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.
VX-1 Air Test and Evaluation Squadron ONE [AIRTEVRON ONE] Pioneers
AIR TEST AND EVALUATION ONE is responsible for the Navy's Air ASW test an evaluation effort. The problem of detecting a submarine in all kinds of weather in the vast ocean area, localizing its position, and then pinpointing the target with enough accuracy to release a weapon is complex. The Officers, men, and women of VX-1 are making an important contribution to the Antisubmarine Warfare effort and the defense of the Nation.
The unit first formed during WWII in response to the German submarines threat. The response by the United States was the commissioning of the Air Antisubmarine Commander Air Force, Atlantic Fleet, on 1 April 1943 at Quonset Point, Rhode Island.
In order to consolidate ASW evaluation service of air and surface units, the Antisubmarine Development Detachment, comprised of both Air and Surface Divisions, was commissioned on 17 September 1943. By the end of the war, the Operational Development force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, was formed, to which ASDEVLANT reported for duty.
Since 1946, the squadron has undergone three name changes and one relocation. In October 1949, the name changed to Development Squadron One, and in February 1950 to Air Development Squadon One. On January 1, 1969, the present title of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron One was adopted. The long association with NAS Key West ended on 15 September 1973 when the squadon changed homeports to its present location at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. Over the years, VX-1 and its evaluation crews have received numerous awards which include the Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Expeditionary Medal, 3 Meritorious Unit Commendations, 6 CNO Safety Awards, 11 Silver Anchors, and 7Golden Anchor Awards for retention,as well as a variety of additional citations and commendations.