Jack was born in Newport, Rhode Island on October 24, 1918.
He enlisted in the U. S. Navy June 27, 1936.
On December 7, 1941, Jack was serving as a Quartermaster
2nd Class on the U.S.S. West Virginia (BB48) at Pearl Harbor.
The next day he was assigned to the U.S.S. San Francisco
(CA' )8) and participated in some of the early actions against
Japanese forces. In May 1942, Jack returned to the West
Virginia as a member of the salvage crew which raised the
ship and returned it to Bremerton, WA for repairs and modernization.
In September 1943, Jack was commissioned Ensign from Chief
Quartermaster and shortly thereafter reported to Solomons,
Maryland for amphibious training. On June 6, 1944, he was
Executive Officer of the U.S.S. LST 60 and was with the
assault force which struck Normandy and launched the invasion
of France. From June 1945 to June 1946 he commanded the
U. S. S. LST 510.
Following two years with the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, he
attended the General Line School in Newport, RI and was
promoted to full Lieutenant. Jack then served as Gunnery
Officer of the U.S.S. Agerholm (DD826) from June 1949 to
In October 1950, Jack assumed command of the U.S.S. Murrelet
(AM 372) and deployed to Korea. During one year of minesweeping
and interdiction operations, Murrelet was under fire many
times by enemy shore batteries and, although hit three times,
suffered only minor damage. Murrelet was awarded the U.
S. Navy Unit Commendation, and two Korean Presidential Unit
From October 1952 until March of 1955, Jack was an instructor
at the Fleet AntiSubmarine Warfare School in San Diego and
was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. He assumed command
of the U.S.S. Formoe (DE 509) in March 1955. In 1957 he
turned the Formoe over to Portugal and rode the ship for
three months training the Portuguese crew. Then followed
one year as a student in the Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare
School in Quantico, VA. Upon graduation, he was assigned
to the staff of Commander Amphibious Forces, U. S. Pacific
Fleet. He was promoted to Commander 1 April 1959.
Jack assumed command of the U.S.S. Floyd B. Parks (DD884)
in August 1960 until June of 1962 when he reported to the
Staff of Commander First Fleet for duty. In January of 1964,
he was transferred to the U. S. Naval Oceanographic Office
for duty as Director of Plans and Operations. He was promoted
to Captain 1 September 1964.
Jack assumed command of the U.S.S. Thomaston (LSD 28) in
October 1966. Thomaston was involved in a number of amphibious
assaults in Vietnam and was awarded the U.S. Navy Meritorious
Unit Commendation. In May of 1968, Jack reported to Commander
Amphibious Group Three for duty as Chief of Staff, again
involved in Vietnamese operations.
In March 1970, Jack assumed command of Amphibious Squadron
One which was comprised of seven ships. This tour included
six months as the Seventh Fleet Amphibious Ready Group with
an embarked Marine Battalion and Helicopter Squadron.
Jack's last tour of duty was as Commander Fleet Training
Center, San Diego. The Training Center handled 60,000 students
per year in all Navy skills including Gunnery, Damage Control,
Seamanship, Engineering, and Fire Fighting. He retired in
June 1974 and could look back with pride on a career wherein
he advanced from Seaman Recruit to Captain and earned twenty-seven
service medals and ribbons including four Legions of Merit
and two Bronze Stars.
Book dedicated to Captain O'Neill