Papers of Captain John Timothee Trezvant O'Neill (USN) aka "Tex"
1916 to 1979Last Updated: September, 2012
Born: Dallas Texas
Graduated United States Naval Academy 1939 (5 years due to a football injury)
Significant Events and/or Sea Stories:
My mother (Drury Dodge Anderson, daughter of a WWI four stacker officer, Berkeley grad.) was my father's second wife. She was, at the time of their meeting (1946-49?), doing work for the OSS regarding the communist elements in China. She was a strong woman and her opinion was always her own. Known acquaintances were the Chennaults (husband and wife) and "Wild Bill" Donovan.
All the following stories were believed by my mother as being true. I would also like to mention that my father did not tell stories willingly. He would tell lighthearted humerous sea stories when pressured socialy, but anything of import was tough to get to.
Tex flew OS2-U Kingfishers off the back of the USS Helena during the battle for Guadacanal. Apparently in the midst of heroism he was noted for numerous flights which entailed landing in groups of Marines in the water due to mishap and then taxiing them to the beach under fire. Apparently he did this to the limits of human endurance. It is unclear which medal, if any, were related to this effort.
During this time he was instructed to take prisoners. Landing in an area (of water) with Japanese he coerced compliance by "popping a few skulls with the 50 caliber". An enemy officer attempted to board his plane and was killed with his .38 pilot's pistol. A code book was obtained intact from this officer. He was told later (I think by Adm. Sherman on whose staff he served after the war) that it helped to break the codes to get Yamamoto shot down.
Tex's flight logs for the Battle of Guadacanal (and later) time period can be found here Log
At some time during this period Tex dropped to 130 (down 50) pounds after suffering from malaria.
Later Tex became CO of VCS-9 (OS2-U Kingfishers) and it's possible/probable that he was the pilot in this action of Febuary 11th 1943:
Another description of the same action:
Tex's final combat duty on the USS Shangri-la as the XO of VBF 85.
The diary speaks for itself.
In the last days of the war Adm. Metzger (check spelling) directly communicated to my father a high level of urgency regarding some of the air strikes on Japan. While not told at the time he later reflected that he thought it was heavy water production.
There is little documentation as to my fathers tour of duty on the USS Philippine Sea (CV-47) during the Korean War. However the book and movie "The Bridges at Toko-Ri" contain many elements of my fathers life. A prime example is the Operation Pinwheel event (aka operation pinhead), which is the use of the fighter aircraft propulsion to dock the carrier.
My mom said the movie put a very kind spin on what really happened as my dad was "completely livid" whenever it was discussed during the time after the war.
Tex's final command was unique, he commanded VFAW-3, a NAVY squadron but reported to NORAD. The airplane was the Douglass F4-D Skyray known for high rate of climb. A newspaper article describing it's operation can be found here. A picture of Tex and one here.
An amusing anecdote regarding the press, which my father despised (WW II Japanese torpedo depth settings). Some reporter from an LA newspaper got a Cessna or something, flew down to TJ or Encinada, then flew back north with a few sacks of flour to scatter around LA. This reporter wrote a fear mongering item in the news about how our southern border could be penetrated by commies at will or some such rot. Sadly my old man was not able to rebut this, despite having pictures of the Cessna going over the border, both north and south, taken from a plane that could turn a Cessna into confetti.
One of my earliest memories is of an airshow at North Island on some guy's shoulders (being 4) and a few people going "here come's your dad, here comes your dad" and this horrendously loud plane goes by, very low, very close (we had good seats), and upside down. Then the voices "there goes your dad, there goes your dad" and a loud boom as it went supersonic.
Tex's idea for an airshow celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea in Sydney Austrailia can be found here:
News Article April 1954
News Article April 1954 Part II
I recently discoverd a short biography in the "Libraette", a company called Librascope's internal newsletter (Jan. 1960) It helped to flesh out some of the details. It can be viewed here on page 3 to the right. Many thanks to the folks at Librascope for perserving and publishing this treat for my family.