Posted Date: 09/02/2021
Admiral John Edward Gingrich – Class of 1914
John Edward Gingrich (February 23, 1897 – May 26, 1960) was an officer in the United States Navy who served as the first chief of security for the United States Atomic Energy Commission from 1947 to 1949, after extensive service in World War 2. He retired from the Navy as a four-star admiral. He joins previous distinguished military Ring of Honor inductees: Lieutenant General Scott Kindsvater, and Major Generals Ferdinand B. Stoss III & Frank Scoggins.
Born in Dodge City, Kansas, to Edward Grant Gingrich and the former Bertha Allen, he graduated from Dodge City Senior High School in 1914. He attended the University of Kansas before receiving an appointment to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, in 1915. He graduated from the Naval Academy on June 7, 1919.
During World War 2, Under Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal released Gingrich to fight in the Pacific theater after Gingrich protested that he was being "kept out of the war" as he was serving the Under Secretary in a policy position. Assigned to the new heavy cruiser Pittsburgh, he served as the Pittsburgh's first commanding officer from 1944 until 1945.
For outstanding service in that role, he was awarded the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, and a Gold Star in lieu of a second Legion of Merit.
On March 19, 1945, the aircraft carrier Franklin was crippled by a kamikaze attack close to the Japanese mainland. Aflame and dead in the water, Franklin was still under attack by kamikaze planes and threatening to explode when Gingrich maneuvered Pittsburgh close enough to take the burning carrier under tow, protecting Franklin with antiaircraft fire until the carrier was able to work enough speed to proceed to Pearl Harbor under its own power. For helping to rescue Franklin at great risk to his own ship, Gingrich was awarded the Silver Star "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity".
Gingrich became famous for sailing the Pittsburgh safely to port after 15 percent of the cruiser's length was torn off by a typhoon, an act of seamanship dubbed a "miracle" by contemporary accounts. A week after Pittsburgh departed, the ship's bow was discovered afloat and towed back to Guam. The 500-mile separation between the cruiser's stern and bow led contemporary news accounts to dub Pittsburgh "the longest ship in the Navy." Regaling the press after Pittsburgh's safe arrival in port, Gingrich declared, "I'm sorry I can't give you an immortal phrase to hand down to posterity. But all I said was 'reverse engines'."
Admiral Gingrich joins a distinguished group of military leaders in the Dodge City High School Ring of Honor. His service – like those before and after him – is honored here today!
Ring of Honor Induction - 2021