Best, Richard Halsey

    Date of birth:
    March 24th, 1910 (New Jersey, United States)
    Date of death:
    October 28th, 2001
    Nationality:
    American (1776 - present, Republic)

    Biography

    Richard H. Best entered the United States Naval Academy in 1928. He graduated in 1932 and then served aboard the USS Richmond (CL-9). He was transferred to the Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, in 1934 and He completed his flight training in December 1935. After the training he was assigned to Fighting Squadron Two (VF-2B), USS Lexington (CV-2). In 1938 he became a flight instructor at Pensacola and was assigned to Training Squadron Five. On May 31, 1940, Best was transferred to Bombing Squadron Six (VB-6) aboard the USS Enterprise (CV-6) of which he became the Flight Officer (operations officer) on June 10th.

    When Second World War broke out, Best saw his first action on February 1st, 1942 at Kwajelein and Taroa Island, Maloelap Atoll
    On February 24th, 1942, he was part of the attack of Wake Island by the Enterprise Air Group and on March 4th at Marcus Island.
    The next action he took part in was the Battle of Midway, from 4th to June 6th, 1942. Here he dropped the last bomb on the Japanese carrier Akagi. On June 24th, 1942 he was sent to hospital at Pearl Harbor, having tuberculosis. After treatment, during 32 months, he retired in 1944.

    After his retirement he started working with a research group at the Douglas Aircraft Company and lived in Santa Monica, California. In December 1948 the group became part of the Rand Corporation. Best was head of the department until his retirement in 1975.

    On October 28th, 2001, Richard H. Best died and was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.

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    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Lieutenant Commander
    Unit:
    Bombing Squadron 6 (VB-6), U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6)
    Awarded on:
    August 7th, 1942
    Action:
    Citation:
    "For extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Bomber and Squadron Commander in Bombing Squadron SIX (VB-6), attached to the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE (CV-6), during the "Air Battle of Midway," against enemy Japanese forces on 4 - 6 June 1942. Defying extreme danger from concentrated anti-aircraft barrage and powerful fighter opposition, Lieutenant Commander Best, with bold determination and courageous zeal, led his squadron in dive-bombing assaults against Japanese naval units. Flying at a distance from his own forces which rendered return unlikely because of probable fuel exhaustion, he pressed home his attacks with extreme disregard for his own personal safety. His gallant intrepidity and loyal devotion to duty contributed greatly to the success of our forces and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
    Details:
    General Orders Commander In Chief Pacific Fleet: Serial 3144 (August 7, 1942).
    Navy Cross
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Lieutenant Commander
    Unit:
    Bombing Squadron 6 (VB-6), U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6)
    Action:
    The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Lieutenant Commander Richard Halsey Best (NSN: 0-71601), United States Navy, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as Division Leader in Plane 6-B-10. Lieutenant Commander Best executed several dive bombing attacks on enemy ships in Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, 1 February 1942, which resulted in severe damage to a large enemy transport and another cargo ship. Later this same day, Lieutenant Best, after beating off several attacks by enemy fighters which left his plane riddled with bullets, obtained a direct hit on an enemy hangar and remained after the original attack to strafe and ensure its complete destruction. His courage and actions on these occasions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
    Details:
    Action Date: February 1, 1942
    Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Action:
    Citation:
    "For consistently outstanding performance and distinguished achievement during repeated action against enemy Japanese forces in the Pacific war area, 7 December 1941, to 15 November 1942. Participating in nearly every major carrier engagement in the first year of the war, the Enterprise and her air group, exclusive of far-flung destruction of hostile shore installations throughout the battle area, did sink or damage on her own a total of 35 Japanese vessels and shot down a total of 185 Japanese aircraft. Her aggressive spirit and superb combat efficiency are fitting tribute to the officers and men who so gallantly established her as an ahead bulwark in the defense of the American nation."
    Presidential Unit Citation for Navy and Marine Corps

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