Two years after escorting General Douglas MacArthur from Mindanao with his Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3, John Bulkeley was in command of a force of torpedo boats and minesweepers that were clearing lanes to Utah Beach for the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France. Shortly afterward, he received his first big-ship command with the destroyer USS Endicott and came to the rescue of two British gunboats being hammered by two German corvettes. The functioning and sank both ships.
In the 1960s Bulkeley was in command of Guantanamo Naval Base, where he faced down Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s attempts to cut off the base’s water supply. Castro issued a wanted poster on Bulkeley promising a reward of 50,000 pesos. The poster described Bulkeley as a "guerrilla of the worst species."
Bulkeley retired from the navy in 1988, a heavily decorated longtime veteran. He held the Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Army Distinguished Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster (to denote a second award), Legion of Merit, Philippine Distinguished Conduct Star, Combat V, French Croix de Guerre, two Purple Hearts, and two Silver Stars. He died in 1996.
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