BY DUANE ALLEN VACHON, PH.D. Norman Scott was born August 10, 1889 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Appointed to the Naval Academy in 1907, he graduated four years later and received his commission as Ensign in March 1912. During 1911-13, Ensign Scott served in the battleship USS Idaho (BB-24), then served in destroyers and related duty. In December 1917, he was Executive Officer of USS Jacob Jones (DD-61) when she was sunk by a German submarine and was commended for his performance at that time. During the rest of World War I, Lieutenant Scott had duty in the Navy and as Naval Aide to President Woodrow Wilson. In 1919, while holding the temporary rank of Lieutenant Commander, he was in charge of a division of Eagle Boats(PE) and commanded Eagle PE-2 and Eagle PE-3.
During the first years of the 1920s, Norman Scott served afloat in destroyers and in the battleship USS New York (BB-34) and ashore in Hawaii. From 1924 to 1930, he was assigned to the staff of Commander Battle Fleet and as an instructor at the Naval Academy. He commanded the destroyers USS MacLeish (DD-220) and USS Paul Jones (DD-230) in the early 1930s, then had further Navy Department Duty and attended the Naval War College‘s Senior Course. After a tour as Executive Officer of the light cruiser USS Cincinnati (CL-6), Commander Scott was a member of the U.S. Naval Mission to Brazilin 1937-39. Following promotion to the rank of Captain, he was Commanding Officer of the heavy cruiser USS Pensacola (CA-24) until shortly after the United States entered World War II in December 1941.
Captain Scott was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations during the first months of 1942. After becoming a Rear Admiral in May, he was sent to the south Pacific, where he commanded a fire support group during the invasion of Guadalcanal and Tulagi in early August. Rear Admiral Scott continued to lead surface task units for the next three months, as the campaign to hold Guadalcanal intensified. On 11-12 October 1942, he commanded a cruiser-destroyer force in the Battle of Cape Esperance, the U.S. Navy’s first surface victory of the campaign. A month later, on November 13, he was second-in-command during the initial night action of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. In that wild and brutal fight, Rear Admiral Norman Scott was killed in action when his flagship, the light cruiser USS Atlanta (CL-51), was fatally damaged by gunfire, possibly from the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco (CA-38), as well as an enemy torpedo. For his “extraordinary heroism and conspicuous intrepidity” in the October and November battles, he posthumously received the Medal of Honor.
Congressional Medal of Honor
Rank and organization: Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy.
Born: 10 August 1889, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Appointed from: Indiana.
For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty during action against enemy Japanese forces off Savo Island on the night of 11-12 October and again on the night of 12-13 November 1942. In the earlier action, intercepting a Japanese Task Force intent upon storming our island positions and landing reinforcements at Guadalcanal, Rear Adm. Scott, with courageous skill and superb coordination of the units under his command, destroyed 8 hostile vessels and put the others to flight. Again challenged, a month later, by the return of a stubborn and persistent foe, he led his force into a desperate battle against tremendous odds, directing close-range operations against the invading enemy until he himself was killed in the furious bombardment by their superior firepower. On each of these occasions his dauntless initiative, inspiring leadership and judicious foresight in a crisis of grave responsibility contributed decisively to the rout of a powerful invasion fleet and to the consequent frustration of a formidable Japanese offensive. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.
//Franklin D. Roosevelt// President
It was one of the most stunning reversals in naval history, evocative of the Battle of Samar 25 October 1944, also characterized by a great disparity in forces. But the cost of stopping the enemy was very heavy. In addition to the loss of several destroyers – along with their captains – the USS Atlanta was lost along with Dan’s classmate and friend Admiral Norman “Scotty” Scott, commanding the other surface cruiser Task Force. During the battle the cruisers USS Portland and Juneau were badly damaged, and the latter was sunk the next day by enemy submarine I-26 along with Captain Lyman K. Swensen and nearly all hands, including all five Sullivan brothers.
Rear Admiral Scott is memorialized at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Manila. Plot: No Known Grave; name is listed on the Tablets of the Missing.
The information in this article was sourced from a variety of sources both internal and external. Every effort was made to ensure that the information is current and correct. These articles are presented to honor the heroes they are written about.
If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a veteran.
Author: Duane Vachon
Duane A. Vachon PhD has been a licensed clinical psychologist for over thirty years. He belongs to the order of Secular Franciscans and is a life member of the Guild of Pastoral Psychology. After living almost 40 years as an expatriate, he now writes from his home in Hawaii. He has several books published and has written hundreds of articles on social justice and spiritual issues. His Doctoral thesis on ethics has set the standard at many universities. Reach Dr. Vachon at email@example.com
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