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Robert Henry English

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Robert Henry English

Robert Henry English
Robert English prior to his promotion to rear admiral
Born (1888-01-16)16 January 1888
Warrenton, Georgia
Died 21 January 1943(1943-01-21) (aged 55)
near Ukiah, California
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1911-1943
Rank Rear Admiral
Commands held USS O-4 (SS-65)
USS Helena (CL-50)
Commander, Submarines, United States Pacific Fleet

World War I
World War II

Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Cross

Robert Henry English (January 16, 1888 – January 21, 1943) was a United States Navy Commissioned officer who commanded the U.S. Navy's submarine force in the Pacific Ocean early in World War II.

English was born in United States Naval Academy class of 1911. Early in his naval career he became a submariner. In 1917, while commanding submarine USS O-4 (SS-65), he won the Navy Cross for his great heroism in rescuing an officer trapped in submarine USS O-5 (SS-66) after an explosion.

After a series of important assignments, he became commanding officer of light cruiser USS Helena (CL-50), and during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941 was one of the first to bring his ship into action.

On May 14, 1942, he became Commander, Submarines, United States Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC)), and was so serving when killed in the crash of Pan American Flight 1104 into a mountain about 7 miles (11 km) SW of the city of Ukiah in Mendocino County, California on January 21, 1943. In the accident, English and other Navy officers were passengers on a four-engine Martin M-130 flying boat, being flown by a Pan American World Airways civilian crew. The aircraft — dubbed the “Philippine Clipper” before it had been purchased by the Navy and pressed into service for the war — was destroyed in the accident; all 19 aboard were killed.

For his exceptionally meritorious service in his last assignment, Rear Admiral English was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.


USS English (DD-696), an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer in commission from 1944 to 1970, was named in his honor.


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

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