Claude Siceluff Kirkpatrick was an Oklahoma-born Navy sailor whose career started in 1930 and concluded with his retirement in 1962. His service included multiple commands over various ships and working with submarine warfare training in Miami, Florida. He would later be affiliated with the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project. Claude then became the Naval Attaché to the United States Embassy in Japan. Upon his retirement from the Navy, Claude, together with his wife Elizabeth Ann Kirkpatrick née Bole would retire to Hillsborough, California where he would remain until he died in Sunnyvale, California in 1985.
Claude Siceluff Kirkpatrick was born on October 26, 1910, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He was the fourth child and fourth son to Dr. Elmer Ellsworth and Helene Claudia Kirkpatrick née Spencer. His father Dr. Elmer Ellsworth Kirkpatrick was one of the first dentists in Oklahoma territory before it became a state, and his mother’s parents, Lewis Mortimer and Mary Julia Spencer née Siceluff, had settled in Oklahoma eventually founding the city of Yukon. Claude would begin attending McKinley Elementary in Oklahoma City in 1916 and eventually graduate from Classen High School in Oklahoma City in 1928. At the time, all three of Claude’s brothers—Lewis Spencer, Elmer Ellsworth, Jr., and John Elson Kirkpatrick—had graduated from military academies or were enrolled. Claude would begin attending the University of Oklahoma for two years.
Early Military Career
Claude entered the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland in 1930. He would attend with his brother John who had started there in the fall of 1927. Claude graduated in 1934 and, as an Ensign, was assigned to serve aboard the USS Cincinnati (CL-6), an Omaha-class light cruiser commissioned ten years earlier. His brother John was also serving on the Cincinnati as a Junior Officer in the gunnery fire control. The ship was ported along the West Coast. With the death of her husband, Claudia Kirkpatrick would live with her son briefly in California.
In 1937, Lieutenant Kirkpatrick would be assigned to the USS Ralph Talbott (DD-390), named after a United States Marine Corps officer whose heroism in World War I had earned him the Medal of Honor. Claude’s assignment came in April though the ship itself was not commissioned until October of that year. On November 5, 1937, Claude married Elizabeth Ann Bole at her family’s home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Elizabeth or “Betty” was the second daughter of George Smedley and Alwilda Milliken Bole. Betty had been born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where her father worked for South Penn Oil Company. The family moved to Tulsa in 1913. After their wedding, Betty and Claude would remain along the East Coast living in Cambridge, Massachusetts until September 1938. The couple would move to New London, Connecticut while Claude attended Submarine School. Their son John Bole Kirkpatrick would be born on March 29, 1939, in New London.
In June 1939, Claude resigned his commission with the Navy. The family moved to Detroit, Michigan where Claude worked at General Motors. In January 1940, they would move again, this time back to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Claude would begin working on oil rigs as a “roughneck” and engineer. His brother John and wife Eleanor Blake Kirkpatrick and daughter Joan were also living in Tulsa at this time.
World War II Military Service
Claude was recalled to active duty in March 1941 and ordered to report to Key West, Florida. He was ordered to take command of the PC 453 that had been commissioned in August 1941 and was launched in Detroit, Michigan. It was the first formal commissioning of a “line vessel on the Great Lakes” in over a century. The ship became a prototype of wooden submarine chasers throughout World War II. On September 18 of that same year, Brian Spencer Kirkpatrick was born while Betty was in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
In April 1942, Lieutenant (j.g.) Claude was assigned to the “Sub Chaser Training Center” (SCTC) in Miami, Florida. SCTC prepared sailors on using sonar to correctly locate subs and then taught tactics needed to attack them. Claude would remain on the base until June 1943 when he would be ordered to take command of the USS Scott (DE-214), a Buckley-class destroyer After being promoted, Lieutenant Commander Kirkpatrick would only be aboard the Scott briefly before returning to Miami until he was made Commander of the USS Goss (DE-444) which was commissioned in August 1944.
When the Goss left Norfolk, Virginia in October 1944, she headed to Pearl Harbor briefly. In December 1944, Claude was able to visit with his brother John E. Kirkpatrick who was then Commander of the Anti-aircraft Training Center at Waianae on Oahu in the Territory of Hawaii. The Goss then joined with other destroyers working off the Palau Islands. Facing kamikaze fighters and Japanese artillery, the Goss screened for landings through the month of January 1945 along the Philippines.
Between February to June 1945, the Goss patriated as part of Task Group 52.1 providing support for the invasion of Iwo Jima. The ship would also take part in operations off Okinawa. In May, Claude was forced to recover from heart ailments at military hospital facilities in Guam. During this time, he was able to see his brother John who at this time had become Gunnery Officer aboard the USS Alaska (CB-1). After his hospital release, Claude was assigned to the USS Griswold (DE-7). The ship was part of the invasion of Okinawa, Japan. In June, the Griswold would escort a convoy to Leyte Gulf in the Philippines. On September 10, she would sail into Tokyo Bay after the Japanese surrender. On October 1945, Claude and John would sail together aboard the Griswold into Long Beach, California. Claude would be released from active duty that same month.
Initially, after his release from the Navy, Claude and his family lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he pursued work as a Petroleum Engineer for Jones and Laughlin (Steel) Supply company. He also was elected to be the chairman of the Tulsa School Board. However, in 1949 the family would move to Hillsborough, California.
The Kirkpatrick’s built a house in Hillsborough, but the family did not remain there long. Commander Kirkpatrick would return to active duty in 1951, assigned to the twelfth Naval District in San Francisco. In 1952, he would serve as the assistant naval reserve coordinator, and later, in November of that same year, he would be ordered to the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project at the Sandia Base in New Mexico. He remained affiliated with AFSWP until 1954. Claude was then assigned as U.S. Naval attaché in Tokyo and the deputy chief of Naval Operations for Research and Development in Washington, D.C.
In 1962, Commander Kirkpatrick retired from the Navy and returned to Hillsborough where he and Elizabeth joined several civic and social organizations including the Bohemian Club of San Francisco. After Betty died in 1974, Claude continued to visit his family until he entered the Idlewood Convalescent Home in Sunnyvale, California where he would die on December 10, 1985.