LCDR JOHN D. BULKELEY
Commander PT Boat Squadron 3
7 December 1941 to 10 April 1942.
Enemy occupied Philippine Waters
The attack on Pearl Harbor left distant US military outposts like The Philippine Islands cut-off from all support. Lightly defended these bases would be easy pickins for the Imperial Navy.
Cut-off from all Supply, repair, and logistic support, MTB Squadron 3 operated independently for over four months inflicting significant loss of both men and vessels. The Mosquito Fleet proved to be very effective at everything from dispersing landing parties and harassing land-based enemy forces to inserting commandos.
When the passenger vessel Corregidor struck a mine while attempting to escape the Philippines, PT-32, PT-34, and PT-35 of the Mosquito Fleet, responded to retrieve survivors from the oil-slicked waters. The three boats rescued 296 people that night. They were also the vessels that evacuated General Macarthur from the Philippines.
These Sailors were commonly referred to as the “Mosquito Fleet.” They operated PT boats – fast, maneuverable, self-contained, and loaded with firepower; the one thing the PT boar lacked was defensive armament.
Built from Plywood, woodscrews, and glue, the PT was as vulnerable as it was deadly and like a mosquito… It rarely survived being swat.
The Mosquito Fleet was all that was between the attacking Imperial Army and defeat. By the time the Fleet got there, All 6 PT boats had been lost, 18 crewmen had been killed, and 38 captured – 9 of the 38 died in prison camps.
Two years after MTB 3 escorted General MacArthur to safety, John Bulkeley found himself in command of a force of torpedo boats and minesweepers that were clearing lanes to Utah Beach for the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
This was the Captain’s first large ship command the destroyer USS Endicott who under Bulkeley’s command, rescued two British gunboats being hammered by two German corvettes. He sank both enemy ships.
In the 1960s Bulkeley Commanded Guantanamo
Naval Base ad it was Bukeley who faced down Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s attempts to cut off the base’s water supply. Castro described Bulkeley as “guerrilla of the worst species” and issued wanted posters for Bulkeley’s head with a reward of 50,000 pesos.
Vice Admiral John D. Bulkeley retired from the navy in 1988. Along with the Medal of Honor, Bulkeley’s awards include: The Navy Cross, Army Distinguished Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster (to denote a second award), Legion of Merit, Philippine Distinguished Conduct Star, CombatV, French Croix de Guerre, two Purple Hearts, and two Silver Stars.