J. M. "Jay" Cross - FC2c

Missing In Action - April 6, 1945

Silver Star Recipient

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J. M. Cross was part of the USS Bush commissioning crew, reporting aboard as a Fire Controlman 3rd class on May 10, 1943. Prior to reporting aboard ship, he had attended the Fleet Service School for "Fire Control-Rangefinder-Spotters", graduating on the 6th day of February, 1943.

As a Fire Controlman he was part of the ship's Ordnance Division. His assigned battle station was the #41 40MM director, on the starboard side of the ship, just forward of the bridge and above the #41 40MM gun itself. Shipmates have described him as a "good natured fellow" and "a big strong kid, well liked". J. M. was lost with the USS Bush on April 6, 1945. By that time, his rating had increased to Fire Controlman 2nd Class. He was 21 years old.

J. M. Cross - FC2c
J. M. Cross - FC2c
This big, young sailor had no first or middle name, just the initials J. M. He was the only surviving child of Mr. and Mrs. Hubert M. Cross from Tulsa Oklahoma. A surviving cousin related the following from her childhood memories, "J.M. didn't smoke or drink, and also being a very tall man, was often sent on shore patrol. There was only one time he needed his billy club, but because he'd never had to use it, he couldn't get it off his belt!"

A letter to Jay's parents dated June 2, 1945 from the ship's Commanding Officer told of J. M's death and his gallant actions as the USS Bush was lost. Below are excerpts from that letter:

My dear Mr. and Mrs. Cross,

It is with deep regret that I, Senior Survivor of the USS BUSH, write to you concerning your son, J. M. Cross, who was listed as missing in action after the sinking of the BUSH. Close questioning of survivors and a careful review of the facts have led to the conclusion that he must now be listed as dead.

"Jay" was at his battle station on one of the gun directors at the outset of the action. After the first hit, he went to the damaged area and assisted in clearing wreckage. He survived the succeeding attack and was of great assistance in evacuating personnel when the ship was abandoned. In the rough sea and dark night it was difficult for any of the men to hold on to a raft or support to keep one's head above water. Your son, however, gave his life jacket to a wounded man in his care and supported him until he himself lacked strength to remain afloat. It was a very noble and unselfish deed. His body was not recovered and the circumstances of the ship's loss prevented recovery of his personal effects.

The loss of your son is felt very profoundly by all of us who survived. As his commanding officer I have always known him to be diligent and cheerful in his work. His bravery and heroic actions were outstanding and in the best traditions of the naval service. I can only say that we share your sorrow and will always hold the memory of "Jay's" sacrifice in our hearts"

Very sincerely,

Commander, U. S. Navy
Former Commanding Officer

Pictured below are images for the Silver Star and Purple Heart that J. M.'s parents would receive for his noble actions and subsequent death on April 6, 1945.
Silver Star Awarded J. M. Cross - FC2c
Text on the Silver Star medal itself includes "For Gallantry in Action..."

The written citation that accompanied the Silver Star above reads:
"For distinguishing himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity in action on April 6, 1945, during repeated strafing and suicide attacks by enemy aircraft. After his ship had been initially seriously damaged, he remained aboard during successive crash dives rendering assistance to wounded and assisting in damage control measures. When it became necessary to abandon ship he gave his lifejacket to a wounded shipmate. While in the water he supported a seriously wounded man until he himself lacked strength to remain afloat. His courage and conduct were in keeping with the best traditions of the naval service."
Purple Heart Awarded J. M. Cross - FC2c

USS Bush Fire Controlmen
USS Bush Fire Controlmen
Coy Phillips, J. M. Cross, Norman Handy-1944
With Two Shipmates

Taken in 1944, the picture at left shows J. M. Cross (in the center) with two other USS Bush Fire Controlmen. On the left is Coy W. Phillips, FC3c, and on the right is George N. "Norm" Handy, FC3c. Like J. M., both of these men were part of the commissioning crew.

Coy Phillips would remain aboard reaching a rating of Fire Controlman 1st Class. At 23 years of age, Phillips, like J. M. Cross, was lost with his ship. On April 6, 1945 his battle station is thought to have been in the main battery director above the bridge. From Florence, Alabama, Phillips was one of five brothers serving in the military during World War II. He and another brother would not return home.

Norm Handy was detached from the ship on Janury 31, 1945 while the Bush was moored at Ulithi. Handy was born in London, England and had a cockney accent. He was one of the oldest enlisted men aboard ship, leaving the ship at age 41 or so.

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