U.S.S. Little Rock
Commanding Officer Biography

Page last updated: 15 March, 2020
James R. Payne
07 Feb 62 - 26 Aug 63

Captain Payne Photo


February 4, 1915 - January 3, 2004

James Robert Payne was born in Rome, Georgia, on February 4, 1915, son of Justin M. and Agnes R. (Reece) Payne, both now deceased. He attended Technological High School, Atlanta, Georgia, and during the period July 1933 to June 1934 was a Private in the U.S. Army attached to the TWENTY-SECOND Infantry at Fort McPherson, Georgia.  In 1934 he entered the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on appointment from his native state. Graduated and commissioned Ensign on June 2, 1938, he subsequently advanced in rank attaining that of Captain, to date from July 1, 1956.

Following graduation from the Naval Academy in 1938, he joined the USS SALT LAKE CITY CA-25 and in July 1940 was detached for duty as Communications Watch Officer on the Staff of Commander Scouting Force, Pacific Fleet.  From January 1942 to July 1943, he served as Communication Officer, First Lieutenant and Gunnery Officer on board the USS RODMAN DD-456 and while attached to that destroyer participated in the Algeria-Morocco landings. He next reported as Executive Officer of the USS EVANS DD-552  and as such took part in the Marianas and Western Caroline Islands operations and in the attacks on Luzon. He assumed command of' the USS HAILEY DD-556  in January 1945 and for "meritorious achievement...during operations against enemy Japanese forces in the Western Pacific War Area from February 10 to May 28, 1945..."  he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”.  The citation further states in part:

“A skilled and daring leader, (he) directed his ship during carrier strikes on Tokyo, Iwo Shima, Kyushu, and the lnland Sea and during operations of the FIRST Carrier Task Force in support of the Okinawa Campaign. While his vessel was stationed as a member of a picket group on April 16, he aided in the destruction of two enemy planes by gunfire and, furnishing fighter director information to the control vessel, contributed to the destruction of 13 hostile aircraft by the Combat Air Patrol...".

Detached from command of the HAILEY in January 1946, he next served as Executive Officer of the USS DANE APA-238  and in July 1946 reported for instruction in ordnance engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School, Annapolis, Maryland. From June 1947 to June 1949 he continued the course at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, from which he received the degree of Master of Engineering. In July 1949 he joined the USS WORCESTER CL-144 as Operations Officer and in that capacity participated in the North Korean aggression August to October 1950, and in the Inchon landings. Between September 1951 and October 1954 he served ashore as Assistant Head of the Surface Launched Guided Missile Branch, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, D.C. In November 1954 he assumed command of the USS MITSCHER DL-2 and in August 1956 returned to the Navy Department for duty as Assistant to the Surface Weapons System Director in the Bureau of Ordnance. He remained there until September 1959, after which he commanded the USS PIEDMONT AD-17.

In November 1960 he reported as Chief of" Staff and Aide to the Commander Destroyer Flotilla SEVEN and in February 1962 reported for duty as Commanding Officer of the USS Little Rock CLG 4. In September 1964 he became Missile Development Officer in the Bureau of Naval Weapons, Navy Department, and in July 1965 assumed command of the Naval Weapons Station, Yorktown, Virginia. In addition to the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V", Captain Payne has the American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with star; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with silver star (five operations); World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal; China Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Korean Service Medal with two stars; United Nations Service Medal; and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon. He also has the Korean Presidential Unit Citation with Oak Leaf.

Captain Payne is married to the former Kathryn J. AlIen of Cherokee, Iowa and they have two sons, James Robert Payne, Jr., and Paul Reese Payne.

Capt. James R. Payne died in Charlottesville, VA on January 3, 2004 and is buried at the South Plains Church Cemetery, Keswick, VA.

Navy Office of Information
Internal Relations Division (OI-430)
23 August 1965

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Sea Duty Dates

USS SALT LAKE CITY CA-25, (?) 1938 -Jul 1940
USS RODMAN DD-456,  Jan 1942 to Jul 1943
USS EVANS DD-552, XO, Jul (?) 1943 - Jan 1945
USS HAlLEY DD-556, CO, Jan 26, 1945 - Jan 27, 1946
USS DANE APA-238, XO, Jan 1946 (?) - Jul 1946
USS WORCESTER CL-144  Jul 1949 - Sep 1951 (?)
USS MITSCHER DD-927, CO, Nov 1954 - Aug 1956
USS PIEDMONT AD-17, CO,  Oct 9, 1959 - Nov 1, 1960
USS Little Rock CLG 4, CO,  Feb 7, 1962 - Aug 26, 1963

Additional Information
Payne USNA 

From U.S. Naval Academy
1938 Yearbook

Class of 1938

"Jim" " Achey"
Atlanta, Georgia

JIM first saw daylight among the honeysuckle and red-clay hills of Georgia. Raised on beaten biscuit, grits, and " corn, " Achey grew chubby but not so tall. West Point was his first love, but an Annapolis appointment changed his mind, and we gained an able sandblower at the Point ' s expense. A good card game or athletic contest always interests Jimmy, but he must have that "toasted cheese and root beer" after the game. Claiming to be a Red Mike, Jim seldom drags, but we've noticed how eagerly he reads those letters in red which come so regularly. Achey loves a good argument. Just try and tell him the North won the Civil War!  He's been a swell wife with ready laughter and willingness to help a "not so savvy" roommate. Best o'luck, Jim!

Soccer 4, 3, 2; Track 4; Reception Committee; Ensign

Capt's. Chenault & Payne

Captains Chenault and Payne

Photo from collection of Capt. Chenault
undated, but probably 07 Feb 62

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