Vice Admiral Joseph F. Bolger, 87, a retired Navy officer who won two Navy Crosses as commander of the aircraft carrier Intrepid during World War II, died Jan. 21 of pneumonia at his home in Bethesda.
Adm. Bolger, a pioneer in naval aviation, completed flight training at Pensacola, Fla., in 1924, and he remained involved in various aspects of naval aviation until he retired from the Navy in 1953. Upon his retirement from the Navy he became a vice president of Grumman Aircraft, where he remained until his second retirement six years ago.
Born in Adams, Mass., Adm. Bolger graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served in the Atlantic Fleet during World War I.
He held several assignments connected with naval aviation between the wars, and in May 1944 he was named commander of the Intrepid. He won his first Navy Cross, the Navy's second highest decoration next to the Medal of Honor, for "extraordinary heroism" during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944, and his second came when Japanese kamikaze planes crashed on his ship later in the war.
He was assigned to staff duty at the Pentagon in 1946 and retired from the Navy in 1953 as Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel.
After retiring from the Navy, Adm. Bolger moved to Easthampton, N.Y. He returned to the Washington area after his retirement from Grumman six years ago.
His wife, Gladys, died in 1981, and a son, Joseph F. Bolger Jr., also a Navy aviator, was killed in 1963 during Navy maneuvers in the Pacific.
He is survived by a son, William, of Honolulu; a sister, Alice Malloy of Adams; four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.