Naval Historical Center
805 Kidder Breese Street SE
Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5060
Onnie Peter Lattu was born in Hitola, Finland, on 24 April 1906. He attended Fort Bragg Union High School, Fort Bragg, California. He joined the first NROTC unit, under the command of Captain Chester W. Nimitz, when he attended the University of California at Berkeley in 1926. While at Berkeley, he was a member of the Quarterdeck Club, Sigma Phi Sigma fraternity, and Scabbard and Blade. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in June 1930, and was commissioned as an Ensign in the Naval Reserve on 19 June 1930. He transferred to the U.S. Navy on 3 December 1930.
He served briefly as the Assistant Supply Officer while under instruction at Navy Yard Mare Island. In February 1931, he joined USS New York as Assistant Supply Officer. In November, he was transferred to USS Saratoga for similar duty, and from January 1932 to September 1933, he was in USS Augusta, flagship of the Commander, Scouting Force, as Disbursing Officer and Division Officer. He then had a tour of duty at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, where he served as Officer in Charge, Issue Division; Officer in Charge, Posting Section; and Officer in Charge, Shipping Receiving and Waterfront.
From November 1935 to September 1936, he was assigned to Navy Yard Cavite as Officer in Charge, Stock Upkeep and Receiving and Loading Officer. He then returned to USS Augusta in which he served as Disbursing and Division Officer until November 1937. At the time, Augusta was Admiral Harry E. Yarnell's flagship of the Asiatic Fleet. In January 1938, Lattu reported to the Navy Department, Washington, D.C., where he served until July 1940 as Officer in Charge of the Requisition Section, Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, and during that period had additional duty as a White House Aide.
In August 1940, Lattu was sent to the American Embassy, Berlin, Germany, as Assistant Naval Attaché, also being attached to American Legations in Madrid, Spain; Rome, Italy; Stockholm, Sweden; and Vichy, France. After the United States entered World War II in December 1941, he was interned with other military attaches in Germany until the diplomatic exchange of internees was arranged in May 1942. At that point, he returned to the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts in June 1942, and served until March 1944 as Officer in Charge, Field Operations Branch; Officer in Charge, Requisition and Order Section, Maintenance Division; and a member of the Selection Board. He was responsible for the Navy's leadership in the fields of Materials Handling and Packaging and Preservation. During that tour of duty he again served as Aide to the White House.
Reporting in September 1945 to Commander, Fifth Fleet, he served until June 1946 as Fleet Supply Officer on the Staff, with additional duty as the Assistant Logistics Officer. During the two years to follow, he served as Deputy Director of Material and Supply, Bureau of Supplies and Accounts. For ten months in 1948-1949, he attended the Strategy and Logistics Course at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, and in June 1949, he reported as Fleet and Force Supply Officer on the Staffs of Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, and Admiral Francis C. Denebrink, Commander Service Force, Pacific. These commands were responsible for the logistic support of the Fleet and Overseas Bases during the Korean War.
Detached from staff duty in July 1952, he reported in September of that year as Commanding Officer of the Naval Supply Depot, Newport, Rhode Island, with collateral duty as Staff Supply Officer for the Naval Base there. On 29 November 1954, he reported as Commanding Officer, Ships Parts Control Center, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, where he remained until February 1956, when he became Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts for Transportation, Navy Department. On 1 July 1955, Lattu was promoted to Rear Admiral, to rank from 1 July 1956. In May 1956, he was assigned temporary duty with the Military Petroleum Supply Agency, Washington D.C., and on 19 August 1956, he became Executive Director of that Agency.
On 25 August 1961, he reported as Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts for Transportation and Facilities, Navy Department and in July 1964, he became Director of the Office of Oil and Gas, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for his service in that office.
On 1 December 1965, Rear Admiral Lattu transferred to the Retired List of the U.S. Navy. He remained as the Director of the Office of Oil and Gas in the Department of the Interior until 1969, when he became a director on the board of the Cities Services Company. Even after his final retirement, Rear Admiral Lattu remained highly involved with the petroleum industry, focusing upon the Saudi Arabian oil fields in the 1980s and 1990s.
In addition to the Legion of Merit, Admiral Lattu earned the American Defense Service Medal, Base Clasp; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal, Asia Clasp; China Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Korean Service Medal; and the United Nations Service Medal.
Scope and Content Note
The Papers of Rear Admiral Onnie Peter Lattu consist of documents, publications, memoranda, news clippings, and information guides the Rear Admiral collected during his service as the Director of the Office of Oil and Gas in the Department of the Interior, as well as other materials related to the petroleum industry after his retirement from public service. This collection is principally concerned with the petroleum industry and its relationship to the United States.
The collection is arranged in two series. Series I is Rear Admiral Lattu's collected publications. They range from official histories such as A History of the Petroleum Administration for War, 1941-1945 to informal histories like Oil Men in Washington to collected and bound documents dealing with a certain topic such as the petroleum emergency of 1967.
Series II is a subject file containing various material kept by Rear Admiral Lattu. Among these subjects are briefings for the incoming Nixon Administration in 1969, memoranda discussing new Interior Secretary Hickel, reports discussing the 1973 oil crisis and other pertinent material to the petroleum industry.
This collection should be cited as Papers of Rear Admiral Onnie P. Lattu, Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C.
Subject Headings (LCSH)
United States. Navy--History--Sources.
United States. Navy--Officers.
United States. Dept. of the Interior.
2.5 cubic feet
23 July 2002