Rear Admiral Frank Ashton Leamy, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired), was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 13 May 1900. He attended public schools in Ardmore, Pa., and Philadelphia, graduating from West Philadelphia High School in 1918. Forty one years later he received this school's Alumni Association "Outstanding Almnus Award". He enlisted in the Tank Corps, U.S. Army, for service in World War I and was honorably discharged in early 1919.
In 1920 he enrolled in the Civil Engineering course at the University of Delaware and in early 1922 transferred to Temple University to prepare for the competitive entrance examinations to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Appointed a Cadet on 7 August 1922, he entered the Academy, then located at Fort Trumbull, New London. Active in the Academy life he won varsity letters in football, baseball, crew, and as manager of the track team. He was Class Vice President, Athletic Association President, Associate Editor of the year book "Tide Rips", Humor Editor of the Academy Publication "Foretop", and a company commander in the Cadet battalion. while a Cadet he received the Commandant of the Coast Guard Commendation for going overboard and assisting in the rescue of two women from drowning in the Potomac River.
After graduating from the Academy and being commissioned an Ensign in 1924, he was subsequently promoted at regular intervals through the commissioned grades to that of Rear Admiral in September 1954.
His first assignment was duty aboard the destroyer Beale attached to the Coast Guard Destroyer Force, New London, Conn. Serving aboard vessels of this Force until October 1926, he was then detailed to the U.S. Navy as Gunnery and Small Arms Observer aboard the USS Worden in Cuba and Haiti. For the quality of his observation reports and his high performance of duty with Navy crews on the small arms ranges he received the Secretary of the Navy and the Commandant of the Coast Guard Letters of Commendation. Upon completion of this Navy duty he returned to the Coast Guard Destroyer force where he established the first small arms training school for Destroyer personnel.
Detached from the Destroyer Force in September 1927 he became Executive Officer, Coast Guard Base, Biloxi, Miss. Placed in charge of a detachment of Coast Guard boats organized fro rescue work in the flash flood areas around Caryville, Florida, this detachment received special commendation from the Governor of Florida and the Commandant of the Coast Guard for its ability to navigate the treacherous flood waters, the saving of many lives, and the establishment of temporary camps and rehabilitation centers.
In September 1930, after completion of a year's tour of duty as an instructor and assistant football coach at the Coast Guard Academy, he served in various capacities, including that of Commanding Officer, aboard destroyers and cruising cutters in the North Atlantic. In May 1934, he was assigned as technical advisor for the motion picture production, "Story of the Coast Guard". While on this duty he was ordered to take charge of shore rescue operations of passengers from the burning cruise ship Morro Castle subsequently beached on the New Jersey coast.
In February, 1936, after completion of flight training at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Fla., he was designated a Coast Guard Aviator and assigned command of the Coast Guard Air Station, Salem, Mass. Here he participated in numerous open sea plan landings in the interest of saving lives. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1938, by the Secretary of the Treasury in the name of the President for his skill in piloting an amphibious plan on a hazardous night flight with a landing at sea in rough water in darkness 60 miles offshore to remove a seriously injured crewman from a trawler and transport him to Boston for hospitalization. This award presentation was one of the very few ever made to that time for outstanding heroic performance of duty in peacetime.
In early 1939, he assumed command at the coast Guard Air Station, San Diego, Calif. Later that year he piloted the first flight of Coast Guard flying boats across the Rocky Mountains on their transcontinental flight to the East Coast to participate in the Atlantic Ocean Neutrality Patrol. From October 1939, to June 1940, he commanded the Coast Guard Air Station, Miami, Fla. participating in neutrality patrol flights and rescues.
World War II
Reporting to Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C., in July 1940, as Chief, Aviation Division, he served until November 1943, when at this own request, he was detached for duty overseas with the Amphibious Forces. He was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal for outstanding performance of duty in the administration and operation of the vastly expanded Coast Guard wartime aeronautical organization. Prior to reporting for overseas duty he served a short period with the Navy Manpower Board in a survey of personnel requirements for all continental Navy, Marine and Coast Guard shore installations.
Reporting aboard the 22,000 to Attack Transport Joseph T. Dickman (APA-13), he participated in the initial assault landings in South France. In August 1944, he assumed command of the Dickman and for meritorious service in operations against the enemy in the follow-up phases of the invasion he was awarded the Secretary of the Navy Commendation Medal with combat star. Departing from the Mediterranean area he proceeded with the Dickman into the Asiatic-Pacific Area, and as Commander, Task Group 12, led this force in the initial assault on Okinawa.
After the Okinawa operations he was assigned with the Dickman to the planned amphibious assault landings on the Japanese mainland. With the cessation of hostilities occurring prior to the assault, the Dickman proceeded to the Philippines, discharged its combat forces, and commenced returning military and civilian personnel to the United States in operation Magic Carpet.
Assigned to Coast Guard Headquarters in February 1946, Admiral (then Captain) Leamy assumed duties as Chief, Floating Units Division. In January 1950, he reported to the 8th Coast Guard District, New Orleans, La., as Chief of Staff and in June, 1951, was appointed District Commander. He initiated an intensive motorboat safety program and in Fiscal Year 1953, 8th District units boarded and examined over 31,000 boats, more than twice the number boarded by the entire Coast Guard in any previous year.
In July 1954, he was assigned to Cleveland, Ohio, as Commander, 9th Coast Guard District. Here he inaugurated a similar motorboat safety program on the Great Lakes, and for the period ending 30 June 1956, the 9th District units boarded and examined 60,633 craft, an all-time record of safety examinations. For his work and initiative in the interest of water safety he received the Commandant of the Coast Guard Letter of Commendation.
In August 1957, Admiral Leamy became the 22nd Superintendent of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy since its establishment in 1876, and the Commander, cadet Practic Squadrons in 1957, 1958 and 1959. He inaugurated a number of organizational and curricular changes at the Academy, including establishment of the office of an Academic Dean, a program of exchange visits of the Cadets with other Service Academies, held the first meeting at the Coast Guard Academy of the Superintendents of the three other Service Academies, and provided opportunities for Coast Guard Cadets to pursue elective and advanced subjects. Through his acquaintance with Otto Graham, the great Cleveland Browns star quarterback, he interested him in accepting the position as Director of Athletics and Head Football Coach.
Admiral Leamy established a comprehensive building program for the Academy. When funds were denied for replacement of the hazardous, substandard living quarters for the Cadets, he made a direct appeal to the Cadets' parents for support. They were instrumental in obtaining from Congress a supplemental appropriation of funds to replace the temporary, deteriorated wooden barracks with a modern building.
Upon his retirement in February 1960 from duty at the Academy and from the Coast Guard for a service-connected physical disability, the President awarded him the Legion of Merit for "...his conscientious endeavors in benefiting the stature of the Academy and the prestige of the Coast Guard, his professional imagination, foresight, driving spirit and devotion to duty".
Admiral Leamy is married to the former Helen B. B. of San Francisco, Calif. They have two sons, Frank A., an officer and helicopter pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps, and David A.
He is a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity, the Newcomen Society in North America, the U.S. Naval Institute, the Retired Officers Association, the Alumni Associations of West Philadelphia High School, University of Delaware and the Coast Guard Academy. He is a Life Member of the Propeller Club of the United States.
Admiral Leamy received the following decorations and awards: Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Navy Commendation Medal (two), Coast Guard Aviator, World War I and World War II Victory Medals, American Defense Service Medal, American Area Medal (1 star), European-African-Middle Eastern Area Medal (1 star), Asiatic-Pacific Area Medal (1 star), National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal and the Coast Guard Expert Rifleman Medal.
Resume of Appointments: Cadet, August 7, 1922; Ensign, October 24, 1924; Lieutenant (jg), October 24, 1926; Lieutenant, October 24, 1928; Lieut. Commander, October 24, 1932; Commander, July 17, 1942; Captain, December 1, 1943; Rear Admiral, September 9, 1954; Retired, February 1960; Died, June 24, 1966.