Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Text Size

Site Search

Mush Morton WWII Veteran from Nortonville, Submarine

Nortonville, KY WWII Veteran Profiles -  USS Wahoo (SS-238), under the command of Dudley W. "Mush" Morton (From Nortonville, KY) revolutionized American submarine warfare in the Pacific during World War II.


The Gato class submarine Wahoo arrived at Pearl Harbor in August of 1942. She joined a submarine force struggling to find success. Her first two patrols under Captain Marvin Kennedy mirrored the force’s as a whole: marked by attack failures and internal strife. However, when charismatic LCDR. Dudley “Mush” Morton assumed command at the end of the year, her fortunes, and the rest of the submarine fleet’s, began to change.


Tactical Innovation

Personable with his crew and aggressive in his leadership, Morton reorganized Wahoo’s patrol procedures. Wahoo transited to her third patrol’s operating area on the surface in daylight despite the threat of Japanese planes. He also trained his executive officer, Richard O’Kane, to make all periscope observations during attacks, freeing Morton to conn Wahoo unimpeded.



Wewak, New Guinea

Wahoo arrived at the Japanese held roadstead of Wewak on Jan. 24, 1943 and promptly entered the harbor. There he found a destroyer underway and fired torpedoes “down the throat” until the last one hit and sank her.

Two days later Wahoo found a convoy of four ships. He pursued them for a day, firing the rest of his torpedoes, believing he had sunk each one. Though his total was later reduced to three ships, he was met at Pearl Harbor with wild acclaim.

Wahoo’s patrol proved to be the turning point of the Pacific submarine war. Inspired by his tactics and innovation, submarines began to adopt Wahoo’s aggressive style and take the fight to the enemy.

Nick name was Mush Mouth was born in Owensboro and moved to Nortonville at a young age.  When Mush was a senior at Madisonville High School in the mid 20's his family moved to Miami Florida.   He received an appointment to the Naval Academy in Anapolis Maryland.   

Website for additional information is:

Submarine Skipper/WWII. Dudley Morton attended high school in Miami, FL and entered the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1926. Commissioned in 1930, he initially served on board the Saratoga and Chicago. Having been promoted to Lieutenant (JG), Morton attended Submarine School in 1933.
Upon graduation from Sub School, Morton joined the Asiatic Fleet, serving in the tender Canopus and in S-37. He returned to the U.S. in 1937 for duty at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. In 1939-40 he served as executive officer of the destroyer Fairfax, then assumed command of the submarine R-5 and where he served until April of 1942.
Now a lieutenant commander, Morton reported to Submarine Squadron 4 as a Prospective Commanding Officer (PCO). After brief service in the elderly USS Dolphin, Morton reported aboard USS Wahoo for a PCO cruise. He replaced Lieutenant Commander Marvin Kennedy as Wahoo's commanding officer at the end of 1942. Kennedy's executive officer, Richard H. O'Kane, retained that position under Morton.
In Wahoo, Morton adopted the unusual attack procedure of having his executive officer man the periscope while Morton plotted the attack. It worked well enough that Morton was credited with sinking 19 enemy ships, a total exceeded only by O'Kane, who was Morton's XO during most of these attacks before leaving Wahoo for his own command.
On Wahoo's fifth war patrol under Morton, he entered the Sea of Japan. Post war records indicate Morton sank four enemy ships in that area before Wahoo was sunk with all 80 hands on 11 October 1943 in La PĂ©rouse Strait while attempting to exit the Sea of Japan. Morton received a posthumous Navy Cross (his fourth) for that patrol. Morton was rated as one of the top 3 US submarine skippers of WWII.

The submarine has been located in Russian waters in the Sea of Japan two years ago in about 150 feet of water, however, no steps have been taken to retrieve the submarine.









The USS Wahoo at her final resting place. Her crew still aboard is on Eternal Patrol.  The sub is located in about 150 feet of water but there are no plans at this time to bring her home. Sailors rest your oars.







Original Story assistance from J. Harold Utley, Historian, Hopkins County Historical Society in Madisonville, KY.


iSurf Local News & Community Information Affecting Madisonville and Hopkins County Kentucky. Make us your homepage and send us your local news to publish. Add your news, calendar events, or FREE classifieds easily with registration and use of our easy features at the top of the page. Madisonville - Hopkins County Kentucky's homepage! All iSurf Information and Programming Rights are reserved and can be used only with proper reference and link back to this site unless otherwise released.

All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 2010 iSurfWKY, Inc.