|Stanhope C. Ring
(1902-1963) Vice Admiral
Written by Bob Fish, USS Hornet Museum Trustee
Stanhope Cotton Ring, the son of Navy Commodore James Andrew Ring, was born in Portsmouth, VA in 1902. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy at the age of sixteen and graduated in 1923. His initial duties involved fitting out the battleship USS Colorado (BB-45) upon which he served until January 1925. The following month he reported for flight training at Pensacola NAS and earned his wings in late 1926 as naval aviator #3342.
Commander of Carrier Division One
In 1927, he joined Fighting Squadron Five (VF-5) attached to the aircraft tender USS Wright (AV-1) flying the Curtiss F6C Hawk. The unit was reassigned in March 1928 to the aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-2). The CNO assigned VF-5 to evaluate the use of dive bombing attacks against moving targets (this unit was later redesignated Bombing Squadron One (VB-1)). Their success led directly to the adoption of dive bombing as a standard method of naval attack, along with the creation of special aircraft, units and tactics. For 3 years beginning in June 1929, LT Ring served as an aide to the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, RADM William A. Moffett, with additional duty as a naval aide to President Herbert Hoover.
In June 1932, he joined Fighting Squadron Three (VF-3) based on USS Langley (CV-1). That summer, while flying over San Diego, Ring’s aircraft caught on fire. He bailed out, joining the “caterpillar club” by parachuting to safety, but suffered burns that left permanent scars on his face. Once he had recuperated from his injuries, he returned to flying, working on dive bombing techniques. In June 1933, he rejoined VF-3 aboard Langley, but was soon transferred to duty as Assistant Operations Officer on the staff of Commander, Aircraft, Battle Force, whose flagship was the USS Saratoga (CV-3). In June 1935, he was assigned to San Diego Naval Air Station. He joined Patrol Squadron Seventeen (VP-17) in June 1937 and assumed command of VP-17 in October 1938, splitting his time between Seattle and Sitka, Alaska. From May 1939 until March 1941, he was head of the Administrative Division at the Bureau of Aeronautics.
For the following four months, LCDR Ring was the Assistant Naval Attaché (Air) in London. During that assignment, he served as a U.S. Naval Observer, sailing on the British carrier HMS Ark Royal, on which Admiral Sir James Somerville held fleet command. Ring observed how the British used radar to conduct offensive and defensive aerial operations against German and Italian air forces. Ring was slightly injured in an air attack against Ark Royal during one of its missions to Malta.
In June, he returned to the U.S. to help fit out the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8). From August 1941 thru July 1942, during Hornet’s sea trials and first six months of active service, CDR Ring served as the Commander of Hornet Air Group Eight (CHAG), which consisted of 27 F4F3 Wildcat fighters, 15 TBD Devastator torpedo bombers, and 24 SBD Dauntless dive bombers. The majority of the pilots had only recently qualified for carrier operations and none had ever been in combat prior to the epic battle of Midway that took place in early June. During that engagement, Hornet’s air group suffered great casualties, including the loss of Torpedo Squadron Eight, with no TBDs and just one pilot surviving the attack. When the battle ended, the air group was credited only for helping to sink the IJN heavy cruiser Mikuma. While Admiral Chester Nimitz felt the air group’s performance was sub-par, he awarded Ring the Navy Cross for his aggressive actions against the cruiser force on June 6.
In July, Hornet’s first commanding officer, and recently promoted, RADM Marc Mitscher was assigned command of Patrol Wing Two (VP-2) in Hawaii. He selected Ring as Operations Officer. In March 1943, after Mitscher became Commander of U.S. air forces in the Solomon Islands (COMAIRSOLS), Ring joined him as Deputy Chief of Staff. Ring was awarded a Navy Commendation for his role in planning the daring air attack that killed Japanese Admiral Yamamoto over Bougainville.
In September 1943, Ring reported as Director of Aviation Training on the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations staff. He increased the capacity and effectiveness of the aviation training programs and was awarded the Legion of Merit. For his assistance to the British in this role, Ring was made an Honorary Commander of the British Empire and presented with the CBE decoration.
In March 1945, CAPT Ring was in charge of fitting out the escort carrier USS Siboney (CVE-112); she was commissioned in May with Ring as the first CO. Siboney left for her first combat tour in August, but the ship arrived off the Japanese coast the day after hostilities with Japan ceased. In February 1946, Ring became the final commanding officer of Saratoga. The venerable aircraft carrier sailed to Bikini Atoll and served as a target ship for the first “Operation Crossroads” atomic bomb test. Ring observed the Able test (air burst) on July 1 from the decks of the command ship USS Panamint (AGC-13) only 18 miles away. The next day, he was part of the group that toured through the lagoon to inspect damage to the ships, and was exposed to high levels of radiation. He left the Marshall Islands area soon thereafter to attend the National War College at Ft. McNair as part of its initial class, and was not present when Saratoga was sunk by the Baker test (subsurface burst) three weeks later.
From July 1947 until July 1948, Ring commanded the USS Boxer (CV-21). In March 1948, Boxer ushered in the jet age for naval aviation when squadron VF-5A operated the FJ-1 Fury from its flight deck. When this assignment ended, he returned to the National War College as an instructor.
Promoted to rear admiral in mid-1950, he assumed command of the naval forces on Kwajalein Island and was the Military Governor of the Marshall Islands that August. A year later, RADM Ring was assigned to the staff of CINCPACFLT but, in October, was detached for duty as Deputy Chief of Staff for the Commander in Chief of Allied Forces in Southern Europe - CINCSOUTH.
In January 1954, Ring became Commander of Carrier Division One and in that capacity supported the evacuation of the Tachen Islands. This occurred during the first Taiwan Straits crisis between Communist China and the Nationalist offshore islands.
In May 1955, he became Vice Commander of the Military Air Transport Service, then headquartered at Andrews AFB in Maryland. Due to an illness, he was hospitalized from August of that year until retiring in November. He was promoted to Vice Admiral upon his retirement and spent his remaining years in Coronado.
After a lengthy illness, Stan Ring died in May 1963.
Written by Bob Fish in June 2011 with contributions from the Ring family.
Copyright © 2011 Bob Fish & Stanhope Ring Family
|(click images for larger version)
Fighting Squadron Five (VF-5)