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Rear Admiral John Jerome Gaffney,
US Navy


1891 - 1947


Rear Admiral Gaffney, born in Charleston, South Carolina, on 5 March 1891, was educated at the College of Charleston and St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York. While in college he played Varsity Baseball for four years, was manager of the Football Team, was president of his class and of the student body. He was commissioned Assistant Paymaster in the United States Navy with rank of Ensign, 20 September 1912; had reached the rank of Lieutenant early in 1917; was promoted to temporary Lieutenant Commander during World War I, and was commissioned in that rank in 1921; and subsequently advanced through the grades to Pay Director, with the rank of Rear Admiral, on 15 September 1942.

Following a period of instruction in the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, Navy Department, Washington DC during October and November 1912, Rear Admiral Gaffney was assigned duty as Pay Officer of USS Salem. Detached in August 1913, he proceeded to Asiatic Station for duty from October 1913 to March 1916, serving first in the USS Pompey, operating with the First Torpedo Flotilla, commanded by Admiral (then Lieutenant) Raymond A. Spruance, USN, and later as Supply Officer of the cruiser Cincinnati. Detached on 13 March 1916, he returned to the United States and upon completion of temporary duty in the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, reported to the Navy Yard, Charleston, South Carolina on 24 April 1916.

Rear Admiral Gaffney served as Officer in Charge of the Experimental Clothing Factory, Navy Yard, Charleston, SC with additional duty as accounting officer, from April 1916 through the major part of the World War. He received a special Letter of Commendation from the Secretary of the Navy for service in that assignment. On 22 September 1918, shortly before the signing of the Armistice on 11 November 1918, he reported for duty in the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts as Officer-in-Charge of Overseas Transportation and later Personnel Officer of the Supply Corps and served until 27 December 1918.

Sailing on the USS Henderson, he reported 29 January 1919 for duty as Aide on Staff and Financial Advisor to the Governor of the Virgin Islands, and had additional duty from 10 December 1921 as Government Secretary, Virgin Islands. Relieved of duty in the Virgin Islands on 16 July 1923, he returned to Hampton Roads, thence to New York Navy Yard to serve as Senior Assistant Supply Officer until 1 July 1925, at which time he was transferred to Headquarters Sixth Naval District, Charleston, South Carolina for duty as Accounting Officer.

From May 1926 until November 1928, Rear Admiral Gaffney had consecutive service in USS Dobbin first as Supply Officer, later as Accounting Officer, and in the USS California as Accounting Officer. Another tour of duty at the Navy Yard, Charleston, South Carolina, preceded service as Supply Officer of the aircraft carrier Saratoga from May 1932, until February 1934, after which he served successively as Senior Assistant Supply Officer in the Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts, until 15 June 1936, and as Officer in Charge, Field Services Division, Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, Navy Department, until 24 May 1939.

He became Supply Officer on the Staff of Fleet Admiral (then Vice Admiral) W. F. Halsey, Jr., USN, Commander Aircraft, Battle Force, USS Yorktown, Flagship, on 24 June 1939 and handled supplies for the growing fleet of aircraft carriers until 10 July 1941, when he became Supply Officer of the Navy Yard, Pearl Harbor, with additional duty as District Supply Officer, Fourteenth Naval District. On 7 July 1943, he attained the rank of Rear Admiral, and in that rank served as District Supply Officer, Fourteenth Naval District, with additional duty as Supply Officer in Command, Naval Supply Depot, Pearl Harbor and Supply Officer, Navy Yard, P.H. He was assigned further additional duty on 22 September 1943 in connection with inspection of Supply Corps Activities, Pacific Area, Pearl Harbor, T.H. In these assignments, Rear Admiral Gaffney supervised the funneling of supplies from the vast storage areas in the Fourteenth Naval District to the ships of the Navy in the Pacific, and to outlying bases and all naval shore establishments sustaining the fleet. Under his supervision the supply activities of the Fourteenth Naval District increased a thousand fold. His ability to plan the problems of logistics far ahead of actual need played a major part in the successes of our Pacific Fleet throughout the war period, and for his successful handling of the logistic demands of modern warfare, he was awarded the Legion of Merit, with the following citation:

Legion of Merit: "For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as District Supply Officer, Fourteenth Naval District from 10 July 1941 to 1 August 1945 and as Supply Officer, Navy Yard, Pearl Harbor; Coordinator of Naval Procurement; and Inspector of Supply Facilities, Pacific Ocean Areas at intervening times during this period. Rear Admiral Gaffney organized and supervised facilities throughout the district so as to insure effective use and distribution of supplies in support of the Fleet, and acted in an advisory capacity to the Commandant on matters pertaining to logistics. His sound judgment, tireless energy, and devotion to duty were material in contributing factors toward the successful prosecution of the war against the Japanese Empire. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

On 20 August 1945, Rear Admiral Gaffney became Supply Officer in Command, Naval Supply Depot, Oakland, California, and in May 1947 he was assigned additional duty as District Supply Officer, 12th Naval District, San Francisco, California. He died on 21 November 1947 at the Naval Hospital, Oakland, California.

In addition to the Legion of Merit, Rear Admiral Gaffney has the Victory Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp, the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal, and the World War Two Victory Medal.

His wife, the former Miss Walmeta Walsh of Charleston, South Carolina, and four children, a son and three daughters, survived him.


Source: Adapted from the biographical sketch for Rear Admiral John Jerome Gaffney, Navy Biography, Navy Office of Information, Internal Relations Division, (OI-430), 1 December 1947; now part of the Modern Biography Files, Navy Department Library, Naval History & Heritage Command.




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