McKay, Robert Neil, LTJG

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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

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Home State
Year of Birth
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
Hostile, Died
Artillery, Rocket, Mortar
World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Okinawa Gunto Operation
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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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."




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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  THE SHIP USS Aaron Ward (DM-34)
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Last Updated:
Sep 8, 2010

AARON WARD supported minesweeping operations around Kerama Retto and Okinawa until the time of the first landings. During that period, she accounted for three enemy aircraft. On 1 April, the day of the initial assault on Okinawa, the destroyer minelayer began screening the heavy warships providing gunfire support for the troops ashore. That duty lasted until 4 April when she departed the Ryukyus and headed for the Marianas. She arrived at Saipan on the 10th but shifted to Guam later that day. After several days of minor repairs, AARON WARD headed back to Okinawa to patrol in the area around Kerama Retto. During that patrol period, she came under frequent air attack. On the 27th, she splashed one enemy plane and, the next day accounted for one more and claimed a probable kill in addition. She returned to Kerama Retto to replenish her provisions and fuel. While she was there, a kamikaze scored a hit on PINKNEY (APH-2). AARON WARD moved alongside the stricken evacuation transport to help fight the inferno blazing amidships. While so engaged, she also rescued 12 survivors from PINKNEY.

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 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 and began scoring hits when he had closed range to 4,000 yards. At that point, he dipped over into his suicide dive but splashed about 100 yards 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 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 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. Topside, the lane 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 (DD-803) 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. Fortunately, the destroyer minelayer began scoring hits early and managed to splash the attacker when he was still 2,000 yards 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 splashed down 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 (DM-25) arrived and took AARON WARD in tow. Fairly 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. On 28 September 1945, she was decommissioned and her name was struck from the Navy list. In July 1946, she was sold for scrapping.

AARON WARD (DM-34) earned one battle star and the Presidential Unit Citation for World War II service.


My Photos From This Event
Ward with Kamikaze Propeller

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