Forrestal, James Vincent.

Back to all people

- Medals

Forrestal, James Vincent
united statesgovernment
Forrestal, James Vincent, born 15-02-1892 in Beacon, New York, was the last Cabinet-level United States Secretary of the Navy and the first United States Secretary of Defense. The youngest son of James Forrestal, an Irish immigrant who dabbled in politics. His mother, the former Mary Anne Toohey (herself the daughter of another Irish immigrant) raised him as a devout Catholic. During his youth, Forrestal was an amateur boxer. After graduating from high school at the age of 16, in 1908, he spent the next three years working for a trio of newspapers: the Matteawan Evening Journal, the Mount Vernon Argus and the Poughkeepsie News Press. When World War I broke out, he enlisted in the Navy and ultimately became a Naval Aviator, training with the Royal Flying Corps in Canada. During the final year of the war, Forrestal spent much of his time in Washington, D.C., at the office of Naval Operations, while completing his flight training. He eventually reached the rank of Lieutenant. Forrestal was a compulsive workaholic, skilled administrator, pugnacious, introspective, shy, philosophic, solitary, and emotionally insecure. Navy Secretary James V. Forrestal, who succeeded Secretary Knox in April, 1944, tours the Marshall Islands in a jeep during the period when he was Undersecretary of the Navy. In the jeep with Forrestal is Admiral Raymaond Ames Spruance,  center, of Fifth Fleet fame. The Marines had just occupied Namur and Roi Islands.    President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed Forrestal a special administrative assistant on 22-06-1940. Forrestal proved highly effective at mobilizing domestic industrial production for the war effort. Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Ernst Joseph King wanted to control logistics and procurement, but Forrestal prevailed. In September 1942, to get a grasp on the reports for material his office was receiving, he made a tour of naval operations in the Southwest Pacific and a stop a Pearl Harbor. Returning to Washington, D.C., he made his report to President Roosevelt, Secretary of War Henry Lewis Stimson.   Stimson concerned with supplying Operation Torch in North Africa, told Forrestal, “Jim, you’re got a bad case of localitis.” Forrestal shot back in a heated manner, “Mr. Secretary, if the marines on Guadalcanal were wiped out, the reaction of the country will give you a bad case of localitis in the seat of your pants. He became Secretary of the Navy on 19-05-1944, after his immediate superior Secretary Frank Knox died from a heart attack. Forrestal led the Navy through the closing year of the war and the painful early years of demobilization that followed. As Secretary, Forrestal introduced a policy of racial integration in the Navy. Over the next year, his mental and physical condition deteriorated rapidly.

Death and burial ground of Forrestal, James Vincent.

On 22-05-1949, at the age of 57, after several prior attempts at suicide and after copying a passage from Sophocles’ “Chorus From Ajax,” he jumped from the 16th floor hall window. He is buried with his wife Josephine, born Ogden, who died age 77 in 1976, on Arlington Cemetery in Section 30. In Section 30 also the Lieutenant General, Commander of the 26th Infantry Division, Willard Paul. Close by the graves of Major General. Commander 116th and 29th Division, D-Day, Charles Canham Canham
, Fleet Deputy Chief Operation, Richard Stanilaus Edwards, Rear Admiral, Frank Akers, Lieutenant General, Commanded the 5th Marine Division  in the occupation of Japan, Thomas Bourke and Lieutenant General, Commander 2nd Armoured Division, Ted Brooks, Infantry Major General, Commander 24th Infantry Division, Kenneth Cramer, Major General, Commander 9th Infantry Division, Louis Craig, Air Force Lieutenant General, Commander 12th and 15th U.S. Air Force, Ira Eaker, Navy Admiral, Okinawa Campain, Louis Denfeld, and General, Deputy Chief of Staff, Bomb on Hiroshima, Thomas Handy, 1* Brigadier General, assistant Commanding General 85th Division  Lee Saunders Gerow and 1* General Lieutenant, Commanding Officer Artillery, 11th Airborne Division, Francis Willian Farrell. Also a remembrance stone for the, age 44, missing in action Brigadier General, Charles Keerans the assistant commander of the 82nd Airborne Division under General Matthew Bunker Ridgway.


Share on :