WWII Combat

The Doolittle Raid – Key U.S. Navy Participants
Written by Bob Fish, USS Hornet Museum Trustee

STEPHEN JURIKA
(1910 - 1993) Captain

RAID CONTRIBUTION: Prioritizing and Locating key industrial and military targets (USS Hornet CV-8)

From June 1939 until August 1941, he served as the Naval Attache for Air at the American Embassy in Tokyo. Being fluent in the Japanese language, he was able to collect significant information about the Japanese military and industrial capabilities, even photographing many of their sensitive sites.

From August 1941 until October 1941, he reported to the Director of Naval Intelligence, providing a great deal of information about the Japanese threat, including specific information about the new “Zero” high performance fighter.

In October 1941, he was involved with the commissioning of USS Hornet (CV-8), initially serving as the Flight Deck and Intelligence Officer. In mid-January 1942, he consulted to Captain Donald Duncan who was then conducting a feasibility study about launching a bombing raid against Tokyo. Lt Jurika provided a great deal of information about the types and locations of high priority industrial and military targets. Two months later, when the Hornet was carrying the Doolittle Raiders to their launch point, Lt Jurika spent many hours briefing them on the locations of the high value targets and optimum flight routes. He also briefed them on the Japanese culture and how to verbally identify themselves to peasants once they landed in China. Jurika was onboard Hornet when it was seriously damaged by air attack in the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in October, 1942.

Early Life and Career

Stephen Jurika was born in Los Angeles but grew up in the Philippines. He attended schools in the Philippines, Japan and China. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1933 and served aboard the USS Louisville (CA-28) and USS Houston (CA-30).

He became a naval aviator in 1936, graduating from NAS Pensacola. His initial fleet assignment was with Torpedo Squadron 3 (VT-3) attached to the USS Saratoga (CV-3).

Subsequent Career and Experiences

In December 1942, he became Operations Officer at ComAirSols on Guadalcanal. At one point, he was part of a small infiltration team that landed on an enemy held island, doing survey work for a new airfield. For this he was awarded a Legion of Merit and Navy Commendation medal from Admiral “Bull” Halsey.

From August 1943 until December 1944 he was a Torpedo Training Officer, first at NAS Ft. Lauderdale then at NAOTC Jacksonville, FL

In December, 1944, he reported aboard USS Franklin (CV-13) as the Navigator. He was onboard when Franklin suffered grievous damage from an air attack in March 1945, with the ship on the verge of being blown up by the explosion of its own munitions and aviation stores. LCdr Jurika maintained his post on the bridge, help navigate the ship appropriately to control the conflagration and was awarded a Navy Cross for his heroism.

Following the war, Jurika was involved in a number of interesting politico-military assignments. Some of these included being the Naval Attache for Air to Australia and New Zealand, Liaison to the Japanese military during the Korean War and, as a CNO staff member, creating strategic plans for Indo-China operations.

In 1957-1959 he was Commanding Officer of Fleet Air Wing Fourteen in San Diego. He finished his naval career as Commanding Officer of the NROTC unit at Stanford University.

After obtaining a PhD while at Stanford, he taught political science at the University of Santa Clara from 1975-1986 as a professor of National Security Affairs and Intelligence at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. Concurrently, he was a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford.

Stephen Jurika died in 1993 and was buried in Los Altos cemetery.

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