Rank Insignia Previous Honoree ID Next Honoree ID

honoree image
First Name: Richmond

Last Name: Turner

Birthplace: Portland, OR, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Kelly

Date of Birth: 27 May 1885

Date of Death: 12 February 1961

Rank or Rate: Admiral

Years Served: 1904 - 1947
Richmond Kelly Turner

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1908

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Richmond Kelly "Terrible" Turner

Admiral, U.S. Navy

Richmond Kelly Turner was born on 27 May 1885 in Portland, OR, to Enoch and Laura Francis Kelly Turner. His father alternated between being a rancher and farmer, and working as a printer in both Portland (for The Oregonian with his older brother Thomas) and Stockton, CA (where he owned a small print shop). Young Richmond would spend most of his childhood in and around Stockton, with a brief stop in Santa Ana, and graduated from Stockton High School in 1904.

He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy from California's sixth district, his name put forward by Congressman James Carion Needham in 1904. He graduated on 5 June 1908 and served in several ships over the next four years.

In 1913, Lieutenant (J.G.) Turner briefly held command of the destroyer USS Stewart. After receiving instruction in ordnance engineering and service on board the gunboat Marietta, he was assigned to the battleships USS Pennsylvania, Michigan and Mississippi during 1916-19. From 1919-22, Lieutenant Commander Turner was an Ordnance Officer at the Naval Gun Factory in Washington, DC. He then was Gunnery Officer of the battleship USS California, Fleet Gunnery Officer on the Staff of Commander Scouting Fleet and Commanding Officer of the destroyer USS Mervine.

Following promotion to the rank of Commander in 1925, Turner served with the Bureau of Ordnance at the Navy Department. In 1927, he received flight training at Pensacola, FL, and a year later became Commanding Officer of the seaplane tender USS Jason and Commander Aircraft Squadrons, Asiatic Fleet. He had further aviation-related assignments into the 1930s and was Executive Officer of the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga in 1933-34. Captain Turner attended the Naval War College and served on that institution's staff in 1935-38 as head of the Strategy faculty.

Turner's final field command was the heavy cruiser USS Astoria, a diplomatic mission to Japan in 1939.

Turner was Director of War Plans in Washington, DC, in 1940-41 and was promoted to Rear Admiral late in 1941.

Responsibility for Pearl Harbor

As head of the War Plans Division of the Navy Department, Turner was subordinate only to the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Harold R. Stark, at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. Although in theory the Head of Naval Intelligence, Captain Theodore Wilkinson, reported directly to Stark, in practice he was answerable to Turner, and Turner made the important decisions about the handling of naval intelligence. It was therefore Turner who made the decision not to send the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, details of the intercepted Japanese diplomatic communications which pointed strongly to an imminent air or sea attack on the Pacific Fleet's base at Pearl Harbor. Kimmel testified after the war that had he known of these communications, he would have maintained a much higher level of alert and that the Fleet would not have been taken by surprise by the Japanese attack. The leading historian of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Professor Gordon Prange, wrote in Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History that, even allowing for Kimmel's desire to exculpate himself, this was correct. Prange wrote: "If Turner thought a Japanese raid on Hawaii... to be a 50-percent chance, it was his clear duty to say so plainly in his directive to Kimmel... He won the battle for dominance of War Plans over Intelligence, and had to abide by the consequences. If his estimates had enabled the U.S. to fend off... the Japanese threat at Pearl Harbor, Turner would deserve the appreciation of a grateful nation. By the same token, he could not justly avoid his share of the blame for failure."

World War II

In December 1941, Turner was appointed Assistant Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Fleet (a new position created after Pearl Harbor for Admiral Ernest King), serving until June 1942. He was then sent to the Pacific to take command of the Amphibious Force, South Pacific Force. Over the next three years, he held a variety of senior Amphibious Force commands as a Rear Admiral and Vice Admiral. He helped plan and execute amphibious operations against enemy positions in the south, central and western Pacific. He would have commanded the amphibious component of the invasion of Japan. However, in August 1945 the U.S. used atomic bombs on Japan, and Japan surrendered. Turner's invasion plans were never realized.

Turner was promoted to the four-star rank of Admiral on 24 May 1945.


After World War II, Admiral Turner served on the Navy Department's General Board and was U.S. Naval Representative on the United Nations Military Staff Committee. Admiral Turner retired from active duty in the Navy in July 1947.


• The guided missile frigate (later cruiser) USS Richmond K. Turner was named in honor of Admiral Turner.

• Turner was portrayed by actor Stuart Randall in the film The Gallant Hours.


On 3 August 1910, he married Harriet "Hattie" Sterling in Stockton, CA.

Death and Burial

Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner died on 12 February 1961 in Monterey, CA. He is buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, CA, alongside his wife Harriet and Admirals Chester Nimitz, Raymond A. Spruance, and Charles A. Lockwood, an arrangement made by all of them while living.

Honoree ID: 666   Created by: MHOH




Honoree Photos

honoree imagehonoree imagehonoree image

honoree imagehonoree image

honoree image