Gerald Ketchum

Gerald L. Ketchum
Captain Gerald L. Ketchum.jpg
Born5 December 1908
Bellingham, Washington
Died22 August 1992 (1992-08-23) (aged 83)
Plano, Texas
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branchUnited States Department of the Navy Seal.svg United States Navy
RankUS-O8 insignia.svg Rear Admiral
Battles/warsWorld War II
Korean War
AwardsSilver Star
Legion of Merit
Navy Commendation Medal

Rear Admiral Gerald L. Ketchum (5 December 1908 – 22 August 1992)[1] was a career officer in the United States Navy. He served during World War II and the Korean War. He was a recipient of the Silver Star and also participated in four expeditions to Antarctica.

Navy career

Gerald Lyle Ketchum was born in Bellingham, Washington on 5 December 1908 and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1931.

World War II

During World War II Ketchum was a lieutenant commander and was placed in command of the destroyer USS Perkins (DD-377) on 1 March 1943. The Perkins was employed in operations in the waters off New Guinea.

On 22 September 1943, during an operation in which his ship was assigned to screen a convoy of landing craft, Ketchum and the Perkins engaged ten attacking Japanese torpedo planes. Ketchum positioned the Perkins between the planes and the convoy, and despite being heavily strafed, simultaneously avoided two torpedoes by skillful maneuvering, shot down one torpedo plane, and assisted in the destruction of another. For this action he was later awarded the Silver Star – the Navy's third highest award for heroism.

In the early morning hours of 29 November 1943, the Perkins was rammed by an Australian troopship and sank with the loss of nine American lives. Ketchum was held accountable for the incident by a board of inquiry and, unlike most naval officers whose ships have a collision under their command, he was allowed to command ships later in his career.

Antarctic expeditions

On 28 December 1946, Ketchum became the commanding officer of newly commissioned icebreaker USS Burton Island (AG-88). The Burton Island served in Task Group 68.2 during Operation Highjump, the United States Navy Antarctic Developments Program 1946–1947; also known as the Fourth Byrd Anatarctic Expedition. This was the Navy's first Antarctic expedition involving a large number of ships of various kinds and helped established the feasibility of sustained operations in the Antarctic.

He was also Commander of "Task Force 39" consisting of two ships, the Burton Island and the USS Edisto (AG-89), and 500 men for Operation Windmill, an Antarctic expedition in 1947–1948. Ketchum relinquished command of the Burton Island on 22 September 1947.

Ketchum returned to the Antarctic again when he served as Deputy Commander, United States Naval Support Force, Antarctica, during Operations Deep Freeze I and II from 1 February 1955 to 22 March 1957. He was responsible for and directly supervised the preparation and implementation of plans for the two Antarctic expeditions. This involved the design, establishment, and operation of seven widely dispersed bases constructed to support the Antarctic program of the United States National Committee for the International Geophysical Year.

He assumed command of Task Force units from 10 December 1955 to 3 February 1956 during Operation Deep Freeze I, when he skillfully directed aircraft and ship units in hazardous and difficult operations. During Operation Deep Freeze II, he assumed command of the Task Force from 14 September to 20 December 1956, during which period he conducted through the dangerous Antarctic ice pack without damage the largest convoy of ships ever deployed to the Antarctic. From 14 January to 27 February 1957, he assumed command of a task group of three ships and established a base on the Knox Coast under extremely adverse ice conditions. For his service in these operations, Ketchum received the Legion of Merit.

Retirement and death

Upon his retirement from the Navy he was promoted to the rank of rear admiral in recognition of his wartime service. He died in Plano, Texas on 22 August 1992.

Legacy

Ketchum Ridge in Antarctica is named after him.[2]

Awards

Silver Star citation

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Lieutenant Commander Gerald Lyle Ketchum (NSN: 0-70240), United States Navy, for gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy. While Commanding Officer of the Destroyer U.S.S. PERKINS (DD-377), on 22 September 1943, during an operation in which his ship was assigned to screen a convoy of landing craft, he assisted in meeting, repelling and destroying a vicious enemy air attack launched by ten torpedo planes. He quickly and efficiently brought his ship into action, taking station between the planes and the defenseless convoy, and while being heavily strafed, simultaneously avoided two torpedoes by skillful maneuvering, kept all batteries in action, shot down one torpedo plane, and assisted in the destruction of another. His actions and conduct were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Legion of Merit citation

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Legion of Merit to Captain Gerald Lyle Ketchum (NSN: 0-70240), United States Navy, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Deputy Commander, United States Naval Support Force, Antarctica, during Operation DEEP FREEZE I and II from 1 February 1955 to 22 March 1957. An extremely competent and resourceful leader, Captain Ketchum has been responsible for and has directly supervised the preparation and implementation of plans for two Antarctic expeditions which involved the design, establishment, and operation of seven widely dispersed bases constructed to support the Antarctic program of the United States National Committee for the International Geophysical Year. Assuming command of Task Force units from 10 December 1955 to 3 February 1956 during Operation DEEP FREEZE I, he skillfully directed aircraft and ship units in hazardous and difficult operations. During Operation DEEP FREEZE II, he assumed command of the Task Force from 14 September to 20 December 1956, during which period he conducted through the dangerous Antarctic ice pack without damage the largest convoy of ships ever deployed to the Antarctic. From 14 January to 27 February 1957, he assumed command of a task group of three ships and established a base on the Knox Coast under extremely adverse ice conditions. By his outstanding leadership, judgment and inspiring devotion to duty throughout, Captain Ketchum upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Board Serial 895 (4 December 1957)

Action Date: 1 February 1955 – 22 March 1957

References

Media files used on this page

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*Description: On a circular background of fair sky and moderate sea with land in sinister base, a tri-mast square rigged ship under way before a fair breeze with after top-sail furled, commission pennant atop the foremast, National Ensign atop the main, and the commodore's flag atop the mizzen. In front of the ship a luce-type anchor inclined slightly bendwise with the crown resting on the land and, in front of the shank and in back of the dexter fluke, an American bald eagle rising to sinister regarding to dexter, one foot on the ground, the other resting on the anchor near the shank; all in proper colors. The whole within a blue annulet bearing the inscription "Department of the Navy" at the top and "United States of America" at the bottom, separated on each side by a mullet and within a rim in the form of a rope; inscription, rope, mullet, and edges of annulet all gold. *Background: The policy for use of the Navy seal and emblem is contained in SECNAV Instr 5030.4 and SECNAV Instr 5030.6. The seal design was approved by the President of the United States by Executive Order 10736 dated October 23, 1957. Request for use of the Navy emblem should be submitted in writing to Defense Printing Service, ATTN: DPSMO, 8725 John Kingman Rd Suite 3239, Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-6220. The telephone number is (703) 767-4218. 1879 version here: http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/54900/54985/54985_seal_navy.htm
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Major General rank insignia for the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps.
Captain Gerald L. Ketchum.jpg
Captain Gerald L. Ketchum