John "Pete" Archibald Hyde Torry, Jr.
Commander, United States Navy
a contemporary press report: Friday, November 10, 2000
John "Pete" Archibald Hyde Torry Jr., 81, of Fairfield, a retired U.S. Navy Commander and helicopter pioneer, died November 1, 2000, at Carolton Chronic Convalescent Hospital.
Born in Schenectady, New York, on May 29, 1919, he attended Williams College in Massachusetts for three years until December 12, 1941, when he left to join the U.S. Navy. He entered the service under the aviation cadet program and was commissioned as ensign in 1942. He served in several land-based PV patrol squadrons during World War II, such as Bombing Squadron 139, flying PV2 Harpoons out of Attu in the Aletian Islands.
He was highly decorated for his actions, receiving the following: the Air Medal with Gold Star, the American Theatre Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the Occupation of Japan Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, the Asiatic Theatre Medal, the China Service Medal and the Defense Service Medal during the Korean Period. He also received his lieutenant commission in 1944 and his lieutenant commander commission in 1945.
After the war, his career interest turned to helicopters, and he became the 70th man to complete early helicopter training. He was sent to the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland, for the Flight Test Division. From 1948 through 1950, he participated in the first test of P2V aircraft, for launching the first aircraft from aircraft carriers, as well as piloting PBM "Flying Boats."
However, his major contribution at that time focused on testing the deployment, flight and landing of helicopters under all types of conditions. From 1950 through 1952, he was project supervisor and assistant development officer for Helicopter Anti-Submarine Warfare. During this period, he engaged in the design development and testing of ASW helicopters. In 1953 he became project officer and assistant head of the Anti-Submarine Warfare Section in the Rotary Wing Branch of the Bureau of Aeronautics in Washington, D.C. He continued in Anti-Submarine Warfare research and testing with helicopters until he was asked to take command of the research being done at the Naval Air Mine Defense Development Unit in Panama City, Florida.
He was promoted to the rank of commander in 1954. He performed and oversaw extensive design and testing of procedures and equipment for mine countermeasures with helicopters such as the Sikorsky HHS and the Bell HSL. His efforts resulted in the mine countermeasures used by Naval helicopters today. He retired from his 20-year career in the U.S. Navy in 1961 and went to work in the foreign sales department at Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, where co-workers referred to him as the "Henry Ford of Helicopters." He served as a helicopter specification expert in promoting Sikorsky helicopters for foreign dignitaries.
He retired from Sikorsky Aircraft in 1969 following a heart attack. He worked as a beach guard at Penfield Pavilion for many years until his wife, Frances, became terminally ill. He cared for her in their home until she died in 1996. He continued to pursue his lifelong passions of reading, fly-fishing and family Sunday dinners until he suffered a stroke in September.
He is survived by his daughters, Tracey Torry
Daley of Raleigh, N.C., and Anne Torry-Ballou of Fairfield; a son, John
Archibald Hyde Torry III of Dadeville, Ala.; grandsons, Michael Baker Daley
of Wake Forest, N.C., Thomas Cosgrove
A memorial service will take place in April with interment at Arlington National Cemetery. The Lesko Funeral Home, 1209 Post Road, is in charge of the arrangements. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to any veterans help organization.
TORRY, JOHN ARCHIBALD HYDE JR
TORRY, FRANCES L
Air Medal (2)