Richard M. McCool Jr. (1925-2008)
LPD 29’s namesake, Medal of Honor recipient Richard M. McCool Jr., was born January 4, 1922, in Oklahoma. McCool graduated from high school at the age of 15 and earned a degree in political science from the University of Oklahoma.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, he was accepted into a new Navy ROTC program, and later was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1944 (a year early).
He served as a lieutenant in command of a landing craft support ship, USS LCS(L)(3)-122. On June 10, 1945, off the coast of Okinawa, McCool helped rescue the survivors of sinking destroyer USS William D. Porter (DD 579). The destroyer had been struck by Japanese suicide planes or kamikazes.
The next day, his own ship was attacked by a Japanese kamikaze and he led his crew in rescuing survivors.
The citation from the Medal of Honor he earned details his actions:
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the USS LCS(L)(3)-122 during operations against enemy Japanese forces in the Ryukyu chain, June 10 and 11, 1945.
Sharply vigilant during hostile air raids against Allied ships on radar picket duty off Okinawa on June 10, Lt. McCool aided materially in evacuating all survivors from a sinking destroyer which had sustained mortal damage under the devastating attacks.
When his own craft was attacked simultaneously by two of the enemy’s suicide squadron early in the evening of June 11, he instantly hurled the full power of his gun batteries against the plunging aircraft, shooting down the first and damaging the second before it crashed his station in the conning tower and engulfed the immediate area in a mass of flames.
Although suffering from shrapnel wounds and painful burns, he rallied his concussion-shocked crew and initiated vigorous firefighting measures and then proceeded to the rescue of several trapped in a blazing compartment, subsequently carrying one man to safety despite the excruciating pain of additional severe burns. Unmindful of all personal danger, he continued his efforts without respite until aid arrived from other ships and he was evacuated.
By his staunch leadership, capable direction, and indomitable determination throughout the crisis, Lt. McCool saved the lives of many who otherwise might have perished and contributed materially to the saving of his ship for further combat service. His valiant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of extreme peril sustains and enhances the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.”
McCool continued to serve in the U.S. Navy through the Korean War and Vietnam War. Completing a 30-year career, he retired at the rank of captain in 1974.
McCool died of natural causes on March 5, 2008, at the age of 86 in a hospital in Bremerton, Washington.
- Richard Miles McCool Jr. | World War II | U.S. Navy | Medal of Honor Recipient (cmohs.org):