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Home Town Staten Island, NY
Last Address Los Angeles, CA
Casualty Date Nov 08, 1944
Cause Hostile-Body Not Recovered
Reason Other Explosive Device
Location Pacific Ocean
Conflict World War II
Location of Interment Manila American Cemetery and Memorial - Manila, Philippines
Wall/Plot Coordinates (cenotaph)
Last Known Activity
USS Growler's (SS-215) final war patrol began in Freemantle, Australia, 20 October 1944, operating in wolfpack with two other submarines. On 8 November, in concert with Hake and Harder, the order to commence firing was given attacking a convoy. Growler was never heard from again, and the cause of her sinking is unknown. Commander Oakley was listed as Missing in Action and later declared dead 8 November 1945.
Legion of Merit
General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 348 (March 1946)
Action Date: December 12, 1943 - January 5, 1944
Company: Commanding Officer
Division: U.S.S. Tarpon (SS-175)
(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Commander Thomas Benjamin Oakley, Jr. (NSN: 0-73499), United States Navy, was awarded the Legion of Merit (Posthumously) for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. TARPON (SS-175) from 12 December 1943 to 5 January 1944.
Awarded for Action During World War II
Division: U.S.S. Growler (SS-215)
Citation: The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Commander Thomas Benjamin Oakley, Jr. (NSN: 0-73499), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. GROWLER (SS-215), on the TENTH War Patrol of that submarine during the period 11 August 1944 to 26 September 1944, in enemy controlled waters of the Southwest Pacific. Striking fiercely at a large Japanese convoy in a daring night surface action, Commander Oakley delivered a fast bow attack, sinking a tanker and damaging a freighter, then, swinging hard right under terrific shellfire, shot four stern torpedoes point blank at an aggressive destroyer, exploding the target in billows of smoke. Threatened with depth-charging and under furious surface attack, he remained surfaced while skillfully evading the persistent counterfire and submerged just before dawn to make his escape undamaged. Warned of the approach of a second heavily-escorted convoy, he attacked from dead ahead of the starboard column, firing three down-the-throat shots at a destroyer bearing down on a collision course, executed a sharp maneuver hard left, fired his stern tubes at two overlapping merchantmen to score heavy damage on both, and swung hard left again in time to see the blazing man-of-war sink a short 200 yards off his port side. Undaunted, he cleared the area under heavy fire while still surfaced and, a few hours after daylight, sighted a third destroyer searching the scene of earlier action. Immediately submerging, he rigged for depth-charging, conducted a brilliant close-range periscope attack and plunged deep to register through the GROWLER's hull the shattering concussions of his death-dealing torpedoes as they struck the target and exploded. His superb ship handling and indomitable fighting spirit in achieving this outstanding record reflect the highest credit upon commander Oakley, his gallant ship's company and the United States Naval Service.
Cachalot (SS-170) was launched 19 October 1933 as VR (SC-4) by Portsmouth Navy Yard; sponsored by Miss K. D. Kempff, and commissioned 1 December 1933 Lieutenant Commander M. Comstock in command.
After shakedown, further construction' tests, and overhaul' Cachalot sailed for San Diego, Calif., where on 17 October 1934 she joined the Submarine Force, U.S. Fleet. Operating until 1937 principally on the west coast, she engaged in fleet problems, torpedo practice, antisubmarine, tactical, and sound training exercises. She cruised twice to Hawaiian waters and once to the Canal Zone to participate in large-scale fleet exercises.
Cachalot cleared San Diego 15 June 1937, bound for New London, Conn., and duty in experimental torpedo firing for the Newport Torpedo Station, and sound training for the New London Submarine School until 26 October 1937 when she began a lengthy overhaul at New York Navy Yard. A year later she sailed for participation in a fleet problem, torpedo practice and sound training in the Caribbean and off the Canal Zone, and on 16 June 1939, reported at Pearl Harbor for duty with the Submarine Force and the Scouting Force.
War came to Cachalot as she lay in Pearl Harbor Navy Yard in overhaul. In the Japanese attack of 7 December 1941, one of her men was wounded, but the submarine suffered no damage. Yard work on her was completed at a furious pace, and on 12 January 1942 she sailed on her first war patrol. After fueling at Midway, she conducted a reconnaissance of Wake, Eniwetok Ponape, Truk, Namonuito, and Hall Islands, returning to Pearl Harbor 18 March with vitally needed intelligence of Japanese bases. Her second war patrol, for which she cleared from Midway on 9 June, was conducted off the Japanese home islands, where she damaged an enemy tanker. Returning to Pearl Harbor 26 July, she cleared on her final war patrol 23 September, penetrating the frigid waters of the Bering Sea in support of the Aleutians operations.
Overage for strenuous war patrols, Cachalot still had a key role to play during the remainder of the war, which she spent as training ship for the Submarine School at New Landon. She served here until 30 June 1945, when she sailed to Philadelphia where she was decommissioned 17 October 1945 She was sold 26 January 1947.
Cachalot received three battle stars for World War II service.