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Last Rank
Last Primary NEC
131X-Unrestricted Line Officer - Pilot
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1940-1943, Naval Aviation Depot Alameda (NAVAVNDEPOT)
Service Years
1897 - 1936

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Steven Loomis (SaigonShipyard), IC3 to remember McCRARY, Frank (First LTA Pilot), CAPT.

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.
Contact Info
Home Town
Lonoke, Lonoke County, AR
Last Address
Alameda County, California
10/01/1879 to 06/01/1952
Note: Buried alongside wife, CY Mary Davison McCrary, USN

Date of Passing
Jun 10, 1952
Location of Interment
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery - San Diego, California
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Plot: Sect. P, Site 2803

 Official Badges 

WW II Honorable Discharge Pin US Navy Retired 30

 Unofficial Badges 

US Navy Honorable Discharge

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Captain Frank Robert McCrary, USN
Naval Aviator Number 91.
The Navy's first Lighter than Air (LTA) pilot.
Headed the Free Balloon and LTA training, 1915-1917.
The first CO of the Navy's first dirigible, Shenandoah, ZR-1.

Captain Frank Robert McCrary, USN: Born 1 October 1879, in Arkansas, Captain McCrary entered naval service on 11 September 1897 as a Naval Cadet at the US Naval Academy. He graduated with the Class of 1901. As a lieutenant commander, he was the first Navy’s first Lighter than Air (LTA) pilot, and executive officer of Pensacola Naval Air Station and headed up its Free Balloon and LTA training there, 1915-1917. He became the first CO of the Navy’s first dirigible, Shenandoah, ZR-1. He  held that position from October 1923 to some time in 1924. The Shenandoah crashed in September 1925 under the command of his replacement due to violent weather in Ohio. There were 13 fatalities and 29 survivors.

McCrary was promoted to Captain on 22 January 1924. Captain McCrary was appointed commanding officer of NAS North Island (then called NAS San Diego) for the first time, and served there until 10 June 1926 when he assumed command of the USS Langley CV 1 until 4 January 1927. From there, he returned to North Island for the second time from 12 September 1927 until September 1930 when he assumed command of the USS Saratoga CV-3. He served in that capacity until June, 1932 when he transferred to the Naval War College. Next, McCrary is shown as one of the commandants of Taal Air Stalin at Pensacola Naval Air Station from June 1933 - May 1934.

His last assignment was Bureau of Aeronautics. He retired from the Navy June 30, 1936. The Navy re-called McCrary out of retirement and on November 1, 1940 he become Alameda Naval Air Station’s first commanding officer, until 1943, age 64.

He died at age 72 years on 10 June 1952, in Alameda County, California.

He  married Chief Yeoman Mary B. Davison in Dublin, Ireland during WW I. Mary had been doing Red Cross work in France and became first American woman yeoman to serve in a foreign field at the Naval Aviation Headquarters in Paris. Their son, Commander Shannon McCrary, followed in his father’s footsteps as a Naval Aviator. Unfortunately, CDR Shannon McCrary was killed in a crash not far form Miramar Naval Air Station in 1956. Their other son was Captain Robert Davison McCrary, USN retired. During his 30-year naval career, Bob served on ten ships and in five shore assignments, with three of his assignments being as Commanding Officer.  He died in 2011. 


The Alameda Naval Air Station has a remarkable history. It was one of the largest, most complete Naval Air Stations in the world. It was commissioned on November 1, 1940 and commanded by Captain Frank McCrary. There were 200 military and civilian personnel.

The workers at the Naval Air Station represented 271 separate and distinct trades and could manufacture and repair every part of any aircraft. In time, modern production methods insured that the overhaul of an attack aircraft was completed every day and one and a half patrol aircraft every other day.

Other Comments:

Awards and Citations

Navy Cross
Awarded for actions during World War I

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Commander Frank Robert McCrary, United States Navy, for distinguished and heroic service as Commanding Officer of a U. S. Naval Aviation Detachment in Ireland, during World War I.
Action Date: World War I
Service: Navy
Rank: Commander
Division: Naval Aviation Forces
 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar
Naval Aviator Wings
Dirigible Pilot Wings

 Duty Stations
US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)US NavySchool Assignments - StaffUSS Shenandoah (ZR-1)
USS Langley (CV-1)NAS San DiegoUSS Saratoga (CV-3)Naval War College (Faculty Staff)
Commander Naval Air Training (CNATRA)Naval Aviation Depot Alameda (NAVAVNDEPOT)
  1897-1901, US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)
  1902-1902, USS New York (ACR-2)
  1903-1903, Naval Sea Units
  1906-1908, Atlantic Torpedo Flotilla /First Torpedo Flotilla
  1906-1908, USS Chauncey (DD-3)
  1911-1912, Atlantic Torpedo Flotilla
  1911-1913, USS Sterett (DD-27)
  1914-1915, Naval Flight Training
  1915-1917, Airship
  1916-1917, NAAF - NAAS - NALF - NAF - NAVAIRFAC
  1917-1919, NAAF - NAAS - NALF - NAF - NAVAIRFAC
  1917-1919, NAWS - NAD - NOD - NOF - NOU - NAVWEPSTA - NAVMAG
  1923-1924, USS Shenandoah (ZR-1)
  1926-1927, USS Langley (CV-1)
  1927-1930, NAS San Diego
  1930-1932, USS Saratoga (CV-3)
  1932-1933, Naval War College (Faculty Staff)
  1933-1934, Commander Naval Air Training (CNATRA)/CNATRA Detachment Pensacola
  1934-1936, Bureau of Aeronautics
  1936-1940, Broken Service
  1940-1943, Naval Aviation Depot Alameda (NAVAVNDEPOT)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1917-1918 World War I
 Reflections on Service
Please describe who or what influenced your decision to join the Navy?
Whether you were in the service for several years or as a career, please describe the direction or path you took. What was your reason for leaving?
If you participated in any military operations, including combat, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, please describe those which were the most significant to you and, if life-changing, in what way.
Was there a particular incident during your service when you believed you were in a situation you might not survive? Please describe what happened and what was the outcome.
Of all your duty stations or assignments, which one do you have fondest memories of and why? Which one was your least favorite?
From your entire service, including combat, describe the personal memories which have impacted you most?
What achievement(s) are you most proud of from your military career? If you received any medals, awards, formal presentations or qualification badges for significant achievement or valor, please describe how these were earned.
Of all the medals, awards, formal presentations and qualification badges you received, or any other memorabilia, please describe those which are the most meaningful to you and why?
Which individual(s) from your time in the military stand out as having the most positive impact on you and why?
Please recount the names of friends you served with, at which location, and what you remember most about them. Indicate those you are already in touch with and those you would like to make contact with.
Can you recount a particular incident from your service which may or may not have been funny at the time, but still makes you laugh?
What profession did you follow after your military service and what are you doing now? If you are currently serving, what is your present occupational specialty?
What military associations are you a member of, if any? What specific benefits do you derive from your memberships?
In what ways has serving in the military influenced the way you have approached your life and your career? What do you miss most about your time in the service?
Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to those who have recently joined the Navy?
In what ways has helped you remember your military service and the friends you served with.
 Colleges Attended 
United States Naval Academy
  1897-1901, United States Naval Academy
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Frank McCrary married to Chief Yeoman Mary B Davison, USN
  Captain Frank Robert McCrary, USN (background info.)6
  Nov 15, 2011, SON: Captain Robert Davison McCRARY
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