Richard O'Kane

 

Richard O'Kane USS Tang

Richard Hetherington "Dick" O'Kane (February 2, 1911 – February 16, 1994) was a United States Navy submarine commander in World War II, who received a Medal of Honor for his service on the Tang, leading Tang to the most successful record of any U.S. submarine ever. He also received three Navy Crosses and three Silver Stars, for a total of seven awards of the United States military's three highest decorations for valor in combat. Before commanding Tang, O'Kane served in the highly successful Wahoo as executive officer and approach officer under noted Lieutenant Commander Dudley "Mush" Morton. In his ten combat patrols, five in Wahoo and five commanding Tang, O'Kane participated in more successful attacks on Japanese shipping than any other submarine officer during the war.

In early 1942, Lieutenant O'Kane joined the precommissioning crew of the new submarine Wahoo and served as her Executive Officer on five war patrols, first under Lieutenant Commander Marvin G. "Pinky" Kennedy and later under the legendary Lieutenant Commander Dudley "Mush" Morton. Morton established a record as an excellent tactician, as he preferred to run the demanding analysis and plots while his XO manned the periscopes, a reversal of standard practices. Under Morton's tutelage, O'Kane developed the skills which enabled him to become the single most accomplished American submarine commander in history.

Wahoo


Tang

In early 1942, Lieutenant O'Kane joined the precommissioning crew of the new submarine Wahoo and served as her Executive Officer on five war patrols, first under Lieutenant Commander Marvin G. "Pinky" Kennedy and later under the legendary Lieutenant Commander Dudley "Mush" Morton. Morton established a record as an excellent tactician, as he preferred to run the demanding analysis and plots while his XO manned the periscopes, a reversal of standard practices. Under Morton's tutelage, O'Kane developed the skills which enabled him to become the single most accomplished American submarine commander in history.

In July 1943, following his fifth patrol in Wahoo, O'Kane was detached, promoted to lieutenant commander, and shortly made prospective commanding officer of Tang, which was then under construction. He placed her in commission in October 1943 and commanded her for her entire career. He was an innovator, and developed several operational tactics that markedly increased his ship's efficiency. Among these tactics were daylight surface cruising with extra lookouts, periscope recognition and range drills (enabling clear tactical sureness when seconds counted), and methods of night surface attacks, one of his favorite techniques to obtain and maintain the initiative in battle.

In five war patrols on the Tang, O'Kane was originally recognized with sinking a total of 24 Japanese ships – the second highest total for a single American submarine and the highest for a single commanding officer. Postwar reviews of Japanese war records, corroborated by Tang's surviving logs and crewmen, revised the totals to 33 ships totalling over 116,454 long tons (118,323 t) sunk. This placed Tang first for both number of ships and tonnage (ahead of USS Tautog's 26 ships and USS Flasher's 100,231 long tons). Several times during the war, he took Tang into the middle of a convoy and attacked ships ahead and behind—counting on Tang's relative position, speed, and low profile to keep clear of enemy escorts.

Tang's third patrol, into the Yellow Sea, sank more Japanese ships than any other submarine patrol of the war. O'Kane claimed eight ships sunk; post-war analysis increased this to 10 ships. During one attack, he fired six torpedoes at two large ships. Japanese records showed the torpedoes actually hit four ships. This number of sinkings surpassed the next highest patrol, Wahoo's (with O'Kane as executive officer) in the same area the year before.

Under O'Kane, Tang also performed "lifeguard duty", a common joint operation, with a Fast Carrier Task Force, of positioning one or more submarines in a "ditching station" off an enemy island under air attack in order to rescue downed pilots. Off Truk, he and the Tang rescued 22 airmen in one mission, thus earning a Presidential Unit Citation. (See image below)

 O'Kane was captured by the Japanese when Tang was sunk in the Formosa Strait by her own flawed torpedo (a circular run of a Mark 18) during a surface night attack on October 24–25, 1944. It was her last torpedo and she would have been heading home immediately after the attack. O'Kane lost all but eight members of his crew, and was at first secretly held captive at the Ōfuna navy detention center, then later moved to the regular army Omori POW camp. Following his release, O'Kane received the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" during his submarine's final operations against Japanese shipping.

The above text is taken from the following url:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_O'Kane

There is much more to read on that site

Truk May 1944 - 22 rescued pilots

Feb 1943 on Wahoo

In 1998, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS O'Kane (DDG-77) (above)  was named in honor of O'Kane.

The wardroom of the oldest fast attack submarine in the United States Pacific fleet (currently USS Olympia (SSN-717)) carries O'Kane's personal cribbage board, and upon decommissioning the board is transferred to the next oldest boat

Medal of Honour 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 October and 24 October 1944, during her fifth and last war patrol. Boldly maneuvering on the surface into the midst of a heavily escorted convoy, CMDR 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 1,000-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.


Arlington National Cemetery, Section 59, Grave 874 is his final resting place