The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
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U.S. Navy. Via Bosamar.com
"Ziggy" Sprague was born in Massachusetts and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1917. He served in the Mediterranean and passed flight training in 1920. During the period 1926-1928 he helped develop arresting gear for aircraft carriers. He helped outfit Yorktown and became her first air officer in 1939.
Sprague was captain of the seaplane tender Tangier at Pearl Harbor at the outbreak of the Pacific war. He was chief of staff to the Gulf Sea Frontier from June 1942 to March 1943 and brought the second Wasp into commission in November 1943, commanding her at the battle of the Philippine Sea. Promoted to rear admiral in August 1944, Sprague commanded Task Unit 77.4.3, which consisted of escort carriers. During the battle of Leyte Gulf, his unit came under direct attack from heavy Japanese surface warships after Halsey's Third Fleet was lured away by Ozawa's decoy force, allowing Kurita to break through San Bernardino Strait. Sprague remained cool and his ships fought with outstanding courage against terrible odds, and most survived when Kurita abruptly broke off the action.
Sprague subsequently commanded escort carrier
forces at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. He received command of
Carrier Division 2,
a fast carrier division, in February 1945.
surrender, he helped conduct the
Pacific nuclear bomb tests
in the summer of 1946 and retired in November
Sprague cultivated an informal and
towards his men, making time to walk the deck and chat with enlisted
But he was also a thoroughly professional naval aviator who got the
best out of
his motley crews of greenhorn enlistees. Boatner described him as
"chubby, thorough, and conscientious."
||Born at Boston
||Graduates from Naval Academy,
standing 43rd in a class of 199.
||Commander, AV Tangier
||Chief of staff, Gulf Sea Frontier
||Commander, Seattle Naval Air
||Commander, CV Wasp
||Commander, Carrier Division 25
||Commander, Carrier Division 26
||Commander, Carrier Division 2
||Navy Air Group, Operation
||Commander, Carrier Division 6
||Commander, 17 Naval District
||Dies at San Diego Naval Hospital
Dupuy et al. (1992)
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