|June 4, 1898– April 27, 1995 (aged 96)|
Captain Jerauld Wright, USN, (left) with Lt. NLA 'Bill' Jewell, RN, of HMS Seraph (1942)
Old Iron Heels
|Place of birth||Amherst, Massachusetts|
|Place of death||Washington, D.C.|
|Place of burial||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1917-1960|
United States Navy:
• USS Blue
• USS Santa Fe
• Amphibious Group Five
• Cruiser Division Six
• Amphibious Forces Atlantic Fleet
• U.S. Naval Forces Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean
• U.S. Atlantic Fleet
U.S. Department of Defense:
• U.S. Atlantic Command
• Allied Command Atlantic
World War II
• Operation Torch
• Operation Husky
• Operation Avalanche
• Operation Flintlock
Service Medal (2)
Legion of Merit (2)
Admiral Jerauld Wright, USN, (June 4, 1898 – April 27, 1995) served as the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Command (CINCLANT) and the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANTFLT), and became the second Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), from April 1, 1954 to March 1, 1960, serving longer in these three positions than anyone else in history.
Following World War I, Wright served as a naval aide for Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. A recognized authority on naval gunnery, Wright served in the European and Pacific theaters during World War II, developing expertise in amphibious warfare and coalition warfare planning.
A descendant of George Mason, Jerauld Wright was born on June 4, 1898, in Amherst, Massachusetts, the second son of Major General William M. Wright, United States Army, (1863 - 1943) and the former Marjorie R. Jerauld (1867 - 1954), who also had another son, William Mason Wright, Jr. (1893 - 1977), and a daughter, Marjorie Wright (1900 - 1985).
Life for young Jerry Wright 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 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:
Prior to going to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Jerry Wright attended the Franciscan Coligio de La Salle in Malate, California, and Shadman's School at Scott's Circle in Washington, DC.
Jerauld Wright received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy from Congressman Edward W. Townsend of the Tenth Congressional District from the State of New Jersey. Wright entered the academy on July 31, 1914, the youngest midshipman to enter the academy since the American Civil War. Wright graduated on June 26, 1917 as part of the Class of 1918, ranked 92nd out of 193, the youngest member in his class.
In July 1917, Lt. Jerauld Wright joined the gunboat USS Castine, which set sail for Gibraltar on August 5, 1917 for anti-submarine patrol and convoy duty, operating as a unit of the Patrol Force through December 21, 1918.,
Lt. Wright served on USS Dyer, a Wickes-class destroyer, as a watch and division officer from December 1918 to July 1920. 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 August 1919, Wright supervised her overhaul at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Lt. Wright also briefly commanded the Paul Jones, a Clemson-class destroyer, which escorted the presidential yacht Mayflower, with President Warren G. Harding on board, from Gardiner's Bay, New York, to the Capes.
In October 1920, Lt. Wright took command of the USS Reid, Clemson-class destroyer anchored in reserve at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island, for transfer to Charleston, South Carolina. The local destroyer squadron commander, Captain Harry E. Yarnell, gave Wright a 3.5 to 4.0 in his fitness report, noting that "Lieutenant Wright is an excellent officer with a remarkably high sense of duty." Later, in February 1922, Lt. Wright joined the USS Breese, a Wickes-class destroyer slated for decommissioning at the Mare Island Navy Yard, serving as its executive officer.
In June 1922, Lt. Wright joined the USS John D. Ford, a Clemson-class destroyer, 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. The commanding officer of the John D. Ford, Lieutenant Commander C.A. Pownall, noted Wright's performance as follows:
In July 1926, Lt. Wright joined the USS Maryland, a Colorado-class battleship 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 further his hands-on education of gunnery and ordnance while serving as a instructor at the Gunnery School on the battleship Colorado. In this last assignment, Wright earned the praise of the school's commanding officer, Captain W. C. Watts, who noted:
Commander Wright joined the USS Salt Lake City, a Pensacola-class cruiser 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 USS Blue, a Bagley-class destroyer, with Wright serving as its first commanding officer from July 1937 to May 1939. The Blue completed its shakedown cruise, transitted 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, California. The Blue participated in Fleet Problem XX exercises staged in the Caribbean Sea. Commander W. D. Delaney, ComDesRon 7, praised Wright in his fitness report:
Wright's final pre-war sea assignment was as the executive officer of the USS Mississippi, a New Mexico-class battleship based at the 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 Argentia, 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.
Lt. Wright served as a naval aide for two Presidents of the United States:
Wright also served as aide to Assistant Secretary of the Navy Henry L. Roosevelt from June 1935 to March 1936. Wright subsequently served on board 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. 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.[34 ] The fitness report by Bureau chief Rear Admiral William D. Leahy observed:
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, twice recommending promotion, while adding:
Commander Wright served two tours at the United States 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. Wright earned two nicknames at the Naval Academy:
The commandant of midshipmen, Captain W. F. Draemel, gave Wright high marks for his second tour: "I believe this officer will produce results in any billet to which assigned."[25 ]
The USS Mississippi completed its overhaul in three weeks and transited the Panama Canal to re-join the U.S. Pacific Fleet, visiting San Francisco, California to re-assure its citizens in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor.[41 ]
In March 1942, Captain Jerauld Wright was detached from the Mississippi for temporary duty on the staff of Admiral Ernest J. King, the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Fleet (COMINCH), before being assigned to Admiral Harold R. Stark's staff in London, effective June 3, 1942.[41 ]
Captain Wright 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). Wright's 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 which could cause serious political and security complications.
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.
On October 16, 1942, Captain Jerauld Wright was summoned to Operation Torch's staff headquarters at Horfolk House in London for important meeting with General Eisenhower. Also present were:
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. 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 October 19, they boarded the British submarine HMS Seraph, Lieutenant Norman Limbury Auchinleck "Bill" Jewell, RN, commanding.
Seraph transported Clark's party to the small fishing village of Cherchell, located 82 mils (132 kilometers) west of Algiers. After midnight on the evening of October 21, 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 army and air force supported it.
On October 24, Clark's mission returned to the Seraph and later met a seaplane that flew them back to Gibraltar, arriving back in London on October 25 where Wright briefed Admiral Stark. Both Eisenhower and Clark recommended Jerauld 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.
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 October 26, 1942, Captain Jerauld Wright was directed to take part in the mission to extract Giraud, code-named Operation Kingpin. 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:
The Seraph got underway on October 27 and arrived off Toulon on October 30. 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.
D-Day for Operation Torch, November 8, 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, General Eisenhower sent a delegation to resolve the situation and broker a ceasefire with all French North African forces. Captain Jerauld 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:
Admiral Harold R. Stark noted in Wright's December 1942 fitness report that:
Wright reciprocated this high regard, praising Eisenhower for his leadership in directing a coalition military operation:
At the Casablanca Conference in January 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) made the following decisions regarding future operations in the European-Mediterranean theater following the conclusion of the Tunisia campaign:
Captain Jerauld 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.
Admiral Sir Andrew B. Cunningham, RN, would command all Allied naval forces for Operation Husky, and General Dwight D. Eisenhower, United States Army, would be in overall command of the Sicily invasion.
The Western Naval Task Force consisted of three subordinated forces:
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 Pugh Lloyd, RAF, for providing air support from Malta.
The loading of ships and landing craft of the Western Naval Task Force was completed on July 8, 1943, with Vice Admiral Hewitt and his staff embarking on the USS Monrovia, the invasion force's flagship. D-Day was July 10, and Patton's troops stormed ashore and began their history-making drive for Messina.
For the Salerno landing, Captain Jerauld Wright faced two major challenges in his capacity as the assistant chief of staff for U.S. Naval Forces, Northwest Africa Waters (NAVNAW):
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:
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.
While en route, Wright heard the announcement about the Armistice with Italy by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander, on September 9. 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.
September 9, 1943 was D-Day for Operation Avalanche 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 September 11, Wright witnessed a radio-controlled flying bomb severely damage the USS Savannah, a Brooklyn-class light cruiser.
A powerful German counter-attack on September 13 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 General Eisenhower.
In October 1943, Captain Jerauld Wright was detached from U.S. Naval Forces, Northwest Africa Waters (NAVNAW) to take command of the USS Santa Fe (CL-60), a Cleveland-class light cruiser, nicknamed the "Lucky Lady." Wright relieved Captain Russell Berkey on December 15, 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, California.
On January 13, 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. Captain Wright received a Letter of Commendation for his actions as the commanding officer of the Santa Fe during this engagement.
From March 15 through May 1, 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 strike against the Japanese naval base at Truk. Santa Fe also participated in the shore bombardment of Wakde and Sawar.
On June 15, 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 June 19, 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. Later, on June 20, 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 reprovisioning.
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.
Captain Jerauld Wright received the Silver Star in recognition of his participation in the towing of the Canberra and Houston back to Uliti.
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.
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.
Rear Admiral Jerauld Wright was awarded a Bronze Star, with a combat "V" devise, for his leadership as the commander of Task Group 51.2 during Operation Iceberg.
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.
In October 1945, Rear Admiral Jerauld 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:
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 Two.
On November 24, 1948, Rear Admiral Jerauld Wright assumed command of Amphibious Forces U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMPHIBLANT), a position that he held through November 1, 1950. Based at the Norfolk Naval Station, Wright would be responsible for the following major subordinate commands:
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 Adirondack-class 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 February 25 to March 11, 1950. PORTREX was the largest peacetime amphibious exercise up to that time and it was staged to:
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. Jerauld Wright received his third star, effective September 14, 1950, at the conclusion of his tour of duty as COMPHIBLANT.
Vice Admiral Jerauld 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 United States, Great Britain, and France. At the time of Wright's tour of duty, SG membership was:
The Standing Group was charged with providing policy guidance and military-related information to NATO's various regional planning groups, including General Dwight D. 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.
Using the Navy system, General Bradley gave Vice Admiral Jerauld Wright an over-all rating of 3.9 for his final fitness report, adding:
Vice Admiral Jerauld Wright became the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Naval Forces Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean (CINCNELM), an important U.S. Navy fleet command, effective June 14, 1952. CINCELM's area of responsibility (AOR) stretched from the eastern Atlantic through the Indian Ocean to Singapore, and it was organized into the following subordinate commands:
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.
Admiral 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 October 20 to November 4, 1953, Wright was informed that that CINCNELM was be become a sub-ordinate 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).[97 ]
Admiral McCormick noted in his final fitness report dated March 1954:
Admiral Wright's final command assignment proved to be the most challenging undertaking in his career as he literally took on three concurrent roles:
While his nomination to become CINCLANTFLT and CINCLANT was made by the President of the United States, subject to the advice and consent of the United States 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 Wright 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 February 1, 1954 announcement:
Admiral Jerauld Wright assumed command of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, the U.S. Atlantic Command, and Allied Command Atlantic on April 12, 1954, relieving Admiral Lynde D. McCormick who had been the first Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic.
Admiral Wright's command responsibilities are as defined as follows:
Admiral Jerauld 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
The Oregon City-class light cruiser Northampton was completed as a command cruiser, with extensive command, control and communications facilities, which could serve as a fleet flagship.
The Baltimore-class cruisers USS Boston and Canberra were converted to carry Terrier anti-aircraft missiles while the Cleveland-class cruisers Galveston and Little Rock were converted to carry Talos long-range anti-aircraft missiles.
The Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) program allowed World War II era destroyers to shift to an anti-submarine (ASW) hunter-killer (HUK) role to counter the growing threat from the Soviet submarine force. FRAM would extend the operational life for Fletcher-class, Sumner-class, and Gearing-class destroyers by completely tearing down and rebuilding these vessels from the hull up, with new engines, enlarged combat information centers (CIC), and new sonar, radar, and weapon systems.
Modernized Gato, Balao, and Tench class submarines from World War II continued to rejoin the fleet after undergoing GUPPY refits that added increased battery capacity, streamlining, snorkels, and improved fire control systems.
New warship construction
New surface warship construction to join the Atlantic Fleet during Wright's tour of duty as CINCLANTFLT included the hunter-killer cruiser Norfolk, three Mitscher-class destroyer, eleven Forrest Sherman-class destroyers, and the Farragut-class guided missile frigate Dewey equipped with Terrier and ASROC missiles.
New weapon systems
New weapon systems that joined the inventory of the Atlantic Fleet during Admiral Wright's tour of duty included the Mark 37 torpedo, the Mark 90 nuclear depth charge, the Mark 7 tactical nuclear bomb, the Mk 101 air-dropped nuclear depth bomb (NDB), the Mark 44 air-launched and ship-launched lightweight torpedo, and the Talos and Terrier anti-aircraft missiles systems.
Naval aviation developments
Naval aviation within the Atlantic Fleet also enjoyed a resurgence as exemplified by the addition of the new Forrestal-class aircraft carriers Forrestal, Saratoga, and Independence, allowing the older Midway-class aircraft carriers to undergo long-needed SCB-110 reconstruction.
New carrier-based aircraft joining the fleet included the Douglas A-3 Skywarrior strategic attack bomber, the Grumman F-11 Tiger and Douglas F4D Skyray fighters, the Chance Vought F8U Crusader interceptor, the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk light attack bomber, the Grumman S2F Tracker Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft, the Grumman WF-1 Tracer built airborne early warning aircraft, and the Grumman TF1 Trader carrier onboard delivery (COD) transport.
Amphibious assault developments
The U.S. Marines developed the new concept of Vertical Envelopment wherein ship-based helicopters would be used to transport Marine landing forces behind enemy beach fortifications and providing logistics and medical support as they attack from the rear to seize critical points, cut enemy supplies and logistical support, sever lines of communications, and link up with amphibious assault forces that landed on the beaches.
To support this concept, the USS Boxer, an Essex-class aircraft carrier, joined the Atlantic Fleet as an interim helicopter-carrying amphibious assault ship (LPH) until the purpose-built Iwo Jima class began joining the fleet in the early 1960s.
A significant development was the introduction of the nuclear-powered submarine, with the first three such vessels – Nautilus, Seawolf, Skate – joining Wright's command, as well as the lead ship for the high-speed Skipjack-class submarines.
Strategic nuclear deterrence
Finally, the most far-reaching development was in the field of strategic nuclear missile technology with the introduction the Regulus nuclear-armed cruise missiles that could be launched from submarines, cruisers, and aircraft carriers.
However, this system's operational life would be cut short by the development of the submarine-launched Polaris two-stage solid-fuel nuclear-armed fleet ballistic missile (FBM) system. The first operational nuclear-powered FBM submarine was the George Washington, commissioned on December 30, 1959, which would join the Atlantic Fleet in 1960.
For Admiral Jerauld 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:
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.
Units of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and the Royal Canadian Navy participated in Operation Sweep Clear III, a bilateral mine warfare exercise, between July and 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 Admiral 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 United States 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 the August 26, 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.
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 operational test of SOSUS was done during the ASDevEx 1-54 exercise from April 6 to June 7, 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 (4144 km²) of the industrial-rich eastern seaboard in a sneak attack. Also, an Associated Press dispatch, dated April 14, 1958, quoted U.S. Congressman Carl Durham (D-North Carolina, who said that 184 Soviet submarines had been sighted off the U.S. Atlantic coast during 1957.
Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Arleigh A. Burke had responded on April 1 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.
Admiral 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 May 2, 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.
Seawolf has the distinction of being the first nuclear-powered ship to be visited by a President of the United States when President Dwight D. Eisenhower embarked on board the submarine for a brief cruise on September 26, 1958.
Both Nautilus and the USS Skate (SSN-578) carried out extensive under-the-ice Arctic operations.
Finally, the first submerged circumnavigation (Operation Sandblast) was undertaken on the eve of Admiral Wright's retirement when the USS Triton (SSRN-586) departed from New London to start its shakedown cruise on February 16, 1960.
Between in 1946, the U.S. Navy undertook five arctic expeditions involving submarines of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. However, the limiting factor for under-the-ice operations was the electric batteries used by submarines for submerged propulsion, which allowed a maximum of 100 miles (161 lm), at slow speed, before re-charging. One of the submarine commanders involved in these arctic missions, Lieutenant Commander James M. Commander Palmer of the USS Carp (SS-338), noted in his final report:
However, following the second Redfish expedition in 1953, Rear Admiral Charles B. Momsen, Commander Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet, decreed that submarine should stay out of the Arctic region.
This changed when, following temporary assignment to Pearl Harbor, the USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear-powered submarine, returned to her Connecticut home base via the North Pole, traveling 1,830 nautical miles (3,390 km) submerged under the Arctic ice cap, passing underneath the North Pole en route, from August 1 to August 5, 1958. Nautilus's top-secret mission Operation Sunshine) involved the highest levels of the U.S. government, and it had been a joint operation between the submarine type commands of the Pacific and Atlantic fleets. Nautilus received the first peacetime Presidential Unit Citation, and the Eisenhower administration had an effective answer to Sputnik.
On July 30, 1958, the USS Skate submerged underneath the Arctic ice. During the next ten days, Skate surfaced through the ice nine times while she navigated over 2,400 miles (3,863 km) under the ice. Skate became the second ship to reach the North Pole. On August 23, Skate steamed into Bergen, Norway, completing her mission.
In early March 1959, the Skate headed back for the Arctic to undertake operations during the period of extreme cold and maximum ice thickness. She steamed 3,900 miles (6,276 km) under pack ice while surfacing through it ten times. On March 17, 1959, Skate surfaced at the North Pole, becoming the first ship to physically reach the pole. The crew committed the ashes of the famed Arctic explorer Sir Hubert Wilkins to the Arctic waste.
However, the groundwork for Operation Sunshine and Skate's two missions under the Arctic ice was laid when the Nautilus and the diesel-electric submarine USS Trigger (SS-564) carried out joint operation along the ice pack prior the NATO Operation Strikeback naval maneuvers in September 1957.
In the coming years of the Cold War, submarine operations under the Arctic Ocean would take on increasing strategic significance as the Soviet Navy commissioned its first nuclear submarines, especially with the Arctic serving as a sanctuary to hide their nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.
Also, in his capacity as CINCLANT/CINCLANTFLT/SACLANT, Admiral Wright and his staff participated 18 formal presentations and 62 NATO and joint military planning meetings during his six-year tour of duty in these positions.
In a personal note, Burke added:
On February 29, 1960, Admiral Jerauld Wright stepped down as CINCLANTFLT/CINCLANT/SACLANT, retiring after 46 years of service in the United States Navy effective March 1, 1960.
Admiral Wright received a second Distinguished Service Medal in recognition of his six year 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).
|Ensign||Lieutenant Junior Grade||Lieutenant||Lieutenant Commander||Commander||Captain|
|June 29, 1917||February 4, 1918||July 10, 1920 (1)||January 23, 1931||June 2, 1938||June 30, 1942 (2)|
|Commodore (3)||Rear Admiral||Vice Admiral||Admiral|
|October 24, 1944||August 7, 1947 (4)||September 14, 1950||April 1, 1954|
All DOR referenced from Official U.S. Navy Biography.
Citation Excerpt (1944):
Admiral Jerauld Wright was recalled to active duty on January 12, 1961 to serve as the U.S. Navy representative on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Board of National Estimates (BNE), and after completing his BNE assignment, and was released from active duty effective May 13, 1963.
The ON/E was responsible for issuing National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which "should deal with matters of wide scope relevant to the determination of basic policy, such as the assessment of a country's war potential, its preparedness for war, its strategy capabilities and intentions, its vulnerability to various forms of direct attack or indirect pressures."  The ON/E was organized as follows:
Additionally, there was a Panel of Consultants, which included such individuals as George F. Kennan and Vannevar Bush, to confer with BNE members on the most important NIEs. Since January 1952, Sherman Kent, AD/NE, served as the director of O/NE and chaired the BNE. The Office of National Estimates (O/NE) was disestablished effective November 1, 1973.
Retired Admiral Jerauld 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 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. Wright 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 July 25, 1965, Jerauld Wright stepped down as the U.S. Ambassador of the Republic of China, closing the final chapter on his public life.
The future wife of Admiral Jerauld Wright was born Phyllis B. Thompson on April 2, 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, D.C. and subsequently worked, briefly, at the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). In 1935, she became the society editor for the Washington Evening Star.
Phyllis Thompson meet 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, in , on July 23, 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:
Phyllis Thompson Wright died on October 20, 2002, at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, from cancer. She was survived by her two children, Marion Wright of Denver and William Wright of Arlington. She was interred with her late husband at the Arlington National Cemetery.
In retirement, Jerauld Wright pursued an interest in painting, whose whimsical style was similar to Grandma Moses. His artwork was displayed in exhibits at the Brook Club, the Knickerbocker Club, and the Sulgrave Club.
Admiral Jerauld Wright was a long-time member of the United States Naval Institute, serving as its president from 1959 - 1960 and was a frequent contributor to its Proceedings, including an insightful December 1951 article on the challenges facing the newly-created NATO. Wright's other memberships included the Alibi Club, the Chevy Chase Club, the Metropolitan Club, the Knickerbocker Club, the Brook Club, Alfalfa Club, and the United States Navy League.
Admiral Jerauld Wright, United States Navy (ret.), died on April 27, 1995, on pneumonia in Washington, D.C., at the age of 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. He was buried with full military honors in Section 2 of the Arlington National Cemetery next to his father and mother, and would be joined by his wife Phyllis upon her death in 2002.
Wright Island ( ) is an ice-covered island 35 miles (60 km) 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 Jerauld Wright who was in over-all command of Operation Deep Freeze during the International Geophysical Year 1957-58.
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:
On May 29, 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.
Admiral Wright Award would be presented, with an accompanying case of whiskey, on two other occasions:
Retired admirals Jerauld 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 following New Year's toast was made by Admiral Jerauld Wright to usher in the new year of 1960 at the U.S. Atlantic Fleet headquarters:
As his biography and nephew, David M. Key, Jr., noted from the above toast:
Other published works:
Ralph O. Davis
Forces, United States Atlantic Fleet
November 24, 1948–November 1, 1950
Robert P. Briscoe
Robert B. Carney
Commander in Chief, United States Naval
June 14, 1952–March 19, 1954
John H. Cassady
Lynde D. McCormick
Commander in Chief, United
States Atlantic Fleet
April 12, 1954–February 29, 1960
Robert L. Dennison
Lynde D. McCormick
Commander in Chief, United States Atlantic
April 12, 1954–February 29, 1960
Robert L. Dennison
Lynde D. McCormick
|Supreme Allied Commander
April 12, 1954–February 29, 1960
Robert L. Dennison
Alan G. Kirk
|United States Ambassador
May 3, 1963–July 25, 1965
Walter P. McConaughy