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First Name: Roy

Last Name: Davenport

Birthplace: Kansas City, KS, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Milton

Date of Birth: 18 June 1909

Date of Death: 24 December 1987

Rank or Rate: Rear Admiral

Years Served:
Roy Milton Davenport

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


Roy Milton Davenport
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy

Roy Milton Davenport was born on 18 June 1909 in Kansas City, KS, and grew up in the Midwest.

Military Career

In June 1933, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was commissioned as a Navy Ensign. His first naval assignment was on the battleship USS Texas (BB-35). The following year, he began training at the Submarine School in New London, CT. Upon graduation, he was temporarily assigned to the training ship USS R-2 (SS-79) until the USS Cachalot (SS-170) arrived on the East Coast to be re-fitted with a new engine. After serving for a time in Panama, he arrived in Pearl Harbor, HI, in June 1939.

In 1941, Davenport was serving in USS Silversides (SS-236), as Executive Officer under sub Captain, Lieutenant Commander Creed Burlingame. He made four patrols aboard Silversides before Burlingame recommended him for a command of his own.

Davenport experienced some close escapes beyond the normally expected depth charging after attacking ships. One time, a Japanese airplane dropped 3 bombs directly on the Silversides. The sub somehow survived and, while trying to escape, went into a hard dive with its bow planes jammed, taking the sub to a deeper depth than it was designed to survive. At the last moment, Davenport removed a cotter key that allowed the sub to level off and not be crushed. Another time, a fired torpedo was stuck halfway out of the firing chamber and needed to be re-fired. It successfully left the tube on the re-firing but it could have sunk the sub. In another incident, Davenport had to wrestle a pistol from a drunken Gunner's Mate who felt that he had been robbed in a dice game. The sailor was taken off the sub in a straitjacket.

Lieutenant Commander Davenport was given command of the USS Haddock (SS-231), replacing Art Taylor, who was relieved at the orders of Admiral Robert English for circulating "subversive literature" (a poem critical of timid skippers). Haddock already had three successful patrols, and Davenport's first patrol in command saw him patrol off the Palau Islands and sink two confirmed ships; the Toyo Maru and Arima Maru, for a total of 9,200 tons. His wartime credit was one ship for 11,900 tons. Unfortunately, he was unable to close nearer than 12,000 yards to the Japanese aircraft carriers Hiyō and Junyō. After 39 days at sea, Haddock went in for extensive refit to repair a defective, potentially lethal, conning tower that had, at a depth of 415 feet, almost imploded. To get the hatch shut and save the boat from sinking, Davenport hit it with a sledgehammer. The conning tower held and Haddock avoided disaster.

On Davenport's second patrol, he returned to the Palau Islands where he sank the 5,533-ton Saipan Maru and, on 26 July 1943, Davenport fired a total of fifteen Mark XIV torpedoes at ranges between 4,000 and 2,000 yards, in four attacks. He believed he scored one hit. He was credited with one ship sunk for 10,900 tons and damage to another for 35,000 tons, and he was awarded his first Navy Cross. [This score was later reduced by JANAC to one ship sunk at 5,500 tons. The Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee (JANAC) was a U.S. inter-service agency set up to analyze and assess Japanese naval and merchant marine shipping losses caused by U.S. and Allied forces during World War II.]

In August 1943, Davenport was dispatched to Truk, making a 27-day patrol that would earn him a second Navy Cross. He fired four torpedoes on one ship on 15 September, claiming two hits and fire aboard the target, which nevertheless tried to ram, leading Davenport to fire two more "down the throat." On 20 September, he encountered a large tanker, the 19,000-ton Tonan Maru II, and fired six torpedoes from 3,700 yards, claiming "at least three certain hits." On the night of 21-22 September, he attacked another ship, missing with two torpedoes from 3,000 yards, and on the 23rd, firing his last eight at another, claiming three hits. For his third patrol, he was credited with three ships sunk, a total of 39,200 tons. Departing Pearl Harbor in October, he returned to Truk for another 27-day patrol, and on 1-2 November, attacked a freighter and troopship on the surface with four torpedoes at the freighter at 3,100 yards and one at the troopship from 4,150 yards. The freighter was claimed to have sunk immediately, the troopship was said to have caught fire and settled.

The next night, encountering three Japanese destroyers, Davenport fired four torpedoes at one of them from 2,000 yards, claiming a hit mid ships and a sinking. Finally, on 5-6 November, Haddock found two tankers, firing three bow torpedoes at each from 3,000 yards and all four stern tubes at the escort. The stern shots all missed, but Davenport reported hits in both tankers. After reloading, he fired two more torpedoes at each, claiming both tankers sunk. The second Truk patrol earned Davenport credit for five ships and 32,600 tons, including the escort, plus damage to one for 4,000 tons. None were confirmed by postwar JANAC while Davenport, backed by his executive officers, believe the Japanese attempted to deceive the Allies into thinking the tankers remained in service. Afterward, (at his own request), Davenport was detached for a rest and new construction, and John "Beetle" Roach was given command of Haddock.

The new Balao-class USS Trepang (SS-412) was commissioned on 22 May 1944 under the command of Commander Roy M. Milton. On 30 September 1944, off Honshu, Davenport fired six torpedoes on two large tankers, a large freighter, and an escort, claiming a hit in one tanker; JANAC confirmed only sinking of a 750-ton freighter, Taknuan Maru.

Davenport weathered a typhoon and, on 10-11 October, picked up a convoy of two tankers and one escort. Firing four stern tubes, he claimed three hits but no sinkings were confirmed in Japanese records. The next night, he fired four torpedoes at a Japanese landing craft, believing all missed. Postwar, he was credited with the 1,000-ton Transport No. 5. On 12-13 October, lying 12 miles off Iro Zaki, Japan, Davenport made radar contact with two ships, believing them at first to be aircraft carriers, then battleships, escorted by destroyers. He fired all six bow tubes at one "battleship." He claimed hits in one destroyer, suggesting it sank immediately, and at least one hit in the first "battleship." He then swung and fired all four stern tubes, his last remaining torpedoes, at the other "battleship," which all missed. Back in Majuro, he was credited with three ships of 22,300 tons and damage to a Yamashiro-class battleship for 29,300 tons, earning him a fourth Navy Cross.

On his next patrol to Luzon Strait, Davenport led a wolf pack called "Roy's Rangers" consisting of Trepang; James Fulp's USS Segundo (SS-398); and Charles Brown's USS Razorback (SS-394). He fired twenty-two torpedoes in all, claiming four ships for 35,000 tons; this was reduced postwar to three ships for 13,000 tons.

After this, his tenth war patrol, Davenport requested shore duty, and became a Maritime Engineering Instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Davenport was known for his daring attacks against Japanese ships, often executed on the surface to gain additional speed. While none of the men under his command were lost, he and his crews experienced many close calls and escapes.

Medals and Awards

Navy Cross (5 Awards) *
Silver Star Medal (3 Awards)
Bronze Star Medal with Combat "Valor" Device
Presidential Unit Citation with 2 Bronze Stars
American Defense Service Medal with Base Clasp
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Korean War Service Medal

Badges / Insignia

Submarine Warfare Badge
Submarine Combat Patrol Insignia **

* Roy Milton Davenport was the first individual, and only sailor, to receive five Navy Crosses, the U.S. Navy's highest award for valor after the Medal of Honor. Lieutenant General Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller, U.S. Marine Corps, was the second to be awarded five; there have been no others. Except for those who earned the Medal of Honor, such as Rear Admiral Richard H. O'Kane, Davenport was the Submarine Force's most decorated member.

** This a uniform breast pin worn by officers and men of the U.S. Navy's Submarine Service who have completed war patrols. Such patrols were conducted during World War II. The pin shows the broadside of a Gato-class submarine. A scroll beneath the submarine holds service stars, one gold star for each successful patrol after the first or a silver star for five successful patrols. Davenport's insignia had stars for ten successful war patrols.


In 1954, the popular television program This Is Your Life with host Ralph Edwards, recounted his wartime events with close family members appearing with him. Davenport's cousin, U.S. Army General Maxwell Taylor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President John F. Kennedy, did not appear, as only immediate family and those who interacted in Davenport's wartime adventures were invited.


In 1935, Roy Davenport married Jane Andre Gorham, who was his wife for 52 years until his death. They had two daughters, Delia "Davenport" Gruenig and Bonnie "Davenport" Byhre.

A student of Christian Science, Davenport was dubbed the "praying skipper" and he credited his religious faith for his successes.


Rear Admiral Roy Milton Davenport died on 24 December 1987 in Laguna Hills, CA. He had a non-cemetery burial.


Honoree ID: 3274   Created by: MHOH




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