Biography

Struble, Arthur Dewey [VAdm ComSevenFleet]

biography   biography

ComSevenFleet,

Commander, Joint Task Force Seven;

Admiral Arthur D. Struble, USN, (1894-1983)

biography

Arthur Dewey Struble was born in Portland, Oregon, on 28 June 1894. Following graduation from high school in Portland, he entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1911 and was commissioned in the rank of Ensign in June 1915. Over the next six years, he served in two cruisers, a supply ship and three destroyers. In 1921-23, Struble was an instructor at the Naval Academy, then served in the battleship California (BB-44) until 1925, when he was assigned to the Battle Fleet staff. From 1927 until 1940, he served twice in Navy Department billets, twice on seagoing flag staffs, in USS New York (BB-34) and USS Portland (CA-33), and at the 12th Naval District. In 1940-41, he was Executive Officer of Arizona (BB-39). Captain Struble next commanded the light cruiser Trenton (CL-11) in the Pacific.

Leaving the Trenton in May 1942, Struble had duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations until late 1943, when he became Chief of Staff to Rear Admiral Alan G. Kirk, who was responsible for U.S. Navy participation in the Normandy Invasion of June 1944. Rear Admiral Struble was assigned to command a Seventh Fleet amphibious group in August 1944, and participated in the invasion of Leyte the following October. Over the next several months, he commanded or participated in landing operations at Ormoc Bay, Mindoro, Luzon and elsewhere in the Philippines. In September 1945, following the end of the Pacific war, Struble commanded the Pacific Fleet's mine force as it began the long process of clearing mines from the former combat zone. He commanded the Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet, during 1946-48.

Promoted to Vice Admiral in April 1948, Struble served for two years as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations.

Korea

In May 1950 he took command of the Seventh Fleet, leading that force through the difficult first year of the Korean War, including the landings at Inch'ŏn and Wŏnsan.

 

For a year, beginning in March 1951, Vice Admiral Struble was Commander, First Fleet, then served briefly with the Joint Chiefs of Staff before being assigned successively to head the U.S. Naval and U.S. Military delegations to the United Nations' Military Staff Committee.

From June 1955, he was Commander Eastern Sea Frontier and Commander Atlantic Reserve Fleet.

Upon his retirement from active duty in July 1956, he was advanced to the rank of Admiral on the basis of his combat awards. Admiral Arthur D. Struble died on 1 May 1983.

This page features all our individual views of Admiral Arthur D. Struble, and provides links to all our other pictures related to him.

Senior U.S. commanders inspect the Inch'ŏn port area, 16 September 1950. This appears to be in the Red Beach area, with the northern end of Wolmi-Do island in the background. Those present in the front row are (from left to right):
Vice Admiral Arthur D. Struble, USN, Commander, Joint Task Force Seven;
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Commander in Chief, Far East Command and
Major General Oliver P. Smith, USMC, Commanding General, First Marine Division.

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Vice Admiral Arthur D. Struble, USN

By Edward J. Marolda

Arthur D. Struble (June 28, 1894-May 1, 1983) was the commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet at the outset of the Korean War and for the next eight months of that momentous conflict. Struble was born in Portland, Oregon, the son of Walter and Hanna Struble. Appointed to the Naval Academy in 1911, Arthur graduated four years later and took a commission in the Navy.


The young officer spent World War I on board battleship South Dakota, cruiser St. Louis, store ship Glacier, and destroyer Stevens. In 1919 and 1920, Struble served as Executive Officer and then Commanding Officer of destroyer Shubrick, which was involved in the Haiti crisis of that period. For the next two decades, his assignments alternated between service at sea on battle staffs and warships and ashore at the U.S. Naval Academy, Navy headquarters in Washington, and the naval district headquarters in San Francisco, California. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 found him in command of light cruiser Trenton, then operating near the Panama Canal.


After a tour in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations early in the war, Struble served as chief of staff of the Western Naval Task Force, the U.S. Navy's major command for the Normandy invasion in June 1944. Convinced of his special talents in amphibious warfare, in August 1944 the Navy gave him command of an amphibious group that led the assaults on Leyte, Mindoro, and Luzon in the Phillipines. His outstanding performance in these operations earned him the Distinguished Service Medal.


From September 1945 to April 1948, Struble directed the Pacific Fleet's mine clearance and amphibious forces, gaining valuable insight on coastal and inshore operations in the Far Eastern setting. Rear Admiral Struble complemented this experience with service in Washington as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Operations) and as Naval Deputy on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


Having impressed the right people with his leadership abilities and professional skills, Struble was promoted to vice admiral and selected as Commander Seventh Fleet in May 1950. In Washington when the North Korean People's Army invaded the Republic of Korea, Struble flew to the Far East in time to direct the first carrier strikes on Pyongyang. At the same time, he oversaw execution of President Truman's order on June 26th that the Seventh Fleet "neutralize" the Strait of Taiwan by placing naval forces between Mao Tse-tung's Chinese Communists on the mainland and Chiang Kai-skek's Chinese Nationalists on Taiwan. Surface ships, carrier and shore-based aircraft, and submarines of his command promptly established patrols in the disputed waters off China. Units of the Navy's Taiwan Patrol Force would carry out this mission for the next two decades.


Struble, and Rear Admiral James H. Doyle, his brilliant amphibious force commander, developed the operational plan and led the forces that executed the masterful amphibious assault at Inch'ŏn in September 1950. Under Struble's control, as Commander Task Force 7, for Operation Chromite, were 230 U.S. and allied aircraft carriers, battleship Missouri, cruisers, destroyers, minesweepers, and amphibious vessels and the U.S. X Corps, comprised of the 1st Marine Division and the Army's 7th Infantry Division. Careful staff planning, accurate intelligence, successful deception operations, and effective logistic support measures helped ensure the success of Operation Chromite. The assault at Inch'ŏn was a classic demonstration of amphibious warfare. General Douglas MacArthur's bold plan, executed by Struble and Doyle and the marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen of the UN coalition, soon freed South Korea from the invading Communist army.


In the months after Inch'ŏn, the working relationship between Struble and Doyle deteriorated as a result of professional and personal differences. Thereafter, Vice Admiral C. Turner Joy, Commander Naval Forces, Far East, charged Doyle with managing the amphibious aspects of the war and Struble with handling the fleet's air interdiction, close air support strikes, and naval gunfire support operations. Naval forces under Struble?s command helped stop North Korean ground offensives and protect the allied reinforcements pouring into the port of Pusan, and brought naval power to bear on the enemy ashore.


Detached as Commander Seventh Fleet on March 28, 1951, Vice Admiral Struble returned to the United States to lead the First Fleet on the West Coast and then to serve with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington. From May 14, 1952 to May 30, 1955, he worked on the Military Staff Committee of the United Nations. Before retirement from the Navy on July 1, 1956, Struble commanded the Eastern Sea Frontier and the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.

Vice Admiral Struble died on May 1, 1983.

August 6, 1960

The 6th of August saw the task force still south of Korea, attacking objectives assigned by air controllers and bridge and highway targets from Yŏsu north to Hwanggan. Once again USS Philippine Sea (CV-47) concentrated her efforts on transportation facilities, while  USS Valley Forge (CV-45) flew 24 Corsair and 22 Skyraider sorties under JOC control. The emphasis, as on the previous day, was on the Chinju assembly area and on enemy lines of communication behind it; but attacks were also made on troop and transportation targets behind the central Naktong front, in the Waegwan area, and in the important neighboring junction town of Kumchon. Claims for the day included destruction of a large supply dump, five trucks, two jeeps, and a tank, damage to a number of bridges, and many troop casualties; the distribution of effort represented a useful attempt at close interdiction, if not at close support of troops in combat.

          With the day’s work completed and with pilots’ reports at hand, the situation was discussed by Admiral Struble and his carrier division commanders. To Admiral Ewen the results of the effort in close air support appeared quite simply "negligible." Admiral Hoskins felt the work handicapped by the cumbersome centralization of JOC control, which required excessive expenditure of time in checking in and securing target assignments, and by the tendency of Eighth Army to call for maximum effort and so bring saturation of control facilities. The upshot of the discussion was a pair of dispatches from Commander Seventh Fleet to ComNavFE, in which he reported an urgent request from JOC for "close support" of ground operations on the next day, expressed his doubts as to the value of such an effort, proposed that the escort carriers be given the whole job on the 8th, and stated his desire to strike the important west bridge at Sŏul.

 

June 25, 1950

The 25th of June found USS Valley Forge (CV-45), with the destroyers USS Fletcher (DDE-445) and USS Radford (DDE-446), in the South China Sea, one day out of Hong Kong en route to the Philippines. Admiral Struble was in Washington; Admiral Hoskins, upon whom command of the Seventh Fleet had devolved, was at Subic Bay; the carrier's commanding officer, Captain Lester K. Rice, was acting as ComCarDiv-3.

The air group of Valley Forge, Carrier Air Group 5, Commander Harvey P. Lanham, was the first in the Navy to attempt the sustained shipboard operation of jet aircraft. Its complement of 86 planes was made up of two jet fighter squadrons with 30 Grumman F9F-2 Panthers; two piston- engined fighter squadrons equipped with the World War II Vought F4U-4B Corsair; and a piston-engined attack squadron of 14 Douglas AD-4 Skyraiders. Over and above these five squadrons the group contained 14 aircraft, principally ADs, which were specially equipped and modified--"configurated" in current Navy jargon--for photographic, night, and radar missions. The fighter squadrons had enjoyed considerable jet experience prior to receiving their Panthers and moving aboard ship; the group as a whole had conducted extensive training in close support of troops with the Marines at Camp Pendleton, California.

June 25, 1950

The Fleet's principal base of operations was on the island of Luzon, where the Navy, following the war, had developed new facilities at Subic Bay and an airfield at Sangley Point. Peacetime operations of the Seventh Fleet were under the control of Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet, Admiral Arthur E. Radford, but standing orders provided that, when operating in Japanese waters or in the event of an emergency, control would pass to Commander Naval Forces Far East. There were, however, certain problems implicit in this arrangement: Admiral Radford's area of responsibility included potential trouble spots outside the limits of the Far East Command; lacking an aviation section on his staff, the control of a carrier striking force and of patrol squadrons would present problems for ComNavFE; Admiral Struble was senior to Admiral Joy.

Although early postwar policy had called for the maintenance of two aircraft carriers in the Western Pacific, the reductions in defense appropriations had made this impossible: for some time prior to January 1950 no carrier had operated west of Pearl; current procedure called for the rotation of single units on six-month tours of duty.  In these circumstances Admiral Struble's Seventh Fleet Striking Force, Task Force 77, was made up of a carrier  "group" containing one carrier, a support "group" containing one cruiser, and a screening group of eight destroyers. The duty carrier in the summer of 1950 was USS Valley Forge (CV-45), an improved postwar version of the Essex class, completed in 1946, with a standard displacement of 27,100 tons, a length of 876 feet, and a speed of 33 knots.

Flagship of Rear Admiral John M. Hoskins, Commander Carrier Division 3, Valley Forge had reported in to the Western Pacific in May, at which time her predecessor, USS Boxer (CV-21), had been returned to the west coast for navy yard availability.

June 25, 1950

The 25th of June found USS Valley Forge (CV-45), with the destroyers USS Fletcher (DDE-445) and USS Radford (DDE-446), in the South China Sea, one day out of Hong Kong en route to the Philippines. Admiral Struble was in Washington; Admiral Hoskins, upon whom command of the Seventh Fleet had devolved, was at Subic Bay; the carrier's commanding officer, Captain Lester K. Rice, was acting as ComCarDiv-3.

The air group of Valley Forge, Carrier Air Group 5, Commander Harvey P. Lanham, was the first in the Navy to attempt the sustained shipboard operation of jet aircraft. Its complement of 86 planes was made up of two jet fighter squadrons with 30 Grumman F9F-2 Panthers; two piston- engined fighter squadrons equipped with the World War II Vought F4U-4B Corsair; and a piston-engined attack squadron of 14 Douglas AD-4 Skyraiders. Over and above these five squadrons the group contained 14 aircraft, principally ADs, which were specially equipped and modified--"configurated" in current Navy jargon--for photographic, night, and radar missions. The fighter squadrons had enjoyed considerable jet experience prior to receiving their Panthers and moving aboard ship; the group as a whole had conducted extensive training in close support of troops with the Marines at Camp Pendleton, California.

The submarine force under the operational control of Commander Seventh Fleet, administratively organized as Task Unit 70.9, consisted of four fleet submarines and a submarine rescue vessel; its principal activity had been in antisubmarine warfare training exercises with units of the Fleet and of Naval Forces Far East. One of the four boats, USS Remora (SS-487), was at Yokosuka on loan to ComNavFE; USS Cabezon (SS-334) was at sea en route from the Philippines to Hong Kong; USS Segundo (SS-398), with Commander Francis W. Scanland, the task unit commander, was at Sangley Point in the Philippines; USS Catfish (SS-339) was at Subic Bay.

The submarine rescue ship USS Florikan (ASR-9)  was at Guam, where she was about to be relieved by USS Greenlet (ASR-10). No submarine tender was stationed in the Western Pacific, but limited quantities of spare parts and torpedo warheads were available from the destroyer tender USS Piedmont (AD-17) at Subic Bay.

Patrol plane activity in the Western Pacific, another Seventh Fleet monopoly, was centralized at Guam under control of Commander Fleet Air Wing 1, Captain Etheridge Grant, who served also as Commander Task Unit 70.6 and Commander Fleet Air Guam.  For long-range search and reconnaissance in the theater Captain Grant had at his disposal two squadrons of patrol aircraft. Patrol Squadron 28, a heavy landplane squadron with nine PB4Y-2 Privateers, the single-tailed Navy modification of the Liberator, was based at Agana, Guam. At Sangley Point, Luzon, Patrol Squadron 47 operated nine Martin PBM-5 Mariner flying boats. In addition to these two squadrons and their supporting organizations, Fleet Air Wing 1 had a small seaplane tender, USS Suisun (AVP-53), which on 25 June was moored in Tanapag Harbor, Saipan.

For Captain Grant the impending crisis would not prove wholly unfamiliar, for the outbreak of war in December 1941 had found him commanding a seaplane tender USS William B. Preston (AVD-7) in the Philippines. But his situation on 25 June was a somewhat scrambled one, for a second Mariner squadron, VP 46, was moving into the area as relief for VP 47, and the take-over process had already begun. Homeward bound, their tour in distant parts completed, the PBM's of VP 47 were widely dispersed. Two were at Yokosuka on temporary duty with Commander Naval Forces Far East,  two were at Sangley Point, two were in the air and on their way, and three had already reached Pearl Harbor.

Such then was America's Western Pacific naval strength in June of 1950. Combat units assigned to ComNavFE and Commander Seventh Fleet totaled one carrier, two cruisers, three destroyer divisions, two patrol squadrons, and a handful of submarines. Not only was this a limited force with which to support a war on the Asiatic mainland: its southward deployment, with the principal base facilities at Guam and Luzon, made it ill-prepared for a campaign in Korea.

Yet if forces, bases, and plans alike seemed inadequate to the challenge of Communist aggression, there were certain mitigating factors. To employ force, whether for police action or for war, on the far side of an ocean, is to conduct an exercise in maritime power for which fighting strength, bases, and shipping are essential. Unplanned for though the emergency was, a sufficient concentration was still possible. The occupation forces in Japan contained a large fraction--four of ten Army divisions--of American ground strength. FEAF's air strength was by no means inconsiderable. Naval forces in the Far East could be reinforced, from the west coast in the first instance, in time from elsewhere. Limited though the fleet bases were in the narrow sense, in the larger context the base was Japan, and the metropolis of Asia offered many advantages in the form of airfields, staging areas, industrial strength, and skilled labor.  Additionally, and by no means least, there existed and was available a sizable Japanese merchant marine, which could help to provide the carrying capacity without which control of the seas is meaningless, and which could be employed to project the armies and their supplies to the far shore.

The war in Korea, moreover, was in a sense a suburban war, and one must go back to 1898 to find in the American experience a parallel to this proximity of base and combat areas. The distances between Key West and Cuba and between Sasebo and Pusan are much the same. It could be argued, perhaps, that Admiral Joy's situation presented certain parallels to that of Admiral Cervera, but there was at least one notable difference: in 1950, despite the withdrawal of the entire occupation force, the populace of Japan proved reliable; in 1898, despite the presence of a Spanish army, the populace of Cuba did not. Doubtless to the Communists Korea seemed the most promising spot for aggression. In many ways it was also the area where the United States could best extemporize a reply.