Intrepid Commanding Officer – R.K. Gaines

An Educational Venue

 for former U.S.S. Intrepid (CV, CVA, CVS-11) Crewmembers

Chapter XI

Intrepid Commanding Officer

Cmd. Richard K. Gaines – Capt. USN (Ret) – May 19, 1944 – May 30, 1944 

Capt. Richard Kenna Gaines was the first Executive Officer of the USS Intrepid August 16, 1943. Then Cmdr. Gaines, helped outfit the Intrepid and train her crew for attacks at Truk, Kwajalien, Mindoro, Palau, the Philippines, Okinawa and the Coast of Japan, 1943. 

The score for this campaign tallied 60 planes shot down, 105 planes destroyed on the ground, 11 nearby ships sunk and nine vessels damaged.  Then in March of 1944 with Intrepid laid up at Hunter’s Point, Captain Sprague turned over command  to Executive Officer, Cmdr. Gaines.  It was then turned over to Capt. Sample and Cmdr. Gaines went back to Exec. Officer. 

In May, Capt. Sample left to take over the USS Lexington and gave command of the Intrepid back to Cmdr. Gaines until Capt. Bolger assumed command. 

On September 29, 1944 Cmdr. Gaines left the Intrepid to be commissioned Captain. 

Capt. Richard Kenna Gaines was born in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., son of Congressman Joseph Holt Gaines.  He graduated from Bordentown, NJ Military Institute in preparation for the Naval Academy from where he graduated in 1925. 

Following graduation he served successively on the USS New York and the USS Sapelo. After flight training at Pensacola, FL he was designated Naval Aviator in 1928, then joined the USS Lexington for duty as Assistant Gunnery Officer. 

He was a Flight Instructor at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, from 1930 to 1932 and was a member of the Pensacola Naval Air Station stunt Team, Top Gallants (forerunners to the Blue Angels) flying F2B-1s carrying on budding tradition of superb formation acrobatics, with J. G. Crommelin and Bill Davis.  As a member of the Pensacola Naval Air Station famous stunt team he won the Birmingham Cup for outstanding performance. 

Sea duty followed with consecutive service until 1934 on board the USS Saratoga, as Assistant Gunnery Officer of Fighting Squadron ONE; and attached to the USS Arkansas, as Gunnery Officer of Observation Squadron ONE. 

He was a Flag Aide aboard the USS Yorktown CV-5 in March of 1940; He was then Commander of the Naval Reserve Aviation Base, Glenview, IL, 1940-42; Commander of the famous Air Group 10, USS Enterprise which he organized during defense of Solomon Island areas in 3d Savo and Santa Cruz battles, 1942-1943.  In 1943 he served on the staff of Admiral Halsey in the planning and development of Pacific Bases Member Staff Commander Air South Pacific.  He then became the First Executive Officer, USS Intrepid, 1943; Deputy Chief Naval Air Technical Training Command, 1945-46; Commander USS Salerno Bay, 1946-47; Commanding Officer, Naval Air Station, Whiting Field, 1947-48; Pensacola, 1948-50; Fleet Air Wing Two and Fleet Air Hawaii – Barber’s Point (lived on Ford Island as Chief of Staff to the Admiral, 1949-52.)  He was given the rank of Commodore (a title only given during wartime) during the Korean War; Chief of Staff to Chairman of US Mission to Military Staff United Nations, 1953-55.  He retired in 1955 and became Executive Director, Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce, 1955-58. 

Capt. Gaines was the recipient of the Presidential Unit Citation, a commendation medal for action in the Solomons, the Victory Medal, The American Defense Medal, The Pacific Theatre of Operations Medal with seven battle stars and the American Theatre of Operations Medal. 

Capt. Gaines died in the Marine Air Base hospital in Beaufort, SC right after his 65th birthday from complications caused by leukemia. 

He left his wife, Maud Werner of New Orleans and 4 children, Richard Kenna Gaines, Jr. who graduated from the Naval Academy in 1955 (with Percy Williams who was a former crew member and crashed and sank off the Intrepid in 1959), Carlisle Sullivan of Greenville, SC, Anna Louise Wren of Cummings, GA and Maud Tarrant, of Larchmont, NY.  He and his wife, Maud, are interred in Arlington National Cemetery. 

Daughter Maud (Gaines) Tarrant is very involved in the USS Intrepid Former Crewmembers Association. 

Submitted by: Maud (Gaines) Tarrant, daughter of Capt. Gaines


This Educational Venue is for former Intrepid Crewmembers

who served …’with pride and dedication’

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