Farewell, Uncle John

John W. Armstrong Obituary [1941-2018]

Master Chief John W. Armstrong (USN ret.) was born in Gulfport MS to Walter Lewis Armstrong, Sr. and Ina Murray-Armstrong on February 20, 1941 and died in San Diego CA on June 11, 2018. John moved to Ellisville MS in 1947 from Woolmarket MS and was raised there by his widowed mother. He attended Sand Hill Grammar School and Ellisville High School. John enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the age of 17 and completed his recruit training in San Diego CA. John progressed from Seaman Recruit to Master Chief during his 30-year Navy career, serving primarily in the Pacific Fleet.

John’s first ship was the U.S.S. James E. Kyes (DD-787). After that tour, John served on the U.S.S. Mansfield (DD-728), where he was wounded in action off the coast of Vietnam and received the Purple Heart. Subsequent ship tours included the U.S.S. Leonard F. Mason (DD-852), U.S.S. Providence (CLG-6), U.S.S. Fort Fisher (LSD-40), U.S.S. Kirk (FF-1087), and U.S.S. Reeves (CLG-24). He was home ported in Japan for 17 years during these tours and completed a shore tour in Orlando RTC FL as a drill instructor and two shore tours in San Diego. John retired in 1988 in San Diego and resided at his home in Chula Vista the remainder of his life. In retirement, John enjoyed attending ship reunions and visiting with his many shipmates. He also worked with Ryder Student Transportation and First Student as a bus driver and contract manager.

John was preceded in death by his parents, two wives [Tsugiyo Ueno-Armstrong and Mitsuko Doi-Armstrong], one brother [Master Chief Walter Lewis Armstrong, Jr. (USN ret.)], three sisters [Flora Marie Armstrong, Dorothy Armstrong-Baugh, and Rebecca Armstrong-Jefcoats], and two nephews [Gary Wendell Jefcoats and John Paul Armstrong]. He is survived by one brother [James Dewey (Jeanette) Armstrong], as well as numerous nephews and nieces. John will be laid to eternal rest at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego alongside his beloved wife, Mitsuko. Fair winds and following seas, shipmate.

Uncle John was an inspiration for me as a kid and he and my Uncle Louis (as the family wrote it) greatly influenced, by their examples alone, my picking the Naval Academy over the Air Force Academy. I mentioned him in “Starving the Monkeys”:

As my Uncle John, a war veteran Navy Master Chief, once told his newly minted Second Lieutenant nephew, “it is a crime to send untrained men into battle”. In my experience, the Navy and the Marine Corps would not once commit this crime, offering able instruction to all who would learn.

Uncle John taught many. As part of a fleet inspection team, he was also responsible for much of the Pacific fleet’s readiness in his era. He taught my family and me something new each time we talked to him.

We’re going to miss his wisdom.

Leave a Reply

10 Comments on "Farewell, Uncle John"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Dan Patterson

A moving tribute. I was prompted by your post to research a bit:


Rest in Peace.

Ken Lane

I’m sorry.
It seems like each generation produced stronger Patriots than the one that came after, and we’re losing those men and women every day.
As long as his memory stays alive, so will his spirit.


I am truly sorry that for your loss. And it does seem like with every death of one of our veterans such as your Uncle John, we as a nation are losing a big part of our heart. However, I rest somewhat more confidently knowing that young men and women like my son, a Navy sailor, are willing to step up and take the place of those who went before them.
I understand that my son, who is due to get out of his 6 year hitch, in the first part of a sea mission, is extending his tour, in order to be able to stay with his ship, and not force them to try to make due without him.
His job of Sonar Tech, is one that is sort of mission critical, taking about a year and a half of training, thus the 6 year enlistment from the get go. He often spoke with me during the last deployment, when they were in the Straits of Hormuz, and in Norway and Germany, as well as above the Arctic Circle. It was only after they got back that he was able to tell me just how important the work they were doing was, and that the entire ship got a big award from the fleet Admiral, for tracking a Russian sub that was supposedly unable to be tracked, all over the North Pole region. The sub never knew that they were being watched.
We are losing many of our greatest generation, at too fast a pace, as my son says often. But thank God that we have dedicated men and women stepping up and taking their place, to stand guard over our nation. I know that your Uncle John would approve.


My sympathies.
You and yours take care and hold on to the memories.

Gregory Lux

Sailor, Rest your oar…
May you sleep in peace, shipmate.
Gregory A. Lux, (formerly)EM1(SS),USN