Richard D. Mugg – Captain, United States Navy

From a contemporary press report:

Captain Richard D. Mugg United States Navy (retired) died at Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury, Irvington, Virginia, on July 17, 2001.

Captain Mugg was born in Fort Worth, Texas April 16, 1916, the youngest of 10 children. He graduated from Central High School in Oklahoma City, and was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy from the State of Oklahoma, where he graduated with distinction with the Class of 1938. The Class was honored to have President Roosevelt deliver the graduation address, and the diplomas to each midshipman.

Upon graduation from the Naval Academy, Captain Mugg served in the heavy cruiser Tuscaloosa, based in Long Beach, California. A few months later, he met his bride-to-be, an aspiring ballerina, Majorie Messer, in Los Angeles. In January 1939, the Pacific Fleet transited the Panama Canal to the Caribbean where Fleet Problem XX was conducted. At the end of the Fleet Problem, Tuscaloosa, and the other cruisers of this division, were reassigned from the Pacific Fleet to form the nucleus of the Atlantic Fleet. The cruisers made a good will cruise of South America during which visits were made to Venezuela, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. His next assignment was in the commissioning of the light cruiser Helena at the New York Naval Shipyard. Helena was one of a new class of cruisers having the rapid-fire 6″ gun turrets that proved so effective in the war in the Pacific.

During WWII, he served in the destroyer Upshur convoying ships across the North Atlantic. His next assignment was in the commissioning of the new battleship Indiana at Newport News as the electrical officer, followed by duty with the ship in subsequent operations in the South Pacific.

During the Korean War he was operations officer of the heavy cruiser Bremerton, and participated in operations off the bombline, Wonsan Harbor and other coastal areas of North Korea. Captain Mugg commanded the radar-picket destroyer Ernest G. Small, the guided missile test ship Norton Sound, and the Talos guided missile cruiser Oklahoma City. While in command of the destroyer he participated in Formosa Patrol, in evacuation of Chinese Nationalists from the Tachen Islands off the coast of Communist China, and in Operation Wigwam, which was the underwater test of a nuclear depth charge off the southwest coast of the United States.

While in command of Norton Sound, which was normally engaged in test firings of the Terrier and Tartar surface-to-air missiles, his ship was selected to participate in Operation Frigate Bird as the Range Safety and Missile Destruct Ship. This operation was the first and only live test of a ballistic missile (Polaris) equipped with a nuclear warhead. The missile was fired by the ballistic missile submarine USS Ethan Allan (SSBN 608) while submerged in the mid-Pacific, and exploded far down range near Christmas Island.

Captain Mugg’s fleet staff assignments included duty with Commander Destroyer Squadron Thirty-One; Commander Mine Force, Pacific Fleet; Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CINCPACFLT) at Pearl Harbor; and Commander-in-Chief, Naval Forces Easter Atlantic and Mediterranean (CINCNELM) in London. He was selected by the Bureau of Ordnance for postgraduate study in Ordnance Engineering (Underwater Sound) at the Naval Postgraduate School in Annapolis, followed by a year at the University of California at Los Angeles. The latter included additional studies at Scripts Institute of Oceanography at La Jolla, and the California Institute of Technology at Pasadena. He received a Masters Degree in Applied Physics from UCLA.

He was a graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C. In Washington Captain Mugg served in the Bureau of Ordnance, Bureau of Naval Weapons, Naval Ordnance System Command, and the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. In the Bureau of Ordnance he was head of the Navy’s torpedo research and development program, and was responsible for developing the first lightweight anti-submarine torpedo, launchable from helicopters as well as surface ships.

He retired on July 1,1968 after 30 years of naval service. His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star with Combat “V”, and numerous theater and service medals. His first wife, the former Marjorie Messer of Los  Angeles, died in 1971. His second wife, the former Alice Levering Fuller of New Orleans, died in 1993.

He is survived by two sons, Lieutenant Colonel Richard D. Mugg Jr., USAF (Retired) of Lakeridge, Virginia, and Commander William A. Mugg, USN (Retired) of Mooresville, North Carolina; and four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Graveside services will be held at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday, July 31, 2001, where he will be interred in the gravesite of his first wife.

DATE OF BIRTH: 12/24/1918
DATE OF DEATH: 02/10/1971

DATE OF BIRTH: 04/16/1916
DATE OF DEATH: 07/17/2001

Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment