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Richard Rockwell Pratt Memoirs, 1988: Finding Aid

Published in March 2019

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 483
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Richard Rockwell Pratt Memoirs
  • Dates: 1988
  • Size: 0.13 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 23 folders
  • Creator: Pratt, Richard R. (Richard Rockwell), 1914-2006
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Richard Rockwell Pratt, United States Naval Academy Class of 1936, was a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy. The Richard Rockwell Pratt Memoirs, consisting of a photocopy of a loose-leaf autobiography, were written in 1988. Alternately titled The Highlights of Our Lives and Story of a Navy Family, the memoirs span the majority of Pratt's career in the United States Navy, from his marriage in 1938 through his retirement in 1971.

Biography of Richard Rockwell Pratt

Richard Rockwell Pratt was born in San Diego, California on October 17, 1914 to Colonel Harold Pratt, USMC, and Marguerite (Rockwell) Pratt. After attending the Severn School in Severna Park, Maryland, Pratt was appointed to the United States Naval Academy from Indiana in 1932.

Following graduation from the Academy in June 1936, Pratt was initially assigned to the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Chester (CA-27). After a brief stay aboard U.S.S. Sicard (Destroyer: DD-346), Pratt was transferred to the Asiatic Fleet in October 1938, for service aboard the cruiser U.S.S. Augusta, where he stayed until the outbreak of World War II.

Shortly after the United States entered World War II, Pratt reported to U.S.S. Lansdowne (Destroyer: DD-486), which was fitting out at the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Kearny, New Jersey. In January 1943, he was transferred to another destroyer under construction, U.S.S. Hudson (DD-475), for service as Executive Officer and Navigator. On December 26, Pratt received command of the Hudson, serving in the Pacific Theater in the waters around the Solomon Islands, Guam, Okinawa, and the Philippine Sea. For his distinguished service during the War, Pratt was twice awarded the Navy Cross.

After the cessation of hostilities, Pratt spent nearly three years as an instructor at the Naval Academy in the Department of Ordnance and Gunnery. Upon completing his tour at the Academy, Pratt attended the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He then went on to serve on the staffs of Commander, Destroyer Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet; Commander in Chief, Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean; and Chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group. In July 1956, Pratt returned to the Naval Academy as Executive Officer for nearly two years.

Beginning in 1959, Pratt received further instruction at the National War College in Washington, DC, after which he assumed command of the destroyer leader U.S.S. Norfolk (DL-1), in June 1960. One year later, he was transferred to the Bureau of Naval Personnel as Assistant Director for Captain Detail. In August 1962, Pratt transferred again, to the Office of Naval Communications, where he served as Deputy Director for Communications. After serving as Commander, Amphibious Group Three, Pratt returned to communications as Director of Communications-Electronics on the Joint Staff of the Commander in Chief, U.S. European Command, and as Chief of the Defense Communications Agency in Europe.

In July 1968, Pratt was transferred back to amphibious operations to serve as Commander, Amphibious Training Command for the U.S. Pacific Fleet. It is during this tour that Pratt, by now a Rear Admiral, served as a member of the five-admiral court of inquiry convened to investigate the circumstances surrounding the capture of the U.S.S. Pueblo (Environmental Research Ship: AGER-2). Following the adjournment of the court of inquiry, Pratt assumed command of Service Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, with additional duty as Navy Deputy to the Department of Defense Manager for Manned Space Flight Support Operations.

Pratt retired from the U.S. Navy effective June 1, 1971 with the rank of Rear Admiral. Richard Rockwell Pratt died on May 25, 2006.

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Description of Contents

The Richard Rockwell Pratt Memoirs, consisting of a photocopy of a loose-leaf autobiography, were written in 1988. Alternately titled The Highlights of Our Lives and Story of a Navy Family, the memoirs span the majority of Pratt's career in the United States Navy, from his marriage in 1938 through his retirement in 1971.

Included with memoirs are photocopies of photographs, clippings, and orders.

The Richard Rockwell Pratt Memoirs are organized into four main sections: Introduction, Our Navy Life, Retirement, and Appendix. Introduction includes family histories of the Pratt Family, Rockwell Family, Mecleary Family, and Read Family, as well as sections on the early lives of Richard Rockwell Pratt and his wife, Ann Pratt. Our Navy Life, comprising the bulk of the memoirs, is divided into twenty chapters chronologically, spanning from Richard and Ann Pratt's wedding in 1938 until Pratt's final command with Service Force Atlantic, and touching upon every duty station in between. Retirement focuses on Pratt's life after retiring from the United States Navy, and Appendix consists of copies of his Navy citations. While the majority of the memoirs are the work of Richard Rockwell Pratt, most chapters feature sections written by and from the perspective of Ann Pratt, denoted by the term "distaff."

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The Richard Rockwell Pratt Memoirs are organized chronologically.

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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Richard Rockwell Pratt Memoirs are the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Gift of Richard Rockwell Pratt in April 1988.

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Related Materials

Location of Originals

The original of Richard Rockwell Pratt's memoirs was returned to the donor after photocopying.

Related Archival Material

Additional material in this repository pertaining to Richard Rockwell Pratt can be found in his midshipman personnel jacket (sealed until 2033) and alumni jacket, as well as the Pueblo Court of Inquiry Scrapbook, MS 237.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.

Publications Citing These Papers

Photocopies of Pratt's memoirs were published by the Naval Historical Foundation Memoir Program under the title The Highlights of Our Lives.

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Processing and Other Information

The Richard Rockwell Pratt Memoirs were foldered by chapter during processing.

Preferred Citation

Richard Rockwell Pratt Memoirs, MS 483

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:

United States. Dept. of the Navy. Office of Information. "Rear Admiral Richard R. Pratt, United States Navy, Retired." Washington, D.C: Office of Information, Navy Department, 1971.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in March 2019. Finding aid written by March 2019 in March 2019.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Admirals -- United States -- Biography
  • Officers' spouses -- United States -- Biography
  • Pratt, Ann
  • Pratt, Ann -- Biography
  • Pratt, Richard -- Biography
  • United States. Navy -- Biography
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Naval operations, American

Genre Terms

  • Manuscripts
  • Memoirs
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Introduction, 1988

Includes table of contents, a list of places visited and lived in by the Pratts, and the history of the Pratt and Rockwell Families, as well as copies of photocopies of photographs, letters, and clippings. Several of the clippings and letters pertain to the 1933 Long Beach earthquake.

Box 1 Folder 2

Chapter I: Marriage in Honolulu - September 17, 1938, 1988

Includes photographs of Pratt's wedding.

Box 1 Folder 3

Chapter II: Across the Pacific to China 1938, 1988

Includes a copy of Pratt's orders.

Box 1 Folder 4

Chapter III: Life on the China Station 1938-1940, 1988

Duty aboard U.S.S. Augusta during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Includes photographs of Shanghai, Peking, the Philippines, and the officers and crew of U.S.S. Augusta.

Box 1 Folder 5

Chapter IV: Operations in 1941 before Pearl Harbor, 1988

U.S.S. Augusta's role in the Atlantic Conference between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

Box 1 Folder 6

Chapter V: World War II - U.S.S. Lansdowne DD 486 - 1942-1943, 1988

Convoy escort duty, operations at Guadalcanal, and sinking of U.S.S. Wasp. Includes clippings and photographs regarding U.S.S. Lansdowne and the sinking of U.S.S. Wasp.

Box 1 Folder 7

Chapter VI: World War II - U.S.S. Hudson DD 475 - 1943-1945, 1988

Support for the landings at Bougainville, the Battle of Saipan, the Invasion of Guam, the Invasion of Palau, the Battle of Iwo Jima, and the Battle of Okinawa. Includes photographs of U.S.S. Hudson and her crew, as well as Pratt receiving the Legion of Merit.

Box 1 Folder 8

Chapter VII: Naval Academy 1945-1948, 1988

Duties and social life at the Academy. Includes photographs of the football team, the Department of Ordnance and Gunnery, and award ceremonies.

Box 1 Folder 9

Chapter VIII: New Orleans - U.S.S. Hank DD 702 - 1948-1949, 1988

Duty in the Caribbean and ship's overhaul at Portsmouth. Includes photographs of U.S.S. Hank and her officers.

Box 1 Folder 10

Chapter IX: Newport, Rhode Island 1949-1952, 1988

Instruction at the Naval War College and duty as Operations Officer for Commander Destroyers Atlantic Fleet aboard U.S.S. Yosemite (Destroyer tender: AD-19). Includes photographs of the Destroyers Atlantic staff.

Box 1 Folder 11

Chapter X: Spain 1952-1954, 1988

Duty with the Joint Military Group negotiating the Agreements for Bases and Military Assistance Programs.

Box 1 Folder 12

Chapter XI: Back to Sea 1954-1956, 1988

Duty as Executive Officer of U.S.S. New Jersey (Battleship: BB-62) and as Commanding Officer of Destroyer Division 222. Includes photographs of U.S.S. New Jersey, U.S.S. Ault (Destroyer: DD698), and Destroyer Division 222.

Box 1 Folder 13

Chapter XII: Return to the Naval Academy 1956-1958, 1988

Duty as Executive Officer to the Commandant.

Box 1 Folder 14

Chapter XIII: Back to Sea with Cruiser Division 4 1958-1959, 1988

Duty as the Division's Chief of Staff and the transit of U.S.S. Macon (Heavy cruiser: CA-132) through the St. Lawrence Seaway. Includes photographs of Admiral Charles Martell's staff and U.S.S. Macon in the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Box 1 Folder 15

Chapter XIV: National War College 1959-1960, 1988

Studies at the National War College and a field trip to Africa. Includes a family photograph and a group portrait of War College students.

Box 1 Folder 16

Chapter XV: Back to Sea and Command of the Norfolk, 1988

Command of U.S.S. Norfolk (Destroyer leader: DL-1) during Fleet Exercises.

Box 1 Folder 17

Chapter XVI: Washington, D.C. 1961-1964, 1988

Duty as a detailer.

Box 1 Folder 18

Chapter XVII: Coronado 1964-1965, 1988

One year tour as Commander Amphibious Group Three. Includes clippings regarding the Pratt's move, family photographs, and a photograph of U.S.S. Mount McKinley (Amphibious force command ship: AGC-7).

Box 1 Folder 19

Chapter XVIII: Europe 1965-1968 Paris and Stuttgart, 1988

Duty as Director of Communications-Electronics on the Joint Staff of the Commander in Chief, U.S. European Command, with discussion of the command's ejection from France by de Gaulle and relocation to Stuttgart. Includes clippings on the Red Cross Conference in Stuttgart and photographs of Pratt's Stuttgart home, General David Burchinal, and award ceremonies.

Box 1 Folder 20

Chapter XIX: Coronado 1968-1969 Amphibious Training Command, 1988

Duties included visits to Training Command components in Vietnam and the Court of Inquiry into the Pueblo Incident. Includes photograph of family events, a change of command ceremony, and a clipping regarding the court of inquiry.

Box 1 Folder 21

Chapter XX: Commander Service Force Atlantic 1969-1971, 1988

Includes photographs of award ceremonies and Space Center Norfolk, as well as clippings regarding Pratt's impending retirement.

Box 1 Folder 22

Retirement - 1971 and Beyond, 1988

Box 1 Folder 23

Appendix: Citations, 1988

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