CVE 106  Officers & Crew

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CVE 106 Command

REAR ADMIRAL DIXWELL KETCHAM

Rear Admiral Dixwell Ketcham was given command of Aircraft Carrier Division 27. He chose  CVE 106 USS Block Island to be the flagship of his carrier division. He served on CVE 106 until the end of World War II.

Dixwell Ketcham was born in Buena Park, IL, on 2 Dec 1899. He graduated U.S. Naval Academy in 1919. He was commissioned Ensign, U.S. Navy, 1919, and advanced through the grades to Rear Admiral in 1945. He was in naval aviation since 1922. He commanded USS Chenango, an escort carrier during 1943-44, participating in attack on Gilbert Islands (1943) and Marshalls Campaign (1944). He became Commander, Fleet Air Wing 1, 1944 - 1945 and Commander, Carrier Division 27 in 1945.

Aircraft Carrier Division 27,  of which the USS Block Island was the Flag Ship was originally made up of  seven CVE Carriers with escort ships being changed almost on a weekly basis .  Besides the Flag Ship USS Block Island, the task force was comprised of  CVE 107 USS Gilbert Island, CVE 108 Kula Gulf, CVE 109 Cape Glouchester, CVE 111 Vella Gulf, CVE 112 Siboney and CVE 91 Makassar Strait.  The Makassar Strait was a different class carrier and later was assigned to other duties to avoid operational conflicts. Also joining with CVE 106 in the rescue of the POWs on Formosa was the CVE 29 Santee and two additional destroyer escorts: the USS J. T. Gary and the USS Kretchmer


CAPTAIN FRANCIS MASSIE HUGHES, USN

Captain Francis Massie Hughes fought hard to have the Navy keep the surviving crew members of CVE 21 intact to become the crew members of CVE 106. His efforts were successful and he was given command of CVE 106 when it was commissioned for service in the new world of the Pacific. Capt. Hughes served as Captain of CVE 106 until August 1, 1945.

Captain Hughes was a member of the Naval Academy class of 1923 where he earned a letter as the quarterback for the football team. He first served on the USS Texas and the USS Chicago. He earned his wings at Pensacola in 1931. During the attack on Pearl Harbor he managed to get his PBY in the air while still wearing his pajamas which he was unab
le to change for the next 48 hours. He was in command of the Sand Island Seaplane Base(VP-23) during the Battle of Midway, 3-7 June 1942. It was a PBY-5A Catalina from VP-23 that discovered the Japanese fleet leading to a great naval victory for the United States. Captain Francis Massie Hughes became the Captain of CVE 21 on March 10, 1944 and was in command of the CVE 21 task force when the USS Block Island was sunk by German submarines on May 29, 1944.  He attained the rank of Rear Admiral and is believed to have passed away in 1960.

CAPTAIN WALLACE M. BEAKLEY, USN


A Naval Academy graduate, Captain Beakley took command of CVE 106 on 6 August 1945 until its return to the st
ates in December of 1945. He was in command of the CVE 106 for the rescue of allied POWs from the Japanese prison camps on Taiwan. Marine Col. A. D. Cooley, from the Admirals Command, led the POW  recovery  operations on the island of  Formosa (now Taiwan). 

Captain Beakley held the Gray Eagle Award from 1 Apr 1963 to 31 Dec 1963, which is presented to the Naval Aviator on continuous active duty who has held that designation for the longest period of time. To date, only 59 aviators have held the award. He was number 13.

He served as captain of the CVB 41USS Midway, which is now a museum docked in San Diego, from 1949-1950. He is listed as Vice Admiral and Deputy of Naval Operations in 1959.


CAPTAIN JAMES H. FLATLEY, JR.


He was born 17 Jun 1906 in Green Bay, WI. Flatley was an aerial-gunnery expert and World War II ace in the Pacific. As Executive Officer (XO) of Fighter Squadron VF-42, he was one of the key participants in the Battle of the Coral Sea
in May 1942—the first carrier-vs.-carrier duel.  Flatley was awarded the Navy Cross for "extraordinary heroism and conspicuous courage" during the Battle of the Coral Sea.

Following his tour as Commander Air Group Five (CAG-5) on board CV 10 USS Yorktown, during which he helped introduce Grumman’s F6F Hellcat to combat in August 1943, Flatley at the age of 36 never flew combat again.

He received a Navy Cross for the Battle of the Coral Sea; two Distinguished Flying Crosses for heroism; a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Distinguished Flying Cross; Bronze Star for action with enemy Japanese forces in the Philippine Islands and the Distinguished Service Medal.

Flatley remained in the Navy after the war and became a key figure with the Navy's postwar air-training program. After commanding the carrier CVE 106 USS Block Island for a year, Flatley became deeply involved with assessing Naval Aviation's disastrous safety record and ultimately helped develop the Naval Aviation Safety Center. He was  commander of the Naval Air Station Olathe, Kansas (which was renamed "Flatley Field" from 1962-1969); and commander of the Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia followed by the carrier CV 39 USS Lake Champlain . He rose to rank of Vice Admiral. He passed away 9 Jul 1958 at age 52. The FFG 21 USS Flatley , Admiral Flatley Park in Green Bay, WI, and the Admiral Flatley Memorial Award for aviation safety are all named after him.



LT. COLONEL JOHN F. DOBBINS


Lt. Colonel John F. Dobbins, USMC, holder of a Navy Cross for the destruction of eight Japanese planes
in the Guadalcanal Campaign commanded the Marines. Two powerful squadrons fought the Japanese, Marine Fighting Squadron 511 (VMF-511) and Marine Torpedo Bombing Squadron 233 (VMTB-233). The pilots were experienced men who had splendid records in Marine Aviation in earlier campaigns.  The unusual combination of Navy and Marine aviation units required many adjustments but worked out well under the splendid leadership of cooperating officers. John Dobbins retired as a brigadier general after flying 125 combat missions and earning the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air Medals. He passed away in Winter Park, FL in 1995 at the age of 83.


Please click on the following links for crew rosters:


CVE 106 Navy & Marine Carrier Division 27 Personnel

CVE 106 Marine Officers & Enlisted Roster

CVE 106 Korean War Crew Roster

CVE 106 Korean War Officers

CVE 21/ CVE 106 WWII Crew Roster

CVE 21/CVE 106 WWII Navy & Marine Officers

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