Gingrich, John


Aide to Forrestal, heroic commander of cruiser Pittsburgh in WW II, led blockade of Wonsan in Korean War, 1st AEC Chief of Security


Autograph ID: 5563
Condition: Very good
Description: “(1897-1960) US Navy ADM,1st US Atomic Energy Commission Chief of Security 1947-49, Chief of Navy Material 1953-54. USNA ’19, he was naval aide to Navy Under Secretary Forrestal Aug. 1940-July 1944. He evicted CNO ADM Ernest J. King from the suite adjacent to Navy Secretary Knox’s office for Forrestal’s use, which made King an enemy. He became Forrestal’s policy assistant for military affairs; King resented his role and saw Gingrich as more loyal to civilian political appointee Forrestal than to King, his uniformed superior. King effectively excluded Knox from major war decisions by only showing him routine communications, not presenting important messages. Gingrich advised Forrestal to go to the Navy Dept. communication room and examine all incoming telegrams himself. With this information, Forrestal exerted more influence over Department operations than Knox, at King’s expense. Forrestal released him to the Pacific and Gingrich served as heavy cruiser Pittsburgh’s 1st CO Oct. 10, 1944-Sept. 3, 1945. On March 19, 1945, the carrier Franklin was crippled by a kamikaze attack close to Japan. Aflame and dead in the water, Franklin was under attack and threatening to explode when Gingrich maneuvered Pittsburgh to her under tow, protecting her with antiaircraft fire until Franklin could proceed to Pearl Harbor under her own power. He was awarded the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, and a Gold Star in lieu of a 2nd Legion of Merit. On June 5, Pittsburgh was returning with the 3rd Fleet from a carrier strike against Kyushu when the fleet encountered heavy weather between Okinawa and the Philippines. As winds rose to 130 km/h and waves reached 100′, Pittsburgh was hit by 2 huge waves that ripped off 104′ of her bow, which tossed unpredictably in front of the ship. Gingrich ordered engines into reverse to pull her from the dangerous obstacle while trying to prevent the ship from capsizing. Pittsburgh arrived at Guam 5 days later; a week after, her bow was found and towed back to Guam. The 500-mile separation between stern and bow led Pittsburgh to be dubbed “the longest ship in the Navy.” In Sept. he was briefly chief of staff and aide to VADM Towers, Commander, 2nd Carrier Task Force, before reassigned as chief of personnel in Miami by outgoing CNO King to deny Forrestal an ally in their battle over the postwar Navy’s direction. Promoted to RADM Oct. 24, 1945, on Aug. 18, 1947, he was appointed 1st director of the Division of Security and Intelligence at the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), responsible for the physical security of AEC installations, control of classified information, development and operation of security clearance procedures, and coordination with CIA & FBI. On March 30, 1949, CNO Denfeld & Vice CNO Radford learned Forrestal was having a nervous breakdown. Gingrich went to Forrestal’s side and accompanied him to Bethesda Naval Hospital. Radford left to be CINCPAC, and Gingrich became his chief of staff, resigning as AEC security chief effective April 30. On May 22, Forrestal committed suicide. Gingrich accompanied his casket to Arlington Cemetery and stood with Forrestal’s family graveside during the May 25 funeral. On May 31, 1952, he became Commander, UN Blockade and Escort Force (Task Force 95), conducting shore bombardment and naval airstrikes on both coasts and blockading the North Korean port of Wonsan. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, promoted to VADM, and became Deputy CNO for Administration Feb. 1953. On Aug. 1, he was appointed Chief of Naval Material, retiring Oct. 1, 1954 as ADM.

2 1/2 x 3 1/2 card signed as RADM US Navy and Director Security and Intelligence, Atomic Energy Commission. Undated but ca. 1947-49.”
Type: Signed Card

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