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First Name: Jerauld

Last Name: Wright

Birthplace: Amherst, MA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Date of Birth: 04 June 1898

Date of Death: 27 April 1995

Rank or Rate: Admiral

Years Served: 1917-1960
Jerauld Wright

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1918

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Jerauld Wright
Admiral, U.S. Navy

Jerauld Wright was born on 4 June 1898 in Amherst, MA, the second son of Major General William M. Wright, U.S. Army (retired as Lieutenant General), and Marjorie R. Jerauld Wright, who also had another son, William Mason Wright, Jr., and a daughter, Marjorie Wright.

Life for young Jerry was a succession of U.S. Army posts, such as Fort Porter, Fort Omaha, the Presidio, and the Jefferson Barracks, as well as overseas tours of duty in Cuba and the Philippines. Keeping the family together while his father pursued an active military career, was his mother, nicknamed "The Field Marshal" by her husband. Jerry remembered his mother fondly: "She was a tiger with her young."

Jerry's father was a veteran of the Spanish-American War, the Boxer Rebellion, and World War I, during which he commanded the 89th Division in the St. Mihiel offensive and the Third Corps. He was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal. Following the war, General Wright commanded the Ninth Corps at the Presidio and the Department of the Philippines. While his father was assigned to the newly-created U.S. Army General Staff before World War I, Jerry met William Howard Taft. Later, Jerry accompanied his father on inspection tours of U.S. military installations in the Philippines. During this tour, he was deeply impressed by the naval squadron visiting Manila. His growing interest in a naval career was further encouraged by this father, giving his son a very practical perspective:

"Take a good look at the Navy. Soldiers have to tramp miles, sleep in the mud, eat cold rations, and live for days in wet clothes. Sailors have warm bunks, eat hot meals, and wear dry socks every day."

Prior to going to the U.S. Naval Academy, Jerry attended the Franciscan Coligio de La Salle in Malate, CA, and Shadman's School at Scott's Circle in Washington, DC.

U.S. Naval Academy

Wright received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy from Congressman Edward W. Townsend of the Tenth Congressional District from the State of New Jersey. Wright entered the academy on 31 July 1914, the youngest midshipman to enter the academy since the American Civil War. He graduated on 26 June 1917 as part of the Class of 1918, ranked 92nd out of 193.

Naval Career

World War I

In July 1917, Wright joined the gunboat USS Castine, which set sail for Gibraltar on 5 August for anti-submarine patrol and convoy duty, operating as a unit of the Patrol Force through 21 December 1918.

Inter-War Service

Sea Duty

From December 1918 to July 1920, he served on the destroyer USS Dyer as a watch and division officer. Dyer showed the flag in port visits to Gibraltar, La Spezia, Venice, Trieste, Spoleto, Corfu, and Constantinople during a nine-month cruise of the Mediterranean following the signing of the Armistice ending World War I. Following Dyer's return in August 1919, Wright supervised her overhaul at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. he also briefly commanded the destroyer USS Paul Jones, which escorted the presidential yacht USS Mayflower, with President Warren G. Harding on board, from Gardiner's Bay, NY, to the Capes. In October 1920, Wright took command of the destroyer USS Reid anchored in reserve at Naval Station Newport, RI, for transfer to Charleston, SC. In February 1922, he served as Executive Officer of the destroyer USS Breese that was slated for decommissioning at the Mare Island Navy Yard.

In June 1922, he joined the destroyer USS John D. Ford, as its Executive Officer, with additional duties as Fire Control Officer and Navigator. John D. Ford set sail from the Philadelphia Navy Yard with its sister ships of Squadron 15, Division 3, for the U.S. Asiatic Fleet. The John D. Ford operated throughout the Far East, including the China Sea, the Sea of Japan, and the Philippines, showing the flag and training with other destroyers in the fleet. In July 1926, Wright joined the battleship USS Maryland, as the principal assistant of the ship's Gunnery Division. In November 1928, the Maryland took President-elect Herbert Hoover on the outbound leg of his goodwill tour of Latin America. Wright also furthered his hands-on education of gunnery and ordnance while serving as an instructor at the Gunnery School on the battleship USS Colorado. He joined the cruiser USS Salt Lake City, attached to the Scouting Force, as its First Lieutenant in August 1931 and later became the ship's Gunnery Officer from June 1932 to June 1934. The Salt Lake City participated in naval exercises in the Atlantic and Pacific, underwent a major overhaul and participated in the 1934 Naval Review.

Wright's first sea command was the destroyer USS Blue. He served as its first commanding officer from July 1937 to May 1939. The Blue completed its shakedown cruise, transited the Panama Canal, and joined the Destroyer Division 7 (DesRon 7) as its flagship, becoming a unit of the Battle Force based at the San Diego Naval Base, CA. She also participated in Fleet Problem XX exercises staged in the Caribbean Sea.

His final pre-war sea assignment was as Executive Officer of the battleship USS Mississippi based at Pearl Harbor Naval Base in the Territory of Hawaii, from March 1941 to May 1942. The Mississippi became a unit of Battleship Division 3 (BatDiv 3) with sister ships New Mexico and Idaho. Following the Bismarck incident and the growing U-boat threat, Battleship Division 3 was secretly shifted to the newly-reconstituted U.S. Atlantic Fleet, under the command of Admiral Ernest J. King, entering the Norfolk Naval Base in June 1941. Mississippi was present at the Atlantic Conference at Argentina, participated in the Neutrality Patrol, and joined the Idaho and the British battleship HMS King George V to form an Iceland-based fleet in being to deter the German battleship Tirpitz from deploying into the north Atlantic to threaten Allied convoys. After months of operations in the North Atlantic, Mississippi was en route to Norfolk for long overdue repairs two days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 7, 1941.

Shore duty

Wright served as a Naval Aide for two U.S. Presidents, including Calvin Coolidge, from September 1924 to June 1926, with additional duties as a Watch and Division Officer on board the presidential yacht Mayflower, and Herbert Hoover during his pre-inaugural goodwill tour of Latin America in November 1928. He also served as aide to Assistant Secretary of the Navy Henry L. Roosevelt from June 1935 to March 1936. He then served on board USS Sequoia during its commissioning and fitting-out period.

Wright developed an interest in gunnery and ordnance after he was turned down for naval aviation because he had exophoria (an eye deviation). His first tour of duty at the Bureau of Ordnance (BuOrd) was as a Fire Control Section Assistant, specializing in anti-aircraft equipment, from August 1929 to August 1931. Wright's second BuOrd assignment was with its Supply and Allowance Division, involving ammunition distribution to the fleet, from June 1936 to July 1937. Bureau Chief Rear Admiral Harold R. Stark rated Wright highly.

Commander Wright served two tours at the Naval Academy as the Battalion Commander for the First Battalion, from June 1934 to June 1935, and the Battalion Commander for the Second Battalion, from June 1939 to March 1941. He earned two nicknames at the Naval Academy: Old Iron Heels because he wore steel wedges on his shoes to alert midshipmen of his approach; and Old Stoneface because of his ability to elicit confessions from offending midshipmen regarding disciplinary infractions without uttering a word. He also served as the Staff Aide to the Commander Atlantic Squadron during the Midshipman's Practice Cruise in June-August 1940.

World War II

Pearl Harbor Aftermath, COMINCH, and London

The USS Mississippi completed its overhaul in three weeks and transited the Panama Canal to rejoin the U.S. Pacific Fleet, visiting San Francisco, CA, to reassure its citizens in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor. In March 1942, Captain Wright was detached from the Mississippi for temporary duty on the staff of Admiral Ernest J. King, Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Fleet (COMINCH), before being assigned to Admiral Harold R. Stark's staff in London, effective 3 June 1942. He was subsequently assigned to the planning staff of Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who would lead the British-American invasion of North Africa (Operation Torch). His role would be to coordinate with his British counterparts regarding the Mediterranean landings in Algiers.

One growing concern for Eisenhower and his planners was the likely reaction of local French political and military leaders toward an Allied invasion of North Africa. Strong French resistance could cause more casualties for the landing force. One issue coloring French attitudes was their deep-seated resentment toward the British for the Attack on Mers-el-Kébir in which the Royal Navy shelled the anchored French fleet in June 1940. Another issue was working with officials connected to the Vichy government that could cause serious political and security problems. Diplomat Robert D. Murphy, the U.S. Consul General in Algiers, spearheaded efforts to gather pre-invasion intelligence and cultivate diplomatic contacts in French North Africa, and Wright would find himself intimately involved in his pre-invasion activities.

North Africa, Sicily, and Italy

Operation Flagpole

On 16 October 1942, Wright was summoned to Operation Torch's staff headquarters at Horfolk House in London for an important meeting with General Eisenhower and other senior officers. Eisenhower informed the group that the War Department had forwarded an urgent cable from U.S. diplomat Robert D. Murphy requesting the immediate dispatch of a top-secret high-level group to meet with Général Charles E. Mast, the military commander of Algiers and the leader of a group of pro-Allied officials in French North Africa.

The objective of this secret mission, code-named Operation Flagpole, was to reach an agreement through Mast and his colleagues to have Général Henri Giraud, a key pro-Allied French army officer, step forward, take command of French military forces in North Africa, and then arrange a ceasefire with the Allied invasion force. Other alternatives, like Jean Darlan and Charles de Gaulle, had been rejected by the British and American governments for a variety of political reasons. Lieutenant General Mark Clark would be Eisenhower's personal representative, with Lemnitzer as the top invasion planner, Hamblen as the invasion's logistics expert, and Holmes serving as translator. Wright would serve as the liaison with the French Navy, with the specific objective of convincing the French to have their fleet anchored in Toulon join the Allied cause.

The group flew in two Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses bombers to Gibraltar, and on 19 October they boarded the British submarine HMS Seraph, Lieutenant Norman Limbury Auchinleck "Bill" Jewell, RN, commanding. Seraph then transported Clark's party to the small fishing village of Cherchell, located 82 miles west of Algiers. After midnight on the evening of 21 October the Seraph surfaced and set Clark's mission ashore, where they met with Mast and Murphy. Wright met with Capitaine de vaisseau Jean Barjot and learned that the French Navy was opposed to U.S. entry into North Africa, although the French Army and Air Force supported it.

On 24 October Clark's mission returned to the Seraph and later met a seaplane that flew them back to Gibraltar, arriving back in London on 25 October where Wright briefed Admiral Stark. Both Eisenhower and Clark recommended Wright for a Distinguished Service Medal in recognition for his role in Operation Flagpole. Wright's DSM was personally pinned by Admiral Ernest J. King, the Chief of Naval Operations, during the Casablanca Conference.

Operation Kingpin

With the preliminaries concluded during Operation Flagpole, the next task was to free Général Giraud (code-named Kingpin) whom the Vichy government had under house arrest for his anti-Nazi leanings at Toulon in southern France. On 26 October 1942, Wright was directed to take part in the mission (code-named Operation Kingpin) to extract Giraud. Because of intense anti-British sentiment among French officers, the mission would present an American face. However, because there were no American submarines operating in the Mediterranean Sea, a novel solution was conceived with Wright taking command of the British submarine Seraph. As Captain G. B. H. Fawkes, RN, the commander of 8th Submarine Flotilla in the Mediterranean, noted:

It was, I think, unique in the history of the two nations that a United States Naval officer should be placed in nominal command of a British submarine thereby making her the only warship on active duty to be commanded by two captains.

The Seraph got underway on 27 October and arrived off Toulon on 30 October. After several delays, Giraud and his party were brought on board, and a PBY Catalina flying boat subsequently flew Wright, Giraud, and the others back to Gibraltar, the new Operation Torch headquarters, to confer with generals Eisenhower and Clark. Wright was awarded his first Legion of Merit in recognition of his participation in Operation Kingpin.

Operation Torch

D-Day for Operation Torch, 8 November 1942, saw over 73,000 American and British troops landed at Casablanca, Oran, and Algiers. However, the most significant development was on the diplomatic and political front when U.S. Consul general Robert D. Murphy alerted the Allied high command about unexpected presence of Admiral de la flotte Jean Darlan, the head of the Vichy French military, who was visiting his ill son in Algiers. Darlan's presence complicated the pre-invasion arrangements with Général Henri Giraud. Darlan pointed out to Murphy that he out-ranked Giraud, whom Darlan maintained had little influence within the French military.

After a ceasefire was reached in Algiers, Eisenhower sent a delegation to resolve the situation and broker a ceasefire with all French North African forces. Wright accompanied General Clark who concluded that Darlan could, with certain conditions, deliver the general ceasefire and oversee the post-invasion occupation, and that Giraud lacked the political ability to accomplish these goals. Eisenhower endorsed Clark's recommendation, which caused a political firestorm within the Allied governments because of Darlan's connection to Vichy. About Giraud and Darlan, Wright observed:

Unfortunately, his stubbornness prevented him [Giraud] from being any help on D-day toward negotiating a ceasefire throughout French territory. Because of an extraordinary coincidence [Darlan], his cooperation might not have made a difference anyway.

Admiral Harold R. Stark noted in Wright's December 1942 fitness report that:

An officer of great ability, whose calm, assured habit of command inspires confidence alike in seniors and subordinates. Excellent personal and military character. Has performed two outstanding dangerous and secret missions.... Qualified for Flag rank.

At the Casablanca Conference in January 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) made the decision to shelve plans for Operation Sledgehammer, and instead progress operations in Sicily (Operation Husky) and Italy (Operation Avalanche). Finally, Admiral Darlan was assassinated on 24 December 1942, and Charles de Gaulle would ultimately out-maneuver and marginalize Henri Giraud to become the sole leader of the Free French movement.

Operation Husky

Wright joined the staff of Vice Admiral H. Kent Hewitt, USN, the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Northwest Africa Waters (COMNAVNAW), as its Assistant Chief of Staff.

Hewitt would command the "Western Naval Task Force," which would land U.S. Seventh Army under Lieutenant General George S. Patton in the Gulf of Gela near Palermo for Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily. Vice-Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, RN, would command the Eastern Naval Task Force, which would land the British Eighth Army under General Sir Bernard L. Montgomery near Syracuse. Admiral Sir Andrew B. Cunningham, RN, would command all Allied naval forces for Operation Husky, and General Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. Army, would be in overall command of the Sicily invasion.

The Western Naval Task Force consisted of three subordinated forces, Task Force 80 (code name JOSS) under the command of Rear Admiral Richard L. Conolly to land the 3rd Infantry Division and Major General Lucian Truscott commanding, on the beaches near Licata. Task Force 82 (code name DIME) under Rear Admiral land to 1st Infantry Division, Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen commanding, on beaches near Gela. Task Force 85 (code name CENT) under the command of Rear Admiral Alan Kirk was to land the 45th Infantry Division, Major General Troy Middleton commanding, on beaches near Scoglitti.

Wright worked closely with his U.S. Army counterparts, and he considered Patton "a great fellow" who grew to appreciate the effectiveness of naval gun support for his landing force. However, Wright was critical of Lieutenant General Carl A. Spaatz, USAAF, and Air Vice-Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham, RAF, regarding the lack of cooperation on close air support from the Allied air forces. Wright did praise Air Vice-Marshal Sir Hugh Pughe Lloyd, RAF, for providing air support from Malta.

The loading of ships and landing craft of the Western Naval Task Force was completed on 8 July 1943, with Vice Admiral Hewitt and his staff embarking on the USS Monrovia, the invasion force's flagship. D-Day was 10 July and Patton's troops stormed ashore and began their history-making drive for Messina.

Operation Avalanche

Operation Avalanche was the Allied invasion of the Italian mainland with amphibious landings at Salerno, with additional landing at Calabria (Operation Baytown) and Taranto (Operation Slapstick).

For the Salerno landing, Wright faced two major challenges in his capacity as the Assistant Chief of Staff for U.S. Naval Forces, Northwest Africa Waters (NAVNAW), namely the shortage of U.S. escort vessels and a shortage of landing craft. While Wright was able to secure additional British escorts, landing craft would remain a persistent problem given the competing demands from Operation Overlord and the Pacific Theater of Operations, with Wright noting: "LST's don't grow on trees." On the other hand, two developments were welcomed by Wright and his fellow invasion planners: (1) Including the U.S. escort aircraft carriers (CVE) would provide much needed off-shore close air support for the landing force, and (2) the news that Major General E. J. House would oversee tactical air support for the ground forces using aircraft from of the Northwest African Air Force. However, Wright felt that the Army's decision to forgo pre-invasion naval gun bombardment was ill-considered, even for the sake of maintaining the element of surprise.

The invasion force got underway, with Vice Admiral H. Kent Hewitt, Wright, and the NAVNAW staff embarked on the USS Ancon; Hewitt's flagship for Operation Avalanche. While enroute, Wright heard the announcement about the Armistice with Italy by General Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, on 9 September. While this removed the Italian military from the battlefield, German Army forces in Italy under Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring were not bound by this agreement. The immediate objective for Operation Avalanche was to secure the Gulf of Salerno and capture Naples.

The D-Day for Operation Avalanche was 9 September 1943 as the 36th Infantry Division, under the command of Major General Fred L. Walker USA, stormed ashore at Salerno under heavy fire from German tanks, artillery, and machine guns. During the landings on the morning of 11 September, Wright witnessed a radio-controlled flying bomb severely damage the cruiser USS Savannah. A powerful German counter-attack on 13 September threatened to drive a wedge into the Salerno bridgehead, but it was beaten back by a powerful Allied air-land-sea assault, forcing a German retreat. With the Fifth U.S. Army under Lieutenant General Mark Clark driving for Naples, Admiral Hewitt and Wright returned to Malta to give a full report on Operation Avalanche to Eisenhower. Wright was awarded a second Legion of Merit for his contributions on Operation Husky and Operation Avalanche.

Central Pacific

USS Santa Fe (CL-60)

In October 1943, Wright was detached from U.S. Naval Forces, Northwest Africa Waters (NAVNAW) to take command of the light cruiser USS Santa Fe (CL-60), nicknamed the "Lucky Lady." Wright relieved Captain Russell Berkey on 15 December 1943. Santa Fe was the flagship of Cruiser Division 13, Rear Admiral Laurance T. DuBose commanding, which also included USS Birmingham (CL-62), USS Mobile (CL-63), and USS Reno (CL-96). During December 1943, Santa Fe underwent amphibious training off San Pedro, CA.

On 13 January 1944, Santa Fe set sail from California for the Marshall Islands as part of the invasion force for Operation Flintlock. Santa Fe served as an escort for the Northern Attack Force (Task Force 53), Rear Admiral Richard L. Conolly commanding, which was tasked to capture Roi-Namur and the northern half of the Kwajalein atoll. Santa Fe joined the bombardment force (Task Group 53.5), Rear Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf commanding, that provided naval gunfire support for U.S. Marine landing forces at Kwajalein which was secured on February 4.

Following a lay-over at Majuro, Santa Fe participated in air raids against Truk and Saipan as part of Task Force 58 during February 1944. Wright received a Letter of Commendation for his actions as the commanding officer of the Santa Fe during this engagement. From 15 March through 1 May 1944, Santa Fe was part of Task Group 58.2, Rear Admiral Joseph J. Clark commanding, which provided air support for amphibious landings at Emirau Island and Hollandia while also participating in air raids against Japanese garrisons on Palau, Yap, Wakde, Woleai, Sawar, Satawan, and Ponape, as well as major air strikes against the Japanese naval base at Truk. Santa Fe also participated in the shore bombardment of Wakde and Sawar.

On 15 June 1944, Santa Fe participated in landings on Saipan, Guam, and Tinian (Operation Forager) as a part of the U.S. Fifth Fleet under the overall command of Vice Admiral Raymond A. Spruance. On 19 June Japanese carrier aircraft began attacking the Fifth Fleet which remained close to the beachhead on orders from Spruance. Wright concurred that this controversial decision was the correct one given the importance of protecting the landing force. During the ensuing Battle of the Philippine Sea, Santa Fe's anti-aircraft guns helped to protect the fleet during these enemy air attacks while American naval aviators counter-attacked the Japanese fleet. On 20 June, Santa Fe ignored possible Japanese submarine activity when she turned on her lights to help guide returning American aircraft back to their carriers during highly hazardous night landings. After air strikes on Pagan Island, Santa Fe returned to Eniwetok for provisioning.

In August, Santa Fe joined Task Group 38.3, Rear Admiral Frederick C. Sherman commanding, for the invasion of Peleliu and Angaur (Operation Stalemate II) as part of the U.S. Third Fleet under the overall command of Admiral William F. Halsey, and carrier air attacks to neutralize Japanese air bases on Babelthuap and Koro in preparation for the upcoming Philippines campaign led by General Douglas MacArthur. During air raids on Formosa in October, the heavy cruiser Canberra and light cruiser Houston were seriously damaged by aerial torpedoes. Santa Fe was part of a covering force (Task Force 30.3), nicknamed "CripDiv 1," formed to protect the damaged cruisers as they were being towed back for Uliti for repairs. The final engagements that Wright participated in as the commanding officer of the USS Santa Fe were the invasion of Leyte and the Battle of Leyte Gulf. ld Wright received the Silver Star in recognition of his participation in the towing of the Canberra and Houston back to Uliti.

Amphibious Group Five

In November 1944, Rear Admiral Jerauld Wright took command of Amphibious Group Five, a newly-created unit of the Amphibious Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner. Wright's group would be involved in the invasion of the Ryukyu Islands (Operation Iceberg), the island of Okinawa being the key objective. Once taken, U.S. forces would use Okinawa as a staging area for the eventual invasion of Japan, and a base for the B-29 Superfortress bombers of the U.S. Seventh Air Force to attack the Japanese home islands. Amphibious Group Five would transport the 2nd Marine Division, Major General Thomas E. Watson, USMC, commanding, with Wright flying his flag from the USS Ancon (AGC-4).

For Operation Iceberg, Wright's force was designated Demonstration Group Charlie (Task Group 51.2), whose mission was to serve as a decoy force working in conjunction with the Southern Attack Force (Task Force 55) commanded by Rear Admiral John L. Hall while the Western Islands Group (Task Group 51.1) under Rear Admiral Ingolf N. Kiland and the 77th Infantry Division secured Kerama Retto and other offshore islands before landing at Ie Shima. Task Group 51.2 would subsequently serve as a floating reserve for the U.S. Tenth Army (Task Force 56), commanded by Lieutenant General Simon B. Buckner, USA, before returning to Saipan.

Wright was ordered to Pearl Harbor to begin planning the invasion of the Japanese home islands, which would begin with Operation Olympic, the invasion of the southern island of Kyūshū. Wright's Amphibious Group Five would be part of the 5th Amphibious Force, commanded by Vice Admiral Harry W. Hill, which would land the V Amphibious Corps (VAC) on the west coast in the Kaminokawa - Kushikino area. Amphibious Group Five would consist of four old battleships, ten cruisers, fourteen destroyers, and seventy-four support craft. However, Operation Olympic and the follow-up invasion of Honshū (Operation Coronet) were cancelled following the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Wright was awarded a Bronze Star, with a combat "V" device, for his leadership as the commander of Task Group 51.2 during Operation Iceberg.

Cruiser Division Six

Wright took command of Cruiser Division Six (CruDiv 6) with the USS San Francisco (CA-38) serving as his flagship. In early October 1945, CruDiv 6 was assigned to assist the post-surrender activities and general-purpose peace-keeping duties throughout the Yellow Sea and Gulf of Bohai region as a unit of the U.S Seventh Fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid. Wright's force showed the flag, making port visits at Tientsin, Tsingtao, Port Arthur, and Chinwangtao. At the final port call at Inchon, Wright acted as the senior-ranking member of the committee that accepted the surrender of Japanese naval forces throughout Korea.

Cold War

Operational Readiness Division

In October 1945, Wright joined the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) as the head of its Operational Readiness Division, helping to organize this newly-created organization. Other OPNAV divisions created were Plans (OP-31), Combat Intelligence (OP-32), Operations (OP-33), and Anti-submarine Warfare (OP-35) within the Chief of Naval Operations. Wright organized OP-34 into four sections, and working with his sister divisions, Wright directed the development of a host of manuals on tactical doctrine based upon experience from World War II. Wright involved civilian think tanks, such as the Operation Evaluation Group (OEG), in projects undertaken by OP-34. CNO Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz appointed Wright to chair the U.S. Navy's Air Defense Committee to help improve fleet air defenses. Wright also succeeded Rear Admiral Walter DeLaney as the chairman of the Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee (JANAC), an inter-service agency set up in 1943 to analyze and assess of Japanese naval and merchant marine shipping losses caused by U.S. and Allied forces during World War II.

Commander Amphibious Forces U.S. Atlantic Fleet

On 24 November 1948, Wright assumed command of Amphibious Forces U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMPHIBLANT), a position that he held through 1 November 1950. Based at the Norfolk Naval Station, Wright would be responsible for three major subordinate commands, Amphibious Group Two, Amphibious Group Four and the Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base. COMPHIBLANT also included Amphibious Training, an Amphibious Air Control Group, a Naval Beach Group, a Detached Group, and a Mediterranean Group. Wright's flagship was the USS Taconic (AGC-17), an amphibious force command ship. The most significant accomplishment during Wright's tour of duty as COMPHIBLANT was PORTREX, a multi-service amphibious assault exercise held from 25 February-11 March 1950. PORTREX was the largest peacetime amphibious exercise up to that time and it was staged to evaluate joint doctrine for combined operations, test new equipment under simulated combat conditions and provide training for the defense of the Caribbean.

Over 65,000 men and 160 ships were involved, and it was climaxed by a combined amphibious and airborne assault on Vieques Island, a first in military history. The success of PORTREX offered a prelude for future amphibious operations, including the landings at Inchon during the Korean War. Wright received the third star of Vice Admiral, effective 14 September 1950, at the conclusion of his tour of duty as COMPHIBLANT.

Standing Group - North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Vice Admiral Wright served as the deputy U.S. representative to Standing Group (SG) of the newly-formed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), serving from November 1950 to February 1952. The Standing Group was the standing planning organization under NATO's Military Committee, composed of military representatives from the U,S., Great Britain, and France. At the time of Wright's tour of duty, SG membership was General of the Army Omar Bradley, U.S. Army, Air Marshal Lord Tedder, Royal Air Force and Lieutenant General Paul Ely, French Army The Standing Group was charged with providing policy guidance and military-related information to NATO's various regional planning groups, including General Eisenhower at SHAPE headquarters. The Standing Group undertook short-term (STDP), mid-term (MTDP), and long-range (LTDP) strategic military planning for the NATO alliance, as well as making recommendations regarding NATO's unified military command structure, which included the creation of a Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) billet.

Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Naval Forces Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean

Vice Admiral Wright became the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Naval Forces Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean (CINCNELM), an important U.S. Navy fleet command, effective 14 June 1952. CINCELM's area of responsibility (AOR) stretched from the eastern Atlantic through the Indian Ocean to Singapore.

Wright's operational control over the Sixth Fleet proved to be a source of friction with Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, RN, NATO's Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces Mediterranean (CINCAFMED). Mountbatten felt that the Sixth Fleet should be assigned to his command while Wright wanted to maintain control of the fleet, particularly its nuclear-armed aircraft carriers, pursuant to both U.S. Navy policy and Federal law. The dispute tested the diplomatic skills of both men. CINCNELM forces participated in NATO Operation Mariner and Operation Weldfast exercises during 1953, and units of the Sixth Fleet did participate in NATO exercises while staying under U.S. control.

As CINCNELM, Wright maintained strong diplomatic ties with allies within his area of responsibility. He made a 14-day goodwill trip to the Middle East that culminated with a courtesy call with the newly-crowned King Saud bin Abdul Aziz in Jidda, Saudi Arabia. Later, Wright attended the coronation ceremonies of King Hussein of Jordan in May 1953. In June 1953, Wright served as the senior U.S. Navy representative at the coronation pageant of Queen Elizabeth II, including flying his flag from the heavy cruiser USS Baltimore during the Coronation Naval Review of Spithead on June 15. Wright also made the arrangements for U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Winthrop Aldrich to present a bronze plaque of John Paul Jones from the U.S. Naval Historical Center to the British government, initiating his long-time association with the famous naval hero of the American Revolution.

During a high-level conference in Washington from 20 October to 4 November 1953, Wright was informed that that CINCNELM was be become a subordinate command of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet reporting directly to Admiral Lynde D. McCormick, the Commander-in-Chief U.S. Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANTFLT). Also, Wright would become the head of NATO's Eastern Atlantic Area, reporting to Admiral McCormick, the first Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT).

Wright was promoted to the four-star rank of Admiral effective 1 April 1954.

Atlantic Command

Admiral Wright's final command assignment proved to be the most challenging undertaking in his career as he literally took on three concurrent roles, namely Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANTFLT), Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Command (CINCLANT) and Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) of NATO's Allied Command Atlantic (ACLANT). While his nomination to become CINCLANTFLT and CINCLANT was made by the President of the U.S., subject to the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate, Wright's appointment to become SACLANT was subject to the approval of the North Atlantic Council. Fortunately, Wright was a known commodity since he had served as the deputy U.S. representative to NATO's Standing Group from November 1950 to February 1952.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower noted in his 1 February 1954 announcement:

I feel that Admiral Wright is extremely well qualified to perform the duties of Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic. Admiral Wright has extensive background and naval command experience in positions of vital importance and he is an officer of outstanding character and ability. Admiral Wright has served as Deputy U.S. Representative to the Standing Group of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and is thoroughly cognizant of the duties and responsibilities of SACLANT. I feel that Admiral Wright will uphold and carry forward the fine traditions and worthy objectives sought by all the NATO nations. I have every confidence that Admiral Wright can make an outstanding contribution to our common defense effort.

Admiral Jerauld Wright assumed command of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, the U.S. Atlantic Command, and Allied Command Atlantic on 12 April 1954, relieving Admiral Lynde D. McCormick who had been the first Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic.

Command Structure and Responsibilities

Wright's command responsibilities included acting as Commander-in-Chief U.S. Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANTFLT), one of the two major fleet commands within the U.S. Navy with responsibility for all naval operations throughout the Atlantic Ocean; Commander-in-Chief U.S. Atlantic Command (CINCLANT), a unified command responsible for U.S. military operation throughout the Atlantic Ocean geographical region; and Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT), one of the two principal military commands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), responsible for keeping the sea lanes open between the United States and Europe.

Fleet Modernization

Wright inherited a U.S. Atlantic Fleet in transition as the U.S. Navy was going through a modernization period to replace warships and aircraft built during World War II.

Fleet Readiness

For Wright, the best method to evaluate fleet readiness for the U.S. Atlantic Fleet was the staging and execution of naval exercises like Lantflex I-57. Among the high-level observers for this naval exercise were President Eisenhower and many other members of the U.S. cabinet. The highlight of Lantflex I-57 was the landing of two A3D Sky Warriors and two F8U Crusaders on board the USS Saratoga that had been launched from the USS Bon Homme Richard operating in the Pacific, the first carrier-to-carrier transcontinental flight in history.

Other Atlantic Fleet exercises included Operation Springboard, the annual winter naval maneuvers in the Caribbean Sea. Units of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and the Royal Canadian Navy participated in Operation Sweep Clear III, a bilateral mine warfare exercise, during July-August 1958. Also, in 1960, the U.S. Atlantic Fleet initiated UNITAS, an annual multilateral series of exercises between the South Atlantic Force (SOLANTFOR) and Latin American navies. As SACLANT, Wright coordinated such NATO naval exercises as Operation Sea Watch, a convoy escort exercise. However, the most significant naval exercise during Admiral Wright's tour of duty was Operation Strikeback, a ten-day exercise involving over 250,000 men, 300 ships, and 1,500 aircraft during September 1957, which was the largest naval exercise staged by NATO up to that time. Under Wright, the U.S. Atlantic Fleet also took the lead on the field of operational testing and evaluation (OT&E) of systems and tactics, particularly regarding anti-submarine warfare for the U.S. Navy, with the Operational Development Force (OPDEVFOR), under the command of Rear Admiral William D. Irvin, serving as the lead agency for this effort.

Finally, in February 1959, when several transatlantic cables off Newfoundland were cut and the Soviet fishing trawler MV Novorossisk operating in the vicinity at the time of the break, the radar-picket ASW destroyer USS Roy O. Hale (DER-336) was dispatched to enforce the 1884 Convention for the Protection of Submarine Cables. On 26 August the Hale sent a boarding party to the Novorossisk to investigate and determined that there were no indications of intentions "other than fishing." A diplomatic protest was lodged, but there were no more breaks.

Anti-Submarine Warfare

Wright stated in a Time magazine article from 1958 that: "The primary mission of every combat ship in the Atlantic Fleet is antisubmarine. Everything else is secondary." Given his previous exposure to anti-submarine warfare (ASW) doctrine at OP-34, Wright was a natural fit for overseeing the anti-submarine renaissance during his tour of duty as CINCLANTFLT. One significant innovation was the Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS), a network of underwater hydrophones and listening posts designed to track the movement of submarines. The first SOSUS operational test was done during the ASDevEx 1-54 exercise from 6 April-7 June 1954.

However, 1958 news accounts about the growing threat of the Soviet snorkel-equipped diesel-electric submarine force began to gain the attention of the American public. Central Intelligence Agency Director Allen Dulles was reported to have said that ten missile-carrying Soviet submarines could destroy 1600 square miles of the industrial-rich eastern seaboard in a sneak attack. Also, a 14 April 1958 Associated Press dispatch quoted U.S. Congressman Carl Durham (D-NC), who said that 184 Soviet submarines had been sighted off the U.S. Atlantic coast in 1957.

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Arleigh A. Burke responded on 1 April by creating Task Force Alfa, a hunter-killer (HUK) flotilla under the command of Rear Admiral John S. Thach, which would develop new ASW tactics to counter this growing Soviet submarine threat.

Wright's personal contribution provided the first look at a missile-armed Soviet submarine, a Project AV611/Zulu-V variant armed with two R-11FM/SS-1b Scud-A ballistic missiles. Wright also spearheaded the establishment of the SACLANT ASW Research Centre, created on 2 May 1959 in La Spezia, Italy, to serve as a clearinghouse for NATO's anti-submarine efforts. The efforts of the Atlantic Fleet to develop and implement new ASW tactics during Admiral Wright's tour of duty laid the groundwork for the success that the U.S. Navy had in locating and tracking Soviet submarines during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Showing the Flag

One example of soft power regarding sea power is showing the flag. In his capacity as CINCLANT/CINCLANTFLT/SACLANT, Wright and his staff participated in 18 formal presentations and 62 NATO and joint military planning meetings during his six-year tour of duty in these positions.

Final Change of Command and Retirement

The White House announced on 31 December 1959, that Admiral Jerauld Wright was stepping down as CINCLANTFLT/CINCLANT/SACLANT, with President Dwight D. Eisenhower reflecting wider sentiment when he noted:

I would like to take this opportunity to express my personal thanks and that of the American people for the services which you have performed over a period of the last six years. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization represents an endeavor on the part of fifteen free nations, the success of which is vital to the security and well-being of the United States. Thus, the position of Commander of one of the major commands of this organization is one of the greatest responsibility. The leadership and judgment which you have displayed in this capacity have been a source of deep satisfaction to me personally, and I know has won the great admiration not only of the nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization but of all the Free World.

On 29 February 1960, Admiral Jerauld Wright retired, effective 1 March 1960, after 46 years of service in the U.S. Navy. He received a second Distinguished Service Medal in recognition of his six year tenure as CINCLANTFLT/CINCLANT/SACLANT from Secretary of the Navy William B. Franke in a special ceremony held on board the supercarrier USS Independence (CVA-62).

Recall to Duty

CIA Board of National Estimates

Admiral Jerauld Wright was recalled to active duty on 12 January 1961 to serve as the U.S. Navy representative on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Board of National Estimates (BNE). After completing the assignment he was released from active duty effective 13 May 1963.

U.S. Ambassador to China (Taiwan)

Wright was contacted by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs W. Averell Harriman regarding the ambassadorship to the Republic of China in Taiwan. The current U.S. ambassador, retired Admiral Alan G. Kirk, was in declining health and had recommended Wright as his replacement. After discussing it with his family, Wright accepted. Ambassador Wright presented his credentials to President Chiang Kai-shek on 29 June 1963. He won praise for his sensitive handling of the aftermath to the assassination of John F. Kennedy from both the embassy staff and government officials of the Republic of China. He also closely monitored the tense military situation between Taiwan and mainland China, particularly the potential flashpoint of Qemoy. Wright also successfully concluded a Status of Forces Agreement with the Republic of China. On 25 July 1965, Jerauld Wright stepped down as the U.S. Ambassador of the Republic of China, closing the final chapter on his public life.

In Retirement

In retirement, Wright pursued an interest in painting with a whimsical style similar to that of Grandma Moses. His artwork was displayed in exhibits at the Brook Club, the Knickerbocker Club, and the Sulgrave Club.

He was a long-time member of the U.S. Naval Institute, serving as its president from 1959-60 and was a frequent contributor to its Proceedings, including an insightful December 1951 article on the challenges facing the newly-created NATO. His other memberships included the Alibi Club, the Chevy Chase Club, the Metropolitan Club, the Knickerbocker Club, the Brook Club, Alfalfa Club, and the U.S. Navy League.


Wright received honorary degrees from the Rose Polytechnic Institute, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the William and Mary College.

Wright Island, an ice-covered island 35 miles long, lying at the north edge of Getz Ice Shelf about midway between Carney Island and Martin Peninsula, on the Bakutis Coast, Marie Byrd Land. Delineated from air photos taken by U.S. Navy Operation Highjump in January 1947, it was named by the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (US-ACAN) after Admiral Wright who was in over-all command of Operation Deep Freeze during the International Geophysical Year 1957-58.


The Jerauld Wright Award: In light of the growing threat of Soviet submarine activity within his command area, as well as in retaliation for the recent aggressive depth-charging of the USS Gudgeon near Vladivostok, Admiral Wright issued the following challenge:

Whereas, the presence of unidentified submarines in the approaches to the United States has been frequently reported, and

Whereas, the submarines have been uncooperative in declaring either their identity and their intent as is required by the customs and usages of honorable seamen, and

Whereas, tangible evidence that these surreptitious actions are being conducted would result in appropriate embarrassment to those involved.

Therefore I do hereby pledge to donate one case of Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Brand of Quality Tennessee Sour Mash Corn Whiskey, made as our fathers made it for seven generations at the oldest distillery in the United States, established in 1866, to the first Scene of Action commander who evidence that a "non U.S. or known friendly" submarine has been worn out.

Jerauld Wright
Admiral, U.S. Navy

On 29 May 1959, the USS Grenadier, a Tench-class submarine working in conjunction with Patrol Squadron 5 (VP-5), chased a Soviet submarine near Iceland for nine hours before forcing it to surface, and its commanding officer, Lt. Commander Theodore F. Davis, received the case of whiskey from Admiral Wright and the distinction of being the first to surface a Soviet submarine by the U.S. Navy.

The Admiral Wright Award was presented, with an accompanying case of whiskey, on two other occasions:

On 29 October 1962, the USS Charles P. Cecil, a Gearing-class destroyer, had chased a Soviet submarine throughout the Caribbean for nearly two days during the Cuban missile crisis.

The third instance occurred off Gibraltar in 1967, but details were never released.

John Paul Jones Cottage Museum

Retired admirals Jerauld Wright and Sir Nigel Henderson, RN, spearheaded the effort to restore the Scottish birthplace of John Paul Jones back to its original 1747 condition. The cottage that houses a museum dedicated to the life and accomplishments of John Paul Jones was opened in 1993, and it is situated on the original location on the estate of Arbigland in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright.


The future wife of Jerauld Wright was born Phyllis B. Thompson on 2 April 1906, in New York City. She graduated from Miss Porter's School and made her debut in 1924 with Janet Lee, the future mother of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. She worked for the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR) in New York. In 1933, Phyllis Thompson joined the Federal Alcohol Control Administration (FACA) in Washington, DC, and subsequently worked, briefly, at the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). In 1935, she became the society editor for the Washington Evening Star. Phyllis Thompson met Jerry Wright through his sister, Marjorie Wright Key, who had also attended Miss Porter's School. Their marriage took place at St. Andrew's Dune Church on 23 July 1938, which Phyllis wrote as her last wedding notice for the Washington Evening Star as their society editor. Jerry and Phyllis Wright had two children - Marion Jerauld Wright (1941 - ) and William Mason Wright (1945 - ).

Phyllis Wright wrote about her experiences as a Navy wife and the wife of an ambassador in a Navy Wife's Log (1978) and a Taiwan Scrapbook (1992). She was a former president of the Sulgrave Club and a member of the Metropolitan and Chevy Chase clubs. Phyllis Thompson Wright died from cancer on 20 October 2002 at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.

Death and Burial

Admiral Jerauld Wright died on 27 April 1995 of pneumonia in Washington, DC. He was 96.

He was survived by his wife of 56 years, Phyllis; a son, William Mason Wright of Arlington; and a daughter, Marion Jerauld Wright of Denver.

Wright was buried with full military honors in Section 2 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA. He is buried next to his father and mother, and was joined by his wife Phyllis upon her death in 2002.

Honoree ID: 689   Created by: MHOH




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