Intrepid Commanding Officer – T. L. Sprague

An Educational Venue

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

Chapter X

Intrepid Commanding Officer

Capt. Thomas L. Sprague – Admiral (Ret) – Aug 16, 1943 – Mar 28, 1944




Thomas Lamson Sprague was born in Lima, OH, on October 2, 1894. He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1914. Graduated and commissioned Ensign with the Class of 1918, he subsequently advanced to the rank of Vice Admiral. He was transferred to the Retired List of the U.S. Navy on april 1, 1952, and advanced to the rank of Admiral on the basis of Combat Awards.


His first duty was aboard the USS Cleveland. In April 1918 he reported for duty at Sixth Naval District headquarters at Charleston, SC. He was detached in July of that year to assist in fitting out the USS Montgomery at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Newport News, VA and was Engineer of that destroyer from her commissioning, July 26, 1918, until January 1, 1920, when he became her Commanding Officer.


Detached from the Montgomery in November 1920, he reported to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, FL, for flight training, and was designated Naval Aviator on august 11, 1921. Serving briefly at the Naval Air Station, Anacostic, DC, he reported in November, that year, for duty on the staff of Commander Aircraft, Pacific Fleet (later redesignated Commander Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Force).

In 1922 he was assigned to Aircraft Squadron SPOT 4 (attached to the aircraft tender Aroostook, airplane tender), which later became Observation Squadron 2 before his detachment in June 1923.


For three years he had duty at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, and in July 1926 reported to Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet, serving with observation Squadron ONE, based on the aircraft carrier Langley, and later with the aviation unit of the USS Maryland. Detached from the latter in July 1928, he had a three year tour of duty at the Naval Air Station, San Diego, CA. In July 1931 he assumed command of Scouting Squadron 6, and while so serving had additional duty as Aide to Commander Cruiser Division THREE, the USS Concord, flagship. In June 1932 he was transferred to command of Scouting Squadron 10, attached to Cruiser Division FIVE, with additional duty as Commander of the Cruiser Wing of the Cruiser Command, U.S. Fleet, and on the staff of Commander Cruisers, U.S. Fleet.


Duty as Superintendent of the Aeronautical Engine Laboratory, Naval Aircraft Factory, Philadelphia, PA, preceded a year’s duty as Air Officer on the USS Saratoga, and a second year as Navigator of the USS Langley. In June 1937 he returned to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, where he served for three years as Superintendent of Aviation Training.  He was again ordered to sea, and from June 1940 until July 1941 served as Executive Officer of the USS Ranger. He assisted in the conversion of the USS Pocomoke, and was commanding that vessel at the outbreak of World War II.


He next fitted out and placed in commission the USS Charger, second escort carrier to be commissioned on March 3, 1942. He commanded the Charger until December 1942, then served successively as Chief of Staff and Aide to Commander Fleet Air, Quonset, at Quonset Point, RI, and to Commander Air Force, Atlantic Fleet.


After fitting out the USS Intrepid at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, he commanded that aircraft carrier from her commissioning, August 16, 1943, until March 1944.


Returning to the United States in March 1944, he had brief duty as Commander Fleet Air, Alameda, CA, and in July assumed command of Carrier Division 22. That division, under his command, took part in the capture of Saipan and Guam in the Marianas and of Morotai in the New Guinea Campaign.


When detached from command of Carrier Division 22, he assumed command of Carrier Division 3 and Task Group 38.1, which engaged in fast carrier pre-invasion operations against the Japanese homeland until the enemy’s capitulation in August 1945.


After his return to the United States he reported on January 10, 1946, as Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel, Bureau of Naval Personnel, Navy Department, Washington, DC. On February 21, 1947, he became Chief of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, and served in that capacity until September 1949, and in October assumed command of Air Force, Pacific Fleet.

He was later assigned additional duty as Commander First Task Fleet, with Headquarters at San Diego, CA. He was relieved of all active duty, and transferred to the Retired List on April 1, 1952. He briefly returned to active duty in 1956-1957 to help negotiate base agreements with the Philippine government.

Service record

1894-10-2        Born at Lima, Ohio
1917 Ensign      Graduates from Naval Academy, standing 19th in a class of 199. Assigned to CL Cleveland
1918-4   DD Montgomery
1920 Lieutenant Commander, DD Montgomery
1921   Flight training
1931   Commander, Scout Squadron 6
1937   Superintendent, Naval Air Training, Pensacola
1940-6 Commander      Executive officer, CV Ranger
1941-6 Captain Commander, AV Pocomoke
1942-3-3   Commander, CVE Charger
1942-12   Chief of staff, Naval Air Force, Atlantic Fleet
1943-3-8   Acting commander, Naval Air Force, Atlantic Fleet
1943-8-16     Captain Commander, CV Intrepid
1944-3-28        Commander, Alameda Naval Air Station
1944-7-27 Rear admiral      Commander, Carrier Division 22
1944-12-16        Commander, Carrier Division 11
1945-2   Commander, Carrier Division 3
1945-12   Deputy chief, Bureau of Naval Personnel
1947   Chief, Bureau of Naval Personnel
1949-8 Vice admiral  
1949-10   Commander, Naval Air, Pacific
1950-2-1   Commander, 1 Fleet
1952-4-1 Admiral Retires
1956   Recalled to active duty to help negotiate base agreements with the Philippine government
1972-9-17   Dies at Chula Vista, California

Ref: –

and ‘Twenty INTREPID Years’ Cruise Book


This Educational Venue is for former Intrepid Crewmembers

who served …’with pride and dedication’


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