Halo Alpha
Halo Alpha

“You all have a nice day in hell...”
— Whitcomb's final transmission [2]

Vice Admiral Danforth Whitcomb was the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations in 2552. He was directly subordinate to Fleet Admiral Sir Terrence Hood, the Chief of Naval Operations. He was also a member of the UNSC Security Committee.


Whitcomb is well noted for his accomplishments during the Battle of New Constantinople and the Siege of the Atlas Moons, and as such, every SPARTAN-II had studied his record.[3] He claims that he descended from Russian Cossacks, despite his accent, which suggested that he originated from the Texas area.


During the Human-Covenant war, Whitcomb fought in the Battle of New Constantinople and the Siege of the Atlas Moons.[3] In addition, he was involved with several ONI projects, such as the research and development programs HRUNTING and YGGDRASIL.[4]


He was stationed at Reach in 2552. During the Fall of Reach, he had gone to secure his secret project, the NOVA bomb, when the HIGHCOM HQ of the Reach Military Complex was destroyed. Whitcomb then became the ranking officer on the planet. Whitcomb radioed the team he had sent to gather the Novas, Charlie Company.[5]

It had turned out that the company was forced to defend ODG Facility A-331 and most of them were killed when a flight of C709 Longsword-class Interceptors were ordered to bomb the area mistakenly. Instead, he contacted Frederic-104, who was now in charge of Charlie Company. Fred sent Anton-044, Li-008, and Grace-093 to rescue him.[5]

Camp Independence[]

The Admiral had his staff with him, but it is assumed that they were killed in the battle. He and the three SPARTAN-IIs then retreated to Camp Independence to avoid Covenant activity.

For three weeks they conducted hit and run missions against the Covenant and broadcast the Oly Oly Oxen Free signal, until the signal was picked up by John-117 and Lieutenant Elias Haverson. They then went to rescue Fred's team, and returned to the captured Ascendant Justice/Gettysburg aboard a captured Spirit Dropship.

Ascendant Justice/Gettysburg[]

“My duty is clear: to protect the men and women of Earth - not a pack of privateers and outlaws”
— Whitcomb before leaving Governor Jiles' people to face the Covenant alone.

Admiral Whitcomb then took command of the vessel and expertly navigated it through an anomalous Slipspace bubble, defeating the pursuing Covenant forces, despite heavy damage to his ship. Whitcomb then voyaged to Eridanus secundus and blackmailed Governor Jacob Jiles into helping him repair the ship in exchange for amnesty promised to his citizens. When the Covenant arrived in the system, the Admiral held off the first wave of attacks. When the main attack force entered the system however, he knew that he could not sacrifice his own crew to protect the rebel colony. He believed that the intel they needed to deliver to Earth was more important than martyrdom. This decision tore at the man and he was later quoted saying that "This is not the Alamo and I am not Colonel William Barret Travis, although I dearly wish I were. No, we're running. We're trading hundreds of lives for millions." [6]

“Hundreds for millions. Duty be damned...I'm still gonna burn in hell for this. Go Cortana, get us out of here. And God forgive me.”
— Admiral Whitcomb

Operation: FIRST STRIKE[]

Main article: Operation: FIRST STRIKE

He then reluctantly approved Operation: FIRST STRIKE, and although he initially planned to continue on to Earth, on Haverson's suggestion, he had the ship drop out of Slipspace to get some intel on the fleet. Upon seeing the size of it, Whitcomb realized that even if the command station was destroyed, there was still too much of a threat to Earth and decided to do something about it then and there while he still could. He moved the ships to behind a nearby moon and had the Ascendant Justice's Slipspace matrix moved to the Gettysburg so that ship could jump, then detached the two ships, slingshotting Ascendant Justice around the moon towards the Unyielding Hierophant in an attempt to maximize Covenant losses by drawing in as many ships as possible towards the explosion. He rammed the Unyielding Hierophant, and broadcast a message that he had the Forerunner Crystal that the Covenant wanted and told them to come and get it. His act as bait was successful, and he perished along with Lieutenant Haverson and the Ascendant Justice. After arming Lieutenant Haverson and himself with submachine guns, he courageously held out for a while before becoming overpowered and overrun by Elites wielding Energy Swords, most likely Zealots. His sacrifice prevented Earth from being overrun by 500 Covenant vessels, a fight that would surely have met with disaster for Humanity's homeworld. Thanks to his drawing in the fleet, all but about a dozen ships were destroyed in the blast, severely weakening the Covenant forces that attacked Earth later and giving it a fighting chance.[7] His last words were:

Now listen, son, remember when we talked about the Alamo. You know every one of the brave defenders in those fights died. They knew the odds, but they hurt the enemy. Both were tactical defeats, but in the end they were also brilliant strategic victories. They made the enemy afraid. Just a few good soldiers fighting for what's right made the difference.

The NOVA Bomb[]

Main article: NOVA Bomb

On the CSO-class supercarrier Sublime Transcendence, an Unggoy named Kwassass found a NOVA Bomb recovered from a Covenant-glassed Reach. The Unggoy managed to partially activate a recording of a threat from Whitcomb. It wasn't until the Covenant Huragok took it from him and fixed the circuitry that the bomb roused, activated, and destroyed the entire population on Joyous Exultation and obliterated its moon, Malhiem. The Covenant fleet stationed near the planet was almost completely wiped out as a result of the explosion.

The fact that Whitcomb was responsible for the devastation of an entire planet and the destruction of its moon would suggest that he might have amassed one of the highest individual kill counts in the UNSC, likely higher than the entire SPARTAN Program amassed over the years, and also likely higher than the Covenant death toll at the Battle of Psi Serpentis inflicted by Vice Admiral Cole.




  1. Halo: First Strike, page 178
  2. Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 244
  3. 3.0 3.1 Halo: First Strike, page 179
  4. Halo Waypoint, Prototype fiction article
  5. 5.0 5.1 Halo: First Strike, page 22
  6. Halo: First Strike, pages 276-284
  7. Halo: First Strike, pages 329-335
  8. Halo 3: ODST, ONI Memorial