John Orth was born on December 24, 1921, in Chicago, Illinois. He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve on July 31, 1942, and entered the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Navy on December 15, 1942. Orth was commissioned an Ensign and designated a Naval Aviator on February 2, 1944, and then completed fighter training and carrier training before joining VF(N)-107 in September 1944. He next transferred to VF-9 in October 1944, and went into combat aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10) during the Invasion of Okinawa in April 1945. Between April and May 1945, Ensign Orth was credited with the destruction of 6 enemy aircraft in aerial combat. He returned to the U.S. in July 1945 and served as an instructor pilot at NAS Vero Beach, Florida, from July 1945 until he left active duty and joined the Naval Reserve on August 23, 1946. LTJG Orth left the reserves on October 1, 1956. He died on August 5, 1985, and was buried at the Biloxi National Cemetery in Biloxi, Mississippi.
His Navy Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism as Pilot of a Night Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron NINE, attached to the U.S.S. YORKTOWN, in action against enemy Japanese forces in the vicinity of Okinawa on May 4, 1945. Vectored to his targets while on a pre-dawn combat air patrol, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, (then Ensign) Orth engaged and shot down in rapid succession three large enemy aircraft closing in to attack our task force. His courageous airmanship and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.