Mountain Lakes Library banner Library mural

Rear Admiral Miles Rutherford Browning

Miles Rutherford Browning was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, on April 10, 1897, son of Oren F. and Sarah L. (smith) Browning. He attended public schools at Perth Amboy before his appointment to the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, from the third District of New Jersey in 1914. As a Midshipman, he was captain of the Academy swimming team and art editor of the "Lucky Bag." Graduated and commissioned Ensign with the Class of 1918 on June 29, 1917, he subsequently attained the rank of Captain, to date from June 17, 1942. He was transferred to the Retired List of the Navy on January 1, 1947, and promoted tot the rank of Rear Admiral on the basis of combat awards.

Following graduation from the Naval Academy in June 1917, during the early period of World War I, he served on the USS Oklahoma, a battleship of the Atlantic Fleet, until February 1918. He then had duty in connection with fitting out the USS New Mexico. On June 18, he joined the French steamship Lutitia, and was senior American Naval Officer aboard while she operated with Cruiser Force, US Fleet, during the several months following.

He returned to the United States in January 1919 and for four years thereafter had consecutive service afloat beginning on the USS Pennsylvania flagship of the Atlantic Fleet; the USS McKlean, a unit of Destroyer Division 8, Atlantic Fleet; as Engineer Officer of the USS Crane and later the USS Howard, destroyers operating with the Pacific Fleet. He joined the USS Badger at the Navy Yard, Mare Island, California on September 9, 1920, and served as Executive Officer until transferred a year later to similar duty on the USS Kidder. Detached on June 27, 1922, he reported to the USS Charleston, for duty as Senior Patrol Officer, while she operated out of San Diego. He completed that period of sea duty on the USS Thompson, in which he served from February 1, 1923 to January 2, 1924.

On January 31, 1924, he reported to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, for flight training. Designated Naval Aviator on September 29, 1924, he joined the USS Langley, aircraft carrier of Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet. Upon arrival at San Diego, he was assigned to Observation Squadron 2, attached first to the USS Aroostook, later to the USS Idaho in which he served from January 1925 until May 1927, during which period he participated in the Curtiss Marine Trophy Race. For two years thereafter he served as Operations Officer at the Naval Air Station, Naval Operating Base, Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Reporting on July 20, 1929 to Aircraft Squadrons, Scouting Fleet (later, Aircraft, Scouting Force), he commanded Scouting Squadron 5-S, aviation unit of the USS Trenton with additional duty on the staff of Commander Light Cruiser Division Two, Scouting Fleet, (USS Trenton, flagship) until June 1931. On July 14, he reported to the Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department, to serve in the Material Division (Design) until June 1934.

He had command of Fighting Squadron 3B, based on the Langley, and later on the Ranger, aircraft carriers, until June 1936, when he reported to the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, for instruction with additional duty at the Naval Torpedo Station there. He completed the junior course and reported on June 1, 1937 as a Naval Instructor at the Air Corps Tactical School, Maxwell Field, Montgomery, Alabama. When detached in June 1938, he joined the USS Yorktown, to serve as Commander Carrier Air Group, until June 26, 1939. He organized, and for two years thereafter, commanded Fleet Aircraft Tactical Unit, also based on that carrier.

From July 1941 until July 1943, he served as Operations and War Plans Officer, and later Chief of Staff and Aide to Admiral (later Fleet Admiral) W. F. Halsey, Jr., USN, Commander Aircraft, Battle Force, and later Commander South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force. For outstanding service during that period, he received a Letter of Commendation (with Ribbon) from Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, and was awarded the Silver Star Medal and the Distinguished Service Medal. He is also entitled to the Ribbon for, and a facsimile of, the Presidential Unit Citation to the USS Enterprise. The citations are quoted in part:

Letter of Commendation: "For distinguished service in the line of his profession as Chief of Staff of the Task Force in action, on February 1, 1942, against strong enemy island positions. By his brilliant and audacious planning and his unerring grasp of opportunities during the combat, he was primarily responsible for the success of the attack."

Silver Star Medal:"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while servicing as Chief of Staff to the Task Force commander during a series of highly successful offensive missions including the attacks of the Marshall and Gilbert Islands, the raids on Wake and Marcus Islands, the Battle of Midway, and similar operations in the Central Pacific covering a period from December 6, 1941, to June 14, 1942... Largely due to his skill and determination under fire, only minor damage was suffered from attacking heavy bombers in the Marshall Islands engagement, [and]... the Task Force came through unscathed after inflicting extremely heavy damage on Japanese installations and shipping."

Distinguished Service Medal: "For exceptionally meritorious service... as Chief of Staff to a Task Force Commander... By his judicious planning and brilliant execution, [he] was largely responsible for the rout of the enemy Japanese fleet in the Battle of Midway. Later while serving in a similar capacity with the Commander South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force, he... was instrumental in bring about successful culmination of many operations in the South Pacific. His efficient conduct and inspiring example in operational and administrative capacities aided materially in the many victories achieved by our forces...

Presidential Unit Citation -- USS Enterprise: "For consistently outstanding performance and distinguished achievement during repeated action against enemy Japanese forces in the Pacific war area, December 7, 1941 to November 15, 1942. Participating in nearly every major carrier engagement in the first year of the war, the Enterprise and her Air Group, exclusive of her far-flung destruction of hostile shore installations throughout the battle area, did sink or damage, on her own a total of 35 Japanese vessels and shoot down a total of 185 Japanese aircraft. Her aggressive spirit and superb combat efficiency are fitting tribute to the officers and men who so gallantly established her as an ahead bulwark in defense of the American Nation."

In September 1943, he reported to the Newport New Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Newport News, Virginia, for duty in charge of fitting out the USS Hornet, named for the famous aircraft carrier lost in October 1942 during the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands. He commanded the new Hornet from her commissioning, November 29, 1943, until May 29, 1944, during which period she participated in raids on Palau, Yap, Ulithi, Woleai, Truk, Satawan, and Ponape, and in the Hollandia operations. Returning to the United States, he reported July 3, 1944, for duty with the Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He served there as a Navy Member of the staff until relieved of all active duty pending his retirement on January 1, 1947.

In addition to the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star Medal, the Commendation Ribbon, and the Ribbon for the Presidential Unit Citation to the Enterprise, Read Admiral Browning received the Victory Medal, Grand Fleet Clasp, the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, with engagement stars, American Campaign Medal, and the World War ii Victory Medal.

Return to Medals of Honor Page