12 March 2008

RIP: Richard M McCool

Richard M McCool
4 Jan 1922 - 5 Mar 2008

ZUI this article from the Kitsap (WA) Sun:
Richard McCool Jr., a World War II hero and Kitsap Democratic Party leader, passed away last week.

The longtime Bainbridge Island resident died of natural causes Wednesday morning at Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton with his wife and three children by his side, according to an online obituary at Cook Family Funeral Home. He was 86.

McCool and his wife, Carole Elaine, moved to Bainbridge Island in 1974 after a 30-year Navy career. Most of the couple's Kitsap friends never learned that on Dec. 18, 1945, President Harry S. Truman had pinned McCool with the military's highest honor — the Medal of Honor.


After moving to Bainbridge, McCool became involved in politics, serving as chairman of the Kitsap County Democrats for two terms. He was a big supporter of the arts on Bainbridge and in Seattle. He received a Maggie Award as one of the state's top Democrats and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kitsap Democrats. He was open-minded and easygoing, his friends said.


McCool is survived by his wife of 63 years, Carol Elaine, daughter Carolyn McCool of Vancouver, British Columbia, and sons Rick (Cindy) of Gig Harbor and John (Mary) of Indianola.

ZUI also this article from Military.com:
He received an appointment to the Naval Academy as a member of the class of 1945, but because of the war the course was compressed into three years, and the class of 1945 graduated early.

Shortly before graduation, McCool attended a presentation given by a captain recruiting officers for amphibious craft. This kind of duty didn't have the tradition or romance of the deep-water navy, but the midshipmen were offered the possibility of commanding their own ship instead of being junior officers on a large vessel. Midshipman McCool signed up. After graduation, he picked up his ship in Boston. It was an LCS, similar in looks to the landing craft that brought soldiers ashore in invasions, but instead of a blunt bow with troop ramps, it had a sharp bow and was heavily armed with 40 mm and 20 mm guns, .50-caliber machine guns, and 120 preloaded 4.5-inch rockets. It carried a crew of seventy, including six officers.

McCool sailed for San Diego through the Panama Canal in December 1944. By June 1945, his ship was in Okinawa, part of a unit made up of four LCS ships and three destroyers patrolling for Japanese kamikazes. Behind the LCS picket line, the destroyers picked up enemy aircraft on their radar and radioed the information to McCool and the other LCS commanders, who attempted to shoot down the planes as they passed overhead.

On June 10, one of the Japanese planes got through and hit one of the destroyers. McCool's ship was the closest and rushed to help the sinking ship. Along with another LCS, McCool picked up its surviving crew members and transferred them to another American ship.

******* *** *******


Lieutenant, US Navy; commanding USS LSC(L)(3) 122

Born: 4 January 1922, Tishomingo, Okla.
Died: 5 March 2008, Bremerton, Wash.

Citation: 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. LSC(L)(3) 122 during operations against enemy Japanese forces in the Ryukyu chain, 10 and 11 June 1945. Sharply vigilant during hostile air raids against Allied ships on radar picket duty off Okinawa on 10 June, Lt. McCool aided materially in evacuating all survivors from a sinking destroyer which had sustained mortal damage under the devastating attacks. When his own craft was attacked simultaneously by 2 of the enemy's suicide squadron early in the evening of 11 June, he instantly hurled the full power of his gun batteries against the plunging aircraft, shooting down the first and damaging the second before it crashed his station in the conning tower and engulfed the immediate area in a mass of flames. Although suffering from shrapnel wounds and painful burns, he rallied his concussion-shocked crew and initiated vigorous firefighting measures and then proceeded to the rescue of several trapped in a blazing compartment, subsequently carrying 1 man to safety despite the excruciating pain of additional severe burns. Unmindful of all personal danger, he continued his efforts without respite until aid arrived from other ships and he was evacuated. By his staunch leadership, capable direction, and indomitable determination throughout the crisis, Lt. McCool saved the lives of many who otherwise might have perished and contributed materially to the saving of his ship for further combat service. His valiant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of extreme peril sustains and enhances the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Note: The destroyer mentioned was USS William D Porter (DD 579).


Chrystoph said...

This one peeked my interest enough to go looking.


LCS(L)102 Comes Home said...

Mr. McCool served as commander on the LCS(L)(3) 122. Visit the mightymidgets.org website for more information on these vessels that 10,000 Navy personnel served on during WW2.
thanks for the tribute for Mr. McCool