Hamilton County


Admiral Noel Arthur M. Gayler





Daughter is Coming Home

However, Mrs. Gayler Had Written Prior to War With Japan.

Mr. and Mrs. Ralph J. Groves have received word that their daughter, Mrs. Noel Gayler (Caroline Groves) planned to leave Monday night from Los Angeles for her home in Webster City. The letter was written, however, before the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor.

The Groves do not know whether or not her plans will be changed by the war.

Mrs. Gayler’s husband, Lt. Noel Gayler, is with the United States Navy Air Corps and for several months was stationed at Honolulu. However, he is believed now to be on the aircraft carrier Saratoga and its definite location is not known.

Miss Frances Beaumont, a former Webster City resident, has lived in Honolulu for many years and friends here are anxiously awaiting word from her.

She is a granddaughter of the late Judge J. L. Kamrar.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA, Dec. 11, 1941

Noel Gayler To Give Talk On Saturday

Before their departure from Webster City Saturday morning at 5:30 o’clock, Hamilton county selectees will hear a short talk from Lieut. Noel Gayler, an air pilot who has seen much service in the Pacific and is now enroute to Washington, D. C., where he will be attached to a squadron for service in the Atlantic.

Lieut. Gayler was attached to the famous squadron commanded by Captain O’Hare. In an air battle off the Gilbert Islands, O’Hare’s squadron shot down 16 out of 18 Japanese planes. And of the 16, O’Hare, himself, is credited with taking six.

The selectees will report in Webster City at 4:30 o’clock and will leave at 5:30. Lieut. Gayler will talk as soon as the man have had their breakfast at the Hotel Willson. A band concert will follow and cigarets and candy bars will be given the men. All ceremonies are planned for the street in front of the hotel. The band will be composed of musicians from all towns in the county and the committee in charge is expecting the largest crowd that ever visited Webster City at that time in the morning.

Source: Webster City Freeman, Webster City, IA - June 11, 1942



Correspondent Accords Gayler Hero’s Praise in Article.

As the story of the U. S. victory in the Coral sea reached its final chapters in dramatic portrayals by Stanley Johnston, of the Chicago Tribune, the only foreign correspondent aboard the aircraft carrier, Lexington, and supplied by the Tribune to the Associated Press, Lieut. Noel Gayler, son-in-law of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Groves, of this city, emerged as the leading ace with eight Jap planes to his credit.

In one of a series of articles by the only correspondent aboard the aircraft carrier Lexington, Gayler was credited with knocking down four Jap planes in a single engagement with his own plane the only one out of four which he led to escape being downed by the enemy.

Dog Fight

Lieutenant Gayler and his men were called upon by Lieut. Com. Jimmy Brett to protect the United States torpedo planes and bombers after they had launched a successful attack upon a Japanese carrier.

After a hot dog-fight with the Jap fighters, during which he knocked off two, Gayler started back to the Lexington but got only half way back when he ran into two returning Japanese torpedo planes.

“I was above them,” Gayler was quoted as saying, “and by taking advantage of the clouds I managed to stay out of their sight until ready to make my attack dive. I got the both and proceeded home.”

Johnston declared in his article, “The fighters that Brett had called upon were led by Lieut. Noel Gayler. He emerged from that day’s bitter air combats as the navy’s leading ace. Gayler had three other pilots with him and as they slid down to protect the torpedo planes they found themselves in a dog fight with only a few feet between their wings and the sea.”

The Japanese lost 63 planes on May 8, the day of the above action, approximately 30 percent of the total number lost in the Coral sea struggles. One carrier was sunk, and one completely enveloped in flames the fliers reported immediately their attacks on three Jap vessels, even though oppposed in the air by more than 160 Japanese planes.

Lost Belongings

Lieut. Gayler lost all of his personal belongings when his ship, the Lexington, was sunk by American torpedoes after being hit vitally by the Japanese bombers. The Lexington carried 72 planes and was the oldest plane carrier with the U.S. fleet.

The lieutenant was in Webster City last week, and was the chief speaker at the selectee service held early Saturday morning at the Armory. He and Mrs. Gaylelr, the former Caroline Groves, left the same day for Washington, D .C., where he was scheduled to report for duty Wednesday. He had been transferred from Pacific duty to an assignment presumably with the Atlantic fleet.

While here in Webster City, Gayler was reluctant to discuss his part in the Coral sea battles, and it was only through the special copyrighted feature of Johnston, that his heroic action was learned.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA - June 19, 1942


Naval Ace States That Air Power Is Decisive Factor in War.

Lieut. Noel A. M. Gayler, of the naval air corps, in his talk Friday evening over the blue network of the National Broadcasting company, expressed the belief that air strength will prove a determining factor in the present war and that, ultimately, it will control both the sea and land.

The lieutenant, widely known in this community, was interviewed in Washington, D. C., by the woman announcer of the key station of the blue network. Lieut. Gayler has just been awarded the Navy Cross, the Gold Star and a citation from President Roosevelt for bravery in action at the Gilbert and Marshall islands. Mrs. Gayler is the former Caroline Groves, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Groves, of this city. The two spent a short vacation ere in June, while enroute to Washington, D. C., from the west coast.

Full Interview

There was much radio interference from static and reception was so bad that few listeners hereabouts heard the full interview.

Asked as to his personal exploits, the lieutenant replied with becoming modesty, that it is teamwork on the part of the whole squadron that contributes to personal exploits. It is, he said, like football. Planes, like linesmen, clear the way for other planes which “make the kill.”

As to how one feels in action in the air, he said that one most certainly doesn’t reiview his past life. Rather, he attends strictly to business. He doesn’t even think of the men in the other plane. It is all impersonal. He simply sees the other plane as a dangerous obstacle which he knows he must “knock out.”

Now On Tour

Lieut. Gayler is now touring various airfields in the east and south making technical examinations of planes. He has been two years in the navy, he said in answer to a question, and is a graduate of the U. S. naval academy at Annapolis, Md. His father is a captain in the civil engineering corps. He has, the announcer said, 18 planes to his own credit. And in reply to a question as to what his wife thought of his navl air service, he replied that “she was all for it.”

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, July 25, 1942

Birmingham Honors Lieutenant Gayler


New Naval Aviation Group Named After Widely Known Flier.

Birmingham, Ala., last week honored Lieut. Noel Gayler, widely known in Webster City and whose wife is the former Caroline Groves, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph W. Groves, of this city, when a squadron of naval aviation inductees was designated the Noel Gayler squadron. The special reason for his honor is the birthplace of Lieut. Gayler.

His parents now live in Seattle, Wash., and his mother, Mrs. Captain Gayler is expected in this city this week for a short visit at the Groves’ home. Lieut. and Mrs. Gayler are now living in Alexandria, Va.

Lieut. Gayler visited Birmingham on the ocasion of the induction of the Noel Gayler squadron and made the address of the occasion.

In Packed Theater

Miss Marguerite Johnson, a feature writer on the Birmingham News, covered the story as follows:

Japan is a greater threat than Nazi Germany.

This is the opinion of Lt. Noel Gayler—the Birmingham born naval hero who came here Wednesday to induct the Noel Gayler squadron into naval aviation on Wednesday night before a packed audirnce of the Pantage theater.

Japan is the greater threat “because Germany has already reached fullest expansion in Europe and has exploited Europe’s resources to, if not beyond, the breaking point. But Japan has only begun to exploit the Pacific empire with resources far greater than Europe’s, and with a wealth of docile native labor to make those resources available.”

Modest About Medals

“I don’t know why you should ask me these things,” Lt. Gayler insisted in an interview backstage before the induction ceremony, I am no authority.”

But Lt. Gayler has met the enemy time and again in battle areas throughout the South Pacific. He knows the kind of planes the Japanese fly, the kind fo men who fly them, and the kind of war they can be expected to wage to the death.

Asked about the three Navy Crosses awarded him, Lt. Gayler said simply, “no one man in a fighter plane should receive the credit for a successful action. It’s just like football. In football it takes one man to make the goal, but that doesn’t mean that he did it all by himself. It took the whole team to do it, and he just happened to be chosen to carry the ball. The Navy Cross should go to the squadron.”

Actions He Was In

Lt. Gayler’s first action was at Beaugainville Island, when the Lexington was attacked. The change from practice to realities of combat is not so great as one might imagine, he says, but a surprise does not come the first time you see an enemy airplane come apart as the result of your work.

“That first action was purely defensive and I happened to lead a division just because I happened to be in the slot.”

His second action was at New Guinea when two groups flew over the Owen Stanley mountains to attack a concentration of Japanese ships in the harbor.

“The dive bombers sank 11 ships, the torpedo planes sank two cargos, the fighter planes downed four enemy aircraft and strafed and set on fire with machine gun bullets a couple of anti-aircraft batteries,” he said.

“The torpedo planes really did a remarkable job in transporting their ‘fish’ over those mountains—they’re aboaut 11,000 feet high and torpedo ships are heavy planes. And it was a successful flight—we only lost one plane.”

Outstanding Work

The navy citation tells more about Lt. Gayler than Lt. Gayler does. It states, “he intercepted and shot down an enemy seaplane fighter and later in the face of heavy anti-aircraft fire strafed and dropped fragmentation bombs on two enemy destroyers causing many enemy personnel casualties.”

“In the battle of Coral Sea “we knocked off the Fyakaku May 7 and the Shokaku May 8 and damaged the Ziukakk.” The navy states “due to his skill and assgresiveness . . . his utter disregard for his own life, Lt. Gayler succeeded in destroying two Japanese aircraft and damaging two others, his courageous action contributing materially to the defense of our force.”

But the war with Japan, Lt. Gayler states, cannot be won by an occasional skirmish at sea or by holding action.

“We have been fighting a holding war so far, he said, “and in it, we’ve been inordinately successful. Tactically, we’ve been victorious every time—that is, when we’ve come face to face with them, we have beaten them.

Japs Not Beaten

“But strategically, we have not beaten them. They hold the whole theater of war. They will continue to until we go over there and beat then out of their strongholds.

“The chances are that they still have more ships and more strength in that theater than we do.

“In my opinion—and of course I am no authority,” Lt. Gayler said, “the Japanese are a bigger threat then Germany.

“They are intrinsically stronger, and they are in a stronger position. Germany has already expanded to the fullest in Europe and has exploited the empire she has taken past the breaking point.”

Advises Inductees

“If we leave them alone, and are content to fight a holding war, we will find them becoming stronger and stronger. Think of what an awful lot they did with what they had to begin with. Now they have all the resources of the Pacific and a great pool of docile labor to make them available.”

In his address to the Noel Gayler squadron, Lt. Gayler told the Birmingham men what they can expect in naval aviation, told of men he knew who had fought great fights outnumbered.

“Learn what they teach you,” he urged them “because you will be outnumbered, and you will have to beat the Japs with the superiority that’s in you. That superiority cones from two sources: From what you are—which is to say better than any Jap that ever lived—and from what you are taught. Make the most of it. When the time comes that you are on the spot, you have to be good.”

Lt. Gayler speaks with a direct, quiet strength that caused comment among navy officers and civilians through the audience, “He has an amazing force,” one officer said.

Source: Webster City Freeman, Webster City, IA - Nov. 30, 1942

Lieut. Gayler Promoted to Lieut. Commander

Lieut. Noel Gayler, widely known in this city and who is now stationed in Washington, D. C., has just been promoted to the rank of Lt. Commander in the navy. Comm. Gayler is a son-in-law of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Groves, of this city and Mrs. Gayler, the former Miss Caroline Groves, was one of Webster City’s most popular young ladies. She won the national declamatory contest when a member of the graduating class here.

Source: Webster City Freeman, Webster City, IA - May 10, 1943


A citation signed by J.S. McCain, vice admiral of the U. S. navy has been received here by Mrs. Noel Gayler announcing the awarding of a bronze star to her husband, Commander Gayler for “meritorious achievement as assistant operations officer while serving on the staff of the commander, second carrier task forces, Pacific, from May 8 to Sept. 2, 1945.”

The sidely known air officer was praied for his ability to coordinate and integrate details of air plans which made possible attacks on the Japanese and heavy damage to the enemy.

The commander was aboard the cruiser U. S. S. San Diego with the first fleet units which sailed into Tokyo bay prior to the final Jap surrender.

Source: Webster City Freeman, Oct. 1, 1945

Mrs. Noel Gayler and children, Caroline, Anne and Deborah, of Arlington, Va., arrived here on Monday for a visit at the home of Mrs. Gayler’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Groves. The family is enroute to Alameda, Calif., where Capt. Gayler is now based as commander of the U. S. S. Ranger. The Gaylers’ sons, Alexander and Christopher, are visiting their paternal grandparents, Capt. and Mrs. Ernest Gayler, at Seattle, Wash.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA - June 16, 1959

Gayler Notified of Admiral Appointment

Capt. Noel Gayler, who is here with his family to visit at the home of Mrs. Gayler’s parents—Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Groves, has received word that he has been selected by the U.S. Navy department for advancement to the rank of admiral.

He was notified this mornng that he has also been apppointed naval attache to London and will leave shortly for Washington, D. C., where he will report on Monday for his new assignment.

Captain Gayler has been commander of the U.S.S. Ranger, based at Alameda, Calif.

Mrs. Gayler and her five children, Caroline, Anne, Debby, Alexander and Christopher, plan to spend about two weeks in Webster City before leaaving for Washington. Prior to coming to Webster City, they visited with Capt. Gayler’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. E. R. Gayler of Bremerton, Wash.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA - July 27, 1960

[His Bio on Findagrave.com]

US Navy Admiral. A highly decorated fighter pilot who became a World War II flying ace, he rose in rank to become the Commander-in-Chief of US Pacific Command. After completing a US Army West Point preparatory school in Hawaii, he received an appointment to the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland in June 1931 and graduated four years later with a commission as an ensign. For the next five years he served sea duty on the battleship USS Maryland and the destroyers USS Maury and USS Craven. In March 1940 he entered flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida and received his aviator wings the following November, and was assigned to Fighter Squadron 3. After the US entered World War II in December 1941, he flew combat missions in the Pacific Theater of Operations during the early stages of the war and was credited with shooting down five enemy aircraft and was awarded the Navy Cross on three separate occasions from February to May 1942, becoming the first US Navy pilot to achieve it. In June 1942 he was assigned to Naval Air Station Anacostia in Washington DC as a VF Project Officer and the following June he became a test pilot at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. In June 1944 he became commanding officer of VF-12 and in March 1945 he served as the air operations officer for the 2nd Carrier Task Force in the Pacific and was present at the Japanese surrender on the deck of the battleship USS Missouri. His post-World War II assignments included tours of the Special Devices Center in Florida (1946 to 1948) and operations officer on the aircraft carrier USS Bairoko (1948 to 1949) and the US Navy Flight Design Branch in Washington DC (1949 to 1951). In June 1951 he became commanding officer of the US Navy's experimental jet fighter squadron VX-III (VX-3) at Atlantic City, New Jersey. In January 1954 he served in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington DC and in January 1956 he commanded the seaplane tender Greenwich Bay. He then served briefly as operations officer for the Commander-in-Chief, US Pacific Fleet and in June 1957 he became the Naval Aide to the Secretary of the Navy in Washington DC. In May 1959 he commanded the aircraft carrier USS Ranger and in June 1960 he was assigned as the Naval Attaché in London, England. From August 1962 until August 1963 he commanded Carrier Division 20 and then served as Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Development in Washington DC from August 1963 until August 1967. The following month he became Deputy Director of the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska and in July 1969 he became the Director of the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Maryland. In September 1972 he was promoted to the rank of admiral and became Commander-in-Chief of US Pacific Command at Honolulu, Hawaii and retired in that position in August 1976 with 39 years of continuous military service. Among his military decorations and awards include the Navy Cross (with two gold stars), the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal (with one gold star), the Legion of Merit (with one gold star), the Bronze Star (with combat "V" device), the American Defense Service Medal (with base clasp), the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (with two service stars), the World War II Victory Medal, the Navy Occupation Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal (with one service star), the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Philippine Defense Medal, the Philippine Liberation Medal (with two bronze stars), and the Philippine Independence Medal. After his military retirement, he served on the Board of Directors of various corporations and continued to press for the disarmament of nuclear weapons, a passion he had acquired since observing the destruction of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan in August 1945. He died at the age of 96. (bio by: William Bjornstad)

Noel Arthur Meredyth Gayler was born Dec. 25, 1914 to Capt. Ernest vonRotteck and Anne Yates Roberts Gayler. He died July 14, 2011 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.

Admiral Gayler served with the U.S. Navy in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He became Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command at Honolulu, Hawaii and retired in that position with 39 years of continuous military service.

Source: ancestry.com