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Vice Admiral Danforth Whitcomb was the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations in 2552. He was directly subordinate to Fleet Admiral Lord Terrence Hood. He was also a member of the UNSC Security Council.
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. He claimed to have descended from Russian Cossacks, though his accent 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. In addition, several ONI projects were conducted under his direction, such as the research and development programs HRUNTING and YGGDRASIL.
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.
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.
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.
Whitcomb then took command of the vessel, navigating it through an anomalous Slipspace bubble and defeating the Covenant, despite the heavy damage to the ship. He then took it to Eridanus Secundus, blackmailing Governor Jacob Jiles to help him repair his ship. Whitcomb held off the first wave of Covenant attacks which was two Covenant cruisers (just a small scout party for the main fleet). But when the main attack force showed up he knew that he could not sacrifice the crew of the Ascendant Justice/Gettysburg because they were the only ones who knew of the Covenant plans to attack Earth so he traded the rebels lives for UNSC lives. He wanted to stay and defend the rebels but he said "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." It was obvious he deeply regretted abandoning the rebels, whom he promised amnesty for their services.
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, slingshoting 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. His last words were:
After the deaths of Whitcomb and Haverson, the Master Chief added both men to his team roster along with Corporal Locklear and Petty Officer Polaski and listed them as KIA.
The NOVA bomb
On the Covenant 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. He was also directly responsible for an untold number of Covenant deaths during Operation: FIRST STRIKE by luring the Covenant fleet in close enough to be caught in the destruction of the Unyielding Hierophant.
List of appearances