Frederick Julian Becton, 87, decorated rear admiral
Frederick Julian Becton, 87, a retired rear admiral died Monday at his home in Wynnewood, Pa.
He was at the center of a dramatic two hours of naval history when the destroyer he commanded survived an attack by Japanese kamikaze planes in 1945 off Okinawa.
The 2,200-ton U.S.S. Laffey, guns blazing, battled a relentless onslaught by 22 suicide planes, six of which struck the ship. Two bombs also struck the ship; one jammed the rudder of the Laffey, whose deck was a mass of flames.
The Laffey's crew shot down eight or nine of the planes, but 31 of its men were killed or missing.
Mr. Becton, then a Navy commander, escaped injury. He received the Navy Cross.
He was in command of the destroyer Aaron Ward when it was part of an Allied convoy that was attacked off Guadalcanal in April 1943. His ship and two other vessels were sunk, but the raiders lost 39 aircraft.
Mr. Becton was also decorated for the Laffey's support role in the invasion of Normandy and other wartime action. He received four Silver Stars, two commendation ribbons, two Presidential Unit Citations and the Croix de Guerre.
He was born in Des Arc, Ark., and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1931. He retired from the Navy in 1966.