McKay, Robert Neil, LTJG

Fallen
 
 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Lieutenant Junior Grade
Last Service Branch
Supply Corps
Last Primary NEC
651X-Limited Duty Officer - Supply Corps
Last Rating/NEC Group
Limited Duty Officer
Primary Unit
1944-1945, 651X, USS Aaron Ward (DM-34)
Service Years
1942 - 1945
Supply Corps
Lieutenant Junior Grade

 Last Photo   Personal Details 


Home State
California
California
Year of Birth
1920
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Bersley H. Thomas, Jr. (Tom), SMCS to remember McKay, Robert Neil, LTJG.

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.
 
Casualty Info
Home Town
Los Angeles
Last Address
Los Angeles

Casualty Date
May 03, 1945
 
Cause
Hostile, Died
Reason
Artillery, Rocket, Mortar
Location
Okinawa
Conflict
World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Okinawa Gunto Operation
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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 Additional Information
Last Known Activity


LT (jg) Robert McKay "The only Supply Corps Officer to be awarded the Silver Star"

    



From the time we enter the Navy, it is stressed that we are Naval Officers first.  The Supply Corps' guiding principles state "We are first and foremost Naval Officers, integral members of the warfighting team focused on mission accomplishment."
   
Comments/Citation


 

 

 

Robert McKay

Lieutenant (jg), Supply Officer

Bob was killed in action.

"Bob, our Supply Officer, was killed in action; the only officer we lost on 3 May 1945. He was brilliant, friendly, helpful, well liked, and well respected. Bob suffered terribly with chronic seasickness when at sea. This was aggravated by the fact that he stood watches in the coding shack--a tiny closet-like space without fresh air. He refused to be relieved of this duty and was determined to stick it out. Because of his chronic condition, he finally consented to be transferred to shore duty at the first opportunity, an opportunity that never came.

After being discharged from active duty and returning home to San Diego, I always made an effort to contact family of those lost in action. George Hansell, Chief Yeoman, now had duty in San Diego, and we were in touch. Bob McKay was survived by his mother, a brother and sister. We managed to contact Bob’s mother, Lucille, and became well-acquainted with her through several visits to her home in Hollywood. Through these visits we learned that Bob had been Student Body President while attending the University of Southern California (USC) and was also elected President of the National Association of Student Body Presidents. Aboard ship, he was quiet and unassuming. Most had no idea of his accomplishments. His mother (she said we should call her “Mom”) was devastated over his loss and never really recovered. Bob’s father had been a loyal caretaker for Mary Pickford for many years and when he died, there was little for Mom McKay to live on. Mom always thought Ms. Pickford could and should have done more. Bob’s brother was a cameraman for one of the Hollywood movie studios. On one trip to see Mom, we attended the dedication of a cenotaph bearing the name of Robert Neil McKay. This was in a huge Hollywood cemetery. It was tough on Mom McKay. I wish I could remember the name of the cemetery. To the best of my recollection, Mom McKay passed away in the late 40s, a heartbroken woman."   –W. Fowers

 

 

 

   
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World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Okinawa Gunto Operation
Start Year
1945
End Year
1945

Description
The Battle of Okinawa, codenamed Operation Iceberg. was fought on the Ryukyu Islands of Okinawa and was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War of World War II. The 82-day-long battle lasted from early April until mid-June 1945. After a long campaign of island hopping, the Allies were approaching Japan, and planned to use Okinawa, a large island only 340 mi (550 km) away from mainland Japan, as a base for air operations on the planned invasion of Japanese mainland (coded Operation Downfall). Four divisions of the U.S. 10th Army (the 7th, 27th, 77th, and 96th) and two Marine Divisions (the 1st and 6th) fought on the island. Their invasion was supported by naval, amphibious, and tactical air forces.

The battle has been referred to as the "typhoon of steel" in English, and tetsu no ame ("rain of steel") or ("violent wind of steel") in Japanese. The nicknames refer to the ferocity of the fighting, the intensity of kamikaze attacks from the Japanese defenders, and to the sheer numbers of Allied ships and armored vehicles that assaulted the island. The battle resulted in the highest number of casualties in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Based on Okinawan government sources, mainland Japan lost 77,166 soldiers, who were either killed or committed suicide, and the Allies suffered 14,009 deaths (with an estimated total of more than 65,000 casualties of all kinds). Simultaneously, 42,000–150,000 local civilians were killed or committed suicide, a significant proportion of the local population. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki together with the Soviet invasion of Manchuria caused Japan to surrender less than two months after the end of the fighting on Okinawa.
   
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Year
1945
To Year
1945
 
Last Updated:
Nov 2, 2014
   
Personal Memories

Memories
On 30 April, the destroyer minelayer returned to sea to take up position on radar picket station number 10. That night, she helped repulse several air attacks; but, for the most part, weather kept enemy airpower away until the afternoon of 3 May. When the weather began to clear, the probability of air attacks rose. At about dusk, Aaron Ward's radar picked up bogies at 27 miles (43 km) distance; and her crew went to general quarters. Two of the planes in the formation broke away and began runs on Aaron Ward. The warship opened fire on the first from about 7,000 yards (6,000 m) and began scoring hits when he had closed range to 4,000 yards (4,000 m). At that point, he dipped over into his suicide dive but crashed about 100 yards (100 m) off the destroyer minelayer's starboard quarter. The second of the pair began his approach immediately thereafter. Aaron Ward opened fire on him at about 8,000 yards (7,000 m) and, once again, began scoring hits to good effect ?? so much so that her antiaircraft battery destroyed him while he was still 1,200 yards (1,100 m) away.

At that point, a third and more determined intruder appeared and dove in on Aaron Ward's stern. Though repeatedly struck by antiaircraft fire, the plane pressed home the attack with grim determination. Just before crashing into Aaron Ward's superstructure, he released a bomb which smashed through her hull below the waterline and exploded in the after engine room. The bomb explosion flooded the after engine and fire rooms, ruptured fuel tanks, set the leaking oil ablaze, and severed steering control connections to the bridge. The rudder jammed at hard left, and Aaron Ward turned in a tight circle while slowing to about 20 knots (37 km/h). Topside, the plane itself spread fire and destruction through the area around the after deckhouse and deprived mount 53 of all power and communication. Worse yet, many sailors were killed or injured in the crash.

For about 20 minutes, no attacking plane succeeded in penetrating her air defenses. Damage control parties worked feverishly to put out fires, to repair what damage they could, to jettison ammunition in danger of exploding, and to attend to the wounded. Though steering control was moved aft to the rudder itself, the ship was unable to maneuver properly throughout the remainder of the engagement. Then, at about 1840, the ships on her station came under a particularly ferocious air attack. While Little was hit by the five successive crashes that sank her, LSMR-195 took the crash that sent her to the bottom; and LCSL-25 lost her mast to a suicider. Aaron Ward also suffered her share of added woe. Just before 1900, one plane from the group of attackers selected her as a target and began his approach from about 8,000 yards (7,000 m). Fortunately, the destroyer minelayer began scoring hits early and managed to shoot down the attacker when he was still 2,000 yards (2,000 m) away. Another enemy then attempted to crash into her, but he, too, succumbed to her antiaircraft fire.

Her troubles, however, were not over. Soon after the two successes just mentioned, two more Japanese planes came in on her port bow. Though chased by American fighters, one of these succeeded in breaking away and starting a run on Aaron Ward. He came in at a steep dive apparently aiming at the bridge. Heavy fire from the destroyer minelayer, however, forced him to veer toward the after portion of the ship. Passing over the signal bridge, he carried away halyards and antennae assemblies, smashed into the stack, and then crashed close aboard to starboard.

Quickly on the heels of that attack, still another intruder swooped in toward Aaron Ward. Coming in just forward of her port beam, he met a hail of antiaircraft fire but pressed home his attack resolutely and released a bomb just before he crashed into her main deck. The bomb exploded a few feet close aboard her port side, and its fragments showered the ship and blew a large hole through the shell plating near her forward fireroom. As a result, the ship lost all power and gradually lost headway. At that point, a previously unobserved enemy crashed into the ship's deckhouse bulkhead causing numerous fires and injuring and killing many more crewmen.

As if that were not enough, Aaron Ward had to endure two more devastating crashes before the action ended. At about 1921, a plane glided in steeply on her port quarter. The loss of power prevented any of her 5 inch mounts from bearing on him, and he crashed into her port side superstructure. Burning gasoline engulfed the deck in flames, 40-millimeter ammunition began exploding, and still more heavy casualties resulted. The warship went dead in the water, her after superstructure deck demolished, and she was still on fire. While damage control crews fought the fires and flooding, Aaron Ward began to settle in the water and took on a decided list to port.

She still had one ordeal, however, to suffer. Just after 1920, a final bomb-laden tormentor made a high-speed, low-level approach and crashed into the base of her number 2 stack. The explosion blew the plane, the stack, searchlight, and two gun mounts into the air, and they all came to rest strewn across the deck aft of stack number 1. Through the night, her crew fought to save the ship. At 2106, Shannon arrived and took Aaron Ward in tow. Early on the morning of 4 May, she arrived at Kerama Retto where she began temporary repairs. She remained there until 11 June when she got underway for the United States. Steaming via Ulithi, Guam, Eniwetok, Pearl Harbor, and the Panama Canal, Aaron Ward arrived in New York in mid-August

   
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
No Available Photos

  875 Also There at This Battle:
  • Abbott, Earl James, Cox, (1943-1946)
  • Adams, Richard W, PO2, (1943-1947)
  • Albanesi, Thomas, PO1, (1943-1946)
  • Bagby, Henry Lawton, CAPT, (1941-1970)
  • Baldwin, Robert B., VADM, (1941-1980)
  • Barr, John Andrew, PO3, (1943-1946)
  • Baylor, Warner, LCDR, (1942-1963)
  • Beam, Joe, MCPO, (1941-2004)
  • Bell, Lloyd, PO3, (1942-1948)
  • Bibb, James, PO2, (1942-1945)
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