Capt. JOHN P CROMWELL
Commander Submarine Attack Group
off Truk Island
19 Nov 1943
Sculpin was crippled and taking on water, the Skipper gave the order to surface… they would fight it out on the surface before abandoning their boat.
Capt. Cromwell’s final responsibility as an officer was to safeguard what was in his head. – Privy to Top Secret operational plans, Cromwell knew what extent of brutality the Japanese would stoop for it – He chose to not give them that opportunity.
On patrol in preparation for the first large-scale offensive in the Pacific, Capt. Cromwell was the only officer in the taskforce who was completely informed of secret intelligence information regarding overall submarine strategy and tactics, scheduled Fleet movements and specific attack plans.
In short… he was everything the enemy needed to annihilate the majority of the US pacific fleet.
Vigilant and precise he implemented his top secret orders, as he moved his below the surface flotilla of War Boats forward.
Faced with but undaunted by savage opposition and an established a line of submarines defense operations southeast of Truk, Capt. Cromwell remained cool and steadfast as his boat was bludgeoned by Japanese depth charges.
Sculpin sustained fatal battle damage, sank to an excessive depth and was in danger of being crushed. Cromwell gave the order to surface and engage the enemy in a gunfight.
The underlying reason for the surface order was to give the crew an opportunity to abandon ship.
Rather than risk capture and the probability of revealing plans under Japanese torture or use of drugs… Sculpin’s Skipper stoically remained aboard his mortally wounded boat as she plunged to Davy Jones’ locker.
The last line of Capt. JOHN P Cromwell’s Medal of honor citation reads…
“Preserving the security of his mission, at the cost of his own life, he had served his country as he had served the Navy, with deep integrity and an uncompromising devotion to duty. His great moral courage in the face of certain death adds new luster to the traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”