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Richard H. Cruzen

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Title: Richard H. Cruzen  
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Subject: Naval Order of the United States, Richard E. Byrd, Explorers of Antarctica, United States Naval Academy alumni, 1970 deaths
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Richard H. Cruzen

Admiral Richard Harold Cruzen (1897–1970) was a United States Navy officer best known for his participation and leadership in Antarctic expeditions.


  • Early life 1
  • Early career 2
  • United States Antarctic Service Expedition 3
  • Second World War 4
  • Operation Highjump 5
  • Later life 6
  • Awards 7
  • Dates of rank 8
  • External links 9
  • References 10

Early life

Cruzen was born on April 28, 1897 in Kansas City, Missouri. After graduation from Gallatin High School in Gallatin, Missouri, he attended the Virginia Military Institute and the Severn School in Severna Park, Maryland.[1] He was appointed to the United States Naval Academy in 1916.

Early career

As a midshipman, Cruzen served on the battleship Mississippi during the First World War. The Mississippi operated with the Atlantic Fleet during the summer of 1918.[1]

Cruzen graduated from the Naval Academy in 1919 and was commissioned as an ensign. His first assignment was to the battleship Idaho.[1]

Between the years of 1925 and 1937 Cruzen served on a number of ships of different types. Ships he served on included the battleships Nevada and California. Other ships he served on were the destroyers Claxton, Delphy, Sinclair, Shirk, Elliott, Pope and Simpson and the destroyer tender Rigel.

Cruzen was a graduate of the command course at the United States Naval War College.

United States Antarctic Service Expedition

On September 11, 1939 Cruzen assumed command of the 65-year-old barkentine USS Bear. Bear participated in the United States Antarctic Service Expedition, under the command of Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, a renowned aviator and explorer who led the government financed expedition to evaluate the economic and military value of the Antarctic continent.[1]

Navy records state that 1,000 miles of new coastline was discovered by survey missions by the Bear and aircraft. After the expedition, Cruzen was commended by Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox for "superior seamanship, ability, courage, determination, efficiency and good judgment in dangerous emergencies". Cruzen was one of only 16 members of the 1939-41 expedition who received the United States Antarctic Expedition Medal, which was presented in November 1946.[1]

Second World War

During the Second World War Cruzen served as chief of staff to Vice Admiral Arthur S. Carpender, Commander of the 7th Fleet from July 18 to September 26, 1943. He served as an operations officer on the staff of Vice Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid during the campaign to liberate the Philippines in 1944 to 1945.[1]

He commanded the light cruiser USS Birmingham from August 9, 1945 to October 10, 1946.[2]

Operation Highjump

In 1946 Admiral Byrd was selected as officer in charge of the Navy's Antarctic Developments Project, also known as Operation Highjump. Cruzen commanded Task Force 68 - a force of 13 ships carrying over 4,000 men, which supported the operation. Cruzen departed the United States on board his flagship, the USS Mount Olympus, on December 2, 1946. Personnel assigned to the expedition included meteorologists, zoologists, physicists, and experts from oceanographic institutes. Besides gathering scientific data, another goal of the expedition was to train Navy personnel and to test Navy ships and other equipment in cold weather and ice operations.[1]

Cruzen's task force navigated through several hundred miles of ice before reaching the Little America base camp. The expedition was beset by icebergs and inconsistent weather throughout its service.

Among the discoveries made during Operation Highjump were finding two "oases", one a region of ice-free lakes and land. More than 300,000 square miles of uncharted territory were mapped by aircraft. This led to updating of existing charts and maps of the Antarctic.[1]

Later life

Cruzen retired from the Navy on June 30, 1954 and was advanced to the rank of vice admiral on the retired list. He died on April 15, 1970 at Camp Pendleton, California.



Dates of rank

  • Midshipman - June 16, 1916
  • Ensign - June 7, 1919
  • Lieutenant (junior grade) - June 7, 1922
  • Lieutenant - June 7, 1925
  • Lieutenant Commander - October 1, 1935
  • Commander - April 1, 1941
  • Captain - June 20, 1942
  • Rear Admiral - circa 1946 (Date of rank - April 1, 1944)
  • Vice Admiral, retired - June 30, 1954


External links

  • Brief biography of Admiral Cruzen
  • Homecoming celebration for Admiral Cruzen
  • The Secret Land - official U.S. Navy film detailing Operation Highjump


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Admiral Richard H. Cruzen -- A Biography : Daviess County Historical Society : Gallatin Area Revitalization Alliance". Retrieved 2015-02-11. 
  2. ^ "Cruiser Photo Index CL-62 USS BIRMINGHAM - Navsource - Photographic History of the U.S. Navy". Retrieved 2015-02-11. 
  3. ^ Register of Commissioned Officers of the United States Navy. Various editions from 1920 to 1955.
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