Gordon Waite Underwood

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Gordon Waite Underwood
Captain-gordon-underwood.jpg  Navycross.jpg
Born June 3, 1910
New York
Died January 15, 1978
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1932–1962
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Captain
Commands held USS Spadefish (SS-411)

World War II

Awards Navy Cross (3)

Captain Gordon Waite Underwood (June 3, 1910 – January 15, 1978) was a United States Navy Captain who was awarded the Navy Cross for his achievements during World War II. He is the namesake of the ship USS Underwood (FFG-36).

Early life[edit]

Gordon Underwood was born in New York on June 3, 1910, and at an early age moved with his family to Portland, Oregon. In 1932, he was appointed to the United States Naval Academy. At the Naval Academy he proved to be an outstanding student and superb athlete. He earned letters and starred in football and track. He was awarded the coveted Naval Academy Sword for athletic excellence.

Navy service[edit]

Following his graduation from the Academy, Underwood served in USS Oklahoma (BB-37). This tour was followed by training at the US Submarine School in New London, Connecticut. After his graduation he served in the Submarine School, S-21, Mississippi, and Vega. In 1941, he attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned a Masters Degree in Marine Engineering.

Returning to sea duty, he was assigned to the Staff of Commander Submarine Squadron Ten as Squadron Engineer supporting submarines on war patrol. In January 1944, he was assigned as Commanding Officer of USS Spadefish (SS-411). On this ship during three war patrols he was credited with destruction of seventy-six thousand tons of enemy shipping, including the aircraft carrier Shinyo. For each of his war patrols he was awarded a Navy Cross and in recognition of the great successes of the first two patrols Spadefish was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

Underwood's record of success in his war patrols remains one of the most notable in the history of the US Navy Submarine Service.

Post Navy career[edit]

Captain Underwood retired from the Navy in 1962 after 30 years of distinguished service. After retirement, he became Vice President of Spelin Inc., Mountain View, California. He was also Vice President of Filter-Aire of Hollister, California until his retirement.

Awards & Decorations[edit]

Gold star
Gold star
Navy Cross with two gold award stars
Bronze star
Navy Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze service star
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Silver star
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one silver service star
World War II Victory Medal
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star


A portion of this text originated from the public domain ship's history of USS Underwood [1].