Dodge City is hundreds of miles from any large body of water, but it has its own Naval hero.
John E. Gingrich was born on Feb. 23, 1897 to Edward G. and Bertha Allen Gingrich right here in Dodge City.
Gingrich entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1915, after briefly attending the University of Kansas. He earned a commission as an Ensign on June 7, 1919.
From his commissioning to the outbreak of World War II Gingrich served on various Naval ships and as an instructor. He saw action during interventions in Nicaragua and Haiti.
At the Navy Department's Hydrographic Office, Washington, DC, Gingrich was instrumental in completing the new pre-computed Aerial and Marine Navigation Tables in 1936, and was head of the Office's research division.
Gingrich was Naval aide to the first Navy Under Secretary of the Navy, James V. Forrestal, when World War II broke out. Gingrich, unlike a typical aide, assisted in making policy. However, his close association with Forrestal drew the wrath of Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Ernest J. King, who felt his allegiance should be to those in uniform rather than civilian appointees such as Forrestal. This friction got worse when Forrestal was promoted to Secretary of the Navy.
Forrestal assigned him as the first commanding officer of the heavy cruiser "Pittsburgh" in the Pacific. Among the notable actions, the "Pittsburgh" towed the aircraft carrier "Franklin" to safety after combat damage and it survived a typhoon in which 15 percent of the ship's length was torn off. Gingrich earned the Silver Star, Legion of Merit and Gold Star for his service on the "Pittsburgh" from Oct. 1944 to Sept. 1945.
The Navy punished Gingrich for his role with Forrestal by sending him to Miami, Fla. as chief of personnel. However, Gingrich became a rear admiral and director of the Naval Reserve where he restructured the post-war Reserves to be more responsive during emergencies.
Gingrich became the first director of the Division of Security at the Atomic Energy Commission, on August 18, 1947.
This job was challenging at best as politics again hampered Gingrich. On April 30, 1949, Gingrich left the AEC to serve Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Commander United States Pacific Fleet as his Chief of Staff in July.
A low point in the life of Gingrich was the illness and suicide of James Forrestal on May 22, 1949. Gingrich accompanied Forrestal's casket from the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland to the cemetery at Arlington and stood with his family as a close friend and confidant.
After Gingrich briefly served as Commander Training Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet, he became Commander, United Nations Blockade and Escort Force on May 31, 1952 which bombarded and conducted airstrikes on both Korean shores, as well as blockaded the North Korean port of Wonsan. His actions during the Korean War earned him the Distinguished Service medal and decorations from the United Kingdom, South Korea and Thailand.
In February 1953, the Navy promoted him to vice admiral and made him the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for administration. On August 1, 1953, he became responsible for all Navy procurement activities as Chief of Naval Material.
Upon retirement on Oct. 1, 1954, the Navy promoted him to full admiral based on his combat experience. As a civilian, he worked for International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation in New York until his death at the age of 63 after a long illness on May 26, 1960.
He left behind his second wife Vanetta Oliphant and a son, John Edward Jr., by his first wife Florence Benson. He is buried at Arlington Cemetery.