Vraciu, Alexander, CDR

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Last Primary NEC
131X-Unrestricted Line Officer - Pilot
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1961-1963, Carrier Division 3 (COMCARDIV 3)
Service Years
1941 - 1963
Official/Unofficial US Navy Certificates

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Michael Frederick, DK2 to remember Vraciu, Alexander, CDR USN(Ret).

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Contact Info
Home Town
East Chicago, IN
Last Address
Danville, CA

Date of Passing
Jan 29, 2015
Location of Interment
Oakmont Memorial Park - Lafayette, California
Wall/Plot Coordinates

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

Alex Vraciu was born on November 2, 1918, in East Chicago, Illinois. He graduated with a Bachelor's Degree from DePauw University in 1941, and he received his private pilot's license through the Civilian Pilot Training Program in 1940. Vraciu enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Navy on June 24, 1941, and began flight training on October 9, 1941. He was commissioned an Ensign and designated a Naval Aviator on August 28, 1942, and then completed fighter and carrier training before joining VF-3 (later redesignated VF-6) in March 1943. Lt Vraciu was credited with the destruction of 9 enemy aircraft in aerial combat before transferring to VF-16 in February 1944. He then destroyed an additional 10 enemy aircraft before returning to the U.S. in July 1944, for a total of 19 aircraft destroyed and 1 damaged during World War II. Lt Vraciu joined VF-20 in November 1944, but was shot down in the Philippines in December and joined up with guerrilla forces, reaching friendly lines in February 1945. He then served as a text pilot at NATC Patuxent River, Maryland, from April to September 1945, followed by service on the staff of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air at the Pentagon from September 1945 to October 1951. During this time, he helped start and implement the Naval and Marine Air Reserve Program. His next assignment was at NAS Los Alamitos, California, from November 1951 to March 1954, and he then completed U.S. Naval General Line School before serving as Communications Officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-12) from December 1954 to February 1956. CDR Vraciu served as Commanding Officer of VF-51 from March 1956 to January 1958, followed by service as Officer in Charge of ATU-202 at NAAS Kingsville, Texas, from February 1958 to January 1961. His final assignment was as Assistant Operations Officer for the Commander of Carrier Division THREE from February 1961 until his retirement from the Navy on December 31, 1963.

After retiring from the U.S. Navy, Vraciu moved to
Danville, California, where he worked for Wells Fargo bank. In retirement he continued to give public lectures to schools, businesses, and civic groups.

Vraciu appeared in "The Zero Killer" (2006), during season one, episode six, of the History Channel's Dogfights series.

In his later years, Vraciu declined invitations to write an autobiography; however, he agreed to be interviewed and participated in oral history projects at the Indiana Historical Society and the University of North Texas, which eventually resulted in the publication of his biography, Fighter Pilot: The World War II Career of Alex Vraciu (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press, 2010).
Other Comments:

Navy Cross
Awarded for Actions During World War II
Service: Navy
Battalion: Fighting Squadron 16 (VF-16)
Division: U.S.S. Lexington (CV-16)
Citation: The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Commander [then Lieutenant, Junior Grade] Alexander Vraciu, United States Naval Reserve, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron SIXTEEN (VF-16), attached to the U.S.S. LEXINGTON (CV-16), during operations in the vicinity of the Marianas Islands. On
12 June 1944 while participating in a daring strike against enemy shipping in a Saipan Harbor, Commander Vraciu dove through intense anti-aircraft fire to sink a large enemy merchant ship by a direct hit on its stern. On 14 June 1944 in the course of a strike against enemy positions in the islands of North of Saipan, Commander Vraciu sighted an enemy search plane. Despite an altitude disadvantage, he approached the plane so skillfully keeping in its "blind spot" that he was able to overhaul it and shoot it down. On 19 June 1944 with his Task Force under attack by a numerically superior force of enemy aircraft, Commander Vraciu struck furiously at the hostile bombers and, in the face of vigorous fighter opposition, succeeded in shooting down six thus contributing to the break-up of a concentrated enemy attack. On 20 June 1944 while flying escort for bomber and Torpedo Planes on a long-range strike against the Japanese Fleet, Commander Vraciu fearlessly closed with a group of hostile fighters, blasting one from the sky and severely damaging another to enable our forces to attack and disable a Japanese carrier. By his devotion to duty, Commander Vraciu reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

US Navy High Individual Aerial Gunnery Award - 1957
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Naval Aviator Wings

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
VF-6 TomcattersVF-3 TomcattersVF-16 Pistol Packing AirdalesNAS Patuxent River (NASPAX)
CNO - OPNAVUS NavyUSS Hornet (CVA-12)VF-51 Screaming Eagles
NAS Kingsville TX
  1943-1944, 131X, VF-6 Tomcatters
  1943-1944, 131X, VF-3 Tomcatters
  1944-1945, 131X, VF-16 Pistol Packing Airdales
  1945-1945, 131X, NAS Patuxent River (NASPAX)
  1945-1951, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, CNO - OPNAV
  1951-1954, NAAS Los Alamitos, CA
  1954-1956, USS Hornet (CVA-12)
  1956-1958, 131X, VF-51 Screaming Eagles
  1956-1961, NAS Kingsville TX
  1961-1963, Carrier Division 3 (COMCARDIV 3)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1943-1943 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/New Guinea Campaign (1943-44)
  1943-1943 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Air Strikes on Marcus and Wake Islands
  1943-1943 Gilbert Islands Operation/Battle of Tarawa
  1944-1944 Marshall Islands Operation (1944)/Battle of Kwajalein Atoll (Operation Flintlock)
  1944-1944 Mariana and Palau Islands Campaign (1944)/Battle of Philippine Sea
  1944-1944 Mariana and Palau Islands Campaign (1944)/Battle of Saipan
  1944-1944 Mariana and Palau Islands Campaign (1944)/Battle of Guam
  1944-1944 Western Caroline Islands Operation/Battle for Ulithi Atoll
  1944-1944 Leyte Campaign (1944)/Battle of Leyte Gulf
  1944-1944 Asiatic-Pacific Specified Raids (1944)/Formosa Air Battle
  1944-1944 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Luzon Campaign (1944-45)
 Colleges Attended 
DePauw University
  1937-1941, DePauw University1
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Jul 24, 1942, Commissioned as Ensign
  May 01, 1943, Promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade
  Aug 01, 1944, Promoted to Lieutenant
  Jul 01, 1951, Promoted to Lieutenant Commander
  Aug 01, 1955, Promoted to Commander
  Mar 11, 2018, Obituary
  Dec 31, 2019, General Photos5
 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
Tailhook AssociationNavy League of the United StatesAssociation of Naval AviationWWII Memorial National Registry
United States Navy Memorial
  1945, Tailhook Association - Assoc. Page
  2019, Navy League of the United States - Assoc. Page
  2019, Association of Naval Aviation - Assoc. Page
  2019, WWII Memorial National Registry
  2019, United States Navy Memorial - Assoc. Page
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