John Francis Felter was born in Pittston, Pennsylvania, on February 1, 1914, son of Austin and Catherine Connahan Felter, both now deceased. He attended Saint John’s University in New York City, and enlisted in the US Naval Reserve in September 1933. During the next three months he had recruit training at the Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia, and subsequently served for three years in the Gunnery and Communication Departments of USS New Orleans (CA-32). Released to inactive duty status in September 1937, he was recalled to active duty in September 1940 and spent three months as a student at Midshipmen’s School, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.
Commissioned Ensign in the US Naval Reserve on December 12, 1940, he was promoted to Lieutenant (junior grade) in 1942, to Lieutenant in 1944, and Lieutenant Commander, to date from July 20, 1945. He was transferred to the US Navy from the Naval Reserve in 1946, and subsequently was promoted to Commander, to date from January 1, 1951, and to Captain, from July 1959.
From December 1940 to April 1941 he had communications duties on board USS New York, and at the outbreak of World War II in December 1941 was on duty as Communication Officer on the Staff of the Commander in Chief, US Atlantic Fleet. He had instruction in Communications at the Navy Department, Washington, DC, from August to October 1942, and continued duty on the Staff of Cinclant until November 1944, with temporary additional duty in July and August 1944 on the Staff of a Task Force Commander in the Atlantic/ Mediterranean Area. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with the following citation:
“For meritorious achievement as a Member of the Communication Division of the Staff of the Commander in Chief, US Atlantic Fleet, from July 1941, to November 1944. Possessing superior knowledge of all phases of good communication practices, Lieutenant Felter successfully applied these principles to the extensive communication network servicing the Atlantic Fleet, thereby contributing materially to the efficiency of Atlantic Fleet Communication. In addition, he aided in the establishment of an Atlantic Fleet Coding Board, assured the continuous training of its members and made specialized area and subject studies in order to revise the Fleet Communication orders and doctrines…”
During the latter months of the war, from March to September 1945, and until May 1946, he was on board USS Boise (CL-47), participating in the Borne operation (including action at Tarakan Island, Brunel Bay and Balikpapan), from April through July 1945, as that cruiser’s Communication Officer. He then had similar duty for a year in USS Wyoming (AG-17, formerly BB-32). From June 1947 to June 1948 he was a 5- term student at Cornell University, Ithica, New York, after which he was graduated from the General Line School, Newport, Rhode Island, in June 1949.
Service as Executive Officer and Navigator of USS Hanson (DDR-832) was terminated when he was given command of USS Hopewell (DD-681) in March 1951. “For meritorious service as Commanding Officer of USS Hopewell during operations against enemy aggressor forces in Korea from 15 July 1951 to 12 January 1952…” he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of the Second Bronze Star Medal, with Combat “V”. The citation continues:
“An officer of marked skill and resourcefulness, Commander Felter was greatly instrumental in maintaining a high standard of combat readiness within his ship and was largely responsible for the effective fire support afforded friendly forces throughout this period. During day and night bombardment activities at Wonsan, he was eminently successful in directing destructive gunfire on enemy troops and military installations and, when the Hopewell was taken under fire by shore batteries, skillfully maneuvered the ship in delivering accurate return fire on the enemy. His exemplary leadership, marked professional ability and zealous devotion, to duty were major factors in the success achieved by the Hopewell and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”
Relieved of command of the Hopewell in April 1952, he reported a month later to Headquarters, Third Naval District, where he served until May 1952 as Head of the Reserve Administration and Inspection Division in the Staff of the Commandant until September 1954. He then served for fourteenth months at Steward Air Force Base, Newburgh, New York, as Assistant Director, Plans, on the Staff of the Commander Naval Eastern Continental Air Defense, and on the Staff of the Commander, Joint Eastern Air Defense Force. In January 1956 he assumed command of Southerland (DDR-743), and on September 30, 1957, was ordered detached for instruction at the US Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California.
He had duty at the Naval Electronics Laboratory, San Diego, California, from June 1958 until December 1959, when he was ordered to duty as Chief of the Naval Section, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Pakistan, with headquarters in Karachi. Detached from Pakistan two years later, he then became the Commanding Officer of the Fleet, Antiair Warfare Training Center in San Diego, California. In December 1963 he assumed command of USS Seminole (AKA-104), and on September 1, 1964 was ordered detached for duty as Chief of Staff and Aide to Commander Eastern Sea Frontier and Commander Atlantic Reserve Fleet.
In addition to the Bronze Star Medal with Gold Star and Combat “V,” Captain Felter has the Navy Good Conduct Medal; the American Defense Service Medal with bronze “A”; American Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific campaign Medal; with two stars; World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal; Asia Clasp; China Service Medal (extended); National Defense Service Medal; Korean Service Medal with three stars; United Nations Service Medal; and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon. He also has the Korean Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon.
He died December 25, 1974.