John Geraerdt Crommelin Jr.
|Born||2 October 1902|
|Died||2 November 1996 (aged 94)|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Navy|
|Unit||Naval aviation, USS Enterprise, Navy headquarters|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Other work||Gubernatorial, Senate, Vice Presidential and Presidential candidate|
Crommelin earned a reputation as a courageous and skillful naval aviator and the nickname "bomb-run John". He served as an executive officer as well as air officer aboard the Enterprise and was chief of staff aboard the carrier Liscome Bay when it was sunk in the Makin Island campaign off the Gilbert Islands.
In Washington Captain Crommelin became a vocal critic of military politics, warning of the dangers of concentrating military authority in the hands of a few, despite being in active service. He publicly complained that the Defense Department was scuttling naval air power and showing improper favor to the Air Force and that "a Prussian General Staff system of the type employed by Hitler" was being imposed on the armed forces under unification.
During this Revolt of the Admirals, he made public some of the confidential correspondence of top Navy commanders who were critical of the Defense Departments designs to defund the Navy. Crommelin's opposition to the civilian political authority decisions to reduce the Navy and increase reliance on the Air Force placed him in a politically untenable position. Crommelin was publicly reprimanded by Navy Chief of Naval Operations Forrest P. Sherman and was transferred to San Francisco, California.
Crommelin was furloughed by Admiral Sherman at half pay, beginning early in 1950. Crommelin retired from active duty with the rank of Rear Admiral in May 1950, after 30 years of service. He went to operate a part of his family plantation, named Harrogate Springs, in Elmore County, raising a variety of crops.
Although he was widely praised and credited for his courage in speaking out for his views and for his previous distinguished combat career, Crommelin's reputation suffered from his later political involvement. He was an open and unapologetic racist, segregationist and anti-Semite even when such sentiments were becoming less fashionable in Alabama.
Crommelin generally finished last or second-last in any election. He was nominated for Vice President in 1960 by the minor, far-right, white supremacist National States' Rights Party (not to be confused with the slightly more moderate States' Rights Democratic Party of 1948), as the running mate of Orval Faubus, the Governor of Arkansas.
In 1964, he ran in the Democratic primary for Alabama's 2nd congressional district, his home district, against 14-term incumbent George M. Grant. It was the first substantive opposition Grant had faced at any level. As always, Crommerlin did not win election in the primary, but Grant himself was routed in the general election in a backlash to the federal Democrats passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Crommelin married Lillian E. Tapley in 1930. They had two daughters and one son.
USS Crommelin, commissioned in 1983 as the twenty-eighth ship of the Oliver Hazard Perry class of guided-missile frigates, is named for John G. and his four brothers. The brothers are the only group of five siblings to graduate from the US Naval Academy, further highlighted by all five serving combat duty during World War II.
Despite his navy reprimand in 1949, and his avowed racism during his later political career, John G. is still one of these five combat-tested brothers, and his name is included with his brothers' on the military website for the Crommelin.
Alabama United States Senate election, 1950
Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate from Alabama, 1956
1958 Alabama gubernatorial election (Democratic primary)
Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate from Alabama, 1960
Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate from Alabama, 1962
Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate from Alabama, 1966
1968 United States presidential election (Democratic primaries)