CDR Frank Wilbur Wead, USN: USS Essex
Seeking anyone with complete copy of ship's roster listing CDR Frank Wilbur Wead, USN, aboard USS Essex (CV-9, Essex class aircraft carrier). Also, seeking details of the activities of his Plans Division while aboard USS Essex, mid-August 1943 - spring 1944, including his retirement ceremony held aboard that carrier.
A. CDR Frank W. Wead, USN, former aviator, USNA (Class of 1916) completed an assignment with the Strategic Air Information Section, Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department (January 1942 - July 1943).
B. Was assigned on the staff of Commander, Fleet Air, Quonset Point, Rhode Island (July - November 1943) whose chief of staff was then Captain John Madison Hoskins, USN, located at NAS Quonset Point. CDR Wead became personally and professionally involved with "jeep carrier" forward deployed support concept for the new fleet carriers coming online. Upon learning from the office of Vice Admiral John Henry Towers, USN, (then the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, 1 June 1939 to 6 October 1942) that the Admiral and his staff were heading to Pearl Harbor, T.H., to become the new Commander, Air Force, Pacific Fleet (COMAIRFORPAC, 14 October 1942 to 28 February 1944) CDR Wead was able to get the necessary orders to join his old friend (VADM Towers) to become the head of the Plans Division.
C. Upon reporting to COMAIRFORPAC, CDR Wead organized his Plans Division and got orders prepared to go aboard the Navy's newest aircraft carrier to serve in a "combat zone" for the sole purpose of gaining first-hand knowledge and experience for the advancement of naval air planning. CDR Wead and his staff reported aboard USS Essex at Pearl Harbor, T.H., sometime in mid-August 1943. CDR Wead learned and passed on in his reports valuable information regarding the naval air operations and logistical support conducted during attacks against Japanese held islands at Marcus, Wake, Tarawa, Kwajalein, Truk, and the Mariana Islands, between 31 August 1943 - 23 February 1944. Sometime in spring 1944, CDR Wead suffered a "heart attack" and was sent ashore for the last time.
D. CDR Wead was awarded the "Legion of Merit (Combat)" in August 1944, upon notification of his official retirement. Citation was submitted for approval by both of his old friends, VADM Towers, USN, and VADM John Sidney McCain, USN, and approved by Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, for the President of the United States.
Information provided from the Nimitz Library, United States Naval Academy; official letter 23 August 1944, and an official Navy Department communique 29 August 1944 (Record Group 4482) of the Reference Section-Office of Public Relations.