Marc “Pete” Mitscher and the Fast Navy (1887-1947)
Some of the most famous naval and air exploits of the 20th century unfolded on and around ships commanded by Oklahoman Marc “Pete” Mitscher. At the end of World War II, Admiral Chester Nimitz, the highest-ranking U.S. naval officer in the Pacific Theater, provided this valedictory of the sage Oklahoman:
“He is the most experienced and most able officer in the handling of fast carrier task forces who has yet been developed. It is doubtful if any officer has made more important contributions than he toward extinction of the enemy fleet.”
Mitscher and his family pioneered Oklahoma nearly two decades before statehood. His father Oscar was elected Oklahoma City mayor in 1891. The younger Mitscher won appointment to the Naval Academy in 1904. He quit once and it took him six years, but he graduated. In 1919 he won his first Navy Cross as one of the elite American aviators who nearly crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a Curtiss seaplane.
By World War II, he commanded the U.S.S. Hornet aircraft carrier, which transported the pilots and planes of the famous 1942 Doolittle Raid on Japan. Risen to rear admiral rank, he led the Hornet at the historic Battle of Midway. According to historian Craig L. Symonds, “Here was the man who, over the next three years, would command the Fast Carrier Task Force that led the American drive across the Pacific to Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, and became known as ‘The Magnificent Mitscher.’”
Responsible for the tactical planning and direction of most major American carrier operations in 1944-45, his forces saw combat for 92 straight days during the American drive on the Japanese home islands. F6F Hellcat fighters and other aircraft under his command nearly wiped out the Japanese air force in the two-day “Marianas Turkey Shoot” at the Battle of the Philippine Sea. After the war, full admiral Mitscher, who won three Navy Crosses, served as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air, commander of the Eighth Fleet, and as Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
The above article is a bonus to the fascinating historical content found within our book
Oklahomans Vol 2 :
Statehood - 2020s
which can be purchased HERE.
View the inspiring 2-minute preview video HERE.