Oakley, Thomas Benjamin, Jr., CDR

Fallen
 
 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Commander
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1944-1944, USS Growler (SS-215)
Service Years
1930 - 1944
Commander
Commander

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

19 kb

Home State
New York
New York
Year of Birth
1912
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Michael D. Withers (Mike), OSCS to remember Oakley, Thomas Benjamin, Jr., CDR.

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Casualty Info
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)

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 Additional Information
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.
   
Comments/Citation

Legion of Merit
General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 348 (March 1946)
Action Date: December 12, 1943 - January 5, 1944
Rank: Commander
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.

Navy Cross
Awarded for Action During World War II
Service: Navy
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.
   
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Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Marshall Islands Operation
Start Year
1943
End Year
1943

Description
In the Pacific Theater of World War II, the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign, from November 1943 through February 1944, were key strategic operations of the United States Pacific Fleet and Marine Corps in the Central Pacific. The purpose was to establish airfields that would allow land based air support for the upcoming operations across the Central Pacific. The campaign began with a costly three-day battle for the island of Betio at the Tarawa atoll. The campaign was preceded a year earlier by a diversionary raid on Makin Island by U.S. Marines in August, 1942.
About 4,000 kilometers southwest of the Hawaii Islands, the Marshall Islands represented part of the perimeter of the Japanese Pacific empire. The former German colony was given to Japan after the closure of WW1, and had since been an important part of both offensive and defensive plans of the Japanese Navy. By the end of 1943, Admiral Mineichi Koga of the Japanese Combined Fleet knew the Americans were eyeing the islands, but he could not figure out where they would strike. His difficulties were further complicated by the lack of carrier aircraft, as they were taken away from him in an attempt to reinforce land-based squadrons. With his hands tied, all Koga could do was to send his submarines out as forward observers and order the regional commander in Truk Admiral Masashi Kobayashi to reinforce the island garrisons that were most exposed to American attacks. Kobayashi shifted men to the outer islands of Jaluit, Mili, Wotje, and Maloelap. In total, Kobayashi had 28,000 troops available to him in the Marshall Islands. For a garrison that size ground fortifications were sub-par, but that was rather by design at this stage of the war, for that Tokyo had since decided that the Marshall Islands were to serve only as a part of a delay action campaign. The new defensive perimeter was to be established much closer to the home islands.

American intelligence decoded Japanese messages and detected movements for the outer islands, and decided to change the invasion plans. Unbeknownst to the Japanese, the Americans were now bypassing the reinforced outer islands; they were now directly attacking Kwajalein and Eniwetok.
   
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Year
1943
To Year
1943
 
Last Updated:
Dec 9, 2018
   
Personal Memories
   
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
No Available Photos

  99 Also There at This Battle:
 
  • Deschenes, Alfred Joseph, CPO, (1942-1970)
  • Earnest, Albert, CAPT, (1941-1972)
  • Freeman, Harold, CMC, (1943-1975)
  • Kundrot, Vity
  • Lucas, Charles S., PO3, (1943-1946)
  • Nicoll, John J., PO2, (1943-1946)
  • Scalza, Louis, PO2, (1943-1946)
  • Smith, Jakie, S2c, (1943-1946)
  • Soucy, Ronald, PO2, (1942-1945)
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