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Stephen William Groves
January 29, 1917(1917-01-29) – June 4, 1942 (aged 25)
Place of birth Millinocket, Maine
Place of death Pacific Ocean, near Midway Atoll
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1940–1942
Rank Ensign
Battles/wars Doolittle Raid, Battle of Midway, World War II
Awards Navy Cross

Ensign Stephen W. Groves, USN (1917 – June 4, 1942) was a United States Navy aviator during World War II who was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism in the Battle of Midway.


Early life

Stephen William Groves was born on January 29, 1917 in Millinocket, Maine. He graduated from Schenck High School in East Millinocket, Maine, and received a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Maine in 1939.

Navy career

Groves joined the U.S. Navy in December 1940 and was commissioned in August 1941. He boarded the aircraft carrier Hornet (CV-8) in December 1941. He was aboard Hornet when she transported Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle's bombers for the April 1942 Doolittle Raid on Japan, setting the stage for the Battle of Midway, considered one of the most crucial Allied victories of the World War II.

During that battle, Ensign Groves took off nine times from Hornet; his was one of six American fighters that fought off a vastly superior Japanese force that was trying to finish off the damaged carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5) on June 4, 1942. The small group of U.S. fighters was credited with shooting down 14 Japanese planes and causing six others to retreat.

Groves was declared missing and presumed dead on June 5, 1942. Ensign Groves was the first Millinocket or East Millinocket serviceman to be killed in World War II.

Groves' Navy Cross citation reads:

"He fearlessly plunged into aerial combat against large formations of enemy aircraft threatening the American carriers in the Battle of Midway. Contributing decisively to the disruption of the enemy, he continued determined counterattacks against desperate odds until, finally overcome by sheer aerial superiority, he was shot down from the skies. He gallantly gave his life to the fulfillment of a mission important to the great victory at Midway."


Today the American Legion Post in East Millinocket is named the Feeney-Groves Post, partially in his memory.

During World War II, the destroyer escort USS Groves (DE-543) was named for Ensign Groves, but her construction was cancelled in 1944 before she could be launched.

In 1981, the guided missile frigate USS Stephen W. Groves (FFG-29) was named in his honor at the Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. She has been in commission since 1982.

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