A 1910 graduate of the United States Naval
Academy, he was a pioneer Naval Aviator whose early service included duty as
pilot of the NC-1 seaplane during the 1919 trans-Atlantic flight of the NC-4.
He was Captain of the USS Hornet when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and he
commanded that aircraft carrier on the Doolittle raids against Tokyo, April
18, 1942, and in the Battle of Midway, June 3-7, 1942. In 1943, he was the
overall commander, Fleet Air, Solomon Islands, and was the overall tactical
commander of the operations that resulted in the shooting-down the aircraft
carrying Japanese Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto on April 18, 1943.
In January 1944, he became commander of Carrier Division 3, which later
became Fast Carrier Task Force 58. He stayed in that post, as a Vice Admiral,
through the rest of World War II. Welded fast carriers into a fighting team
that fought the Battles of Philippine Sea, June 19-20, 1944, and Gulf of
Leyte, October 24-25, 1944, and bested the Japanese Kamikazes in the Okinawa
Campaign in the Spring of 1945.
He was offered the post of Chief of Naval Operations, but turned it down to
become commander of the 8th Fleet and then Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic
Fleet, where he served until his death from heart problems on February 3,
1947. He was buried in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery.
Admiral Marc A. Mitscher earned distinction as one of the U.S. Navy’s great
battle commanders in the 41 years he served his country.
Marc Andrew Mitscher was born in Hillsboro, Wisconsin on January 26, 1887.
While growing up in the Washington, D.C. area, he attended intermediate and
high school there. In 1906, he received his appointment to the U.S. Naval
Academy. He graduated in 1910 and served at sea for two years, as required by
law at that time, before being commissioned on March 7, 1912.
In August 1913 he served aboard the USS California on the West Coast during
the Mexican Campaign. After subsequent duty on the destroyers Whipple and
Stewart, he reported for aviation training at Naval Aeronautic Station,
Pensacola, on board USS North Carolina, one of the first Navy ships to carry
an airplane. Mitscher was designated Naval Aviator #33 on June 2, 1916 and
remained at NAS Pensacola for duty and further instruction.
On April 6, 1917, he reported to USS Huntington for duty in connection with
aircraft catapult experiments, which was followed by various assignments
until February 1919 when he was transferred to the Aviation Section in the
office of the Chief of Naval Operations. Later in 1919 Mitscher, then a
lieutenant commander, piloted one of the three NC seaplanes that attempted
the first airborne transatlantic crossing. The NC-4, not piloted by Mitscher,
went on to make the successful, historic crossing. Then, Admiral Mitscher
joined the USS Aroostook with additional duty later commanding the Detachment
of Air Forces at Fleet Air Base, San Diego, California. He was then assigned
to the Plans Division, Bureau of Aeronautics in 1922.
Mitscher made the USS Saratoga’s first takeoff and landing on January 11,
1928 in a Vought UO-l. He justify Saratoga in June 1929 to return to the USS
Langley, the carrier on which he was assigned for a brief period in 1926. The
Admiral had a series of staff and command assignments until July 1941 when he
went to Norfolk, Virginia, for the duty in fitting out USS Hornet. The
carrier was commissioned on October 20, 1941, and Captain Marc Mitscher
became her first commanding officer. During World War II, the Hornet was the
"Shangri-La" from which American planes, under the command of Army
Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, took off on April 18, 1942, to bomb
military targets on the Japanese homeland. Aboard the Hornet, Mitscher led
several successful attacks against the enemy carrier forces. He was relieved
of command of the Hornet in July 1942, three months before she was sunk in an
air attack at the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands.
Mitscher then commanded Patrol Wing Two until December 1942, when he became
Commander Fleet Wing, Noumea. In April 1943, now a rear admiral, Mitscher
went to Guadalcanal as Commander Air, Solomon Islands, in charge of the Navy,
Army, Marine and Royal New Zealand Air Force units. Guadalcanal had been
secured but was still under constant enemy fire from the Japanese occupying
the North Islands. Vice Admiral Halsey sent Mitscher, according to Admiral
Arleigh Burke, because he "was a fighting fool and could handle the
When Mitscher assumed command of Task Force 58 in 1944, the mighty naval
force opened the campaign to capture the Marshall Islands. Under Mitscher’s
leadership and guided by his wisdom, Task Force 58 contributed directly to
the capture and occupation of the Marshalls in February, 1944. In the days
that followed, Mitscher led his task forces in attacks against heavily
fortified Japanese bases. In the closing months of the war, Admiral Mitscher
used many innovative tactics as he experimented with formations and
maneuvers, leading a series of attacks against the Japanese home forces.
He returned to the U.S. as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations on July 10, 1945,
and was appointed to the rank of Admiral and assumed command of the Eighth
Fleet on March 1, 1946. He became Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet in
September of 1946. After 41 years of continuous naval service, Admiral Marc
A. Mitscher died of a heart attack on February 3, 1947. Admiral Arleigh Burke
attributed Mitscher as being a "bulldog of a fighter, a strategist
blessed with an uncanny ability to foresee his enemy’s next move. He was
above all else, a Naval Aviator."