Coronado’s “Avenue Of The Heroes” ... RADM James D. “Jig Dog” Ramage, USN - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado City News

Coronado’s “Avenue Of The Heroes” ... RADM James D. “Jig Dog” Ramage, USN

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Posted: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 10:28 am

James David Ramage was born in Waterloo, Iowa, on July 19, 1916. His father was a machinist by trade but worked as a farmer, banker, and salesman, during the Great Depression. James Ramage was educated in Waterloo, graduating from East Waterloo High. In 1934, he entered what is now called the University of Northern Iowa. Later, he was nominated and appointed to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.  

At the Academy, he acquired the nickname “Jig Dog” from the phonetic alphabet of his initials. He graduated and was commissioned an Ensign on June 1, 1939, and was posted to the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, based in Hawaii. There, he met and married Emeleen Tyler in September 1941, before leaving for flight training at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida.

The United States entered WW II while Ramage was in training at Pensacola learning to fly several aircraft. On graduation in May, 1942, he was assigned to a scouting squadron and promoted to lieutenant (junior grade). Later the same year, Ramage was promoted to lieutenant and returned to Hawaii on USS Enterprise. While in Hawaii, his air group qualified for night operations, preparing him for his first combat in the Battle of Kwajalein and Truk, in early 1944.

Kwajalein Atoll is located in the Marshall Islands. Truk held a heavily fortified base serving as the forward anchorage for the Japanese Imperial Fleet. It is now known as one of the largest ship graveyards.

Ramage became commander of a bomb diving squadron in March of the same year. On the evening of June 20, 1944, during the Battle of the Philippine Sea (liberation of the Philippines campaign by General MacArthur), Ramage led 12 Hellcats and five Avenger torpedo bombers from USS Enterprise against the Japanese fleet. He later recalled: “Our strike group was picked up by Japanese air control just as we located their fleet. Despite black anti-aircraft fire-puffs surrounding us, I took our squadron to the closest carrier. As I rolled in, I concentrated my fire directly into the ship’s forward elevator, then, dropped my bombs directly on the carrier. I found out later, our squadron sank the Japanese carrier Hiyo, and the Ryuho was disabled, never to see combat again.”

For his part in this Battle of the Philippine Sea, Ramage was awarded the Navy’s second highest honor, the Navy Cross. His citation read in part: “...for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Flight Leader in Bombing Squadron Ten, attached to the USS Enterprise from June 12 to 20, 1944.  An aggressive combat pilot, Lieutenant Commander Ramage led his squadron with consistent skill and daring on numerous bombing missions, striking defended military objectives and inflicting great damage upon the enemy. By his expert airmanship and exceptional courageous initiative, Lieutenant Commander contributed to the success of our operations in this strategic area, and his great personal valor in the face of grave peril was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

After the war, Ramage attended the first post war class at the Naval War College where he wrote a thesis on nuclear weapons and carrier aviation. This, as well as his studies at the National War College, led to Ramage becoming a major factor in eventually putting nuclear-capable aircraft aboard aircraft carriers. Ramage later served in the Pentagon as the Navy built up its nuclear strike capability. He retired from the Navy in 1975.

In retirement, RADM Ramage was a major force in support of Naval Aviation through his active participation in the Golden Eagles, the Tailhook Association, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation in Pensacola, Florida. In recognition of his strong support for many years of the Tailhook Association, a group devoted to ensuring the appropriate role of the aircraft carrier and carrier aviation in the nation’s defense system, it established the annual “Jig Dog Ramage Award” to the airwing-aircraft carrier team with the best performance in Carrier operations.

Admiral Ramage took his civic duties very seriously as well. He led a campaign to rename a civic center in his hometown of Waterloo, Iowa to “The Five Sullivan Brothers.” These brothers were all lost at sea when the USS Juneau was sunk in WW II, leading to restrictions regarding family members being assigned together.

Ramage spent most of his retirement in Coronado, California. Here, he busied himself in several community projects and organizations, such as driving handicapped people to their doctors, and volunteering his services to the Red Cross. Almost daily, he would meet with friends at a coffee house in Coronado on San Diego Bay to solve difficult crossword puzzles. One undertaking was a major fundraising for the Air Museum at Balboa Park. In gratitude, the Park found an aircraft that Ramage flew in WW II, and hung it in the museum with his name printed under the canopy of the fighter plane.

Some of the many awards Ramage received were:  the Navy Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit (four), Distinguished Flying Cross (two), Air Medals (seven), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Vietnam Gallantry Cross, Vietnam Service Medal, WW II Victory Medal, United Nations Service Medal, China Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, and Philippine Liberation Ribbon.

This naval warrior, RADM James D. Ramage was a dynamic and charismatic leader who left us a legacy of commitment and devotion to duty we should all admire, and try to imitate.

James D. Ramage is survived by his two daughters, Jaleen Edwards and Jamie Franzman, along with stepdaughter Karen Cordes, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

• Avenue of Heroes neighborhood hopes you have enjoyed the stories of Coronado’s home town heroes. We trust you shared them with your friends. Please look forward with us to Veteran’s Day, 2015, when a new set of Heroes will be honored on the Avenue of Heroes.

The Hometown Hero Banner Program is administered by the City of Coronado. A volunteer banner selection committee makes the final decision about who will be honored with a banner. That committee is made up of 2-Avenue of Heroes residents, 2-VFW members, and 2-Historical Association representatives.

Some of those honored will be Commander Fane, who saved the Naval Special Forces program when it was going to be scrapped after the Korean Conflict, along with Four Star Admiral Duncan, and Rear Admiral Erly. Until then, see you on the Avenue!

To nominate someone for a Hero Banner, download and application from the City of Coronado Website or visit City Hall and pick one up. Upon submission, you will need a photograph and news article or DD214 form. The nominee should have lived in Coronado. A base address constitutes residency.

City of Coronado web banner address: http://www.coronado.ca.us/egov/apps/document/center.egov?view=item;id=8501

Also available on Avenue of Heroes Facebook Page.

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