Thomas Bayne Denegre was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on February 20, 1920, son of Thomas Bayne and Alma Baldwin Denegre. He attended New Orleans Academy and while at Tulane University he enlisted in the US Naval Reserve in February 1937. During the next nineteen months he had training in the Naval Reserve Unit (active), New Orleans, and from September 1938 until February 1941 was a member of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Unit at Tulane. He then reported to the Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School at the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, where he was under instruction for three months.
He was commissioned Ensign, DV(G), USNR, on May 15, 1941, upon graduation from Midshipmen’s School, and was promoted to Lieutenant (junior grade) in June 1942; to Lieutenant in March 1943 and Lieutenant Commander in October 1945. He transferred from the Naval Reserve to the US Navy in July 1946, and attained the rank of Commander in July 1951. In September 1959 he was selected for promotion to the rank of Captain, date of rank to be determined later.
Commencing active duty in May 1941, he served from June until September 1941 as Assistant Engineer Officer and Electrical Officer of USS Narwhal (SS-167), and the next few months he was a student at the US Submarine School at New London, Connecticut. He rejoined the Narwhal in January 1942, shortly after the outbreak of World War II, and as her Assistant Engineer and Electrical Officer participated in one War Patrol in the Pacific Area. From May 1942 until September 1943 he was on board USS Salmon (SS-183), in which he served the first nine months as Assistant Engineer and Electrical Officer, and the latter seven months, while participating in five War Patrols in the Pacific as Engineer, Electrical Officer and Diving Officer.
From October 1943 until March 1944 he had duty at the Electric Boat Company, Groton, Connecticut, in connection with fitting out USS Cavalla (SS-244), and from her commissioning until June 1944 served as that submarine’s Engineer, Electrical and Diving Officer. For two months thereafter he was Executive Officer and Navigator of the Cavalla, during four War Patrols of that vessel, which was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for her First War Patrol. He is entitled to the Ribbon for that Citation, and was personally awarded the Silver Star Medal with the following citation:
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Assistant Approach Officer on board the USS Cavalla during her First War Patrol in enemy Japanese controlled waters of the Southwest Pacific War Area from May 31 to August 3, 1944. Demonstrating outstanding ability during this period, Lieutenant Denegre rendered valuable service in fire control operations, contributing materially to the sinking of a large enemy carrier…” (He was her Executive Officer when she torpedoed and sank the 29,000-ton Jap aircraft carrier Shokaku during the Battle of the Philippines.)
He served as Division Engineer on the Staff of Commander Submarine Division 222 from April to July 1945, and in August reported for instruction at the General Line School, Annapolis, Maryland. After graduation he was assigned to USS Pomfret (SS-391), as Executive Officer and Navigator, and when detached in January 1948 after taking part in Asiatic occupation operations. He was Aide to the Commandant of the Eighth Naval District, Headquarters at New Orleans, Louisiana, from March 1948 until December 1949, and in January 1950 he joined USS Clamagore (SS-343) as Executive Officer and Navigator, Six months later he became her Commanding Officer, and under his command until August 1952 that submarine won the Battle Efficiency Citation by Commander Submarines, Atlantic Fleet, for 1951.
Returning to shore duty, he reported in September 1952 to the Navy Department, Washington, DC, where he served until June 1955 as Head of the Plans Review Section, Submarine Warfare Branch, in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Fleet Operations, Readiness, Research and Development). He left the Navy Department for duty as Operations Officer on the Staff of the Commander Submarine Squadron EIGHT, and in July 1956 was transferred to command of Submarine Division 81. After a year in that command he reported in August 1957 to the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Washington, DC, where he was a student until June 1958.
The same months he returned to the Navy Department for duty as Head, Submarine, Submarine Tender and Submarine Reserve Ship Section, Fleet Maintenance Division, in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (FORR&D).
In addition to the Silver Star Medal and the Ribbon for the Presidential Unit Citation to the USS Cavalla, Commander Denegre has the American Defense Service Medal with one star; the American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal, Asia Clasp; China Service Medal (extended); National Defense Service Medal; the Philippine Defense and Philippine Liberation Ribbons with one star each; and the Philippine Independence Ribbon. He also wears the Submarine Combat Insignia with seven stars.
He is a member of Kappa Alpha Order and is interested in sailing and yacht racing. His principal hobby is cabinet work.
He died April 28, 2012.