Francis X. Skeffington

  • Petty Officer 2nd Class
  • WW II


Francis Xavier Skeffington was born in Providence, Rhode Island on 8 May 1921. He was the son of Peter Joseph and Mary Teresa Skeffington. He graduated from LaSalle Academy in June 1939. Francis was an outstanding student and participated in many school activities. Francis entered Rhode Island State College (RISC) in September 1939 with the class of 1943, majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He was a member of Rho Iota Kappa Fraternity and participated in the Army ROTC program. Like so many of his classmates, he left RISC prior to graduating. He joined the U.S. Navy on 14 January 1943.

Upon his completion of Boot Training, Seaman Skeffington attended the Aerial Free Gunnery and Aviation Radar Operations courses at the Naval Training Center, Memphis, TN. In October 1943, Petty Officer 2nd Class Skeffington was assigned to the Torpedo Squadron 20, Unit VT-20. In April 1944, Torpedo Squadron 20 was attached to the USS Enterprise and sailed for combat duty in the Pacific.
When the Americans sent the first of three waves of attacks against Formosa on 12 October 1944, they were faced with an unexpectedly heavy level of opposition. Two hundred and thirty Japanese aircraft were sent into the attack, outnumbering the incoming American fighters by about three to two. Unfortunately for the Japanese, most of their pilots were very inexperienced. One third of the Japanese fighters were lost in the battle against the first wave of Americans and most of the rest in the second wave. The third wave was thus almost entirely unopposed.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Skeffington’s plane was part of the first wave. He was aboard the last plane of a flight of six on a strike against enemy shipping and harbor installations. Bursts of heavy anti-aircraft fire followed his flight down in their dives, and his plane was hit and crashed. Petty Officer 2nd Class Skeffington was killed along with all members of his crew on 12 October 1944, during the Battle of Formosa.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Skeffington was interred on 21 February 1950 with full military honors at Fort Scott National Cemetery, Fort Scott, Kansas. The headstone bears the names of three men buried in the grave. According to records concerning the grave, “ WWII deceased returned from Schofield #2. Group Burial – three remains – one casket.” Because it was not possible to distinguish his remains from those of his two crewmates, all three were buried together at the request of their families.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Francis Xavier Skeffington, U.S. Navy, was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal. Petty Officer 2nd Class Francis X. Skeffington’s courage and devotion to duty contributed to the success of our forces in defeating the Japanese and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He answered the call to service during World War II and gave his life in service to Rhode Island and America. He was a member of the “Greatest Generation.”