U.S.S. Little Rock
Commanding Officer Biography

Page last updated: 15 March, 2020

03 Jun 60 - 25 Jan 61

Phillips Photo


Jewett Orean Phillips, Jr. was born in Columbia, Missouri on December 27, 1913, son of Jewett O. and Rhada Grace (Eckley) Phillips. He attended Hickman High School, U.S. Halls Preparatory School, and the University of Missouri, all of Columbia, Missouri, prior to his appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, from his native state in 1932. Graduated and commissioned Ensign on June 4, 1936, he progressed in rank, attaining that of Captain, to date from January 1, 1955.

Following his graduation from the Naval Academy in 1936, he joined the USS IDAHO and in August 1938 reported on board the USS AUGUSTA.  He was serving in that cruiser when the United States entered World War I, December 8, 1941, and in July 1942 was detached to attend a course in metallurgy at the Naval Postgraduate School, Annapolis, Maryland. He continued his instruction, August 1943 - April 1944, at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from which he received the degree of Master of Science.

Ordered to duty afloat, he reported as Gunnery Officer on board the USS SOUTH DAKOTA.  “For heroic achievement.... (in that capacity) in action against enemy Japanese forces in the vicinity of the Japanese Homeland from November 17, 1944 to August 15, 1945...” he was awarded the Bronze Star medal with Combat “V”. The citation continues:  “Maintaining the antiaircraft and main batteries of his ship in a high state of readiness at all times, Commander Phillips rendered invaluable assistance in the destruction of enemy installations and aircraft,  Skillfully directing the bombardments of Kamaishi on July 14, of Hamamatsu on July 29-30 and the second bombardment of Kamaishi on August 9, he contributed to the infliction of extensive damage to vital industrial plants on all three occasions....”

Detached from the SOUTH DAKOTA in January 1946, he had duty until November of that year on the Staff of Commander THIRD Fleet. He was Head of the Materials Laboratory at the Naval Gun Factory, Washington, D.C., until January 1950, and following instruction at the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia, reported in July 1950, as Operations Officer on board the USS SALEM.  In June 1951 he assumed command of the USS Robert H. McCARD, and in July 1952 returned to shore duty at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory, White Oak, Maryland. From August 1953 until June 1954 he attended the National War College, Washington, D.C., after which for almost a year he commanded Destroyer Division FORTY-TWO.

In May 1955 he joined the Staff of the Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, where he served as Fleet Antisubmarine Warfare and Shipping Control Officer. During 1957-1960 he commanded the USS OKANAGAN and USS LITTLE ROCK interspersed with a years duty in the Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Department. In May 1961 he reported as the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic, Deputy for the Anti-Submarine Warfare Research Center, La Spezia, Italy and in June 1962 was assigned to the Bureau of Naval Weapons, Navy Department. In October of 1964 he assumed command of the Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, Illinois.

In addition to the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”, Captain Phillips has the China Service Medal; the American Defense Service Medal with Bronze “A”, the American Campaign Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; the Navy Occupation Service Medal; Asia and Europe Clasps; the National Defense Service Medal; and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with two stars.

He is married to the former Margaret A. Gooch of Bronxville, New York, and they have one son, Peter Gooch Phillips.

Navy Office of Information
Internal Relations Division (OI-430)
24 December 1964

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Jewett 0. Phillips, Jr., 82, Captain USN Retired, died March 21, 1996, of heart failure at his home in Arlington. He was witness to the historic Atlantic Charter signing in Argentia, Newfoundland, on the USS Augusta when it was flagship of the Atlantic Fleet, and also the Asiatic Fleet. A graduate of the Naval Academy, Class of 1936, he received an MS degree in metallurgy from Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1944. He graduated from the National War College in 1954.

A native of Columbia, Missouri, Captain Phillips was stationed in many posts around the world. During World War II, as Gunnery Officer of the USS South Dakota, he saw action through-out the Pacific theatre of war and observed the Peace Treaty ceremony in Tokyo Bay. He was Commanding Officer of the USS McCard, USS Okanagan and USS Little Rock, one of the first guided missile cruisers. He served with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.

He spent two years in La Spezia, Italy, as the Supreme Commander Atlantic's Deputy at the NATO ASW Research Center. Later, he served as Commanding Officer of the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, IL.

Following his retirement from the Navy, he worked with Vitro Laboratories in Silver Spring, and with an international real estate firm.

Survivors include his wife, Margot, a son, Peter, of Winter Park, Florida, and one granddaughter. The Association extends their deepest sympathies to the family of Captain Phillips.

DATE OF BIRTH: 12/27/1913
DATE OF DEATH: 03/21/1996

Capt. Phillips NTC Great Lakes 1965

Captain Phillips as Commanding Officer
U.S. Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, IL

Crew Remembrances & Anecdotes

Frank E. Berglas  YN3  1960-61

"My GQ station was as a phone talker for Captain Phillips.  Later, I held the same post for Captain Chenault.  These were two different personalities, to be sure - but each was a caring, competent skipper in my opinion.
Captain Phillips was sort of taciturn and it appeared he preferred to watch and let the OOD make his own mistakes and corrections, rather than take the initiative himself.  However, nothing seemed to get past Captain Phillips and, in his quiet, almost aloof way, he was a good commander.
Many years later, at one of our early reunions in Buffalo I had the pleasure to attend a dinner arranged by the present President of the Association, Jerry Dupuis.  There were about 10 of us seated, and included were Captain Chenault and his wife, and Captain Phillips.  Of course it was difficult to communicate with Captain Chenault because he had undergone surgery for throat cancer and his ability to speak was impaired.  But Captain Phillips was very friendly, outgoing and happy to be with old Little Rock comrades.  I saw a more human and different side of Captain Phillips then.
Scroll forward a few more years and, during a visit to Arlington Cemetery, again in the company of Jerry Dupuis, we were wondering about the Little Rock skippers who might be interred there.  We both agreed that Captain Phillips, indeed, was buried at Arlington.  As we walked along, among the thousands and thousands of simple military headstones, we saw a newly-dug grave next to which was a small card indicating the name, rank, etc., of the deceased.  Jerry walked up to that card and, as he was bending over to read it, I noticed an amazing thing - he actually, out of all that multitude of graves, was standing right above one for which the headstone read, "J. O. Phillips, Captain, U.S. Navy."   What are the odds of that occurring?"

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