Richmond K. Turner
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|Richmond K. Turner|
|Birth name||Richmond Kelly Turner|
May 27, 1885|
|Died||February 12, 1961
|Buried at||Golden Gate National Cemetery
San Bruno, California
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1904–1947|
USS Mervine (DD-322)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (4)
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner (May 27, 1885 – February 12, 1961), commonly known as Admiral Kelly Turner, served in the United States Navy during World War II, and is best known for commanding the Amphibious Force during the campaign across the Pacific.
Early life and career
Richmond Turner was born in Portland, Oregon on May 27, 1885, to Enoch and Laura Francis (née Kelly) Turner. His father alternated between being a rancher and farmer, and working as a printer in both Portland (for The Oregonian with his older brother Thomas) and Stockton, California (where he owned a small print shop). Young Richmond would spend most of his childhood in and around Stockton, with a brief stop in Santa Ana, and graduated from Stockton High School in 1904.
He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy from California's sixth district, his name put forward by Congressman James Carion Needham, in 1904. He graduated on June 5, 1908 and served in several ships over the next four years.
On August 3, 1910, he married Harriet "Hattie" Sterling in Stockton.
In 1913, Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Turner briefly held command of the destroyer USS Stewart. After receiving instruction in ordnance engineering and service on board the gunboat Marietta, he was assigned to the battleships Pennsylvania, Michigan and Mississippi during 1916–19. From 1919 to 1922, Lieutenant Commander Turner was an Ordnance Officer at the Naval Gun Factory in Washington, D.C. He then was Gunnery Officer of the battleship California, Fleet Gunnery Officer on the Staff of Commander Scouting Fleet and Commanding Officer of the destroyer Mervine.
Following promotion to the rank of Commander in 1925, Turner served with the Bureau of Ordnance at the Navy Department. In 1927, he received flight training at Pensacola, Florida, was designated as a Naval Aviator, and a year later became Commanding Officer of the seaplane tender Jason and Commander, Aircraft Squadrons, Asiatic Fleet. He had further aviation-related assignments into the 1930s and was Executive Officer of the aircraft carrier Saratoga in 1933–34. Captain Turner attended the Naval War College and served on that institution's staff in 1935–38 as head of the Strategy faculty.
Responsibility for Pearl Harbor
As head of the War Plans Division of the Navy Department, Turner was subordinate only to the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Harold R. Stark, at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Although in theory the Head of Naval Intelligence, Captain Theodore Wilkinson, reported directly to Stark, in practice he was answerable to Turner, and Turner made the important decisions about the handling of naval intelligence. It was therefore Turner who made the decision not to send the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, details of the intercepted Japanese diplomatic communications which pointed strongly to an imminent air or sea attack on the Pacific Fleet's base at Pearl Harbor. Kimmel testified after the war that had he known of these communications, he would have maintained a much higher level of alert and that the Fleet would not have been taken by surprise by the Japanese attack. The leading historian of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Professor Gordon Prange, wrote in Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History that, even allowing for Kimmel's desire to exculpate himself, this was correct. Prange wrote: "If Turner thought a Japanese raid on Hawaii... to be a 50-percent chance, it was his clear duty to say so plainly in his directive to Kimmel... He won the battle for dominance of War Plans over Intelligence, and had to abide by the consequences. If his estimates had enabled the U.S. to fend off... the Japanese threat at Pearl Harbor, Turner would deserve the appreciation of a grateful nation. By the same token, he could not justly avoid his share of the blame for failure."
See also Edwin T. Layton, Kimmel's chief intelligence officer, and his book on the attack.
World War II
In December 1941, Turner was appointed Assistant Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet (a new position created after Pearl Harbor for Admiral Ernest King), serving until June 1942. He was then sent to the Pacific to take command of the Amphibious Force, South Pacific Force. Over the next three years, he held a variety of senior Amphibious Force commands as a Rear Admiral and Vice Admiral. He helped plan and execute amphibious operations against enemy positions in the south, central and western Pacific. He would have commanded the amphibious component of the invasion of Japan.
After World War II, Admiral Turner served on the Navy Department's General Board and was U.S. Naval Representative on the United Nations Military Staff Committee. He retired from active duty in July 1947. Admiral Turner died in Monterey, California on February 12, 1961. He is buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California alongside his wife and Admirals Chester Nimitz, Raymond A. Spruance, and Charles A. Lockwood, an arrangement made by all of them while living.
Honors and depictions
- Guadalcanal Campaign, first major amphibious operation
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Naval History & Heritage Command.
- "Admiral Richmond K. Turner, USN (1885–1961)". Online Library of Selected Images: People — United States. Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy. Retrieved February 1, 2009.
- Dyer, George Carroll, Vice Admiral USN (Ret) (1969). The Amphibians Came to Conquer: The Story of Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner. Introduction by Rear Admiral Ernest M. Eller, USN (Ret). Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. LCCN 71603853.
- Dyer, George Carroll (1972). The Amphibians Came to Conquer. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of the Navy; U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 3–9. OCLC 476880.
- Dyer. - pp.30-31.
- Gordon W. Prange, Donald M. Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon, Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History, McGraw-Hill, 1986, 292-295