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O'Kane, Richard Hetherington "Dick"

Date of birth:
February 2nd, 1911 (Dover/New Hampshire, United States)
Date of death:
February 16th, 1994 (Petaluma/California, United States)
Nationality:
American (1776 - present, Republic)

Biography

Servicenumber 0-73324.

For his service aboard the U.S.S. Wahoo, Richard O'Kane also was permitted to wear the Commendation Ribbon and the Presidential Unit Citation.

Promotions:
31st May 1934: Ensign.

Career:
1934: U.S.S. Chester;
?: U.S.S. Pruitt;
January 1938: Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut;
June 1938 - April 1942: U.S.S. Argonaut;
April 1942 - May 1942: U.S.S. Wahoo, Navy Yard, Mare Island, California;
15th May 1942 - July 1943: Executive Officer U.S.S. Wahoo;
August 1943: U.S.S. Tang (SS-306), Mare Island Naval Shipyard,
15th October 1943 - 24th October 1944: Commanding Officer U.S.S. Tang (SS-306);
April 1946: Staff of Commander Mare Island Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet;
? - July 1948: Commanding Officer U.S.S. Pelias;
?: Executive Officer U.S.S. Nereus;
August 1949: Commander Submarine Division 32;
August 1950 - January 1951: Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia;
?: Instructor in Command Class, Assistant Officer in Charge, Submarine School, U.S. Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut;
July 1952: Officer in Charge Submarine School, U.S. Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut;
August 1953 - June 1954: Commanding Officer U.S.S. Sperry;
June 1954 - June 1955: Commander Submarine Squadron 7;
June 1955 - July 1956: Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island;
July 1956 - 1st July 1957: Ship Characteristics Board, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington;
1st July 1957: retirement.

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Lieutenant Commander
Unit:
U.S.S. Wahoo (SS-238), U.S. Navy
Citation:
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as Assistant Approach Officer of the Submarine U.S.S. WAHOO (SS-238), on the THIRD War Patrol of that submarine during the period 16 January 1943 to 7 February 1943, during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Pacific Area. When his submarine was attacked by a hostile destroyer while he was on periscope watch, Lieutenant O'Kane, grimly aware of the danger involved and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, withheld fire until minimum range had been obtained, then discharged torpedoes which destroyed the enemy craft. Later, he rendered invaluable assistance to his Commanding Officer in the attack on and destruction of an entire Japanese convoy of four important vessels. By his determination and daring aggressiveness, he contributed to the success of the WAHOO in the sinking of 31,890 tons of shipping during two actions. His determination, coolness, and unflinching spirit were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
Silver Star Medal (SSM)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Lieutenant Commander
Unit:
U.S.S. Wahoo (SS-238), U.S. Navy
Awarded on:
April 22nd, 1943
Silver Star Medal (SSM)
Citation:
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as Assistant Approach Officer of the Submarine U.S.S. WAHOO (SS-238), on the FOURTH War Patrol of that submarine during the period 23 February 1943 to 6 April 1943, during action against enemy Japanese forces in a dangerous enemy-patrolled area in the Pacific. While on periscope watch during vital operations in extremely hazardous waters, Lieutenant Commander O'Kane, by his outstanding professional ability and fine cooperation with the fire control party, contributed directly to the destruction of eight enemy freighters, on trawler and two sampans, a total of 36,693 tons, as well as the damaging of another freighter. The exemplary conduct of Lieutenant Commander O'Kane throughout the entire period of action reflects great credit upon the United States Naval Service."
General Orders: Commander in Chief Pacific: Serial 0938 (April 22, 1943).
Second Silver Star Medal received in the form of a golden star to be worn on the ribbon of the first Silver Star Medal.
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Lieutenant Commander
Unit:
U.S.S. Wahoo (SS-238), U.S. Navy
Awarded on:
April 27th, 1944
Silver Star Medal (SSM)
Citation:
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as Executive Officer and Assistant Approach Officer of the Submarine U.S.S. WAHOO (SS-238), on the FIFTH War Patrol of that submarine during the period 25 April 1943 to 21 May 1943, during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Pacific Area. Skilled and tireless in the performance of duty, Commander O'Kane rendered invaluable assistance to his Commanding Officer in pressing home his bold, relentless gun and torpedo attacks against heavily escorted enemy task forces and convoys to sink over 24,000 tons of combatant and auxiliary units. His outstanding leadership, cool courage and sound judgment in the face of intense hostile countermeasures served as an inspiration to the officers and men of his ship, thereby reflecting great credit upon Commander O'Kane and the United States Naval Service."
General Orders: Pacific Fleet Board Awards: Serial 57 (April 27, 1944).
Third SIlver Star Medal received in the form of a second golden star to be worn on the ribbon of the first Silver Star Medal.
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Lieutenant Commander
Unit:
U.S.S. Tang (SS-306), U.S. Navy
Citation:
"For extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. TANG (SS-306), on the FIRST War Patrol of that submarine during the period 22 January 1944 to February 1944, in enemy controlled waters of the Pacific War Area. Skillfully maneuvering his ship into a favorable position to strike at enemy shipping, Commander O'Kane launched bold, aggressive attacks in the face of heavy and persistent hostile counter-measures, to sink five Japanese vessels totaling over 41,000 tons, two of these being a valuable enemy submarine tender and a capacity-loaded tanker. Although severely depth charged during the closure of his attacks, he courageously and expertly directed his vessel and succeeded in bringing her to port without serious injury to the ship or crew. Commander O'Kane's inspiring leadership and devotion to the fulfillment of his hazardous mission reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service."
Navy Cross
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Lieutenant Commander
Unit:
U.S.S. Tang (SS-306), U.S. Navy
Citation:
"For extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. TANG (SS-306), on the THIRD War Patrol of that submarine during the period 8 June 1944 to 14 July 1944, in enemy controlled waters of the Pacific War Area. Relentlessly seeking out the enemy throughout a period of intense offensive operations, Commander O'Kane fought his ship with brilliant tactical ability and, despite strong hostile escort screens, pressed home a series of bold and accurate torpedo attacks which resulted in the sinking of an important amount of valuable enemy shipping. Constantly subjected to vigorous Japanese countermeasures, he employed skillful evasive tactics and successfully brought his craft through each engagement without damage. Commander O'Kane's inspiring leadership and valiant conduct in the face of grave peril reflect great credit upon himself, his gallant command and the United States Naval Service."
Second Navy Cross received in the form of a golden star to be worn on the ribbon of the first Navy Cross.
Navy Cross
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Lieutenant Commander
Unit:
U.S.S. Tang (SS-306), U.S. Navy
Citation:
"For extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. TANG (SS-306), on the FOURTH War Patrol of that submarine during the period 31 July 1944 to 3 September 1944, in enemy controlled waters of the Pacific War Area. Skillfully directing the operations of his ship throughout this hazardous mission, Commander O'Kane fearlessly penetrated strong enemy escort screens and launched powerful, expertly-timed torpedo attacks which resulted in the sinking and damaging of an important amount of vital Japanese shipping. By his deft execution of brilliant tactical maneuvers, he successfully evaded the enemy's vigorous countermeasures and brought the vessel through unscathed. Commander O'Kane's superb seamanship and indomitable fighting spirit were an inspiration to his officers and men and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
Third Navy Cross received in the form of a second golden star to be worn on the ribbon of the first Navy Cross.
Navy Cross
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Commander
Unit:
U.S.S. Tang (SS-306), U.S. Navy
Place and date action: Vicinity Philippine Islands, 23 and 24 October 1944.
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. Tang operating against 2 enemy Japanese convoys on 23 and 24 October 1944, during her fifth and last war patrol. Boldly maneuvering on the surface into the midst of a heavily escorted convoy, Comdr. O'Kane stood in the fusillade of bullets and shells from all directions to launch smashing hits on 3 tankers, coolly swung his ship to fire at a freighter and, in a split-second decision, shot out of the path of an onrushing transport, missing it by inches. Boxed in by blazing tankers, a freighter, transport, and several destroyers, he blasted 2 of the targets with his remaining torpedoes and, with pyrotechnics bursting on all sides, cleared the area. Twenty-four hours later, he again made contact with a heavily escorted convoy steaming to support the Leyte campaign with reinforcements and supplies and with crated planes piled high on each unit. In defiance of the enemy's relentless fire, he closed the concentration of ship and in quick succession sent 2 torpedoes each into the first and second transports and an adjacent tanker, finding his mark with each torpedo in a series of violent explosions at less than l,000-yard range. With ships bearing down from all sides, he charged the enemy at high speed, exploding the tanker in a burst of flame, smashing the transport dead in the water, and blasting the destroyer with a mighty roar which rocked the Tang from stem to stern. Expending his last 2 torpedoes into the remnants of a once powerful convoy before his own ship went down, Comdr. O'Kane, aided by his gallant command, achieved an illustrious record of heroism in combat, enhancing the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service."
Presented on March 27th, 1946.
Medal of Honor - Navy/Marine Corps (MoH)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Commander
Unit:
U.S.S. Tang (SS-306), U.S. Navy
"For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Commanding Officer of the Submarine U.S.S. TANG (SS-306), during the Second War Patrol of that vessel in enemy Japanese-controlled waters of the Pacific from 16 March to 14 May 1944. During air strikes by our forces against the enemy-held Truk Islands, Commander O'Kane ably commanded his ship in performing hazardous lifeguard services with the result that twenty-two of our naval aviators were rescued and safely returned to port. Although the rescues were carried out against active enemy aerial opposition and bombardment from shore batteries, he not only skillfully evaded the enemy without damage to his ship or personnel, but on two occasions returned the fire of shore batteries on Ollan Islands and succeeded in silencing them. His devotion to duty throughout reflects the highest credit upon himself, his officers and men and the United States Naval Service. (Commander O'Kane is authorized to wear the Combat "V".)"
Received with "V" for Valor.
Legion of Merit - US Military
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Commander
Unit:
U.S.S. Tang (SS-306), U.S. Navy
Citation:
"Commander Richard Hetherington O'Kane was captured after his submarine the U.S.S. TANG (SS-306) was sunk on 25 October 1944 and was held by the Japanese as a Prisoner of War until his release in August 1945."
Prisoner of War Medal
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Received with "FLEET" clasp.
American Defence Service Medal
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Received with a silver and three bronze campaign stars (for eight campaigns).
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
National Defense Service Medal (NDSM)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
w/ 2 bronze stars
Philippines Liberation Medal

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