Adm. John Hyland, 86, Dies; Championed Naval Air Power
Adm. John Joseph Hyland Jr., a veteran test pilot and champion of naval air power who commanded the American armada off Indochina at the height of the Vietnam War, died last Sunday at a hospice in Honolulu. He was 86 and lived in Honolulu.
President Lyndon B. Johnson went over the heads of 72 rear admirals senior to Admiral Hyland by naming him commander of the Seventh Fleet at the end of 1965, with a promotion to vice admiral. The choice reflected Admiral Hyland's long experience with carrier-based aerial combat and the President's campaign to bomb North Vietnam into submission.
The Seventh Fleet was heavily involved in providing cover and support for American ground troops in the Vietnam War. To sap Vietcong supply lines, the fleet in 1967 mined North Vietnamese rivers from the air and shelled roads in North Vietnam from cruisers and destroyers just offshore.
In September 1967, Mr. Johnson promoted Admiral Hyland to commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet, in Honolulu. The Admiral also received his fourth star and a Distinguished Service Medal for ''outstanding leadership, astute judgment and foresight in directing the complex and manifold operations of the Seventh Fleet in support of our national objectives in the Western Pacific.''
A ''Navy brat,'' John Hyland Jr. was born in Philadelphia and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1934. He completed training as a naval aviator in 1937, and, with the outbreak of World War II, was assigned to patrol duty in the Philippines, the Netherlands East Indies and in the retreat to Australia.
Admiral Hyland won the Distinguished Flying Cross for ''extraordinary flying achievement'' and heroism in the rescue of a downed British flyer in the Malucca Sea in 1942. He served for 16 months as the personal pilot of the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Ernest J. King.
As commander of an air group on the carrier Intrepid, Admiral Hyland was awarded a Silver Star, a fourth Air Medal and a second Distinguished Flying Cross. The citations describe his leadership and courage during low-level combat raids and the final missions over the Japanese home islands at the end of the war.
Admiral Hyland did two stints as a test pilot in the late 1940's and 1950's before taking command of the carrier Saratoga. Just before he assuming his duties at the Strategic Plans Division in Washington, he commanded a carrier task force.
As head of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Hyland played central roles in two painful episodes in the Navy's history: the investigations of the capture and detention by North Korean patrol boats of the intelligence ship Pueblo in January 1968, and the explosion that killed and maimed scores of sailors aboard the carrier Enterprise during bombing practice just months later.
He retired on Jan. 1, 1971.