Rear Admiral Sheldon Kinney, United States Navy
Sheldon Kinney was born In Pasadena, California, on August 27, 1918, son of Harold S. and Gladys H. Kinney. He attended Pasadena city schools and entered the Naval Service as a recruit in November 1935. He served a Seaman in USS OMAHA (CL 4), in the Pacific and Central America. He was a student candidate, Naval Academy Preparatory Class, January to April 1937, and from May through June that year was a Signalman on board USS NEW YORK, a U.S. Battleship which participated in the Coronation Fleet for King George VI, Spithead Bay, England.
Entering the Naval Academy on July 16, 1937, by competitive examination, he was a member of the Varsity Crew, and at graduation received the Superintendent’s Letter Of Commendation, the Class of 1897 Sword for leadership, and the Fleet Reserve Association binoculars awarded to the member of the graduating class standing highest in conduct and aptitude during the four years. He was commissioned Ensign on February 7, 1941, and subsequently advanced to the rank of Rear Admiral, to date from July 1, 1967.
Reporting in March 1941 to USS STURTEVANT (DD 240), a unit of the Support Force, he participated in escort of convoy operations. He served as Gunnery Officer and 1st Lieutenant while STURTEVANT performed ASW duties in the Atlantic, and was a survivor of her sinking in May 1942. “For outstanding heroism aboard USS STURTEVANT while that vessel was stationed as plane guard on the port bow of the USS HORNET on March 5, 1942…” he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. The citation continues:
“When a plane of Scouting Squadron EIGHT crashed into the sea about two miles off the starboard quarter, Ensign Kinney, sighting the two occupants, realized one of the men was sustaining his injured companion with great difficulty…As a result of his quick and heroic action, he undoubtedly saved the life of the severely injured pilot who might otherwise have perished.”
From July to December 1942 he was a student, then Gunnery Instructor (underwater weapons) at the Submarine Chaser Training Center, Miami, Florida. In January, 1943, he commissioned USS EDSALL (DE 129), serving first as Executive Officer and Navigator, and from July through November of that year as Commanding Officer. In December 1943, he assumed command of USS BRONSTEIN (DE 189) which, under his command, sank three German submarines and critically damaged a fourth. The Chief of Naval Operations described this “the most concentrated and successful anti-submarine action by a U.S. Navy ship during World War II.” His ship was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, which read in part: “…This gallant ship established an optimum level of anti-submarine effectiveness for escort vessels during World War II.” He was personally awarded the Navy Cross and the Legion of Merit with Combat “V”. The citation follows in part:
Navy Cross: “For extraordinary heroism as Commanding Officer of USS BRONSTEIN in offensive action against enemy submarines on the night of 29 February, 1944…(when he) engaged three German submarines during a four and one-half hour period…to score decisive victories…”
Legion of Merit: “For exceptionally meritorious conduct…as Commanding Officer of USS BRONSTEIN during anti-submarine operations in the Atlantic Area, on March 17, 1944…”
He was also awarded the Gold Cross of Merit by the Polish Government in exile for carrying Poland’s national treasury across the Atlantic (Dakar to New York) in the BRONSTEIN. In addition, he was awarded the Order of the Fatherland War, First Class, by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, “For outstanding military activities aiding the delivery to northern ports of the Soviet Union during the war against the common enemy of the USSR, and the United States – Hitlerite Germany – of transports with military cargo and for valor and courage displayed while performing this.”
Detached from command of BRONSTEIN in December 1944, he served through the remaining period of the war, and until September 1946, as Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer and Planning Officer on the Staff of Commander, Destroyers, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. He received a Letter of Commendation, with Ribbon, from the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, which states: “By his wide experience, unusual ability and tireless effort, he contributed substantially to the successful training and employment of Destroyers, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, for operations against the enemy.”
In October 1946 he reported to the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, Navy Department, Washington, DC, and while so assigned until April 1948, studied Law at The George Washington University. From May to September of the same year he served as Gunnery and CIC Officer on the Staff of Commander, Cruiser Division FOUR, and for nineteen months thereafter was Aide to the Commander of the Sixth Naval Division.
He joined USS COLUMBUS (CA 74) In June 1950, and served as Navigator in European waters until October, 1951, when he was detached to fit out and re-commission USS TAYLOR (DDE 468). He commanded her from commissioning in December 1951, until December 1952, during Hunter/Killer training and in Korean operations. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” “For heroic achievement as Commanding Officer of USS TAYLOR during operations against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 18 September 1952…”. He was also awarded the order of Military Merit ULCHI, by the government of Korea, for services to that Government during the period he commanded TAYLOR in Korean waters, and also received the Korean Presidential Unit Citation Badge.
Upon his return to the United States In December 1952, he was ordered to the Navy Department, where he served until June 1954 in the Bureau of Naval Personnel (Current Plans). The next two years were spent as an Anti-Submarine and Naval Gunfire Support Instructor in the Department of Ordnance and Gunnery, U.S. Naval Academy, where he additionally served as Secretary-Treasurer of the U.S. Naval Institute, and as Editor of the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings.
In August 1956, he assumed command of USS MITSCHER (DL 2), which participated in Atlantic and European ASW operations. MITSCHER served as operational flagship for the Commander, Destroyer Force, and Commander, Destroyer Flotilla TWO flew his flag in MITSCHER during convoy escort exercises.
Rear Admiral Kinney received a letter of appreciation from the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard for his attempt to save the life of a man who drowned in the waters off Easton’s Beach at Newport, Rhode Island, on August 12, 1957. The letter states that, “Although the man was in all probability beyond help when you reached him it is considered that your alert and unselfish actions in attempting this rescue were commendable and reflect much credit to you…”
In January 1958, he was ordered detached from MITSCHER for duty in the Office of the Chief of Operations (Anti-Submarine Warfare Readiness), Navy Department. He was a student at the National War College from August 1959 until June 1960. In June 1960, he received his Juris Doctor degree from The George Washington University, and was admitted to the Order of the Coif, national legal honor society.
From July 1960 to June 1962 he was Assistant Chief of Staff (Logistics) to the Commander in Chief, Naval Forces, Europe, after which he commanded USS MISSISSINEWA (AO 144). In August 1963, he became Commander, Amphibious Squadron TWELVE and Commander, Amphibious Force, SIXTH Fleet. He reported in January 1964, as Commandant of Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy, and while in that capacity was awarded the degree of Master of Arts in International Affairs in 1966. In October 1967, he assumed command of Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla ELEVEN, and the next month was assigned further duty as Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group, SEVENTH Fleet. He was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of the Second Legion of Merit with Combat “V”, for “exceptionally meritorious service from November 15, 1967, to April 30, 1968, as Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla ELEVEN, and as Commander, Task Group SEVENTY POINT EIGHT…” He is also entitled to the Ribbon for and a facsimile of the Navy Unit Commendation awarded the USS NEWPORT NEWS.
In May 1969, he reported as Assistant Chief of Naval Personnel for Education and Training, Navy Department. In August 1970, he became Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel, Navy Department. “For exceptionally meritorious service as Assistant Chief of Naval Personnel for Education and Training from May 1969 to August 1970, and as Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel from August 1970, through June 1971…” he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of the Third Legion of Merit. In July 1971 assumed command of Cruiser-Destroyer Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
In addition to the Navy Cross, Legion of Merit with two Gold Stars and Combat “V”, Navy and Marine Corps Medal, Bronze Star Medal with “V”, Navy Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, Korean Presidential Unit Citation Badge, and three foreign awards, Rear Admiral Kinney has the American Defense Service Medal with Bronze “A”; the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four engagement stars; the American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal, Europe Clasp; China Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal with bronze star; Korean Medal with one star; United Nations Service Medal; and the Vietnam Service Medal with Star. He also has the Gold Star Cross of Merit (Poland), Order of the Fatherland War (Russia), and the National Order of Vietnam Fifth Class and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device.
Rear Admiral Kinney died in 2004. He was married to the former Elizabeth Douglas of New Canaan, Connecticut, and had two sons, Douglas Sheldon Kinney and Bruce Harold Kinney.
He was a contributor to the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, and has had articles published In Argosy, Air Facts, Ships and the Sea, Combat Forces Journal, and Coast Guard Magazine.
Both of Rear Admiral Kinney’s brothers entered the Navy. Gilbert L. Kinney was killed at Pearl Harbor, aboard USS ARIZONA on December 7, 1941. Donald E. Kinney, Commander, USN, died in 2008.