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Oklahoma Journeys

Admiral Marc Mitscher Birthday


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During World War Two, the victories in the Pacific theater were largely the result of Admiral Chester Nimitz and his so-called Carrier Admirals, the admirals who commanded the US fleets in action, a group that included two Oklahomans. This week we celebrate the birth of one of them, Admiral Marc Mitscher, on Oklahoma Journeys from the Oklahoma History Center.

From the Oklahoma History Center, this is Oklahoma Journeys. I'm Michael Dean.

You wouldn't think of Oklahoma as being the home of several distinguished admirals in the Navy. Marc Mitscher was born on Jan. 26, 1887, in Wisconsin, the grandson of German immigrants. Two years after his birth in 1889, the family moved to the newly created town of Oklahoma City. Marc's father, O.A.Mitscher, hadbeen working in the dry goods business in Wisconsin and arriving in Oklahoma City, he opened Mitscher and Mitchell Dry Goods at 138 Main Street. O. A. Mitscher quickly became involved in politics, serving as the second mayor of Oklahoma City from 1892 to 1894. He was unsuccessful in a run for governor then in 1900 President William McKinley appointed him agent for the Osage Indian Reservation in Pawhuska. Unimpressed with local schools, his father sent young Marc Mitscher to Washington, D.C., for his education. Then, in 1904, U.S. Congressman Bird S. McGuire appointed him to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis.
His first roommate was also from Oklahoma, Pete Cade, Jr. Cade failed as a midshipman, and when the upperclassmen returned from their summer cruise, they had Marc Mitscher repeat Cade's full name each time he was approached. Eventually they gave Mitscher the nickname "Oklahoma Pete," or simply called him Pete.Through his career in the Navy, his closest friends continued to callhim Pete not Marc.

In six years, in 1910, he graduated 113th out of 131 classmates. At Annapolis he developed a passion for aviation. He served in the fleet until 1915 when he found an opportunity for aviation training aboard the USS North Carolina. By 1933 Mitscher had logged more than 3,000 hours flying 50 different types of aircraft, and in 1941 he assumed command of the carrier USS Hornet, a part of the Pacific Fleet. In April 1942 the Hornet carried Col. Jimmy Doolittle's sixteen B-25 bombers that raided Tokyo and other Japanese cities. On May 30, 1942, Mitscher was promoted to flag rank, rear admiral and in June of that year was battle tested at Midway. He participated in most of the major battles in the Pacific, including the Philippine Sea, Leyte Gulf, the Marianas "Turkey Shoot," and the assaults on the islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and in 1946 became commander of the Eighth Fleet. The Navy had awarded Marc A. Mitscher three Navy Crosses by the time he died of a heart attack in February of 1947.

Oklahoma Pete, the man who rode ponies on the plains of Oklahoma, is best remembered as World War Two's preeminent Fast Carrier Task Force Commander. We say Happybirthday to the son of the second mayor of Oklahoma City, Marc Mitscher, born on January 26, 1887.

You can learn more about our military heritage by visiting the Oklahoma History Center, just east of the state capitol on NE 23rd Street in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma Journeys is a production of the Oklahoma History Center, dedicated to collecting, preserving, and sharing our state's past. I'm Michael Dean.