Admiral Thomas Charles Hart
Admiral Thomas C. Hart
Admiral Thomas Charles Hart (Service No. 2387) was born on 12 June 1877 in Davison, Genesee County, Michigan, the son of John Mansfield Hart and Isabella Ramsey Hart. In 1897, he graduated 13th in his class of 47 from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland (Alumni No. 2273). He was commissioned in 1899. He graduated from the Naval War College in 1923 and from the Army War College in 1924. He was also a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff School and the National War College.
In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, he served in Cuban waters, as part of the blockade, aboard the messenger boat USS Vixen. During July 1898, along with Theodore Roosevelt, he fought in the Battle of Santiago.
Later in his career, he served as a Lieutenant and Division Officer aboard the Battleship, USS Missouri (BB-11) and as Commander of the torpedo boat destroyer, USS Lawrence (DD-8). He was qualified for Command of Submarines and during World War I, he was assigned as a commander of submarine operations in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as Director of Submarines at the Navy Department.
After World War I, he commanded the Battleship, USS Mississippi (BB-41) and later Submarine Divisions, Battle Fleet, and Submarine Force, U.S. Fleet. He was promoted to Rear Admiral in Sept 1929. From 1931 through 1934, he was the Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy.
He was promoted to Admiral in July 1939 and became Commander-in-Chief of the Asiatic Fleet. The USS Houston (CA-30) became Admiral Hart's flagship on 19 November 1940. He remained aboard until 9 July 1941, when he shifted his flag to the yacht USS Isabel (PY-10). Admiral Hart was in Manila, Philippine Islands when the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941. On 26 December 1941, two-days after General Douglas MacArthur left for Australia, Admiral Hart left Manila for Soerabaja, Java in the submarine USS Shark (SS-174).
The tense Far Eastern diplomatic situation finally degenerated into war, and in January 1942, although past retirement age, Admiral Hart became the Allied Naval Commander of the American-British-Dutch-Australian Forces (ABDA). After fighting a desperate defensive withdrawal, he was replaced, for political reasons, by Admiral C. E. L. Helfrich of the Dutch Navy. His command being obliterated in the subsequent naval operations, he was detached and retired in the rank of admiral in July 1942. He returned to active duty in Aug 1942 as a member of the U.S. Navy's General Board and served as Chairman of the U.S. Navy's Board of Awards until October 1942.
During 1942, from his farm in Connecticut, Admiral Hart wrote several articles for the Saturday Evening Post criticizing the United States' preparations at Pearl Harbor prior to the Japanese attack there. In early 1944, he assisted in the study of the Pearl Harbor disaster.
In February 1945, he again retired from active duty to fill a vacancy, due to the death of the late Senator Francis T. Maloney, in the U.S. Senate from Connecticut. He was appointed by Governor Raymond Baldwin, a Republican. He did not run for election to a full term.
He returned to Sharon, Connecticut where he lived until his death at the age of 94 on 4 July 1971. Funeral services were held at the First Church of Christ Congregational in Sharon, Connecticut. On 8 July 1971, he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA (Grave 5184-A). His wife is buried with him and his son, Lieutenant Commander Hart, is buried nearby.
His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal (for World War I service), received from President Roosevelt a Gold Star in lieu of the Second Distinguished Service Medal, Spanish Campaign Medal, Sampson Medal with six bars, Mexican Service Medal, World War I Victory Medal with Submarine Clasp, China Service Medal, American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Order of the Orange-Nassau with sword by the Government of the Netherlands.
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