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Lawson P. Ramage
Vice Admiral Lawson P. "Red" Ramage
Nickname "Red"
Born (1909-01-19)19 January 1909
Died 15 April 1990(1990-04-15) (aged 81)
Place of birth Monroe Bridge, Massachusetts
Place of death Bethesda, Maryland
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1931–1969
Rank US-O9 insignia.svg Vice Admiral
Commands held USS Trout (SS-202)
USS Parche (SS-384)
Submarine Division Two
Submarine Squadron Six
USS Rankin (AKA-103)
Cruiser Squadron Two
First Fleet
Military Sea Transportation Service
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Medal of Honor
Navy Cross (2)
Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Silver Star Medal
Bronze Star Medal
Navy Commendation Medal (2) with Combat "V"
Combat Action Ribbon

Lawson Paterson "Red" Ramage (19 January 1909 – 15 April 1990) was a vice admiral in the United States Navy and a noted submarine commander during World War II. Ramage was decorated with the Medal of Honor and several other combat decorations during the war. He also served during the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Early life and career[edit | edit source]

Taking his nickname from his hair color,[1] Ramage was born on 19 January 1909, in Monroe Bridge, Massachusetts. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1931, having injured his right eye while wrestling, and was subsequently commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy. From 1931 to 1935, he served aboard several surface ships. He was the navigator of USS Dickerson (DD-157), the engineering officer of USS Lawrence (DD-250), and the radio officer of USS Louisville (CA-28). Unable to pass the submarine physical examination because of his eye injury, Stephen Moore quotes Ramage: "I took the opportunity to memorize the eye chart so that when I returned I had no problem reading off the eye chart" and getting his approval. Confronted with a subsequent eye examination, Ramage relates he passed the eye examination "by just exchanging the card before my right eye and reading with my left eye in both instances." In January 1936, Lieutenant (jg) Ramage reported to the USS S-29 (SS-134); he would then spend most of his career on submarines.[2]

In 1938, Ramage returned to the Naval Academy for postgraduate education. In September 1939, Ramage became executive officer of USS Sands (DD-243), serving until February, 1941. Subsequent duty took him to Hawaii as the force communications and sound officer on the staff of Commander, Submarines Pacific Fleet (ComSubPac).[3]

World War II[edit | edit source]

Ramage was highly decorated for heroism during World War II – the Medal of Honor, two Navy Crosses, and the Silver Star Medal. Ramage was stationed at Pearl Harbor on the staff of the Commander, Submarines, Pacific during the surprise Japanese attack on December 7, 1941.

In early 1942, he served on his first patrol of the war as the navigator of the USS Grenadier (SS-210). He was awarded the Silver Star Medal as a member of the Grenadier's crew for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" while patrolling enemy waters.

In June 1942, Lieutenant Commander Ramage assumed his first command – the USS Trout (SS-202). Under his command, the Trout conducted four war patrols and sank three Japanese ships. He was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism while in command of the USS Trout at Midway, Truk, the Solomons, and the South China Sea. During his first patrol aboard, Trout's fifth, on 28 August 1942 made the first attack that actually scored a hit on a Japanese aircraft carrier, this being Taiyo. Ramage found a virtue in his eye injury:

I didn't have to fool around with the focus knob on the periscope. Before I raised it, I turned the knob all the way to the stop [extreme focus]. When the scope came up, I put my bad eye to the periscope and could see perfectly.[4]

Promoted to Commander before his second patrol, CDR Ramage and Trout intercepted the IJN battleship Kirishima on 12 November 1942. Though he fired five torpedoes, all missed.[5]

On his third patrol, Trout damaged Kyokuyo Maru and Nisshin Maru, and sank the Hirotama Maru. The Hirotama battle was both a torpedo and deck gun engagement. Of the 14 torpedoes Ramage fired, five were duds.[6] He joined other submarine commanders in his criticism of the Mark 14 torpedo.

Ramage's last Trout patrol, her eighth, in March 1943 was a washout. 15 torpedoes fired, only one low order detonation. It was Admiral Christie's view that, "Red had a miss last patrol—many chances and many failures. He is due for a relief and will be sent back to the U.S. for a new boat and rest at the same time."[7]

In May 1943, Ramage assumed command of the new Balao-class submarine, the USS Parche (SS-384). Commissioned in November 1943 at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kitery, Maine, Parche transitioned to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Parche's first patrol, in March 1944, was as part of a U.S. submarine wolfpack with USS Bang and USS Tinosa. The "sub" wolfpack sank seven enemy ships for 35,000 tons; Ramage was credited with two of them for 11,700 tons.[8]

In June 1944, Parche's second patrol was also as part of a wolfpack. This was the submarine patrol that established Ramage's reputation. On July 30, 1944, the wolfpack made contact with an enemy convoy. In the dark hours before dawn on July 31, for forty-eight minutes ("among the wildest of the submarine war"[9])

Ramage cleared the bridge of all personnel except himself and steamed right into the enemy convoy on the surface, maneuvering among the ships and firing nineteen torpedoes. Japanese ships fired back with deck guns and tried to ram his submarine. With consummate seamanship and coolness under fire, Ramage dodged and twisted, returning torpedo fire for gunfire.... the attack on the Japanese convoy by Red Ramage was the talk of the U.S. submarine force. In terms of close-in, furious torpedo shooting, there had never been anything like it before.[9]

CDR Ramage became the first living Medal of Honor recipient for a submariner.[10]

Parche's third patrol, and Ramage's last, was, comparatively, uneventful. No enemy ships were sunk.[11]

World War 2 Summary[edit | edit source]

Summary of CDR Lawson P. Ramage's USS Trout (SS-202) and USS Parche (SS-384) War Patrols
  Departing From Date Days Wartime Credit
JANAC[12] Credit
Patrol Area
Trout-5 Pearl Harbor, TH August 1942 47 1/8,200[13] 1/863[14] -->Brisbane
Via Truk
Trout-6 Brisbane, Australia October 1942 28 zero/zero[15] zero/zero[14] Solomons
Trout-7 Freemantle, Australia December 1942 58 2/10,800[16] 2/4,895[14] Indochina
Trout-8 Freemantle, Australia March 1943 42 zero/zero[17] zero/zero[14] South China Sea
Laid minefields
Parche-1 Pearl Harbor, TH March 1944 56 3/23,900[18] 2/11,719[14] Luzon Strait
Parche-2 Pearl Harbor, TH June 1944 59 4/34,300[19] 2.5/19,204[14] Luzon Strait
Shared 1/2 credit with Steelhead
Parche-3 Pearl Harbor, TH September 1944 77 zero/zero[20] zero/zero[14] Luzon Strait


CDR Ramage's Ranking Compared with Other Top Skippers
Ranking Number of Patrols Ships/Tons
50 7 10/77,200[21] 7.5/36,681[14]


Medal of Honor action[edit | edit source]

On 31 July 1944, Ramage commanded the Parche in a dawn assault on a heavily-escorted Japanese convoy, during which the Parche sank two enemy ships and badly damaged three others. For this action, he received the Medal of Honor, which was formally presented to him by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on 10 January 1945.

His Medal of Honor citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Parche in a predawn attack on a Japanese convoy, 31 July 1944. Boldly penetrating the screen of a heavily escorted convoy, Comdr. Ramage launched a perilous surface attack by delivering a crippling stern shot into a freighter and quickly following up with a series of bow and stern torpedoes to sink the leading tanker and damage the second one. Exposed by the light of bursting flares and bravely defiant of terrific shellfire passing close overhead, he struck again, sinking a transport by two forward reloads. In the mounting fury of fire from the damaged and sinking tanker, he calmly ordered his men below, remaining on the bridge to fight it out with an enemy now disorganized and confused. Swift to act as a fast transport closed in to ram, Comdr. Ramage daringly swung the stern of the speeding Parche as she crossed the bow of the onrushing ship, clearing by less than 50 feet but placing his submarine in a deadly crossfire from escorts on all sides and with the transport dead ahead. Undaunted, he sent 3 smashing "down the throat" bow shots to stop the target, then scored a killing hit as a climax to 46 minutes of violent action with the Parche and her valiant fighting company retiring victorious and unscathed.[22]

Following the presentation, Commander Ramage created a certificate for each sailor in his command. The certificate read:

The Captain wishes to emphasize the fact that the Medal of Honor was accepted from the President of the United States as the Nation's tribute to a fighting ship and her courageous crew. He feels that every officer and man whose loyal cooperation and able assistance contributed to the success of the "Parche" has an equal share in this award which he holds in trust for you. With great pride and respect. Sincerely, L. P. Ramage[23]

The USS Parche was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation (9).

Post-World War II[edit | edit source]

After the war, he continued to serve in command of submarines, being commander of Submarine Division Two and then Commander of Submarine Squadron Six. From 1953–1954, he was commanding officer of the amphibious cargo ship USS Rankin (AKA-103). Following ascent to flag rank in July 1956, Admiral Ramage was on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations, and then commander of Cruiser Division Two. In 1963, serving as Deputy Commander of Submarine Forces, Atlantic Fleet, Admiral Ramage led the search operations for the nuclear submarine USS Thresher (SSN-593) that sank in the Atlantic Ocean near Boston, MA. That same year he was promoted to vice admiral, and became Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for fleet operations and readiness. Vice Admiral Ramage was Commander, First Fleet, from 1964 to 1966 during the buildup to the Vietnam War. In 1967, he become Commander, Military Sea Transportation Service. He retired from the Navy in 1969.[10]

Personal life[edit | edit source]

On 2 November 1935,[2] Ramage married Barbara Alice Pine, who was the daughter of U.S. Coast Guard Vice Admiral James Pine. They had two sons and two daughters.

Ramage died in his home at Bethesda, Maryland, in 1990, having succumbed to cancer. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Posthumous honors[edit | edit source]

The guided missile destroyer USS Ramage (DDG-61) was named for him in 1994. Several submarine-related facilities were also named after him including the administrative building (Ramage Hall) of the Submarine Training Facility in Norfolk, Virginia and the headquarters building at Naval Submarine Base New London on August 20, 2010.[24][25]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Moore (2011) p. 21
  2. 2.0 2.1 Moore (2011) p. 22
  3. Moore (2011) p. 23
  4. Moore (2011) p. 24
  5. Moore (2011) p. 25
  6. Moore (2011) p. 26
  7. Moore (2011) p. 27
  8. Blair (1975) p. 599
  9. 9.0 9.1 Blair (1975) p. 681
  10. 10.0 10.1 Submarine Hero – Lawson P. "Red" Ramage
  11. Blair (1975) p. 746
  12. Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee. Blair rounded entries in his tables (see Blair p. 900, bottom) while Roscoe's tables are an accurate transcription of the JANAC report.
  13. Blair (1975) p. 918
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 14.7 Roscoe (1949) p. 562
  15. Blair (1975) p. 920
  16. Blair (1975) p. 922
  17. Blair (1975) p. 925
  18. Blair (1975) p. 944
  19. Blair (1975) p. 951
  20. Blair (1975) p. 958
  21. Blair (1975) pp. 984-987
  22. Medal of Honor recipients – World War II (M–S)
  23. Moore (2011) p. 8
  24. Buildings Honor Submariners
  25. Sub base dedicates HQ building to WWII hero

References[edit | edit source]

Further reading[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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