U.S.S. SLC...USN...Fred D. Kirtland, VADM
Fred D. Kirtland, VADM passed away on Oct. 6th, 1972
VADM FRED D. KIRTLAND: NOV. 6, 1892 - OCT. 6, 1972
Fred Darrel Kirtland was born Salina, Kansas, on November 6, 1892. He attended Salina High School before his appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy from his native state in 1912. He was commissioned Ensign on June5, 1916. He subsequently progress in rank, attaining that of Rear Admiral. He was transferred to the Retired List of the U.S. Navy on June 30, 1951, and was advanced to the rank of Vice Admiral on the basis of combat awards.
After graduating from the Naval Academy in 1916, he was assigned to the USS WYOMING, which during World War I, operated with the British Grand Fleet and, in addition to many sweeps into the North Sea, was present at the formal surrender of the Imperial German High Seas Fleet at Scapa Flow.
Detached from the WYOMING in June 1921, he was ordered to the Postgraduate School, Annapolis for instruction in electrical engineering. He continued the course at Columbia Univ., from which he received the degree of Master of Science in June 1923.
He next had temporary duty in various stations including the Bureau of Engineering, Navy Dept., Washington, D.C. He also completed the course in Chemical Warfare at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland.
In October 1923 he reported as Assistant Engineer Officer aboard the USS CALIFORNIA, flagship of Commander, Battle Fleet, and in October 1926 was detached for duty at the Fuel Oil Testing Plant at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Ordered in February 1929 to the Brown-Boveri Electric Corporation, Camden, NJ, he assisted in fitting out the USS SALT LAKE CITY, and joined that cruiser as Engineer Officer upon her commissioning, December 11, 1929. Serving in that capacity until May 1932, he was assigned to the Design and Construction Division, Bureau of Engineering, Navy Department, where he remained until May 1934. He then commanded the USS BRECKINRIDGE for two years, operating with Destroyers Scouting Force, and in May 1936 transferred to the USS MEDUSA, a unit of Train, Base Force, to serve as Executive Officer until June 1937.
He was Officer in Charge of the Material Laboratory, New York, NY until June 1939, when he reported for instruction at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. During September 1939, he had charge of fitting out Destroyer Division SIXTY SIX at Philadelphia, and upon commissioning of that Division on October 4, 1939, assumed command, with additional duty as Commanding Officer of the USS BRECKINRIDGE. In January 1941 he transferred to command Destroyer Division FOURTEEN and from December 1941 to June 1942, commanded Destroyer Squadron SEVEN.
Returning to the Naval War College in Newport, he again had instruction prior to reporting in December 1942 for fitting out duty in the USS BALTIMORE at the Bethlehem Steel Company, Shipbuilding Division, Quincy, MA. Detached in March 1943, before that cruiser was commissioned, he then assumed command of the USS ALABAMA. The ALABAMA with her sister ship, the USS SOUTH DAKOTA, formed Battleship Division NINE, and served first in the Atlantic with the British Home Fleet, basing in the Orkney Islands for supporting operations in the Artic Ocean between Iceland, Murmansk and the British Isles.
In August 1943 the division was ordered to the Pacific. The ALABAMA, under his command, served throughout the Gilbert Islands operations, the Marshall, Carolina, and Marianas Island Operation, also taking part in the first raids on Palau Islands, and further operations with Task Force 58.
Capt. Kirtland received a Letter of Commendation with authorization to wear the Commendation Ribbon and Combat "V" from the Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and also was awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat "V". The citations follows:
Legion of Merit: For exceptionally meritorious conduct as Commanding Officer of the USS ALABAMA, from April 1, 1943 to August 23, 1944. Participating in numerous campaigns and actions throughout the long and arduous periods of operations.... (He) aided in inflicting extensive damage and destruction upon the enemy during hazardous bombardment operations. He boldly countered night and day attacks by Japanese aircraft to hold to a minimum the damage sustained by the task force of which the ALABAMA was a unit.
Letter of Commendation: For distinguished service... during operations against the Japanese bases at Tinian, Saipan and Guam in the Marianas on February 22, 1944. In this action, for the first time in the war in the Pacific, a carrier task force was discovered by the enemy and obliged to fight its way to its objective... During the night of February 21-22 the screen of which his ship was a part, shot down at least eight enemy planes in flames and drove off all others before they could inflict damage upon the task force. The excellence of his performance in the execution of his duties contributed greatly to the success of our mission and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Naval services.
Detached from command of the ALABAMA in August 1944, he was then assigned to the Naval Ordinance Plant, Louisville, KY, and subsequent assignments returned him to the Pacific as Commandant of the Naval Operating Base, Okinawa. Later he assumed command Amphibious Training Command, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, with headquarters at Little Creek, Virginia and in August 1949 reported as Commander, Training Command, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Norfolk, Virginia. When detached in July 1950 he became Assistant Chief of Naval Operations (Logistics), Navy Department.
He was so serving - when transferred to the Retired List of the Navy on June 30, 1951, he remained on active duty as President, Permanent General Court, Third Naval District, New York, NY, until July 15, 1953, when he was released to retired status.
In addition to the Legion of Merit and the Commendation Ribbon, both with Combat "V", Vice Admiral Kirtland has the World War I Victory Medal,Grand Fleet Clasp; the American Defense Service Medal with bronze "A"; the American Campaign Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one silver star (five engagements); the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; the Navy Occupation Service Medal, Asia clasp; and the China Service Medal.