August 7, 1918 (New York, NY) – July 24, 1945; 26 years old
Married to Mary Derry Symonds on December 4, 1942, in Multnomah County, Oregon
One son, Alfred III
Last local address: 31 Fairfield Avenue, Norwalk
Commissioned as an Ensign in 1941
Service number: O-096119
USS Shangri-La (CV-38)
Born to Alfred Guernsey Symonds Sr. (1893-1953) and Mabel J. Cantrell Symonds (1892-1965). One brother, Richard C. (1924-2000).
Awarded the Silver Star, Air Medal with two stars, and the Purple Heart Medal.
Norwalk High School Class of ‘35
SYMONDS, Alfred G Jr, LCDR, O-096119, USNR, from New York, USS Shangri La, location Japan, missing, date of loss July 24, 1945 (pm) + SYMONDS, Alfred G, Lieutenant Commander, O-096119, USN, from Connecticut, 1946 (WW2), Honolulu Memorial (bm) + SYMONDS. Alfred Guernsey, Jr., Lieutenant, USNR. Wife, Mrs. Mary Derry Symonds, 7427 S.E. Reed College Place, Portland, Ore (Missing in action)
1954hrs. Completed recovering aircraft. The following aircraft failed to return: SB2C-4E #74, Buno. 20691, piloted by Lt Alfred Guernsey SYMONDS, Jr.; Aircrewman ARM1 Edward HICKS. Including several other planes, which returned to the ship earlier, all aircraft on the afternoon flight were accounted for except LT SYMONDS. One pilot reported having seen him at the southeastern rendezvous area but also there were reports of a plane crashing in flames near the target. He and his aircrewman, ARM1 Edward HICKS, USNR, are listed as Missing in Action.
From The Norwalk Hour August 3, 1945
Lieutenant Alfred Guernsey Symonds Jr., USNR, according to a telegram received on Tuesday by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Symonds Sr., 31 Fairfield Avenue, is missing in action in the service of his country. The telegram address is Lieutenant Symonds’ mother, Mrs. Mabel Cantrell Symonds, and reads as follows:
“I deeply regret to inform you that your son, Lieutenant Alfred Guernsey Symonds Jr., is missing in action in the service of his country. Your great anxiety is appreciated and you will be furnished with details when received. To prevent possible aid to our enemies, please do not divulge the name of his ship or station unless the general circumstances are made public in new stories.
Vice Admiral Randall Jacobs
Chief of Naval Personnel
A letter from their son dated July 19 was received yesterday by Mr. and Mrs. Symonds. Lieutenant Symonds has been in the service five years this month, having enlisted immediately upon his graduation from Tufts College, Medford, Massachusetts. He was commissioned an ensign in 1941 and was stationed aboard the USS Pennsylvania (BB-38). The young man was at Pearl Harbor at the time of the sneak Jap attack, following which he was promoted to Lieutenant J.G. Following the battle of Midway, he was promoted to a full grade Lieutenant. Subsequent to two trips to the Aleutian Islands, he was transferred to the air arm of the Navy as a dive bomber pilot. Lieutenant Symonds’ wife, Mrs. Mary Symonds, and son, Alfred G. Symonds III, reside with her parents in Portland, Oregon. His brother, Ensign Richard Symonds, USNR, is stationed on a PT boat at Newport, Rhode Island, and has received special permission to be home with his family this weekend. Prayers for Lieutenant Symonds will be said in Trinity Episcopal Church on Sunday morning at the 10 o’clock service by the rector-in-charge, Reverend Robert B.B. Foote.
From The Norwalk Hour July 29, 1946
Official notification of the death of their eldest son, Lieutenant Alfred Guernsey Symonds Jr., U.S. Naval Reserve, was received today by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred G. Symonds of 31 Fairfield Avenue in a letter from the United States Naval Department at Washington signed by Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal. Young Symonds was reported “missing in action” on July 24, 1945, when the plane in which he was flying, a unit of the 85th Bombing Squadron, failed to return from an attack on targets at the Kure Naval Base, Honshu, Japan. Lieutenant Symonds graduated from Norwalk High School in 1935; Dwight School, New York in 1936, and Tufts College, Class of 1940. In August of that year, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was enrolled at the Midshipmen’s School from which he graduated as an ensign in January 1941. He was immediately assigned to Pearl Harbor aboard the USS Pennsylvania, then the flagship of the Pacific Fleet. Symonds remained aboard the Pennsylvania through the Pearl Harbor attack and received his promotion to Lieutenant Junior Grade. He participated in several engagements with the enemy including the Battle of Midway and two attacks on the Aleutian Islands. After the Battle of Midway, he received his promotion to full Lieutenant. Following his transfer to the air arm of the Navy, Lieutenant Symonds became executive officer of the 85th Bombing Squadron, assigned to the USS Shangri-la, one of the large carriers. On this assignment, Lieutenant Symonds took part in the Okinawa attack without injury. He and Lieutenant Commander Maltby were the first Navy fliers to drop bombs on Tokyo. Participating in many missions, young Symonds made over 2,300 flights over Japan and the Japanese-held islands. He was reported missing in action on July 24, 1945, after he had sunk, single-handed, the Japanese heavy cruiser, Oyado, at the Kure Naval Base, Honshu, Japan. During his time of service, Lieutenant Symonds received many decorations and citations for bravery in action. Captain Whitehead of the Shangri-la wrote to the young officer’s parents in which he said: “Al was an outstanding naval officer and his loss will be felt by all of the crew who loved him dearly.” Besides his parents, Lieutenant Symonds leaves his wife, and two-year-old son, Alfred G. Symonds, 3rd, who are visiting here.
From The Norwalk Hour December 7, 1946
President Awards Medal Posthumously to
Lieutenant Commander Alfred G. Symonds, Jr.
The President of the United States has presented the Silver Star Medal posthumously to Lieutenant Commander Alfred Guernsey Symonds Jr., according to a communication received by his widow from the Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal. The award accompanied by a citation has been received by Mrs. Symonds at her home in Portland, Oregon, and also a copy of the citation has been received by Lieutenant Commander Symonds’ parents, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred G. Symonds Sr., of 31 Fairfield Avenue. It reads as follows:
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Silver Star Medal posthumously to Lieutenant Commander Alfred Guernsey Symonds Jr., United States Naval Reserve, for service as set forth in the following citation
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as a Pilot and Flight Leader of a group of Dive Bombers in Bombing Squadron 85, attached to the USS Shangri-la during action against enemy Japanese shipping in Kure Harbor on July 24, 1945. Skillfully leading his flight of eleven planes against a large group of enemy vessels anchored in the harbor, Lieutenant Commander Symonds launched a bold, aggressive attack in the face of adverse weather and intense anti-aircraft fire from enemy shore batteries and ships, scoring a direct hit on a Japanese Cruiser and contributing to her final destruction. By his airman-ship, resolute courage, and determination, Lieutenant Commander Symonds rendered invaluable service to his Squadron in completing this vital mission, and his inspiring leadership was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
In addition to this high honor, Lieutenant Commander Symonds received the Navy Air Medal with two stars presented after the Okinawa campaign and has also been recommended for the Navy Cross.
Memorialized at the Courts of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial, 2177 Puowaina Drive, Honolulu, Hawaii, Court 2. Photo from findagrave.com.