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Jason Nelson Robards, Jr. (July 26, 1922 - December 26, 2000) was an American actor on stage, and in film and television. He was a winner of the Tony Award, two Academy Awards and the Emmy Award. He was also a United States Navy combat veteran of World War II. He became famous playing works of American playwright Eugene O'Neill and regularly performed in O'Neill's works throughout his career. Robards was cast in both common-man roles and as well-known historical figures.
After High School in he decided to join the Navy in 1940. He reported for service 16 September, 1940. After enlisting, Robards became a Went to U.S. Navy School for Radioman at Naval Training Station in San Diego, CA.
He reported onboard the USS Northhampton on 26 March, 1941, as Seaman Second Class (S2c) (Seamen Apprentice) He promoted on 1 August 1941 to Seaman First Class (S1c)(Seaman) On November 26, 1941 he was transferred from the Northampton to Flag Allowance of Commander Cruiser Division 5 (CCD5) but still on the USS Northhampton. 1 Dec, 1941 he was promoted to Radioman 3rd Class Petty Officer (RM3)
(Flag Allowance is the Admiral's Staff and enlisted personnel that mans flag plot during OTC and condition watches, sifts through intelligence files for battle information, stands communication (his job) and signal bridge watches, performs administration duties of the command, furnishes music for honors and entertainment, serves the Admiral's mess and mans the Admiral's barge. )
Despite contrary reports, Robards' ship was miles away from Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. On 7 December 1941, Northampton was at sea with the USS Enterprise task force. The next day, she entered Pearl Harbor to witness first hand the devastation caused by Japan's surprise attack.
Robards' did see plenty of action throughout the war. The USS Northampton early wartime operations were primarily in the Hawaiian area, but in late January 1942 she went to the central Pacific, where on 1 February she bombarded Wotje, in the Marshall Islands. A second bombardment, of Wake Island, was delivered on 24 February. Northampton was unsuccessfully attacked by Japanese aircraft at that time. In March, she operated with the carrier task force that struck Marcus Island and the next month took part in the Doolittle Raid on Japan. She accompanied USS Enterprise to the south Pacific in May 1942 and escorted her through the Battle of Midway in early June.
Northampton returned to the southern Pacific in August 1942 to participate in the Guadalcanal campaign. Serving for the next two months with carrier task forces, she was present when USS Wasp was sunk by a Japanese submarine on 15 September and accompanied USS Hornet during the 26 October Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. When that carrier was disabled by enemy torpedoes and bombs, Northampton tried to tow her out of danger, but had to abandon Hornet to her fate after another air attack inflicted fatal damage.
During November, Northampton joined a cruiser-destroyer surface action group. On the night of 30 November 1942, her task force intercepted several Japanese destroyers off Guadalcanal. The resulting Battle of Tassafaronga was a shattering experience for the U.S. Navy, which received further proof of the enemy's superiority in night gun and torpedo combat. Northampton was one of four U.S. heavy cruisers hit by Japanese torpedoes. A serious fire amidships prevented damage control parties from controlling her flooding, and she sank stern-first three hours after she was hit. The ship was destroyed, and Robards survived by treading water near the wreckage for hours until a U.S. destroyer either the USS Fletcher or USS Drayton rescued him.
He was transferred to the USS Barnett (APA-5) on 3 December 1942 and transferred on 4 December to the USS President Hayes (APA-20) On 6 December, 1942 to Commander, Service Squadron, South Pacific Force (COMSERONSOPAC) From the USS President Hayes (APA-20)
He reported in to have been transferred to USS Honolulu on March 12, 1943. as a Radioman 2nd Class Petty Officer as part of the Flag Allowance for Cruiser Division 9 (CCD-9) Between March and July. Honolulu operated out of Espiritu Santo in early 1943 with Task Force 67 (TF 67) in an attempt to engage the "Tokyo Express". During May, she engaged in bombardments of New Georgia in the Solomons. Honolulu departed from Espiritu Santo on 28 June for more bombardments in the Solomons. After supporting the landings on New Georgia Island on 4 July, she opened fire on enemy ships in the Battle of Kula Gulf, knocking out one destroyer and assisting in the destruction of others.
The battle-proven cruiser had another opportunity to confront the Japanese fleet on 13 July, in the Battle of Kolombangara. Shortly after midnight, contact was made with an enemy cruiser-destroyer force in "The Slot". At 0110, Honolulu opened fire on a Sendai-class light cruiser. After three salvos, the target burst into flame and was soon dead in the water. Honolulu shifted fire to an enemy destroyer, which was immediately hit and disappeared. At 0211, a torpedo struck the starboard side of Honolulu, blowing a hole in her hull. The task force then retired to Tulagi for temporary repairs, and then departed for the large naval base at Pearl Harbor. During the battle, the Japanese ships Jintsu and Gwin were sunk and The US Ships Leander, Honolulu, and St. Louis were damaged. St. Louis took a torpedo which hit well forward and twisted her bow, but caused no serious casualties.
Both the St Louis and the Honolulu arrived at Pearl Harbor for major repairs. They both then proceeded to the shipyard at Mare Island, near San Francisco, for more work till mid to late November. During this time in the US Robards was transferred back and forth from the USS Honolulu, and the USS St Louis.
On 14 November 1943 the Flag Allowance was transferred to the USS Nashville (CL-43) then back to the USS St Louis on 26 November 1943 and then back to the USS Nashville on 30 November 1943. Then on 15 December 1943 back to the USS Honolulu.
USS Honolulu arrived at Espiritu Santo on 11 December,CCD-9 Command Flag Allowance was transferred on the USS Honolulu on 15 December 1943. The Ship then resumed operations in the Solomons later that month. On 27 December, she engaged in the bombardment of an enemy barge, troop, and supply concentration on Bougainville Island. In the early months of 1944, the cruiser continued bombardments and patrols in the Solomon Islands. She screened the landings on Green Island on 13 February, before retiring from the Solomons to begin preparations for the Saipan and Guam operations in the Mariana Islands.
Honolulu took part in bombardments of the southeastern part of Saipan Island in early June as the Navy and Marines leaped across the Pacific. While bombarding Guam in mid-June, Honolulu was deployed northwest to intercept the Japanese fleet. She returned to Eniwetok Atoll on 28 June for replenishments, before providing support for the invasion of Guam. She remained on station for three weeks, performing great service with her accurate gunfire, before returning to Purvis Bay on Florida Island in the Solomons on 18 August. Honolulu steamed out on 6 September to provide fire support for the landings in the Palau Islands, such as at Peleliu Island and Anguar, remaining in this area during September unopposed by the Japanese fleet. America now had decisive command of the sea, and therefore nearly full freedom of operations.
While Robards was onboard he was promoted to Radioman Petty Officer 1st Class (RM1) on June 1, 1944. On 7 December 1944 The Flag Allowance was transferred to be onshore with Commander Destroyer Pacific Fleet (COMDESPAC)
Remainer of the war
US Navy Muster reports do show Jason Robards but it is reported that he remain on shore All that is know is that he was discharged in early 1946.
During his time in the Navy, Robards picked up Strange Interlude, a stage play by Eugene O'Neil. After his discharge from the Navy in 1946, Robards returned home and confided to his father his growing interest in acting. The senior Robards urged his son to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA) in New York, which he himself had attended and now recommended to his son as an excellent place to learn the actor's craft. He started out with bit parts in radio and stage, but landed a major break as the star for a television adaptation of Ice Man Cometh.
Robards' career was prolific: he landed notable roles in film, television, and theater, including classics such as Long Day Journey's Into Night, Once Upon a Time in the West and All the President's Men. Throughout his life he struggled with alcoholism, and a restless personal life, getting married four times. He always had a preference for stage acting, having said, "It's the satisfaction of saying something about the human condition through the author, with the actors acting as the instrument, and then hearing the audience response." Over his career, Robards received, among others, eight Tony Awards, three Academy Awards, and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor for his role in Inherit the Wind.