Rear Admiral Henry Maston Mullinnix

ear Admiral H. M. Mullinnix USN, born July 4, 1892 in Spencer, Indiana, was graduated from the grammar and high schools of Attica, Indiana, and attended Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana, for one year as a member of the Class of 1915, before his appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy from his native state in 1912. He was graduated from the Academy and commissioned Ensign in June 1916, standing first in his class. During WWI he was given temporary promotions to the ranks of Lieutenant (junior grade) and Lieutenant in 1917, being commissioned in those ranks in 1919 and 1920 respectively, Subsequently he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander on July 1, 1926; to Commander on June 30, 1943, ranking from November 13, 1942.

fter graduating from the Academy in 1916, Rear Admiral Mullinnix reported to the destroyer USS Balch. Balch joined the United States Destroyer Force based in Queenstown, Oreland, in November 1917, and during the remainder of WWI was employed in patrol and escort duty in the war zone.

ear Admiral Mullinnix returned to the United States in September 1918. After duty in connection with fitting out USS Gridley as the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, California, he served as Engineer Officer of that destroyer from her commissioning on August 27, 1918 until March 1920, when he was transferred to duty in connection with fitting out US Brooks at the New York Shipbuilding Company, Camden, New Jersey, serving as Engineer Officer from her commissioning on August 24, 1920 until May 13, 1921.

n 1921-22, Rear Admiral Mullinnix completed a postgraduate course of instruction in aeronautical engineering at the Postgraduate School, Annapolis, Maryland, and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, receiving the degree of Master of Science in June, 1923. He then took flight training at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, being designated as a naval aviator on January 11, 1924.

fter duty in the Engine section of the Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department, Washington, D.C. from June 1924 until September 1927, Rear Admiral Mullinnix reported for duty in connection with fitting out USS Saratoga (CV 3), and served aboard her from commissioning on November 16, 1927 until June 27, 1929, first as Assembly Repair Officer and later as Assistant Air Officer. During the following year he commanded Bombing Squadron Two, Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet, which was based on Saratoga. From June 1930 until June 1932 he served on the staff of the Naval Station, Pensacola, and after a year’s duty on the Staff of the Commander, Aircraft, Scouting Force, was Navigator of USS Wright for a year, and was Executive Officer of the Fleet Air Base, Pearl Harbor, T. H. from June 1934 until May 1937, when he returned to USS Wright for duty as Executive Officer until June 1938. During the following year he served as Aviation Officer on the Staff of the Commander, Battle Force, and for a year thereafter he was Executive Officer of the Naval Air Station, San Diego, CA. On November 1, 1940 he reported at the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, NJ, for duty in connection with fitting out USS Albemarle, seaplane tender. He Commanded Albemarle from her commissioning on December 20, 1940 until Mach 4, 1941.

ear Admiral Mullinnix commanded Patrol Wing, Support Force (later re-designated Patrol Wing Seven) from March 3, 1941 to March 21, 1942, and for services in this command, was awarded the Letter of Commendation by the Secretary of the Navy, with authorization to wear the Commendation Ribbon.

e served as Air Officer, Eastern Sea Frontier from March 1942 until March 1943. For his achievements during this period, he was awarded the Letter of Commendation by the War Department.

eturning to sea duty, Rear Admiral Mullinnix (in the rank as Captain) commanded the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga from April 7, 1943 until August 22, 1943, when he was transferred to duty as Commander of a Carrier Division with the rank of Rear Admiral.

ear Admiral Mullinnix was aboard USS Liscombe Bay as Task Force Commander when she was torpedoed and sunk by an enemy submarine off Makin Island in the Gilbert Islands area on November 24, 1943. He was reported missing in action following the catastrophe and was officially declared dead a year later. For his services in November 1943, he was awarded the Legion of Merit, with the following citation:


"For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service to the Government of the United States as Commander of a Carrier Air Support Group prior to and during the amphibious invasion of Japanese-held Makin Atoll, Gilbert Islands form November 1 to 24, 1943. Displaying outstanding initiative and superior executive ability, Rear Admiral Mullinnix skillfully conducted anti-submarine and combat air patrols supporting our landing operations on this strongly defended island, and through his brilliant leadership, enabled escort carriers to carry out a well coordinated, aggressive attack against the enemy. Rear Admiral Mullinnix’s tireless efforts, meticulous attention to detail and loyal devotion to the accomplishment of an extremely difficult and hazardous mission contributed materially to our subsequent capture of this strategic area."

Rear Admiral Mullinnix was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal.

n addition to the Legion of Merit, the Commendation Ribbon and the Purple Heart Medal, Rear Admiral Mullinnix held the Victory Medal with Destroyer Clasp, the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal, and the WWII Victory Medal.

n airfield on Buota Island, Tarawa, in the Gilbert Islands, was named Mullinnix Field in his honor.

ear Admiral Mullinnix’s brother, Rear Admiral Allen Prather Mullinnix, USN, Ret., was graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with the Class of 1920 in June 1919 and served continuously in the U.S. Navy until his retirement.

ear Admiral Mullinnix is survived by his wife, Mrs. Kathryn F. Mullinnix, who resides in Stockton, California. Mrs. Mullinnix served as sponsor for the destroyer named in honor of her husband, USS Mullinnix (DD-944), and christened the ship with her husband’s name on 18 March 1957.

The Sinking of the USS Liscome Bay CVE-56

Mrs. Kathryn Mullinnix

Mullinnix Family Tree (PDF File)
(Courtesy of the Mullinnix Family)

Courtesy of Dave Haines and Pete Labyak


© 2003 by Frank Wood, All rights reserved.