REAR ADMIRAL RODERICK O. MIDDLETON
UNITED STATES NAVY, RETIRED
Roderick Osgood Middleton was born in Pomona, Florida on January 23, 1919, son of Mrs. W.S. (Lizzie Williams) Middleton and the late Mr. Middleton. He attended Crescent City and Frostproof High Schools, both in Florida, and the Florida Southern College, Lakeland, before his appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, in 1937. Graduated and commissioned Ensign on February 7, 1941, he subsequently advanced to the rank of Rear Admiral, to date from July 1, 1967.
Upon graduation from the Naval Academy he was assigned to the Pre-Commissioning Detail of the USS WASHINGTON, and joined that battleship for navigation and gunnery duties at her commissioning on May 1941. He was on board the WASHINGTON at the outbreak of World War II and during her subsequent service with the British Home Fleet in Russian convoy operations, and with the U.S. Pacific Fleet in operations at Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands. While he was serving as a turret officer on board, the WASHINGTON sank the Japanese battleship KIRISHIMA.
After brief training at the Naval Air Station, Dallas, Texas, he assisted in fitting out the USS ALASKA's gunnery department, participating in the Iwo Jima and Okinawa Campaigns in that large cruiser. Detached in May 1945, he returned to Annapolis for instruction in Ordnance at the Naval Postgraduate School, completing the course at Harvard University, from which he was awarded the degree of Master of Science in July 1946.
From July 1946 until September 1948 he served as Gunnery Officer of the USS LITTLE ROCK (CL-92), light cruiser. He attended Guided Missile School at Fort Bliss, Texas, and from September 1948 until September 1952 served in the Navy Department, Washington, D.C., attached to the Guided Missile Research and Development Division, Bureau of Ordnance. Duty as Ordnance Officer on the Staff of Commander Service Squadron THREE took him to the Far East, and he received a Letter of Commendation, with Ribbon and Combat "V", for service in that assignment during the Korean hostilities.
Returning to the United States in April 1954, he attended Anti-Submarine Warfare School at the Naval Station, Key West, Florida during June and July, then served briefly on the Staff of Commander Destroyers, Atlantic, as Prospective Commanding Officer, before assuming command, in September 1954, of the USS BENHAM (DD-796). When detached early in 1956, he reported to Naval Office, Army Ballistic Missile Agency, Huntsville, Alabama, and in January 1957 was ordered to head the Missile Branch, Special Projects Office, Bureau of Ordnance (later Bureau of Naval Weapons). He was awarded the Legion of Merit on January 5, 1961 by the Secretary of the Navy for his work on the POLARIS missile.
In January 1961 he was transferred to duty as Commander Destroyer Division ONE HUNDRED FORTY TWO, and in June 1962 was assigned as Chief of Staff and Aide to Commander Carrier Division FOURTEEN. He assumed command of the USS OBSERVATION ISLAND (EAG-154) in August 1962 and in September 1964 became Commanding Officer of the USS LITTLE ROCK (CLG-4). In October 1965 he reported as Apollo Mission Director, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and in August 1967 became Manager of the Apollo Program, Kennedy Space Center, NASA, Cape Kennedy, Florida. As such, he developed plans and monitored their implementation, which resulted in the first manned lunar landing in July 1969. "For exceptionally meritorious service from August 1967 to October 1969..." he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of the Second Legion of Merit.
He reported as Commander Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla TWELVE in October 1969 and Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet Representative, Mayport, Florida. In that capacity he supervised the overall readiness of the Flotilla, the administration of all Cruiser-Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet matters in the Florida area and planned for and proposed a new weapons system. For exceptionally meritorious service in that assignment, he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a Third Legion of Merit. In December 1970 he reported as Military Assistant to the Deputy Director (Strategic and Space Systems), Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Research and Engineering), Washington, D.C. :For exceptionally meritorious conduct..." in that capacity, he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a Fourth Legion of Merit. He served as such until relieved of active duty pending his retirement, effective May 1, 1972.
In addition to the Legion of Merit with three Gold Stars and the Commendation Ribbon with Combat "V", Rear Admiral Middleton has the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; American Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four operation stars; World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal, Europe Clasp; China Service Medal; and the United Nations Service Medal. He also holds the Expert Rifleman Medal.
Rear Admiral Middleton is married to the former Miss Ethel Bellows of Norfolk, Virginia. They have three children, Mrs. Rodney Anne Middleton Beale, Roderick Osgood Middleton, Jr; and Stephanie Adele Middleton. His official residence is Pomona Park, Florida.
Rear Admiral Middleton's hobby is oil painting.
Above information is from:
Navy Office of Information
Biographies Branch (OI-0111)
30 January 1973
Article: "New Apollo Program Aide"
From: The New York Times 20 July 1967
CAPE KENNEDY, Fla., July 18 (AP) - The admiral who headed a destroyer fleet that recovered Col. John H. Glenn, Jr., the astronaut in 1962 was named today to be Apollo program manager at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Kennedy Space Center here. Rear Adm. Roderick O. Middleton, now of NASA's Office of Manned Space Flight in Washington, will fill a vacancy created last May when Maj. Gen. John G. Shinkle resigned as Apollo program manager.
Did you also know.... ?
LCDR R.O. Middleton was the Gunnery Officer on the USS Little Rock CL92 in 1947? Check out what the Little Rock was doing in 1947 in the Chronology Section.
REAR ADMIRAL RODERICK O. MIDDLETON
Burial: Eden Cemetery
Crescent City, Putnam County, Florida, USA
From U.S. Naval Academy
Class of 1941
RODERICK O. MIDDLETON
Rod's career has been as interesting as it has been varied. From juggling canned beans in a small grocery store to wrestling with a tractor in one of Florida's many orange groves, then to the less strenuous job as a movie usher and the occupation of drawing suds in a beer garden, and finally to management of a restaurant. After he realized that some form of higher education is necessary in this world, he studied at Florida Southern College with a scholarship and then, following two valuable as well as enjoyable years on the campus, the great inspiration came, and finally the fulfillment — Annapolis.
Rod is ambitious. All one need do to discover the source of his inspiration is to open his locker door where six square feet of photographs of the same girl smile forth. Some day we expect to see great deeds done by Rod. His analytical mind, his natural aptitude, and a wealth of feminine inspiration have insured his success. Rod's easy going nature and constant good humor have gained him many friends.
Outdoor Rifle 4, 3; Indoor Rifle 4, 3; Battalion Football 4; Company Pistol 3, 2.
Crew Remembrances & Anecdotes
(Add yours..... Contact Art Tilley)
From William Spurgeon FTM-3
"I served on Little Rock from Oct '63 to June '66. I remember distinctly the change of command in which Capt. Middleton relieved Capt. Bell. We were in Amsterdam, Holland and the crew was assembled on the fantail for the ceremony. When Capt. Middleton accepted command, as part of his remarks he voiced his opinion that "sailors belong on ships and ships belong at sea."
This was followed immediately by a low, sad moan from the crew. We certainly DID NOT agree with him. To this day I don't know if he heard the crew's response."
Ed. Note: Our Chronology for 1964 would indicate that Capt. Middleton took command of the Little Rock while the ship was in Norfolk. The stop in Amsterdam was earlier (June or July) and Capt. Bell was CO at that time. Anybody have any corroborating evidence?