On June 11, 1945, Richard Mile McCool was a young Lieutenant aboard the USS LCS(L) (3)-122, a landing craft supporting ship that was assisting in the invasion of Okinawa. The American fleet was under sustained attack by Japanese suicide, or kamikaze planes. Already, thirty United States ships had been damaged or sunk by kamikaze planes or boats.
On June 10, McCool displayed great courage while helping to rescue sailors from the USS Porter, which had been struck by two kamikaze planes herself. Then, on June 11, McCool’s LCS was hit by a kamikaze. Despite being badly wounded by shrapnel and burns, McCool disregarded his own safety to lead his crew in firefighting and rescue efforts.
McCool’s LCS alongside the USS William Porter.
President Truman presented McCool with the Congressional Medal of Honor after the War. His citation reads as follows:
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the U.S.S. LSC(L)(3) 122 during operations against enemy Japanese forces in the Ryukyu chain, 10 and 11 June 1945. Sharply vigilant during hostile air raids against Allied ships on radar picket duty off Okinawa on 10 June, Lt. McCool aided materially in evacuating all survivors from a sinking destroyer which had sustained mortal damage under the devastating attacks. When his own craft was attacked simultaneously by 2 of the enemy’s suicide squadron early in the evening of 11 June, he instantly hurled the full power of his gun batteries against the plunging aircraft, shooting down the first and damaging the second before it crashed his station in the conning tower and engulfed the immediate area in a mass of flames. Although suffering from shrapnel wounds and painful burns, he rallied his concussion-shocked crew and initiated vigorous firefighting measures and then proceeded to the rescue of several trapped in a blazing compartment, subsequently carrying 1 man to safety despite the excruciating pain of additional severe burns. Unmindful of all personal danger, he continued his efforts without respite until aid arrived from other ships and he was evacuated. By his staunch leadership, capable direction, and indomitable determination throughout the crisis, Lt. McCool saved the lives of many who otherwise might have perished and contributed materially to the saving of his ship for further combat service. His valiant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of extreme peril sustains and enhances the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
McCool died of natural causes on March 5, 2008 at the age of 86 after a long Naval career, in which he saw service in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
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