Raphael Semmes, IV, was born in Montgomery, Alabama, on 18 January 1916, son of Raphael and Louise (Thornton) Semmes. He attended Huntsville (Alabama) High School and the Marion (Alabama) Institute, prior to entering the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on appointment from his native state in 1934. Graduated and commissioned Ensign on 2 June 1938, he subsequently advanced in rank, attaining that of Captain, to date from 1 July 1957.
On board USS St Louis, he was present during the Japanese Attack on the Naval Base, at Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, on 7 December 1941 and subsequently participated in the raids on the Marshall and Gilbert Islands in February 1942 and in the cruiser bombardment of the Aleutian Islands in August of that year.
As pilot of a Fighter Plane in Composite Squadron NINETY-EIGHT...and as Flight Leader of the strike groups from three carriers during attacks on enemy installations and shipping in the Chosen Archipelago, China, on 28 July and 6 August 1945...' He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. The citation further states in part: 'Skillfully avoiding attacks on friendly Chinese shipping, (he) directed strikes on Ting Hai Airfield and Harbor Shipping in the Chosen Area, despite adverse weather conditions and intense antiaircraft fire. By his leadership and courage, he contributed materially to the success of both missions...'
He was also awarded the Air Medal and a Gold Star in lieu of the Second Air Medal for completing ten missions from 7 January to 7 August 1945 and is entitled to the Ribbon for, and a facsimile of the Presidential Unit Citation awarded the USS Lunga Point.
In addition to the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with Gold Star and the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, Captain Semmes has the American Defense Service Medal with star; the American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; World War Two Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal, Asia Clasp; and National Defense Service Medal.
Captain Semmes retired from the US Navy in July 1967. He passed away in El Centro, California 29 January 1981.