James Vincent Forrestal (February 15, 1892 – May 22, 1949) was the last Cabinet-level United States Secretary of the Navy and the first United States Secretary of Defense.
Forrestal was a supporter of naval battle groups centered on aircraft carriers. In 1954, the world's first supercarrier was named USS Forrestal in his honor, as is the James V. Forrestal Building, which houses the headquarters of the United States Department of Energy. He is also the namesake of the Forrestal Lecture Series at the United States Naval Academy, which brings prominent military and civilian leaders to speak to the Brigade of Midshipmen, and of the James Forrestal Campus of Princeton University in Plainsboro Township, New Jersey.
He is also known as James Vincent Forrestal and James V. Forrestal.
Although Forrestal told associates he had decided to resign, he was shattered when Truman abruptly asked for his resignation. His letter of resignation was tendered on March 28, 1949. On the day of Forrestal's resignation from office, he was reported to have gone into a strange daze and was flown on a Navy airplane to the estate of Under Secretary of State Robert A. Lovett in Hobe Sound, Florida, where Forrestal's wife, Josephine, was vacationing. Dr. William C. Menninger of the Menninger Clinic in Kansas was consulted and he diagnosed "severe depression" of the type "seen in operational fatigue during the war." The Menninger Clinic had successfully treated similar cases during World War II, but Forrestal's wife, his friend and associate Ferdinand Eberstadt, Dr. Menninger and Navy psychiatrist Captain Dr. George N. Raines decided to send the former Secretary of Defense to the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) in Bethesda, Maryland, where it would be possible to deny his mental illness. He was checked into NNMC five days later. The decision to house him on the 16th floor instead of the first floor was justified in the same way. Forrestal's condition was officially announced as "nervous and physical exhaustion," his lead doctor, Captain Raines, diagnosing his condition as "depression" or "reactive depression."
As a person who prized anonymity and once stated that his hobby was "obscurity," Forrestal and his policies had been the constant target of vicious personal attacks from columnists, including Drew Pearson and Walter Winchell. Pearson's protégé, Jack Anderson, later asserted that Pearson "hectored Forrestal with innuendos and false accusations."