James A. Fite, Jr.
Lieutenant James A. Fite, Jr. (December 3, 1911 – April 2, 1991) was the Communications Officer of the USS Cecil J. Doyle (DE-368) when it rescued the survivors of the USS Indianapolis (CA-35) in August 1945.
Early life & education
James A. Fite, Jr. was born on December 3, 1911 in Houston, Texas to banker and businessman James A. Fite and Dovie Hillin Fite. Fite's great-great-grandfather John Fite served in the New Jersey Troops during the American Revolutionary War and fought at the Battle of Millstone. Fite also had five great uncles serve in the Union Army during the American Civil War.
Fite graduated from Rice University in 1933 with a BA in Business. After graduating, Fite went to work for Humble Oil & Refining Company and married Gertrude Morgan Manford the following year.
World War II
During World War II, Fite served as communications officer on board the USS Cecil J. Doyle (DE-368). While on patrol, Cecil J. Doyle several times rescued downed aviators. On 2 August, she was ordered to the rescue of a large group of men in rafts reported at 11°30' N., 133°30' E., and bent on top speed to be the first to reach the survivors of the torpedoed USS Indianapolis (CA-35). The commanding officer of the Cecil J. Doyle, W. Graham Claytor Jr., ordered Lieutenant Fite to inform command that they were rescuing the crew of the Indianapolis; this was the first definitive message of the Indianapolis's fate. The message read: HAVE ARREVED AREA X AM PICKING UP SURVIVORS FROM USS INDIANAPOLIS (CA 35) TORPEODED [sic] AND SUNK LAST SUNDAY NIGHT. The Doyle rescued 93 survivors, and gave final rites to 21 found already dead. Remaining in the area searching until 8 August, Cecil J. Doyle was the last to leave the scene.
Following World War II, Fite returned to work at Humble Oil & Refining Company (which eventually became Exxon in 1973) and retired in 1974 as Coordinator of Credit Card Business for Exxon. Fite died on April 2, 1991 in Houston, Texas at age 79 years old.
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- Richard F. Newcomb, "Abandon Ship!: The Saga of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, the Navy's Greatest Sea Disaster" (ISBN 0-06-018471-X)
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