|Birth Day:||June 11, 1883|
|Death Date:||May 22, 1978 (age 94)|
As per our current Database, Aubrey Fitch died on May 22, 1978 (age 94).
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He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1906.
Fitch was born in Saint Ignace, Michigan, on June 11, 1883. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy in the summer of 1902 and graduated on February 12, 1906. After serving the two years of sea duty then required by law before being commissioned in the armored cruiser Pennsylvania and the torpedo boat Chauncey Fitch became as ensign on February 13, 1908 and served afloat in Rainbow and Concord before receiving instruction in torpedoes at the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island, in the school conducted on board the old cruiser Montgomery.
Upon completion of the torpedo course, Fitch helped to fit out the battleship Delaware, which commissioned on April 4, 1910 before returning to Annapolis for consecutive tours of duty at the Naval Academy, first as assistant discipline officer between 1911 and 1912 and later as an instructor of physical training from 1912 to 1913. Service in the destroyers Balch and Duncan followed before he received his first sea command, the destroyer Terry, with the 2nd Division, Reserve Torpedo Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet.
After serving on the staff of the Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, Fitch assumed command of the yacht Yankton in January 1915, with additional duty as aide to the Commander in Chief.
Detached from Mahan in December 1922, Fitch served at Rio de Janeiro until March 1927 as a member of the United States mission to Brazil before reporting back to the Navy Department for a brief tour of duty in Washington, D.C. Going to sea as executive officer of Nevada in May 1927, Fitch assumed command of Arctic (a type of ship sometimes known uncomplimentarily as a "beef boat") in November of that year.
He reported for aviation instruction at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, in June 1929 and there won his wings as a naval aviator on February 4, 1930. Following brief duty at NAS San Diego, California, Fitch assumed command of the USS Wright in the spring of 1930. Relieved from that billet a little over a year later (July 1931), he then began a year as commanding officer of the Navy's first aircraft carrier, Langley.
After commanding NAS Hampton Roads, Virginia, until June 1935 Fitch reported as chief of staff to Commander, Aircraft, Battle Force, and remained in that billet until assuming command of Lexington (CV-2) in April 1936. Subsequently, attending the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, from June 1937 to May 1938, Fitch completed the senior course there before assuming command of NAS Pensacola, in June 1938. In the spring of 1940, he took over the reins of Patrol Wing 2, based at Pearl Harbor, and seven months later, broke his flag in Saratoga as Commander, Carrier Division 1. The outbreak of hostilities in the Pacific in December 1941 thus found Fitch one of the most experienced carrier commanders afloat.
Fitch's flagship, Saratoga, figured prominently in the abortive attempt to reinforce Wake Island in December 1941 and was later torpedoed off Oahu in late January 1942, seriously cutting American carrier strength in the Pacific at a critical period.
Rear Admiral Fitch relieved Vice Admiral Wilson Brown on April 3, 1942, breaking his flag in Lexington, his former command. During the Battle of the Coral Sea, Fitch served as the Commander Task Group 17.5, consisting of "Lady Lex" and the Yorktown (CV-5), and was named Officer in Tactical Command (O.T.C.) by Task Force commander Admiral Frank J. Fletcher. That engagement, the first in history where neither side came within surface gun range of the other, effectively stopped the Japanese thrust at the strategic Port Moresby, but resulted in the first loss of an American aircraft carrier in the war— the USS Lexington, sunk on May 8, 1942.
On September 20, 1942, six weeks after the first American amphibious operation of the war got underway at Guadalcanal, Fitch assumed command of Aircraft, South Pacific Force. Not a desk-bound admiral, he carried out numerous, hazardous flights into the combat zones, inspecting air activities incident to the selection of bases for projected operations. For these, he received a Distinguished Flying Cross.
Under Fitch's command, AirSoPac—ultimately encompassing not only Navy but Army, Marine Corps, and Royal New Zealand air units—achieved great success in aiding the Allied campaign in the South Pacific. Fitch's planes protected Allied shipping, providing vital air cover that strongly assisted the Allies in challenging, and ultimately defeating, the Japanese in the Solomons. In addition, his aircraft performed essential reconnaissance missions, spotting enemy warships prior to the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands in October 1942 and during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942.
After V-J Day, Vice Admiral Fitch assumed duty as the Superintendent of the Naval Academy on August 16, 1945 and held that post until January 15, 1947, with collateral duty as Commandant, Severn River Command. The first aviator to head the Naval Academy, Fitch was instrumental in establishing the Department of Aeronautics, authorized by the Navy on November 28, 1945.
Subsequent to heading the Academy, Fitch served briefly in the Office of the Undersecretary of the Navy before becoming the senior member of the Naval Clemency and Prison Inspection Board in March 1947. He was so serving when he retired from the Navy and was relieved of all active duty on July 1, 1947.
Admiral Fitch died due to a heart ailment combined with a bout with pneumonia in Newcastle, Maine his adopted state, on May 22, 1978 shortly before his 95th birthday.
In 1981, the U.S. Navy guided-missile frigate USS Aubrey Fitch (FFG-34) was named in Admiral Fitch's honor.
Currently, Aubrey Fitch is 138 years, 4 months and 8 days old. Aubrey Fitch will celebrate 139th birthday on a Saturday 11th of June 2022.
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