Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy Veteran Raymond A. Spruance, who served in World War II and was one of the naval commanders during the Battle of Midway.
Raymond Ames Spruance was born in July 1886 in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1903, he entered the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and graduated in 1906. He then served aboard USS Iowa and USS Minnesota before commissioning as ensign in 1908. Returning to the U.S., he entered an electrical engineering course with General Electric before serving aboard USS Connecticut, followed by a stint aboard USS Cincinnati. After his time on the latter ship, Spruance became commander of USS Bainbridge in 1913, a position he held until 1914.
During World War I, Spruance served as an assistant engineer officer in the Navy Yard, New York, worked in capacities in the United Kingdom and helped troops return to the U.S. after the war ended. He went on to serve in various administrative and engineering capacities throughout the 1920s and closed out the decade with a stint aboard USS Mississippi. Later, he worked at the Naval War College in Rhode Island, until 1933, when he became chief of staff and aide to Commander Destroyers, Scouting Fleet. He returned to the Naval War College in 1935 and worked there until 1938.
Leaving the college again, Spruance commanded USS Mississippi and was aboard the ship when World War II began. Promoted to rear admiral in 1939, he eventually received charge of the Caribbean Sea Frontier. He was commanding Cruiser Division Five when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
After Pearl Harbor, Spruance and his division led raids against numerous Japanese-controlled islands until 1942, when naval intelligence discovered a Japanese plan to attack Midway Island. He received command of Task Force 16 for the defense of Midway when Vice Admiral William Halsey had shingles.
When the battle began on June 4, 1942, Spruance led a sizable force that included two aircraft carriers. Throughout the battle, he made numerous positive decisions that ultimately led to the Japanese defeat at Midway. After Midway, he was promoted to vice admiral and commanded the Central Pacific Force. While serving in this capacity, he led multiple campaigns against the Japanese, including the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
After World War II, Spruance briefly served as commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet before returning to the Naval War College as its president. He served in this position until he retired from the Navy in 1948 at the rank of admiral. Later, he briefly served as ambassador to the Philippines until 1955.
During his service, Spruance received a Navy Cross, a Distinguished Service Medal with two Gold Stars, an Army Distinguished Service Medal, a Commendation Ribbon and the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon. Additional awards include a Victory Medal with Overseas Clasp (World War I), an American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, an Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, a World War II Victory Medal and a Navy Occupation Service Medal with Asia Clasp. He also received numerous foreign awards.
Spruance died in 1969. He is buried in the Golden Gate National Cemetery in California.
We honor his service.
Carry the Load
In 2022, VA is joining forces with Carry The Load to honor veterans during the “Memorial May” March, a national relay visiting 50 VA national cemeteries to honor our nation’s fallen service members. A link to this webpage is here. The complete list of participating cemeteries can be found here. Volunteers are encouraged to register in advance.
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Raymond Lin
Editors: Nicolas Nunnally, Nathaniel Scott
Researcher: Carl Wesseln
Graphic Designer: Kiki Kelley