McCRARY, Frank, CAPT

Deceased
 
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Last Rank
Captain
Last Primary Designator/NEC
131X-Unrestricted Line Officer - Pilot
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1940-1943, Naval Aviation Depot Alameda (NAVAVNDEPOT)
Service Years
1897 - 1936
Captain
Captain

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Arkansas
Arkansas
Year of Birth
1879
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Steven Loomis (SaigonShipyard), IC3 to remember McCRARY, Frank (First LTA Pilot), CAPT.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Lonoke, Lonoke County, AR
Last Address
Alameda County, California
CAPT FRANK ROBERT McCRARY, US NAVY ret.
WORLD WAR I, WORLD WAR II
10/01/1879 to 06/01/1952
BURIED AT: SECTION P SITE 2803
FORT ROSECRANS NATIONAL CEMETERY
Note: Buried alongside wife, CY Mary Davison McCrary, USN

Date of Passing
Jun 10, 1952
 
Location of Interment
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery - San Diego, California
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Plot: Sect. P, Site 2803


 Ribbon Bar

Naval Aviator Wings
Dirigible Pilot Wings

 

 Official Badges 

WW II Honorable Discharge Pin US Navy Retired 30


 Unofficial Badges 

US Navy Honorable Discharge




 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Captain Frank Robert McCrary, USN
Naval Aviator Number 91.
The Navy's first Lighter than Air (LTA) pilot.
Headed the Free Balloon and LTA training, 1915-1917.
The first CO of the Navy's first dirigible, Shenandoah, ZR-1.

Captain Frank Robert McCrary, USN: Born 1 October 1879, in Arkansas, Captain McCrary entered naval service on 11 September 1897 as a Naval Cadet at the US Naval Academy. He graduated with the Class of 1901. As a lieutenant commander, he was the first Navy’s first Lighter than Air (LTA) pilot, and executive officer of Pensacola Naval Air Station and headed up its Free Balloon and LTA training there, 1915-1917. He became the first CO of the Navy’s first dirigible, Shenandoah, ZR-1. He  held that position from October 1923 to some time in 1924. The Shenandoah crashed in September 1925 under the command of his replacement due to violent weather in Ohio. There were 13 fatalities and 29 survivors.

McCrary was promoted to Captain on 22 January 1924. Captain McCrary was appointed commanding officer of NAS North Island (then called NAS San Diego) for the first time, and served there until 10 June 1926 when he assumed command of the USS Langley CV 1 until 4 January 1927. From there, he returned to North Island for the second time from 12 September 1927 until September 1930 when he assumed command of the USS Saratoga CV-3. He served in that capacity until June, 1932 when he transferred to the Naval War College. Next, McCrary is shown as one of the commandants of Taal Air Stalin at Pensacola Naval Air Station from June 1933 - May 1934.

His last assignment was Bureau of Aeronautics. He retired from the Navy June 30, 1936. The Navy re-called McCrary out of retirement and on November 1, 1940 he become Alameda Naval Air Station’s first commanding officer, until 1943, age 64.

He died at age 72 years on 10 June 1952, in Alameda County, California.

He  married Chief Yeoman Mary B. Davison in Dublin, Ireland during WW I. Mary had been doing Red Cross work in France and became first American woman yeoman to serve in a foreign field at the Naval Aviation Headquarters in Paris. Their son, Commander Shannon McCrary, followed in his father’s footsteps as a Naval Aviator. Unfortunately, CDR Shannon McCrary was killed in a crash not far form Miramar Naval Air Station in 1956. Their other son was Captain Robert Davison McCrary, USN retired. During his 30-year naval career, Bob served on ten ships and in five shore assignments, with three of his assignments being as Commanding Officer.  He died in 2011. 

 
.oOo.

The Alameda Naval Air Station has a remarkable history. It was one of the largest, most complete Naval Air Stations in the world. It was commissioned on November 1, 1940 and commanded by Captain Frank McCrary. There were 200 military and civilian personnel.


The workers at the Naval Air Station represented 271 separate and distinct trades and could manufacture and repair every part of any aircraft. In time, modern production methods insured that the overhaul of an attack aircraft was completed every day and one and a half patrol aircraft every other day.

   
Other Comments:

Awards and Citations

Navy Cross
 
Awarded for actions during World War I

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Commander Frank Robert McCrary, United States Navy, for distinguished and heroic service as Commanding Officer of a U. S. Naval Aviation Detachment in Ireland, during World War I.
Action Date: World War I
Service: Navy
Rank: Commander
Division: Naval Aviation Forces
   

 Duty Stations
US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)US NavySchool Assignments - StaffUSS Shenandoah (ZR-1)
USS Langley (CV-1)NAS San DiegoUSS Saratoga (CV-3)Naval War College (Faculty Staff)
Commander Naval Air Training (CNATRA)Naval Aviation Depot Alameda (NAVAVNDEPOT)
  1897-1901, US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)
  1902-1902, USS New York (ACR-2)
  1903-1903, Naval Sea Units
  1906-1908, Atlantic Torpedo Flotilla /First Torpedo Flotilla
  1906-1908, USS Chauncey (DD-3)
  1911-1912, Atlantic Torpedo Flotilla
  1911-1913, USS Sterett (DD-27)
  1914-1915, Naval Flight Training
  1915-1917, Airship
  1916-1917, NAAF - NAAS - NALF - NAF - NAVAIRFAC
  1917-1919, NAAF - NAAS - NALF - NAF - NAVAIRFAC
  1917-1919, NAWS - NAD - NOD - NOF - NOU - NAVWEPSTA - NAVMAG
  1923-1924, USS Shenandoah (ZR-1)
  1926-1927, USS Langley (CV-1)
  1927-1930, NAS San Diego
  1930-1932, USS Saratoga (CV-3)
  1932-1933, Naval War College (Faculty Staff)
  1933-1934, Commander Naval Air Training (CNATRA)/CNATRA Detachment Pensacola
  1934-1936, Bureau of Aeronautics
  1936-1940, Broken Service
  1940-1943, Naval Aviation Depot Alameda (NAVAVNDEPOT)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1917-1918 World War I

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Reflections on CAPT McCRARY's US Navy Service
 
 Reflections On My Service
 
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE NAVY?
Frank McCRARY (First LTA Pilot), CAPT - Please describe who or what influenced your decision to join the Navy?
This is a Remembrance Profile of Captain Frank Robert McCrary, USN 1901-1936

Born 1 October 1879, in Arkansas, Captain McCrary entered naval service on 11 September 1897 as a Naval Cadet at the US Naval Academy. He graduated with the Class of 1901.

He was Naval Aviator Number 91.
The Navy's first Lighter than Air (LTA) pilot.
Headed the Free Balloon and LTA training, 1915-1917.
The first CO of the Navy's first dirigible, USS Shenandoah, ZR-1.
Recalled to active duty in 1940 as the first Commanding Officer Alameda Naval Air Station.
WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?
The following are his known assignments. If any other duty stations are located they will be added to the list:

1897-1901, US Naval Academy Annapolis (USNAA), Midshipman.
1902-1902, USS New York (ACR-2), promoted to Ensign.
1903-1905, Naval Sea Units.
1906-1908, Atlantic Torpedo Flotilla , Commander First Torpedo Flotilla, promoted to Lieutenant.
1906-1908, USS Chauncey (DD-3) - Commanding Officer.
1911-1912, Atlantic Torpedo Flotilla.
1911-1913, USS Sterett (DD-27), - Commanding Officer, promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
1914-1915, Naval Flight Schools/Naval Flight Training.
1915-1917, Airship, LTA pilot, designer and trainer.
1916-1917, NAF - NAVAIRFAC Pensacola, head of Free Balloon and LTA training.
1917-1919, NAF - NAVAIRFAC Pensacola, promoted to Commander.
1917-1919, NAVWEPSTA - NAVMAG -Ireland and France WWI.
1923-1924, USS Shenandoah (ZR-1) - Commanding Officer, promoted to Captain.
1926-1927, USS Langley (CV-1) - Commanding Officer.
1927-1930, NAS - NAB - NAVAIRSTA - NAVAIRDEPOT/NAS San Diego - Commanding Officer.
1930-1932, USS Saratoga (CV-3) - Commanding Officer.
1932-1933, Naval War College/Naval War College (Staff).
1933-1934, Naval Air Training (CNATRA)/CNATRA Detachment Pensacola - Commanding Officer.
1934-1936, Bureau of Aeronautics - Retired, rank of Captain.
1936-1940, Broken Service - Retired List.
1940-1943, NAS/Naval Aviation Depot Alameda - Commanding Officer.
IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN ANY MILITARY OPERATIONS, INCLUDING COMBAT, HUMANITARIAN AND PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TO YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY.
Frank McCRARY (First LTA Pilot), CAPT - If you participated in any military operations, including combat, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, please describe those which were the most significant to you and, if life-changing, in what way.
World War One

Commander McCrary was the first Commanding Officer of a U.S. Naval Aviation Detachment for Lighter than Air (LTA) airships. He headed the training in Ireland and in France, during World War I. In recognition of his contribution, he was awarded the Navy Cross: "for distinguished and heroic service".
OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Frank McCRARY (First LTA Pilot), CAPT - Of all your duty stations or assignments, which one do you have fondest memories of and why? Which one was your least favorite?
Captain McCrary's last command took place several years after he had retired from active service. In late 1940 he was recalled and given command of the new Alameda Naval Air Station. As the base's first commanding officer he would have had a direct effect on every aspect of its operation. After WWII Captain McCrary stayed in Alameda, California, until his death in 1952.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?
Frank McCRARY (First LTA Pilot), CAPT - From your entire service, including combat, describe the personal memories which have impacted you most?
1924: The First Atlantic Crossing by USS Shenandoah, ZR-1.

Frank McCrary was a pioneer in Naval Aviation with a Naval Aviator Number of #91. He was the Navy's first LTA (Lighter than Air) pilot and assisted in their design. During WWI he commanded the LTA training in Ireland and France. When the Navy commissioned its first ridged airship (a dirigible in 1924) made in Germany with Captain McCrary's direct involvement. Named the USS Shenandoah, ZR-1, McCrary was the airship's first commander and piloted its first Atlantic crossing.

There were plans for the airship to navigate the North Pole and command was given to McCrary's executive officer, LTCdr Zachary Lansdowne. Unfortunately, just months later Lansdowne was killed in the crash of the Shenandoah at Akron, Ohio.

Shown here is the USS Shenandoah, ZR-1, at the mooring mast.
OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR ANY OTHER MEMORABILIA, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?
Frank McCRARY (First LTA Pilot), CAPT - Of all the medals, awards, formal presentations and qualification badges you received, or any other memorabilia, please describe those which are the most meaningful to you and why?
Awards and Citations

THE NAVY CROSS

Awarded for actions during World War I

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Commander Frank Robert McCrary, United States Navy, for distinguished and heroic service as Commanding Officer of a U. S. Naval Aviation Detachment in Ireland, during World War I.

Action Date: World War I
Service: Navy
Rank: Commander
Division: Naval Aviation Forces
CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN FUNNY AT THE TIME, BUT STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?
Frank McCRARY (First LTA Pilot), CAPT - Can you recount a particular incident from your service which may or may not have been funny at the time, but still makes you laugh?
During WWI, Frank was in charge of the U.S. Navy Lighter than Air program in Ireland and in France. During that time he married Chief Yeoman Mary B. Davison. Mary had been doing Red Cross work in France and had been the first American woman yeoman to serve in a foreign field, at the Naval Aviation Headquarters in Paris. They were married in Dublin, Ireland.

She was the daughter of Lorenzo Paul Davison, Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army.
WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY?
After four years on the Retired List, Captain Frank R. McCrary was recalled to active duty as the Commanding Officer Alameda Naval Air Station as the United States prepared for World War Two.

NAS History

The Alameda Naval Air Station has a remarkable history. It was one of the largest, most
Frank McCRARY (First LTA Pilot), CAPT - What profession did you follow after your military service and what are you doing now? If you are currently serving, what is your present occupational specialty?
complete Naval Air Stations in the world. It was commissioned on November 1, 1940 and commanded by Captain Frank McCrary. There were 200 military and civilian personnel.

The workers at the Naval Air Station represented 271 separate and distinct trades and could manufacture and repair every part of any aircraft. In time, modern production methods insured that the overhaul of an attack aircraft was completed every day and one and a half patrol aircraft every other day.

The base was once part of an Indian burial ground, and later was part of a Spanish land grant of Don Luis Maria Peralta. In 1864, the terminus of the first transcontinental railroad ended at Pier 2 at the old Alameda Point. Old Alameda Point was in the confines of what became the Alameda Naval Air Station. An oil refinery was built in 1879 and was purchased by Standard Oil. It operated until 1903. The site of the Engine Overhaul Building was used as the Pacific Borax Works.

The City of Alameda saw the possibility for a Naval Base on the west end of the island of Alameda. In 1936, Congress authorized Franklin Delano Roosevelt to accept the old Alameda Point for the purchase price of $1.00.

The Alameda Naval Air Station was created just in time for World War II. The original site was 300 acres of high ground. Note: When the station closed in 1997 the total area was 2,527 acres or one-third of the island of Alameda.

Dredging operations began in 1938 and the air station grew almost overnight. In January 1941, the Assembly and Repair Department (A&R) received its first assignment. One Curtis Sea Gull (SOC) aircraft was the first one overhauled. On December 7, 1941 the A&R employed 1,935 personnel and repaired 14 aircraft a month. In 1958 O&R produced 1,305 jet engines and 881 reciprocating engines.

Carriers based at Naval Air Station Alameda included USS Ranger, USS Midway, USS Coral Sea and USS Hancock. All called Alameda home.

NAS Alameda had two 8,000 ft. runways, three seaplane ramps and a lighted seadrome. The air station had 300 buildings and 30 miles of roads.

The Navy was deeply involved in the history, traditions and culture of California, so too, was it bound to economics with this region so popular with seafaring men.

Photograph: Captain McCrary and VAdm Halsey, NAS Alameda, September 1942.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.
This is a Remembrance Profile of Captain Frank Robert McCrary, 1879 to 1952.

Thank you for stopping by.

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