CVE 21  Officers & Crew

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CVE 21 Command

CAPTAIN LOGAN RAMSEY, Sr. USN

Captain Logan C. Ramsey was born at Jackson, Mississippi, on 26 Feb 1898, the son of Walter Pitman and Susan Elizabeth Fite Ramsey. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1918 with the Class of 1919.  During the last six months of World War I, he served aboard the USS Texas in the British Grand Fleet.  Captain Ramsey became a naval aviator in 1921.  When the attack was leveled at Pearl Harbor, he was Operations
Officer of the Patrol Wings based in the Hawaiian Area.  In May 1942 he became Operations Officer at the island of Midway.  Subsequently, he served as Chief of Staff to Commander Aircraft, Pacific Fleet.  On 8 Mar 1943 he became the Commanding Officer of the CVE 21 Block Island.  He brought aboard some fifty survivors of an aircraft carrier that was sunk in the Pacific. He served aboard the Block Island until March 10, 1944, where he was ordered to duty as Chief of Staff to the Commander, Fleet Air, Norfolk. Captain Ramsey was given some 50 survivors from the USS Lexington (CV-2) which was sunk in the Coral Sea during the Battle of Midway, with the majority of the 890 sailor compliment having never previously been at sea with the majority being USNR not Regular Navy. With the first two cruises of the ship scheduled for aircraft transport his job was to weld this crew into a cohesive fighting unit which was accomplished in a record time. Having been Operations Officer of the Navy Forces on the island of Midway, and later Chief of Staff to the Commander of Aircraft for the entire Pacific Fleet, Captain Ramsey was well qualified for this task. His son, Ensign Logan Ramsey Jr., served on CVE 106.

Captain Logan Ramsey Sr. was not new to making history in World War II. The then Lt. Cmd. Logan Ramsey Sr. sounded the alarm at the outbreak of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He also sent this historic message out on the airways "Air Raid Pearl Harbor, this is no drill". A scene in the movie “Tora Tora Tora” depicts Captain Ramsey sending this message. His name is also mentioned in the movie “Midway”.

He retired as a Rear Admiral in 1949 and then served as vice president of Spring Garden College, PA for 17 years. He died 26 Sep 1972 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.


CAPTAIN FRANCIS MASSIE HUGHES, USN

Captain Hughes was a member of the Naval Academy class of 1923 where he earned a letter as the quarterback for the football team. At Battle Fleet he was a football coach with an outstanding record. He first served on the USS Texas and the USS Chicago. He earned his wings at Pensacola in 1931. During the attack on Pearl Harbor he managed to get his PBY in the air while still wearing his pajamas which he was unab
le to change for the next 48 hours. He was in command of the Midway Sand Island Seaplane Base (VP-23) during the Battle of Midway, 3-7 Jun 1942. Famous movie director and producer John Ford flew a PBY with Captain Hughes at the controls on 3 Jun 1942 sighting two Japanese planes from the enemy fleet, they remained friends after the war. It was a PBY-5A Catalina from VP-23 that discovered the Japanese fleet leading to a great naval victory for the United States.

Captain Francis Massie Hughes became the Captain of CVE 21 on March 10, 1944 and was in command of the CVE 21 task force when the USS Block Island was sunk by German submarines on May 29, 1944. Capt. Hughes played an important part in having the Navy keep the surviving crew members together so that CVE 106 could become an active force in the Battle of the Pacific against the Japanese. He attained the rank of Rear Admiral and was serving as Commandant, Fifth Naval District, Norfolk when during a physical exam he had a heart attack and died on 23 Dec 1960. He is buried on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

LT. WILLIAM F. HARRIS, USN


In building the original crew for CVE 21 Captain Ramsey knew that he would need men who had proven records and combat experience and was authorized to seek out several important position from personnel who were available for service on his new ship. Before making this selection he spent hours going over the service records and had many interviews before he made this selection. He was very impressed with the service records and the previous experience of an enlisted man who had been serving as a navigator on one of the battl
eships well before the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbor . One of the selections was then Chief Quarter Master W. F. Harris and several more with other abilities, but the later service record of this individual shows that Captain Ramsey was very just in this selection.  

William F Harris was a Chief Quartermaster when he came aboard CVE 21. He was given a field promotion (in the Navy called "mustang") to Lt. Junior Grade while on the CVE 21. Like many of the other crew members that  went aboard CVE 106  he remained on board CVE 106 until it was taken to the Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD, in 1946, where he became a Navigation Instructor and eventually retired from the Navy as a full Commander. Prior to coming aboard CVE 21 in September 1942, as one of the original shipmates, Harris served on the Battleship USS Nevada from November 1937 in the Navigation Section. With so many of the original crew of CVE 21 being raw recruits in 1942, Petty Officer Harris became a very important part of that crew. As noted, Captain Ramsey also brought aboard CVE 21 fifty survivors of an aircraft carrier that was sunk by the Japanese in July of 1942. The field appointment Harris received while serving on CVE 21 was his reward for the excellent training he provided to this "raw" crew. William Harris went on to serve on CVE 106.

The normal process in becoming an officer is to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, however, one “old salt” ships navigator, who never attended the Academy, ended his career teaching Navigation at the Naval Academy and retired from the Navy as a full Commander. Commander William Harris retired from the Navy in 1966 after over 30 years serving his Country in the highest traditions. 

                      

       

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