Thomas Lamison Sprague (October 2, 1894 – September 17, 1972) was an American admiral who served during World War II as commander of the USS Intrepid and took part in the battles of Guam, Leyte Gulf and Okinawa.
Naval Academy and World War 1
Born in Lima, Ohio
, Sprague graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1917 (although no relation to Admiral Clifton "Ziggy" Sprague
, the two both attended the United States Naval Academy
later graduating from the same class). He served aboard the USS Cleveland
assigned to the trans-Atlantic
convoy from June 1917 until April 1918 and, after serving on shore duty for a brief period, Sprague assisted in the official commission of the USS Montgomery
in July. As a member of the ship's anti-submarine patrol, Sprague would eventually come to command the destroyer from January to November 1920.
After participating in naval flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station
(NAS), Sprague served as a staff officer under Pacific Air commander Admiral H.V. Butler
from 1921 to 1923. In 1926, Sprague was transferred to the USS Maryland
serving with Observation Squadron 1 for two years before being stationed at the San Diego Naval Air Station
Between 1931 and 1936, Sprague served as commander of Scouting Squadron 6, director of the Philadelphia Naval Aircraft Factory Aeronautical Engine Lab, and air officer on board the USS Saratoga before being reassigned as to Pensacola as superintendent of Naval Air Training from 1937 to 1940.
World War 2
Serving as executive officer on board the on neutrality patrol in the Atlantic for a year, Sprague helped commission the escort carrier and commanded the vessel during training missions in the Chesapeake
from February to December 1942.
After serving staff duty from January to June 1943, Sprague commissioned the in August, and commanded the aircraft carrier in raids against the Truk and Marshall Islands during the first two months of 1944.
Promoted to Rear Admiral in June, Sprague commanded carrier Division 22 which covered the assault on Guam from July–August and Morotai in September. In command of Task Group 77.4 and Task Unit 77.4.1 ("Taffy 1") during the Battle of Leyte Gulf from October 24–25, Sprague briefly commanded Pacific training carriers under Carrier Division 11, before leading Carrier Division 3 off Okinawa from April-June 1945. Commanded Task Force 38.1 during the final air operations against Japan by the war's end.
Post War and death
Sprague was named deputy chief, then chief, of the Bureau of Naval Personnel in 1946 serving until his promotion to Vice Admiral in August 1949. Appointed commander of the Pacific Fleet Air Force in October, Sprague would hold this post until his retirement in April 1952. Although briefly returning to active duty to negotiate with the Philippine
government over the status of U.S. air bases in 1956, Sprague would remain in retirement until his death on September 17, 1972.
- Reynolds, Clark G. Famous American Admirals. New York, 1978.