Fletcher, Vice-Admiral Frank, 1885-1973

‘Black Jack’ Fletcher was the US Admiral in tactical command at the Battle of Coral Sea. Fletcher’s flagship was the USS Yorktown and after trying to sight the Japanese forces in Coral Sea for several days, he sent out a strike force on 7 May 1942 which sank the Shoho and hit the Shokaku. The US lost the Lexington and the Yorktown was badly damaged which was a tactical defeat for them but turned into a strategic victory because it knocked the Shokaku out of the Battle of Midway. Fletcher was also in tactical command at Midway but his flagship was hit by three bombs early in the battle. In August 1942 Fletcher was in command of three carriers, the Saratoga, Wasp and Enterprise, off Guadalcanal: however he was so nervous about being attacked that he withdrew early to the annoyance of ground troops. Fletcher retained command of the carrier force in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons when the Enterprise was badly damaged but the Japanese lost the Ryujo and at least ninety aircraft. In 1943 Vice-Admiral Fletcher was transferred to command the north Pacific forces and remained at this post until the end of the war.

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