tsprague_bio.gif

Commander Task Group 77.4
Commander Carrier Division 22
Commander Task Unit 77.4.1 (Taffy I)

thomas_sprague.jpg

U.S. Navy photograph

Rear Admiral Thomas L. Sprague, U.S. Navy

 

 tsprague_ribbons.gif

navycross.jpg Navy Cross
NDSM.jpg Navy Distinguished Service Medal
LOMwstarV.jpg Legion of Merit (2) w/Combat "V"
BS.jpg Bronze Star
CAR.jpg Combat Action Ribbon
PUC.jpg Presidential Unit Citation
NUCwstar.jpg Navy Unit Commendation (2)
WW1VM.jpg WW1 Victory Medal w/Destroyer Clasp 
ADMwStar.jpg American Defense Service Medal (2)
ACM.jpg American Campaign Medal
APCM10.jpg Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (10)
WW2VM.jpg World War II Victory Medal
national_defense_SM.jpg National Defense Service Medal
PPUC.jpg Philippine Presidential Unit Citation
PLM.jpg Philippine Liberation Medal
Award Criteria

 

RANK DATES DUTY STATION/EVENT
- 1894 Born in Lima, Ohio
MIDN 1914-1917 Student at U.S. Naval Academy Annapolis
ENS 1917-1918 USS Cleveland (C-19)
ENS 1918 Sixth Naval District, headquarters, Charleston, South Carolina 
ENS 1918-1920 Engineer & CO, USS Montgomery (DD-121)
LTJG 1920 Naval Aviation Preflight Indoctrination, NAS Pensacola, Florida
LTJG 1920-1921 Naval Flight Training, NAS Pensacola, Florida
LT 1921-1922 Staff of Commander Aircraft, Pacific Fleet
LT 1922-1923 Aircraft Squadron SPOT 4 in USS Aroostock (CM-3) 
 LT 1923-1926 Naval Air Station Pensacola 
LT 1926 Observation Squadron VO-1 in USS Langley (CV-1)  
LT 1927-1928 Aviation Unit in USS Maryland (BB-46)
LT 1928-1931 Naval Air Station, San Diego, California
LT 1931-1932 CO, Scouting Squadron VS-6 & Aide to Commander Cruiser Division THREE in USS Concord (CL-10)
LCDR 1932 CO, Scouting Squadron VS-10 attached to Cruiser Division FIVE with additional duty as Commander Cruiser Wing of Cruiser Command, US Fleet, & on the staff of Commander Cruisers, US Fleet 
LCDR 1933-1934 Naval Aircraft Factory, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
LCDR 1935-1936 Air Officer, USS Saratoga (CV-3)
LCDR 1936-1937 Navigator, USS Langley (CV-1) 
LCDR 1937-1940 Superintendant of Aviation Training, Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida
CDR 1940-1941 XO, USS Ranger (CV-4)
CDR 1941 CO, USS Pocomcke (AV-9)
CDR 1941-1942 CO, USS Charger (CVE-30)
CAPT 1942-1943 Chief of Staff and Aide to Commander Fleet Air, Quonset, Quonset Point, Rhode Island, and to Commander Air Force, Atlantic Fleet
CAPT 1943-1944 CO, USS Intrepid (CV-11)
CAPT 1944 Commander Fleet Air, Alameda (California) 
RADM 1944 CTG 77.4/COMCARDIV 22 with flag in USS Sangamon (CVE-26) at Saipan
RADM 1944 CTG 77.1/COMCARDIV 22 with flag in USS Sangamon (CVE-26) at Morotai
RADM 1944 CTG 77.4/COMCARDIV 22 with flag in USS Sangamon (CVE-26) at Samar
RADM 1945 COMCARDIV 11 (Training Carriers)
RADM 1945 COMCARDIV 3 & TG 38.1 in USS Hancock (CV-19) and USS Wasp (CV-18) at Okinawa
RADM 1946-1947 Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel (BUPERS)
RADM 1947-1949 Chief of the Bureau of Naval Personnel 
RADM 1949-1952 Commander, Naval Air Pacific & with additional duty as Commander First Task Fleet, San Diego, California
VADM 1952 Retired from Service
- 1972 Died

 

Short biography of
Vice Admiral Thomas Lamison Sprague, U.S. Navy

 

Thomas Lamison Sprague was born on October 2, 1894 in Lima, Ohio, the son of Grant Madison Sprague and Olivia Lamison Sprague, both of pre-Revolutionary stock. He is the eleventh generation of male descendants of William Sprague who settled in Massachusetts in 1628 from Dorsetshire England. He attended public schools in Lima and the Ohio State University, at Columbus, before his appointment to the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, from the Fourth District of Ohio in 1914.

He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis,  Maryland on June 29, 1917 with the Class of 1918.  Although no relation to Admiral Clifton "Ziggy" Sprague, the two both attended Annapolis, both later graduating from the same class.  After graduation from the Naval Academy in June 1917, he was assigned to the USS Cleveland (C-19), which operated on patrol and convoy service during World War One.  In April 1918 he reported for duty in connection with the training of officers and men of the Navy and Naval Reserve at receiving ships, camps and schools in the Sixth Naval District, headquarters at Charleston, South Carolina. He was detached in July of that year to assist in fitting out the USS Montgomery (DD-121) at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Newport News, Virginia, and was Engineer of that destroyer from her commissioning, 26 July 1918, until 1 January 1920, when he became her Commanding Officer.

Detached from the Montgomery in November 1920, he reported to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, for flight training, and was designated Naval Aviator on 11 August 1921.  Serving briefly at the Naval Air Station, Anacostia, DC, he reported in November, that year, for duty on the Staff of Commander Aircraft, Pacific Fleet (later redesignated Commander Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Force).  In 1922 he was assigned to Aircraft Squadron SPOT 4 (attached to the aircraft tender Aroostock (CM-3), an airplane tender), which later became Observation Squadron 2 before his detachment in June 1923.

For three years he had duty at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, and in July 1926 reported to Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet, serving with Observation Squadron ONE, based on the aircraft carrier Langley, and later with the aviation unit of the USS Maryland (BB-46). Detached from the latter in July 1928, he had a three year tour of duty at the Naval Air Station San Diego, California.  In July 1931 he assumed command of Scouting Squadron 6, and while so serving had additional duty as Aide to Commander Cruiser Division THREE, the USS Concord (CL-10), flagship.  In June 1932 he was transferred to command of Scouting Squadron 10, attached to Cruiser Division FIVE, with additional duty as Commander of the Cruiser Wing of the Cruiser Command, US Fleet, and on the staff of Commander Cruisers, US Fleet.

Duty as Superintendant of the Aeronautical Engine Laboratory, Naval Aircraft Factory, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, preceded a year's duty as Air Officer of the USS Saratoga (CV-3), and a second year as Navigator of the USS Langley (CV-1).  In June 1937 he returned to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, where he served for three years as Superintendant of Aviation Training.  He was again ordered to sea, and from June 1940 until July 1941 served as Executive Officer of the USS Ranger (CV-4). He assisted in the conversion of the USS Pocomcke (AV-9), and was commanding that vessel at the outbreak of World War II.

He next fitted out and placed in commission the USS Charger (CVE-30), second escort carrier to be commissioned, on 3 March 1942. He commanded the Charger until December 1942, then served successively as Chief of Staff and Aide to Commander Fleet Air, Quonset, at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, and to Commander Air Force, Atlantic Fleet. 'For exceptionally meritorious service in support of sustained operations against the enemy while serving as Chief of Staff to Commander Patrol Wings, US Atlantic Fleet, and later as Aide and Chief of Staff to Commander Air Force, US Atlantic Fleet, from April 1942 until June 1943 where he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.

After fitting out the USS Intrepid (CV-11) at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, he commanded that aircraft carrier from her commissioning, 16 August 1943, until March 1944.  Under his command, the Intrepid participated in the campaign leading up to the capture of the Marshall Islands and the first carrier attacks on Truk Atoll.  During the night after the first raid, she was attacked by night flying Japanese torpedo planes and struck by a torpedo, the explosion jamming her rudder and destroying the steering engines and flooding the after end of the ship. He ordered a sail rigged to assist in steering control, headed the ship clear of the battle area and returned the Intrepid 6000 miles to San Francisco for repairs.  He was awarded the Legion of Merit 'For exceptionally meritorious conduct... during the attack on Truk Atoll in the Caroline Islands on February 16-17, 1944...(when) under the skillful leadership of Captain Sprague, the damage was brought under control and the ship returned to a safe port under her own power...'

Returning to the United States in March 1944, he had brief duty as Commander Fleet Air, Alameda (California), and in July assumed command of Carrier Division 22.  That division, under his command, took part in the capture of Saipan and Guam in the Marianas and of Morotai in the New Guinea Campaign. During the following October, in the initial assault phase of the invasion of Leyte, Philippine Islands, units under his command furnished strategical and direct support to the successful Leyte landings of troops by conducting anti-submarine and combat air patrols.  He was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of the Second Legion of Merit 'For distinguishing himself by exceptionally meritorious conduct...as Commander Task Group 77.4 and the Escort Carrier Task Group...in the planning of the largest amphibious operation undertaken in the Southwest Pacific Area, the invasion of Leyte on 20 October 1944...'  Sprague was in command of the eighteen escort carriers of Task Group 77.4 ("Taffy 1") and  Carrier Division 22 during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944.  His extraordinary heroism in action on October 25, 1944 in the Battle Off Samar would earn him the Navy Cross.  Admiral Sprague is also entitled to the Presidential Unit Citation, awarded the officers and men of the USS Sangamon (CVE-26), his flagship during the Philippine operations.

When detached from command of Carrier Division 22, he assumed command of Carrier Division 3 and Task Group 38.1, which engaged in fast carrier pre-invasion operations against the Japanese homeland until the enemy's capitulation in August 1945.  For brilliant service in that command, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

He flew his flag, as Commander Carrier Division 3, in the USS Hancock (CV-19), and in the USS Wasp (CV-18) during part of the period from 10 October 1944 to 15 August 1945, and each carrier was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation.  After his return to the United States he reported on 10 January 1946, as Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel, Navy Department, Washington DC.  On 22 February 1947, he became Chief of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, and served in that capacity until September 1949, and in October assumed command of Air Force, Pacific Fleet.  He was later assigned additional duty as Commander First Task Fleet, with Headquarters at San Diego, California.  He was relieved of all active duty, and transferred to the Retired List on 1 April 1952.

In addition to the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Gold Star and Combat 'V,' the Bronze Star Medal, Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon (Sangamon), and the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon (Hancock and Wasp), Admiral Sprague has the Victory Medal, Destroyer Clasp (World War I); the American Defense Service Medal with bronze 'A'; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one silver and four bronze stars (ten engagements); the World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal, Asia Clasp; and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with two bronze stars.

Sprague briefly returned to active duty to negotiate with the Philippine government over the status of U.S. air bases in 1956.

Vice Admiral Sprague died in California on September 17, 1972.

Source:  Navy Biographies Branch, OI-450, March 29, 1957 and Robert Jon Cox independent research