Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Sherman, Forrest Percival (1896–1951)

American admiral and chief of naval operations. Born in Merrimack, New Hampshire, on 30 October 1896, Forrest Sherman graduated second in his United States Naval Academy class of 1917 and saw convoy escort service in World War I. He soon switched to naval aviation and thereafter remained a strong advocate for naval airpower. In May 1942 during World War II, he earned command of the aircraft carrier Wasp. While in support of the Guadalcanal campaign, he lost the Wasp to a Japanese submarine in September 1942. He survived the career blemish and was named chief of staff to Admiral John H. Towers, commander of the Pacific Fleet's air arm. Sherman then joined Admiral Chester Nimitz's staff as head of the War Plans Division.

Sherman made a substantial contribution to the navy's Cold War role. Promoted to vice admiral in December 1945, he served as deputy chief of naval operations under Nimitz during 1945–1947 and urged the navy to adopt a balanced force capable of global reach. Sherman served as the navy's representative during negotiations that helped unify the military services under the Defense Department in 1947. He advocated a permanent American naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea to counter Soviet moves in the Balkans. In December 1947, he assumed command of the U.S. Sixth Task Fleet in the Mediterranean.

Sherman was named chief of naval operations on 2 November 1949 in the wake of the disaster of the Revolt of the Admirals and began the task of restoring naval morale. He proved himself a powerful chief and began to carve out a strong role for the navy in the Cold War. He backed the carrier task force as central to the navy's Cold War mission and saw the need for future supercarriers. He also supported the expansion of the navy to meet other traditional missions, such as antisubmarine warfare, and saw a place for nuclear-powered vessels in the navy's future.

Sherman became the dominant member among the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). With the outbreak of the Korean War, he was a reluctant supporter of Douglas MacArthur's Inchon operation but convinced the JCS to endorse the plan. He supported President Harry S. Truman's decision to remove MacArthur from Korean command. Still serving as chief of naval operations, Sherman died in Naples, Italy, on 22 July 1951 while on a diplomatic mission concerning U.S. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) basing rights.

Thomas D. Veve


Further Reading
Palmer, Michael A. Origins of the Maritime Strategy: American Naval Strategy in the First Postwar Decade. Washington, DC: Naval Historical Center, 1988.; Reynolds, Clark G. "Forrest Percival Sherman, 2 November 1949–22 July 1951." Pp. 208–232 in The Chiefs of Naval Operations, edited by Robert W. Love Jr. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1980.
 

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