Best, Richard H., LCDR

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Lieutenant Commander
Last Primary NEC
131X-Unrestricted Line Officer - Pilot
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1940-1942, 131X, USS Enterprise (CV-6)
Service Years
1932 - 1944
Official/Unofficial US Navy Certificates
Order of the Golden Dragon
Neptune Subpoena
Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

343 kb

Home State
New Jersey
New Jersey
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Bersley H. Thomas, Jr. (Tom), SMCS to remember Best, Richard H., LCDR.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Last Address
Not Specified

Date of Passing
Oct 28, 2001
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

Order of the Shellback Order of the Golden Dragon

 Military Association Memberships
United States Naval Academy Alumni AssociationTailhook AssociationMilitary Order of the World Wars (MOWW)
  1932, United States Naval Academy Alumni Association - Assoc. Page
  1937, Tailhook Association
  1945, Military Order of the World Wars (MOWW)

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

After his retirement from the Navy Best moved to Santa Monica, California, where he lived for the rest of his life. After discharge from the hospital, Best worked in a small research division of the Douglas Aircraft Corporation. This division became part of the Rand Corporation in December 1948, where Best headed the security department until his retirement in March 1975.  He died in October 2001 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Best was married and had a daughter - Barbara Ann Llewellyn and a son - Richard Halsey Best II.

Other Comments:

Battle of Midway June 4-7, 1944

After contact reports of Midway-based PBY Catalina patrol aircraft on the morning of June 4, 1942, Enterprise started to launch her air group starting on 07:06h. Under the overall command of the air group commander (CEAG) Lt.Cdr. Wade McClusky were 14 TBD-1 Devastator torpedo bombers of Torpedo Squadron 6 (VT-6), 34 SBDs of VB-6, the CEAG section, and VS-6, and ten F4F-4 Wildcat fighters of Fighting Squadron 6 (VF-6). However, the squadrons became separated and reached the Japanese independently. Only the dive bombers stayed together and reached the enemy by 09:55h. At about 10:22h the Enterprise dive bombers started to attack two Japanese carriers, which proved to be the Kaga, and the Akagi.

Then again, the attack became confused, as all 34 Dauntlesses started to attack Kaga, and none the Akagi. Obviously, Best expected to attack according to the U.S. dive bomber doctrine. This was that VB-6 would attack the nearer carrier (in that case Kaga) and VS-6 the one further away (here Akagi). The three-plane CEAG section was expected to attack last, as their planes were equipped with cameras to later assess the damage. However, evidently McClusky was not aware of this, having until becoming CEAG been a fighter pilot. Therefore McClusky began his dive on Kaga, being followed by VS-6, and Best's VB-6 was also attacking Kaga according to doctrine. Lieutenant Best noticed the error and broke off with his two wingmen to attack the Akagi.

The flight deck of USS Enterprise on May 15, 1942: The first SBD is either Best's ("B-1") or that of the CO of VS-6 ("S-1").

On 10:26h Best's three SBDs attacked the Akagi. The first bomb, dropped by Lt.(jg) Edwin John Kroeger, missed. The second bomb, aimed by Ens. Frederic Thomas Weber, landed in the water, near the stern. The force wave of that hit jammed the Akagi's rudder.   The last bomb, dropped by Richard Best, punched though the flight deck and exploded in the upper hangar, in the middle of 18 Nakajima B5N2 planes, parked there. That hit doomed the Akagi.   Later that day, Lieutenant Best participated in the attack on the last remaining Japanese carrier - the Hiryu, maybe scoring one of the four hits.   After the battle, Best was awarded the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

However, on the morning flight Best had tested an oxygen bottle to be sure that it was not leaking caustic soda. Best's first inhalation was then filled with gas fumes. He snorted the gas fumes out, not thinking about it anymore. The next day Best began repeatedly to cough up blood. The flight surgeon found out that the gas fumes had activated latent tubercolosis. He entered the hospital at Pearl Harbor on June 24, 1942. After undergoing 32 months of treatment, Richard Best retired from the US Navy in 1944.

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 Ribbon Bar
Naval Aviator Wings

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)US NavyNaval Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API), NAS Pensacola, FLAdvanced Flight Training, NAS Meridian, Mississippi.
VF-2 Bounty HuntersUSS Lexington (CV-2)VB-6USS Enterprise (CV-6)
  1928-1932, 110X, US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)
  1932-1934, 110X, USS Richmond (CL-9)
  1934-1934, 139X, Naval Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API), NAS Pensacola, FL
  1935-1935, 131X, Advanced Flight Training, NAS Meridian, Mississippi.
  1935-1938, 131X, VF-2 Bounty Hunters
  1935-1938, 131X, USS Lexington (CV-2)
  1938-1940, 131X, Officer Training Command Pensacola (OTCP) - staff only
  1940-1942, 131X, VB-6
  1940-1942, 131X, USS Enterprise (CV-6)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1942-1942 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Bombardment - Marshall and Gilbert Islands
  1942-1942 Pacific Air Offensive (1942-45)/Doolittle B-25 Attack on Tokyo
  1942-1942 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Battle of Midway
 Colleges Attended 
United States Naval Academy
  1928-1932, United States Naval Academy
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