Frank Jack Fletcher




The World


Maritime Nation To 1950 (1921-1950)








Naval officer� Fletcher graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1906, was commissioned an ensign in 1908, and received his first command, of the destroyer Dale in the Asiatic Torpedo Flotilla, in 1910� Fletcher saw action in 1914 at Veracruz, Mexico. In command of the transport Esperanza, Fletcher's demonstrated bravery in moving 350 refugees to safety earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor. He then went to the Atlantic Fleet as flag lieutenant�

During World War I, Fletcher was promoted to lieutenant commander and commanded the destroyer Benham on convoy escort and patrol duty. He won the Navy Cross for service in submarine-infested waters in 1918.

Fletcher's postwar assignments included destroyers, a submarine tender, and command of a submarine base in the Philippines, where he served in suppressing a 1924 insurrection. After graduating from the U.S. Naval War College in 1930 and the U.S. Army War College in 1931, Fletcher became chief of staff of the Asiatic Fleet. He served as aide to Secretary of the Navy Claude A. Swanson from 1933 to 1936 before returning to sea duty as captain of the battleship New Mexico

Fletcher's first assignment in World War II was command of Task Force Fourteen on a mission to reinforce Wake Island. Despite having to rely on a slow oiler with a maximum speed of only 12.75 knots, he was proceeding on schedule when ordered to abort the mission because of the Japanese capture of Wake Island�

After a brief reassignment to cruisers, Fletcher formed Task Force Seventeen around the carrier Yorktown in early 1942 and escorted a convoy bound for Samoa. He participated in the February raid on the Marshall and Gilbert Islands, led Task Force Seventeen into the South Pacific, joined Task Force Eleven in attacking Japanese ships in New Guinea in March, and then remained on patrol in the Coral Sea to guard the line of communications between Hawaii and Australia.

In May, at the battle of the Coral Sea, Fletcher and Rear Admiral Aubrey W. Fritch engaged larger Japanese forces in history's first carrier versus carrier naval battle. The Americans lost the fleet carrier Lexington, a fleet oiler, and a destroyer in exchange for sinking the light carrier Shoho. This tactical defeat was a strategic victory, however�

Fletcher� join[ed] Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance� near Midway Island, where American aircraft sank four Japanese fleet carriers for the loss of the Yorktown. The battle of Midway was the turning point in the Pacific war. Fletcher was promoted to vice admiral and awarded the Distinguished Service Medal�

Fletcher became commandant of the Thirteenth Naval District and Northwestern Sea Frontier. He was unable to return to sea duty�

In December 1945 Fletcher joined the navy's General Board, which advised the secretary of the navy, and served as chairman from May 1946 until May 1947, when he was promoted to full admiral and retired. He died at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland

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Related Events

1942 - Battle of Midway gives Navy its first clear victory, 1942 - Battle of Coral Sea fought to a draw,

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