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.
Home Town New York
Last Address Silver Spring, Maryland
Date of Passing Apr 06, 1996
Location of Interment Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates Not Specified
Last Known Activity
John Bulkeley never forgot his early years, the hard-iron like discipline, the poor material condition of the fleet, and the need to always be ready, in his own words, "?to be able to conduct prompt, sustained, combat operations at sea." Assigned as President of the Board of Inspection and Survey, a post held by many distinguished naval officers since it?s inception almost at the beginning of the Navy, his boundless energy would take him aboard every ship in the Navy, from keel to top of the mast, from fire control system to inside a boiler, discussing readiness and sharing sea stories and a cup of coffee with the men who operate our ships, planes, and submarines. He was relentless in his quest to improve the safety and material condition of the fleet and the conditions for the health and well being of those that manned them. He conducted his inspections by the book in strict accordance with standards as many a man well knows, but his love for the sailors always came through.
Bulkeley's Medal of Honor citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism, distinguished service, and conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty as commander of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3, in Philippine waters during the period 7 December 1941 to 10 April 1942. The remarkable achievement of LCDR Bulkeley's command in damaging or destroying a notable number of Japanese enemy planes, surface combatant and merchant ships, and in dispersing landing parties and land-based enemy forces during the 4 months and 8 days of operation without benefit of repairs, overhaul, or maintenance facilities for his squadron, is believed to be without precedent in this type of warfare. His dynamic forcefulness and daring in offensive action, his brilliantly planned and skillfully executed attacks, supplemented by a unique resourcefulness and ingenuity, characterize him as an outstanding leader of men and a gallant and intrepid seaman. These qualities coupled with a complete disregard for his own personal safety reflect great credit upon him and the Naval Service.
Best Moment Challenged in his first assignment as Commander, Guantanamo Naval Base, he met and defeated the challenge of Fidel Castro?s threats of severing the water supplies of the base. Today, Guantanamo stands as a symbol of American resolve because men like John Bulkeley stood up, refused to bend, and took the initiative to stare down belligerent threats of lesser men not friendly with America. Perhaps a tribute of the time was the wanted poster, offering 50,000 pesos for him, dead or alive, by the communist leadership of Cuba along with a description, "?a guerrilla of the worst species". At Guantanamo, as those that have visited know, there is a hill that overlooks the northeast gate, A Gate, with a sign that reads "Cuba, Land Free from America". As Cuban troops began moving about, his 19-year-old-driver, a Marine lance corporal, came running up and stood directly in front of the Admiral, ready and willing to take the bullet that would end the life of his Commander. The Admiral loved his Marines; the Marines loved and respected him in return. He would be with them day and night, in fatigues, ready to conduct war if necessary but more to defend Americans and The Land of the Free against the communist yoke of tyranny. As COL Steven?s, the former commanding officer of the Marine barracks at Guantanamo, wrote, adding three more stories to the legend of John Bulkeley, "The Admiral had the compassion for the men in the field, taking time again and again to bring them relief, whether cookies on Christmas morning or visiting them at odd hours of the night to ease their nerves. They loved this man." The Admiral would construct on that hill the largest Marine Corps insignia in the world as a quiet reminder that the United States Marine Corps stood vigilance over the base. In tribute, a Marine would write, "John Bulkeley, Marine in Sailor?s clothing."