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 Richard Hetherington O'Kane

Richard Hetherington O'Kane

Birth
Durham, Strafford County, New Hampshire, USA
Death 16 Feb 1994 (aged 83)
Travis Field, Solano County, California, USA
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Plot Section 59, Site 874
Memorial ID 5502961 · View Source
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World War II Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. A 1934 graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, he served in the United States Navy during World War II as a Commander and commanding officer of the submarine "USS Tang" (SS-306). He was awarded the CMOH for his bravery in the vicinity of the Philippine Islands on October 23 and 24, 1944. His citation reads "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Tang operating against 2 enemy Japanese convoys on 23 and 24 October 1944, during her fifth and last war patrol. Boldly maneuvering on the surface into the midst of a heavily escorted convoy, Comdr. O'Kane stood in the fusillade of bullets and shells from all directions to launch smashing hits on 3 tankers, coolly swung his ship to fire at a freighter and, in a split-second decision, shot out of the path of an onrushing transport, missing it by inches. Boxed in by blazing tankers, a freighter, transport, and several destroyers, he blasted 2 of the targets with his remaining torpedoes and, with pyrotechnics bursting on all sides, cleared the area. Twenty-four hours later, he again made contact with a heavily escorted convoy steaming to support the Leyte campaign with reinforcements and supplies and with crated planes piled high on each unit. In defiance of the enemy's relentless fire, he closed the concentration of ship and in quick succession sent 2 torpedoes each into the first and second transports and an adjacent tanker, finding his mark with each torpedo in a series of violent explosions at less than l,000-yard range. With ships bearing down from all sides, he charged the enemy at high speed, exploding the tanker in a burst of flame, smashing the transport dead in the water, and blasting the destroyer with a mighty roar which rocked the Tang from stem to stern. Expending his last 2 torpedoes into the remnants of a once powerful convoy before his own ship went down, Comdr. O'Kane, aided by his gallant command, achieved an illustrious record of heroism in combat, enhancing the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service". Captured by the Japanese after the “Tang” was sunk, he spent the balance of the war in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps. After the war he remained in the United States Navy until his retirement, and was placed on the Navy Retired List as a Rear-Admiral. He wrote several books on his World War II combat experiences. The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer “USS O'Kane” (DDG-77) was named in his honor.

Bio by: Russ Dodge


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Maureen McDermott-Marella
  • Added: 3 Jun 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 5502961
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Richard Hetherington O'Kane (2 Feb 1911–16 Feb 1994), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5502961, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .