THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Friday, May 12, 1995 TAG: 9505120443 SECTION: FRONT PAGE: A14 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: BY JACK DORSEY, STAFF WRITER LENGTH: Medium: 82 lines
No one at Atlantic Fleet headquarters can find the ``Jerauld Wright Award'' plaque today.
In a border embellished with sharks and starfish and boats, it bore the motto: ``Hunt 'em. Find 'em. Stay With 'em. Exhaust 'em.''
It hung on a wall for at least a decade during the height of the Cold War, when Adm. Jerauld Wright's Navy hunted unidentified submarines - mainly Soviet - with a velocity that has slowed considerably today.
Wright, who died April 27 at his home in Washington at the age of 96, made a unique promise to his ship commanders and their crews during the era he commanded the Atlantic Fleet and NATO forces out of Norfolk. That was between 1954 and 1960, but the offer was good even after his retirement.
To the Navy unit that stayed with a Soviet - or any other unidentified submarine contact - until it was forced to surface for air, would go a case of whiskey, Wright promised.
Not just any whiskey, either.
``Jack Daniels Old No. 7 brand of quality Tennessee sour mash corn whiskey made as our fathers made it for seven generations at the oldest registered whiskey distillery in the United States (established 1866),'' read Wright's order on the plaque.
He presented such a gift at least three times.
The first case was shared between the submarine Grenadier and aircraft from Patrol Squadron 5. They surfaced a Russian submarine on May 29, 1959.
The second was Oct. 29, 1962, given to the destroyer Charles P. Cecil, which chased a Soviet sub throughout the Caribbean for nearly two days during the Cuban missile crisis.
The third occurred off Gibraltar in 1967, but details were never released.
Those were the days when diesel-powered submarines were prominent in both fleets. Submarines had to surface routinely, either for air or to recharge batteries.
Today's nuclear powered subs remain submerged for months on end.
Wright's death last month and his memorial service at the Fort Myer Post Chapel May 1 stirred some of this warrior/diplomat's legacies.
He retired in 1960, after 42 years in the Navy, and was named ambassador to Taiwan.
He was born June 4, 1898, in Amherst, Mass. In 1917, he became the youngest person to graduate from the Naval Academy. Between the world wars, he saw service aboard destroyers, cruisers and battleships with the Atlantic, Pacific and Asiatic fleets. He also was naval aide to President Calvin Coolidge from 1924 to 1926 and to President Herbert Hoover from 1929 to 1931.
In late 1942, he was a captain on Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower's staff, helping in the invasion of North Africa and other operations. That year, he also accompanied Army Gen. Mark Clark aboard a submarine to Algeria, where they had secret meetings with French officials.
They unsuccessfully attempted to get the French to welcome the Anglo-American forces that would hit the beaches in operation TORCH. Adm. Wright later commanded the operation and accompanied the submarine that secretly evacuated French army Gen. Henri Giraud and his staff from southern France.
In December 1943, he went to the Pacific, where he commanded the light cruiser Santa Fe with the fast carriers of the 3rd and 5th Fleets. He participated in the fighting for Kwajalein, Saipan and Okinawa, and fought in both battles of the Philippine Sea and in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
He became commander of American naval forces in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean in 1952 and, two years later, came to Norfolk for his last command before retiring in 1960.
He immediately was recalled to work with the Central Intelligence Agency. He held that post until serving as ambassador to Taiwan from 1963 to 1965.
Wright subsequently served as a consultant to the State Department and he contributed articles to the Naval Institute Proceedings and other publications.
Survivors include his wife, the former Phillis B. Thompson, whom he married in 1938 and who lives in Washington; a son, William Mason Wright of Arlington; and a daughter, Marion Jerauld Wright of Denver. ILLUSTRATION: Photo
Adm. Jerauld Wright commanded the Atlantic Fleet and NATO forces out
of Norfolk between 1954 and 1960.
KEYWORDS: DEATH OBITUARY by CNB