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Thomas L. Sprague

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Thomas L. Sprague

Thomas Lamison Sprague
Thomas L. Sprague
Born (1894-10-02)October 2, 1894
Lima, Ohio
Died September 17, 1972(1972-09-17) (aged 77)
Chula Vista, California
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1917–1952
Rank Vice Admiral
Commands held USS Montgomery (DD-121)
Scouting Squadron 6
USS Charger (AVG-30)
USS Intrepid (CV-11)
Carrier Division 22
Task Group 77.4 / Task Unit 77.4.1 ("Taffy I")
Carrier Division 11
Carrier Division 3
Task Force 38.1
Pacific Fleet Air Force
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Navy Cross
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit with Combat "V" and gold star[1]

Thomas Lamison Sprague (October 2, 1894 – September 17, 1972) was a vice admiral of the United States Navy, who served during World War II as commander of the aircraft carrier Intrepid (CV-11) and took part in the battles of Guam, Leyte Gulf and Okinawa.


  • Naval Academy and World War I 1
  • Inter-war years 2
  • World War II 3
  • Post-war career and death 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Naval Academy and World War I

Born in Lima, Ohio, Sprague graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1917 (although no relation to Admiral Clifton "Ziggy" Sprague, the two both attended the Naval Academy, later graduating from the same class). He served aboard the protected cruiser Cleveland (C-19) assigned to the trans-Atlantic convoy from June 1917 until April 1918 and, after serving on shore duty for a brief period, Sprague assisted in the official commission of the destroyer Montgomery (DD-121) in July. As a member of the ship's anti-submarine patrol, Sprague would eventually come to command the Montgomery from January to November 1920.[2]

Inter-war years

After participating in naval flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Sprague served as a staff officer under Pacific Air commander Admiral H.V. Butler from 1921 to 1923. In 1926, Sprague was transferred to the battleship Maryland (BB-46) serving with Observation Squadron 1 for two years before being stationed at the Naval Air Station San Diego in 1928.[2]

Between 1931 and 1936, Sprague served as commander of Scouting Squadron 6, director of the Aeronautical Engine Laboratory at the Naval Aircraft Factory in Philadelphia, and air officer on board the carrier Saratoga (CV-3) before being reassigned as to Pensacola as superintendent of Naval Air Training from 1937 to 1940.[2]

World War II

Serving as executive officer on board the Ranger (CV-4) on the Neutrality Patrol in the Atlantic for a year, Sprague helped commission the escort carrier Charger (AVG-30) and commanded the vessel during training missions in the Chesapeake from February to December 1942.[2]

After serving staff duty from January to June 1943, Sprague commissioned the Intrepid (CV-11) in August, and commanded the aircraft carrier in raids against the Truk and Marshall Islands during the first two months of 1944.[2]

Promoted to Rear Admiral in June, Sprague commanded Carrier Division 22 which covered the assault on Guam from July–August and Morotai in September. In command of Task Group 77.4 and Task Unit 77.4.1 ("Taffy 1") during the Battle of Leyte Gulf from October 24–25, Sprague briefly commanded Pacific training carriers under Carrier Division 11, before leading Carrier Division 3 off Okinawa from April–June 1945. He commanded Task Force 38.1 during the final air operations against Japan by the war's end.[2]

Post-war career and death

Sprague was named deputy chief, then chief, of the Bureau of Naval Personnel in 1946 serving until his promotion to Vice Admiral in August 1949. Appointed commander of the Pacific Fleet Air Force in October, Sprague would hold this post until his retirement in April 1952. He briefly returned to active duty to negotiate with the Philippine government over the status of U.S. air bases in 1956.

Sprague died at Chula Vista, California on September 17, 1972.[3]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f
  3. ^
  • Reynolds, Clark G. Famous American Admirals. New York, 1978.

External links

  • The Battle Off Samar - Taffy III at Leyte Gulf by Robert Jon Cox
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