, Commander in Chief, United States Fleet (CINCUS)
  1932-1935, CNO - OPNAV
  1935-1936, USS Nevada (BB-36)
  1936-1937, Commander in Chief, United States Fleet (CINCUS)
  1936-1937, USS Pennsylvania (BB-38)
  1937-1938, Naval War College (Staff)
  1938-1939, CNO - OPNAV
  1939-1940, Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO), CNO - OPNAV
  1940-1942, US Embassy London, England
  1942-1942, Commander in Chief US Naval Forces Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR)/Commander US Naval Forces Europe (COMUSNAVE
  1942-1942, Commander South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force (COMSOPAC)
  1942-1942, USS Rigel (AD-13)
  1942-1942, USS Argonne (AG-31)
  1942-1943, Commander in Chief, United States Fleet (CINCUS)
  1943-1944, 14th Naval District/COMNAVBASE Pearl Harbor
  1943-1944, Commander Hawaiian Sea Frontier
  1944-1945, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Germany (COMNAVFORGER)
  1945-1946, General Board, Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1914-1914 US Occupation of Veracruz
  1915-1934 US Occupation of Haiti
  1917-1918 World War I
  1942-1942 Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-42)/Battle of the Eastern Solomons
  1942-1942 Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-42)/Guadalcanal-Tulagi landings
  1942-1942 Guadalcanal-Tulagi landings/Battle of Savo Island
  1942-1942 Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-42)/Cape Esperance (Second Savo)
 Colleges Attended 
University of IdahoUnited States Naval AcademyNaval War College
  1898-1902, University of Idaho
  1902-1906, United States Naval Academy
  1937-1938, Naval War College
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