Naval History and Heritage Command

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Van Voorhis, Bruce A.

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Commander, USN, (1908-1943)

Commander Bruce A. Van Voorhis, USN, (1908-1943)

Bruce Avery Van Voorhis was born on 29 January 1908 in Aberdeen, Washington. He was appointed from Nevada to the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated an Ensign in June 1929. Reporting to USS Mississippi, he served on board that battleship until departing in November 1930 for aviation training at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida. Designated a Naval Aviator in the Fall of 1931, he was then ordered to Observation Squadron 4B (VO-4B) on board USS Maryland. In June 1932, Van Voorhis was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade. Two years later, he was assigned to Bombing Squadron 5B (VB-5B) on board USS Ranger, later transferring to Bombing Squadron 2B (VB-2B) on board USS Saratoga.

In July 1935, Van Voorhis arrived at the Panama Canal Zone for duty with Patrol Squadron 2F (VP-2F). Two years later, he began service with Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6) on board USS Enterprise and, in July 1937, was promoted to Lieutenant. While assigned to Enterprise, he also had temporary duty on board USS Yorktown. In the Summer of 1940, Lt. Van Voorhis was ordered to the aviation unit on board the light cruiser Honolulu. The following summer, he received orders to the Naval Air Station at Anacostia, Washington, D.C., remaining there as the U.S. entered World War II in late 1941. Promoted to Lieutenant Commander in January 1942, in December of that year, he briefly assumed command of Patrol Squadron Fourteen (VP-14) then commanded Bombing Squadron One Hundred Two (VB-102) in the Pacific.

On 6 July 1943, while serving as VB-102's Squadron Commander and as Plane Commander of a PB4Y-1 Patrol Bomber during the Central Solomons campaign, LCdr. Van Voorhis courageously undertook a lone long-range mission to disrupt potential Japanese attacks. While striking enemy facilities and aircraft at Greenwich Island in the face of overwhelming aerial opposition, Van Voorhis' plane was caught in the blast of its own bombs and crashed into a nearby lagoon, killing those on board. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" on this occasion, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor and promoted to Commander. Bruce A. Van Voorhis is buried at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri. He also has an "In Memory Of" headstone marker at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

USS Van Voorhis (DE-1028), 1957-1973, was named in honor of Commander Bruce A. Van Voorhis.

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