Kincaid of the Seventh Fleet: A Biography of Admiral Thomas C. Kincaid, US Navy

Article excerpt

KINCAID OF THE SEVENTH FLEET: A Biography of Admiral Thomas C. Kincaid, U.S. Navy. hy Gerald E. Wheeler. 531 pages. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD. 1996. $37.95.

There are two good reasons for a biography of this US Navy admiral. The first reason is historical. The second reason is he serves as a role model for military academy students graduating in their classes' lower halves. One can study how Kincaid made the most of his average talents, made a major World War It contribution and ended up with four stars on his shoulder. He deserved every one of them.

Thomas C. Kincaid was a Navy "brat," the son of a US Naval Academy graduate and admiral. He knew the Navy system, how to work it and how to work in it. Graduating 136th in a class of 201 from the US Naval Academy, Kincaid succeeded not by brilliance or innovation but because of his professionalism and ability to get along with associates above and below him.

He first served as a very junior officer in noncombat roles during World War I, then began a long list of assignments in Washington, D.C., where he and his attractive wife became well known in naval social circles. The first quarter of this book traces how Kincaid, with an absolute minimum of sea duty, slowly worked up the promotion ladder. Author Gerald E. Wheeler spent 16 years writing this book. Much of his source material came from Mrs. Kincaid, which lends particular insight into how a junior officer's career can be helped by a supportive wife. They knew the right people in higher command and were at the right places at the right times.

When the United States entered World War If, Kincaid was a captain with just enough seniority to obtain a sea command. He was promoted to rear admiral and given a cruiser division in the Pacific, effectively directing his forces in the Coral Sea and Midway battles. His big break came when Admiral Chester W Nimitz named him as the carrier USS Enterprise's commander to support the invasion of Guadalcanal and subsequent carrier battles east of the Solomons. His performance was again satisfactory, although he was the last nonaviator to command a carrier task force. …