This memorial is dedicated to five brothers born to John Geraerdt and Katherine Vasser Crommelin who each distinguished themselves in service to the United States military during World War II. The Crommelin family lineage can be traced back to the 1820s in Alabama and all five brothers graduated from the United States Naval Academy. During World War II, the brothers achieved positions of leadership and were featured in a January 1944 issue of Time Magazine. Between their service as pilots, officers, and one who became a vice admiral, the brothers made the local Alabama family one of the most decorated in the war and were known locally as the "Fabulous Five" and "The Dixie Demons."
Backstory and Context
The oldest Crommelin brother was John Crommelin, Jr, who was born on October 2, 1902 and became the first to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. He graduated in 1923 and served on three aircraft carriers, the USS Lexington, USS Ranger, and USS Enterprise . John Crommelin was the Executive and Air Officer on the Enterprise during the Battle of Midway. He later became one of the central figures in the episode that would be known as the "Revolt of the Admirals." John Crommelin also ran for the US Senate in an unsuccessful campaign following his service.
Henry Clairborne Crommelin was born on August 1904 and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1925. In November 1942, Henry was in command of destroyers during the American offensive in North Africa. He was awarded the Silver Star a year later while serving in the Pacific because during a battle at the Tarawa Atoll. In July 1944, was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat 'V' for Valor for the recapture of the island of Guam. He achieved the rank of vice-admiral by the end of his career.
The next brother is Charles Crommelin born March 16, 1909. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1931 and became famous for his flying of the F6F Hellcat fighter planes in the Pacific. He earned the rank of commander. August 1943, Charles was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross because of his flying and action over Marcus Island that the Japanese held. He is known for his command over the Carrier Air Group 12, called "Crommelin's Thunderbirds," who had the first airstrikes against Japan. Unfortunately in March of 1945, Charles went missing over the sea near Okinawa and was declared killed in action.
The fourth brother Richard Crommelin was born on January 8, 1917. He graduated the Naval Academy in 1938. In 1942, he was a Lieutenant Junior Grade when he served on the USS Yorktown. The same year, Richard "was credited with shooting down two of six Japanese Zero fighter planes." He joined his brother, John, during the Battle of Midway as well. In July 1945, a year after Charles' death, Richard was killed in action and he was also awarded Distinguished Flying Cross, along with the Legion of Merit for his activities during World War II.
The youngest of the Crommelin brothers was Quentin Crommelin born September 26, 1918. Quentin graduated the Naval Academy in 1941 and served on the USS Saratoga as a gunnery officer. In August 1942, Quentin ship the joined his brother's vessel, the USS Enterprise during the Solomon Island Campaign. During this campaign, the Saratoga sank a Japanese aircraft carrier. Quentin Crommelin retired as a captain.
The Crommelin Brothers, Encyclopedia of Alabama. April 2nd 2013. Accessed February 22nd 2020. http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-3427.
Crommelin Memorial , HMDB.org . July 29th 2019. Accessed February 22nd 2020. https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=137263.