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Patrick Nieson Lynch Bellinger
Born (1885-10-08)October 8, 1885
Died May 30, 1962(1962-05-30) (aged 76)
Place of birth Cheraw, South Carolina
Place of death Clifton Forge, Virginia
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1907–1947
Rank Vice Admiral
Battles/wars Occupation of Veracruz
World War II
Relations Patrick Neeson Lynch, 3rd Bishop of Charleston, South Carolina (grand-uncle)

Patrick Nieson Lynch Bellinger (October 8, 1885 – May 30, 1962) was a pioneering US Naval aviator.


He was born in Cheraw, South Carolina and went to the United States Naval Academy, graduating in 1907. After first trying submarines he soon transferred to aviation. He was part of the first group of US Naval aviators trained and was rated as Naval Aviator #4. In 1914, during the United States occupation of Veracruz, while flying off the USS Mississippi, Bellinger became the first American to encounter enemy fire in an airplane, and was recommended for the Medal of Honor. On 13 June 1913 he set an altitude record when he flew a Curtiss seaplane to the height of 6,200 feet. Bellinger was also commander of the squadron of seaplanes to make the first trans-Atlantic flight. On May 8, 1919, NC-1, NC-3, and NC-4 took off from Naval Air Station Rockaway in Long Island, New York. Bellinger's plane, the NC-1 sank and he and his crew transferred to the Greek steamer Ionia and soon after to the USS Gridley. For his leadership in the flight, he was awarded the Navy Cross. By 1940 he had advanced to the rank of Rear Admiral in command of Patrol Wing 2 based in Honolulu. He was the senior Naval Air Commander present during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor when the Japanese launched their "day of infamy" attack on December 7, 1941. and sent out the first radio alert: "Air raid. Pearl Harbor - this is no drill." In May 1942 he took command of all patrol wings in the Pacific, and in August became Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief of the US Fleet, Admiral Ernest J. King. In March 1943, he was given command of the Atlantic Fleet Air Force. He was promoted to Vice Admiral in October 1943.

He retired with the rank of vice admiral on 7 July 1947 to his home, "Earlhurst" in Covington, Virginia and died on 30 May 1962 at Clifton Forge, Virginia.

Admiral Bellinger is buried in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery.[1]

Awards and decorations

As well as the Navy Cross and Distinguished Service Medal, Bellinger's foreign decorations include the Officer of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, from Italy; the Military Order of the Tower and Sword, from Portugal; and the Légion d'honneur and Croix de Guerre, from France.


  • Coletta, Paolo Enrico. Patrick N.L. Bellinger and U.S. Naval Aviation. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1987. ISBN 0-8191-6534-4

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