John G. Crommelin

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John Geraerdt Crommelin, Jr.
US Navy O8 insignia.svg
Nickname(s) "Bomb-run John"
Born October 2, 1902
Montgomery, Alabama
Died November 2, 1996(1996-11-02) (aged 94)
Montgomery, Alabama
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Rank Rear Admiral
Unit Naval aviation, USS Enterprise, Navy headquarters
Battles/wars World War II
Other work Gubernatorial, Senate, Vice Presidential and Presidential candidate

Rear Admiral John Geraerdt Crommelin, Jr. (October 2, 1902 – November 2, 1996) was a prominent American naval officer and later a frequent political candidate who championed white supremacy.

Early life and naval career

Born in Montgomery, Alabama as eldest of five brothers, he graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland in 1923. He grew up in Montgomery and in Elmore County, Alabama.

He saw combat at the Pacific during World War II. All of his brothers also graduated from the US Naval Academy and two of them were killed in action during World War II.

Crommelin earned a reputation as a courageous and skillful naval aviator, and the nickname "bomb-run John". He served as an executive officer as well as air officer aboard the Enterprise and was chief of staff aboard the carrier Liscombe Bay when it was sunk in the Makin Island campaign off the Gilbert Islands.

In 1946, Captain Crommelin was given command of the light carrier USS Saipan.[1]

In 1949 he was transferred to Navy headquarters in The Pentagon at the rank of captain during the period of time of military budget reductions and unification of the command of the services. While in Washington Captain Crommelin became a vocal critic of military politics, warning of the dangers of concentrating military authority in the hands of a few, despite being in active service. He publicly complained that the Defense Department was scuttling naval air power and showing improper favor to the Air Force, and that "a Prussian General Staff system of the type employed by Hitler" was being imposed on the armed forces under unification. During this Revolt of the Admirals, he made public some of the confidential correspondence of top Navy commanders who were critical of the Defense Departments designs to defund the Navy. Crommelin's opposition to the civilian political authority decisions to reduce the Navy and increase reliance on the Air Force placed him in a politically untenable position. Crommelin was publicly reprimanded by Navy CNO Forrest P. Sherman and was transferred to San Francisco, California.

Crommelin was furloughed by Admiral Sherman at half pay, beginning early in 1950. Crommelin retired from active duty with the rank of Rear Admiral in May 1950, after 30 years of service. He went to operate a part of his family plantation, named Harrogate Springs, in Elmore County, raising a variety of crops.

Political activity

Although he was widely praised and credited for his courage in speaking out for his views and for his previous distinguished combat career, Crommelin's reputation suffered from his later political involvement. He was an open and unashamed racist, segregationist and anti-Semite, even when such sentiments were becoming less fashionable in Alabama.

Crommelin generally finished last or second last in any election he was involved in. Alongside his congressional, Senatorial and Gubernatorial bids in Alabama, he was nominated for Vice President in 1960 by the minor, far-right, white supremacist National States' Rights Party (not to be confused with the slightly more moderate States' Rights Democratic Party of 1948), as the running mate of Orval Faubus, the Governor of Arkansas.

In 1964, he ran in the Democratic primary for Alabama's 2nd congressional district, his home district, against 14-term incumbent George M. Grant. It was the first substantive opposition Grant had faced at any level. As always, Crommerlin did not win election in the primary, though Grant himself was routed in the general election in a backlash to the federal Democrats passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

During the United States presidential election of 1968 he ran for the Democratic nomination in the New Hampshire primary, winning only 186 (0.34%) of the votes.

Legacy and personal life

Crommelin married Lillian E. Tapley in 1930. They had two daughters and one son.

USS Crommelin, commissioned in 1983 as the twenty-eighth ship of the Oliver Hazard Perry class of guided-missile frigates, is named for John G. and his four brothers. The brothers are the only group of five siblings to graduate from the US Naval Academy, further highlighted by all five serving combat duty during World War II.

Despite his navy reprimand in 1949, and his avowed racism during his later political career, John G. is still one of these five combat-tested brothers, and his name is included with his brothers' on the military website for the Crommelin.[2]

Electoral history

Alabama United States Senate election, 1950

  • J. Lister Hill (D) (inc.) – 125,534 (76.54%)
  • John G. Crommelin (Independent) – 38,477 (23.46%)

Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate from Alabama, 1956

  • J. Lister Hill (inc.) – 247,519 (68.20%)
  • John G. Crommelin – 115,440 (31.81%)

Alabama gubernatorial election, 1958 (Democratic primary)

  • John Malcolm Patterson – 196,859 (31.82%)
  • George Wallace – 162,435 (26.26%)
  • Jimmy Faulkner – 91,512 (14.79%)
  • A.W. Todd – 59,240 (9.58%)
  • Laurie Battle – 38,955 (6.30%)
  • George Hawkins – 24,332 (3.93%)
  • C.C. Owen – 15,270 (2.47%)
  • Karl Harrison – 12,488 (2.02%)
  • Billy Walker – 7,963 (1.29%)
  • W.E. Dodd – 4,753 (0.77%)
  • John G. Crommelin – 2,245 (0.36%)
  • Shearen Elebash – 1,177 (0.19%)
  • James Gulatte – 798 (0.13%)
  • Shorty Price – 655 (0.11%)

Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate from Alabama, 1960

  • John Sparkman (inc.) – 335,722 (86.68%)
  • John G. Crommelin – 51,571 (13.32%)

United States presidential election, 1960

Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate from Alabama, 1962

  • J. Lister Hill (inc.) – 363,613 (73.71%)
  • Donald G. Hallmark – 72,855 (14.77%)
  • John G. Crommelin – 56,822 (11.52%)

Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate from Alabama, 1966

  • John Sparkman (inc.) – 378,295 (56.98%)
  • Frank E. Dixon – 133,139 (20.05%)
  • John G. Crommelin – 114,622 (17.26%)
  • Margaret E. Stewart – 37,889 (5.71%)

United States presidential election, 1968 (Democratic primaries)


  1. "USS Saipan (CVL-48)".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "USS Crommelin (FFG-37)".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Barlow, Jeffrey G. Revolt of the Admirals: The Fight for Naval Aviation, 1945–1950. Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, 1994. ISBN 0-16-042094-6.
  • McFarland, Keith (1980). "The 1949 Revolt of the Admirals" (PDF). Parameters: Journal of the US Army War College Quarterly Vol. XI, No. 2. pp. 53–63. Retrieved 28 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Potter, E. B. (2005). Admiral Arliegh Burke. U.S. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-692-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Party political offices
Preceded by
National States' Rights Party Vice Presidential nominee
Succeeded by
J. B. Stoner