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Brockton Historical Society Historic Citizen Award



Admiral Fred Bakutis

In 1969, Brockton born and raised Admiral Fred Bakutis retired from an extraordinary Naval career that began when he was graduated from Annapolis as a midshipman and ended shortly after commanding the U.S. Naval task force that recovered the Apollo 10 astronauts. During the intervening years, he was a heroic pilot in several important World War II battles and commanded U.S. forces at both the North and South Poles. While serving in Antarctica, he delineated a distinctly new territory and named it “Brockton” in honor of his beloved hometown. On Nov. 4th, 2007, this modest gentleman marked his 95th birthday.

Fred Bakutis, the son of Frank and Anna Bakutis, is among the six extraordinary men from Brockton’s “Village” section of Montello who have won appointments to either the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Annapolis, or West Point... After being graduated with high honors, from Brockton High School and scoring 92.20 on the rigorous U.S. Naval Academy entrance examination, he entered the latter institution in 1931, he was next admitted to the U.S. Navy’s famous flight training school at Pensacola, Florida.

By the late 1930’s --- as World Was II was breaking out in Europe -- Bakutis had earned his wings as a full fledge Naval Aviator. In 1942, shortly after the United States entered this conflict, he joined U.S. Fighter Squadron2 and rapidly rose to become its Executive Officer, the first of ten commands he held throughout his career. In the dark days of 1943, when the United States first began to challenge Japanese aggression in Asia, Bakutis was among a small group of pilots in the very first squadron that flew over the Chinese mainland. By the end of World War II, Bakutis had shot down at least eleven Japanese Zeros in “dogfights.” Subsequently, he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross with Gold Star, the Bronze Star Medal Star Medal, and the Air Medal with six Gold Stars. After serving throughout the Korean War and much of the Vietnam War, he was promoted to Rear Admiral. In 1963, a year after he was given command of the Seventeenth Naval District and Alaskan Sea Frontier Fleet, he was appointed as the Commander of Anti-submarine Warfare Group One in the Pacific Ocean. Assigned to Operation Deep Freeze in the late 1960’s, Admiral Bakutis next took command of the U.S. Naval Support Forces in the Artic and Antarctic... As part of the famed International Geo-Physical Year Project--which involved hundreds of scientists from dozens of countries cooperatively studying Antarctica, he oversaw the development and activities of 29 American weather outposts at the South Pole... Giving testimony to his eternal pride in his hometown, he ascribed the name “Brockton” to a brand new piece of geography which is located at “the intersection of the International Date Line and the 85 degree line of South Latitude” at the South Pole. Remarkably, Admiral Bakutis remains as the only Naval officer in history to have commanded task forces at the “top” and the “bottom” ends of the world.
Copyright © Nov. 11, 2002 Gerald Beals - All Rights Reserved