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Bill Thayer

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Chapter 3

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Admiral Halsey's Story

Fleet Admiral
William F. Halsey, USN

published by
McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.
New York : London

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 5
This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

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The new fleet's first port of call on the West Coast was San Diego. Here Secretary Daniels came aboard. Because of his presence, and because 1919 was an election year, and because we were being displayed up and down the coast, this was dubbed the "Get‑out-the‑Votes-for-the‑Democrats cruise."

Now the fleet began to suffer from the discharge of officers and men who had joined up "for the duration." Priority was being given those wishing to resume studies in special courses, so a questionnaire was distributed to find their preferences. When Hasty's came back — Hasty was my Negro mess attendant — I was surprised to read that he wished to resume his studies in chemistry. I sent for him and asked what his chemical experience had been.

"Ah used to work in a drug sto', suh," he said.

"Doing what?

"Carryin' soda to the tables."

Hasty went (but not to college), my chief engineer went, and so did too many more of our best men. Our crews shrank until we had barely enough hands to keep operating. When we didn't have even that many, the ships had to be placed in reserve.

The new COMDESPAC (Commander Destroyers Pacific Fleet) was Rear Adm. Henry A. Wiley. If ever an officer made bricks without straw, it was he. When he took command, the destroyers were well-organized and administered, but that was about all; they were as short on morale as on men. Admiral Wiley's leader­ship, his discipline, and his insistence on smartness made them the proudest ships in the fleet. I'm not saying this just because destroyers were my favorites. By the time Admiral Wiley was  p42 relieved by Capt. William V. Pratt, you could tell a destroyer man by the way he cocked his cap and walked down the street.

Captain Pratt, who had been Chief of Staff to Admiral Sims when Sims was COMDESLANT, was Admiral Wiley's perfect complement. Wiley put muscle into our morale, and Pratt put it into our efficiency. The divisions and squadrons began to work as teams. After two years together, the skippers in my own division could almost read one another's minds, and almost before the flagship hoisted its signals, we division commanders knew the intentions of our squadron commander. This was Capt. Frank Taylor Evans, the son of "Fighting Bob." Taylor Evans was a wonderful ship handler and knew more marlinespike seaman­ship than any other officer I ever met. His years of duty in destroyers had given him advanced ideas about their employment and tactics. For instance, he devised a series of formations which not only were radical but were executed by the unprecedented method of whistle signals. When a squadron of nineteen destroyers maneuvers by whistles — at night, blacked out, at 25 knots — it's no place for ribbon clerks.

In January, 1920, a number of destroyers, the Yarnall among them, were ordered to the China Station in command of officers just beginning their tours of sea duty. As I had been at sea for two years already, I was transferred to the Chauncey, which was being retained at San Diego.

Almost since the days of the Dupont, I had had a black dog on my shoulders, one that now began to grow heavier by the month. It was this: I knew my luck at sea was due to run out. In the eleven years that I had commanded ships, I had never suffered a really bad smash. The Benham had been in a collision shortly before I took over, and the Shaw lost 90 feet of her bow to the Aquitania shortly after I shoved off. But the worst that had happened to a ship actually under my command was when the Yarnall bumped a British destroyer at Copenhagen, and then you could have repaired the damage with adhesive tape. No doubt about it, my turn was coming. The question was: When?

The answer was, in May, on a squadron cruise to Pearl Harbor. The trouble started in the engineering department, the Chauncey's weak spot. This day the water in her boilers suddenly fell so low  p43 that they had to be secured on the double. The first I knew of it was when the telegraph rang up "Stop." The breakdown flag, which warns other ships that yours is not under control, was ready at the foremast, but the wind was from astern, and when we broke the flag, it fouled in the rigging. Simultaneously, we tried to blow emergency blasts on our whistle, but we had no more steam than a peanut roaster. Our only hope was that the destroyer immediately astern of us — the Aaron Ward, whose skipper was Raymond Spruance — would see our plight and keep clear. Unhappily, the inexperienced ensign on watch failed to call Ray; he merely slowed to one‑third speed and kept advancing. We had no power, no steering control, nothing. We ould only sit there and wait. The Chauncey barely had way on, and the Aaron Ward was moving at about 5 knots, when she hit us just abaft the starboard propeller guard.

Destroyers are called "tin cans" because their plates are too thin to turn even a rifle bullet. (Jap infantry put a lot of .25‑caliber holes into the Buchanan at Tulagi.) The Aaron Ward's bow sliced 8 feet into our steering-engine room, flooding it immediately; disabled the starboard engine; and severed the starboard wire to the tiller. No matter; in this, my only serious collision, we didn't sustain a single casualty.

We sweated the Chauncey into Pearl, but I wasn't through with cripples yet; gout swelled my left foot until I had to hobble around on a cane, with a flapping slipper. It was awkward, but it led to a laugh. HMS Renown was also in port at the time, with the Prince of Wales aboard and Adm. Sir Lionel Halsey, my distant cousin. I had met Sir Lionel before, so when he came into the Moana Hotel, where I was sitting with some friends one night, I limped over to speak to him. He was wearing a smart white mess jacket and blue trousers with gold stripes, the kind our Navy knows as "railroad trousers"; I was in whites, but I had on one white shoe and one dingy brown slipper. We chatted a few moments, then he beckoned to the Prince and introduced me. Such a cooing and buzzing as went up from the lobby! I thought, Surely they must be used to seeing the Prince by now! But it wasn't for him, I learned. My slipper and cane, and the fact that the Prince came over to met me, had tabbed me as a wounded war hero.

 p44  We left Pearl after three weeks with the Chauncey completely repaired, we thought. But two of her boilers burned out on the trip across, sending us to the Mare Island Navy Yard; a third burned out on the way there; and as we secured to the dock, the fourth and last went. She was a bad‑luck ship, and I wasn't sorry to shift to the John F. Burns, in July. The Burns was sturdy, but she too had her faults, one of them being an inordinate thirst for fuel oil. Nineteen-twenty was a thin year for naval appropriations; only a limited amount of oil was available, and only the most economical ships were kept in the active force, the rest being placed in the reserve. The Burns went there in October, and I went to the Wickes, which was as cheap to run as the Burns was expensive.

Meanwhile, one afternoon in June, I had returned from maneuvers and found a telegram from Mother in Washington: Dad was dead of a heart attack. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.​a He had retired as a captain in 1907 but had returned to active duty during the war, in charge of the Equipment Desk in the Bureau of Construction and Repair. One of our last arguments had been over the patent anchor with pivoting arms; he maintained to his death that it would never work on a destroyer.

I look somewhat like Dad — his nickname was "Ugly" — but I inherited almost none of his qualities and talents. Mother now eighty-eight, lives with my sister Deborah (Mrs. Reynolds Wilson) in Wilmington, Delaware.​1 Every time I visit them, I realize that I am cut more from Mother's pattern than from Dad's. She and I see problems only in black and white, without intermediate tones. We are both forthright to the point of tactlessness. Whenever I exhibit the "affinity between my foot and my mouth," as a war correspondent once described it, my wife attributes it to "that old Brewster blood." Mother will forgive me for saying that I inherited this from her; I hope that I inherited her staunchness and backbone as well.

In the early spring of 1921, our squadron was ordered to simulate a torpedo attack on four battle­ships. I had been the senior division commander for some time, so when our squadron commander was taken ill shortly before the exercise, I was given  p45 temporary command. Ray Spruance succeeded to my division, Willy Wilcox had the second, and Johnny Ferguson the third. Three divisions of six destroyers each, plus an independent flagship: it was the biggest command I had ever held.

My own division was well-trained in quick anchorings. I had no time to train the other two, but I explained our method and warned Willy and Johnny to be alert. They laughed at me — it wouldn't work, they said.

"No? You'd better be on your toes all the same."

The night before the attack, we proceeded to long Beach at 15 knots. As we approached the anchorage, I lowered my speed cone to two‑thirds and hoisted "prepare to anchor." We were still making 10 knots when we reached the "hole," but I signaled "anchor," let go, and backed full speed. My division executed it smoothly, but some of the ships in the other two ran their chains out to the bitter ends.

As I expected, Willy and Johnny came boiling aboard, shaking their fists. All I said was, "Maybe you'll believe me next time!"

(Perhaps I should explain that although this maneuver sounds show-offish, it is actually the best means of getting light ships, such as destroyers, properly placed at their anchorages. They straggle at slower speeds and don't handle properly.)

Next morning my only instructions were to proceed to a position about 30,000 yards from the battle­ships and stand by for a signal to begin my attack. I put two divisions in parallel columns 1,000 yards apart and ordered the third to trail them, ready to take an intercepting course if the "enemy" tried to avoid. When the signal came, I took up a speed of 25 knots and headed for the battle­ship column on what I hoped was an intercepting course. As we closed them, I saw that my course was good and ordered the squadron to make smoke.

Captain Pratt, COMDESPAC, was on my bridge as an observer. He asked, "What do you intend to do?"

I asked, "What's the limit?

"The sky."

I said, "If the battle­ships maintain their course and speed, I intend to put them between my two columns and fire at them from both sides."

 p46  I held on until I reached the firing point, roughly 3,000 yards from the leading ship, then ducked back into our smoke. My flagship did not fire; there weren't enough torpedoes to go around. But as each other destroyer reached the same point, it fired twice, for a total of thirty‑six torpedoes. And out of those thirty‑six we scored twenty‑two hits.

Our torpedoes had practice heads, of course, with soft metal noses to absorb the impact, so that neither they nor the target ship would be damaged. But there was one factor we hadn't considered: by the time the last ships fired, the range had closed to 700 yards, a distance which torpedoes could cover at almost no expense of compressed air. As a result, they arrived with their air flasks nearly and, as it proved, dangerously full.

Of the four battle­ships, only the Idaho got off free. The New Mexico, the flagship of the vice admiral commanding, took a hit that ruptured her plating and flooded her paint locker. Two torpedoes exploded among the Mississippi's propellers and sent her to the yard. Another smashed into the compartment below the Texas' steering-engine room, blew all her circuit breakers, and temporarily paralyzed most of her electrical gear. In a minute and a half, we did a million and a half dollars' worth of damage. When those battle­ship skippers wiped our smoke out of their eyes and saw what had happened, my God, were they mad! And it didn't smooth their feathers any, when they got back to their base at Long Beach, to read this headline:

Destroyers Decisively
Defeat Battleships

A similar exercise was scheduled the next day, but just before we got under way, Captain Pratt and I were ordered to report on board the flagship, where we were strongly advised not to repeat our performance. Furthermore, the minimum range, we were told, would be 5,000 yards. That day the battle­ships got revenge; a torpedo ran wild and exploded under the stern of one of my own destroyers, twisting her rudder and screws so severely that she had to be towed in.

I made my permanent rank as commander in June, 1921, and in September I was ordered to Washington for duty in the Office of  p47 Naval Intelligence. The day I was detached from the destroyers, two of the Navy's top trophies were awarded to ships in my division. I had the pleasure of notifying the Zeilen that her gunnery was the best of all the destroyers in the Navy; then I stepped over to my own ship, the Wickes, and announced that she was entitled to hoist the "meatball" at the fore, for general excellence in all forms of competition, including gunnery and steaming.

The Wickes was the best ship I ever commanded; she was also the smartest and the cleanest. You can tell how smart a ship is by the way she maneuvers, but if you want to know whether she is clean, the galley and the heads (toilets) are the key places. When I inspect a ship, those are the first compartment I look at.

My relief hadn't reported when I shoved off, so we couldn't hold the usual turnover conferences. I heard later that one of his first requests was for the division files. When they were broken out, he was aghast to see that they consisted of one folder containing one letter. I remembered it:

Subject: Transportation, Lack of.

1. Further excuses that the engine of a liberty boat refuses to start will not be tolerated. A white‑ash breeze never fails. Moreover . . .

and so on. I was mad because a balky engine had again delayed a liberty party's return to the ship. If they couldn't start their damned engine, let them row. (Oars are a "white‑ash breeze.") As long as they got back on time, I didn't care how they did it.

I have always hated paper work, so I try to substitute conferences, which have the added advantage of encouraging free discussion. This system works for me, but I hesitate to recommend its extension to the whole Navy. Sometimes, though, after hours of composing and dictating and correcting and signing, I think of a certain admiral who once suggested a regulation against bringing typewriters on shipboard.

My new duty in Washington was not only the first time I had been close to the throne; it was the first time I had ever commanded an LSD — a Large Steel Desk. The function of Naval Intelligence is to "collect, coordinate, interpret, and disseminate" all information of military significance. The most difficult step is the last. It isn't enough to get the right information to the right man at the right  p48 time; you have to make sure he doesn't let it molder in his "in" basket. I was just beginning to learn my way around when I happened in on a discussion about a suitable relief for our naval attaché in Germany, and to my astonishment, I heard my voice asking, "How about me?"

I don't know why I stuck my neck out. I had no special desire to go to Germany. But in the autumn of 1922, with a few Berlitz School lessons under my belt, and with my wife, I sailed to take up my new duties. We disembarked in Plymouth, where I called on my old Commander in Chief, Adm. Sir Louis Bayly, and then proceeded to London, for briefing by the naval attaché. Our attaché in Paris briefed me again, so by the time I reached Berlin and paid my formal call on Ambassador Houghton, my job no longer seemed so frighteningly strange.

A naval attaché has a double duty: he is an aide and adviser to the ambassador, and he keeps his department informed on naval developments in the country to which he is accredited. This doesn't mean that he is a spy. Everything he does is perfectly aboveboard and with the consent of his hosts, and the information he obtains is what they see fit to grant.

In 1922‑1923 the Germans were still attempting to retrieve what they could from the chaos of defeat. I was constantly approached by "friends of the United States" who wanted to sell us their inventions, usually with an implied threat that if we did not buy, they would sell to Japan. One invention was an excellent stereoscopic range finder. The British and ourselves were both using a coincidental (or split-image) range finder, which was greatly affected by vibration and the ship's guns. The German device was almost immune to these influences, so we tried it, secured it, and the Navy adopted it.

Supplementing this sort of thing, I made the rounds of a number of German industries in which the Navy was interested: the Zeppelin works at Friedrichshafen, where the dirigible Los Angeles was being built for us; the Zeiss and Goetz optical works; and the Krupp plant at Essen. I was also accredited to our legations in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. The American minister to Denmark, Dr. Dyneky Prince, was especially hospitable. I remember  p49 him singing folk songs in at least twenty languages, ranging from Lettish to American Indian, and accompanying himself on the piano. (Incidentally, it was Dr. Prince who wrote the music for "The Road to Mandalay.")

I was relieved as naval attaché in July, 1924, and was ordered to command first the Dale and then the Osborne, two of the six destroyers we were still keeping in European waters, principally to continue showing the flag. Most of the next sixteen months I spent tourist-cruising in the Mediterranean. We were at Gibraltar on July 4, 1925, when Adm. Sir Roger Keyes's flagship, courteously full-dressed in our honor, entered the harbor. My official call was returned by the Admiral's Chief of Staff, Commo. Dudley P. R. Pound, who became the British naval representative on the Combined Chiefs of Staff in World War II. As his barge, handled by a midshipman (known in the Royal Navy as a "snotty"), came alongside the Osborne, it damaged our handmade teakwood gangway, the ship's pride and treasure. Commodore Pound not only insisted on having it repaired for us, but that afternoon sent the midshipman over to make personal apologies. I thought that the handsome, red‑headed youngster's humiliation was unforgivably severe, and the next time I saw Pound, I told him that no flag officer in our Navy would treat a junior so. But when I tell the story to Royal Navy officers, they all have the identical reaction: "Splendid of Pound! Excellent training for the snotty!"

Malta was a special milestone on this cruise, because there I saw my first aircraft carrier, HMS Hermes. To an officer used to destroyers, she was an off‑center, ungainly bucket, something a child had started to build and had left unfinished. In the years to come, though, when not only American carriers but British, too, were under my command, I realized that they have a grace and beauty of their own.

From Malta we cruised to Venice, where the Osborne had a memorable anchorage, in the Grand Canal, a scant hundred yards off my hotel. When I was ready to return to the ship in the morning, I'd step out on the balcony of my bedroom, hail the officer of the deck, and tell him to send a boat for me. It was as simple as that.

Ray Spruance relieved me in November. I collected my family from Switzerland, sailed home, and in January, 1926, reported as  p50 exec of the Wyoming. There is little to say about the year I served in her, except that she showed me a sight I never saw before or since. When she was sent to the Philadelphia Navy Yard for conversion to an oil burner, the workmen found in her bilges a deposit of slag too solid to be shoveled out. It had to be broken up with pickaxes, and a pickax being swung on a man-of‑war was something new to me.

I was selected for the rank of captain in the spring of 1926, took my examination that summer, and in February, 1927, I sewed on my fourth stripe. By then I had been ordered to the Naval Academy as commanding officer of the Reina Mercedes. Like the Don Juan de Austria, the Reina was a prize from the Spanish-American War — an old cruiser that the Spaniards had sunk in an unsuccessful attempt to block the channel at Santiago. We had raised her and brought her to Annapolis, where she was turned into a receiving hulk.

Receiving ships are the only ones on which a commanding officer's family is allowed to live. We had wonderfully comfortable quarters in the after part, with a cook, steward, and boy to take care of us. Athletic and social events at the Academy furnished a pleasant background to my not too arduous duties, and if we found Annapolis dull, Washington and Baltimore were less than an hour away. I remained on this duty for three years and five months, and it was one of the most delightful tours in my career.

The Reina was best known as a prison ship. If a midshipman was caught Frenching, he was "sent to the ship" for four weeks, which meant that he ate there and lost all his privileges and liberty. This punishment was galling, but it carried no stigma, as many of today's top‑ranking naval officers can confirm from experience. I am one — an alumnus of the Santee, the prison ship of my cadet days.

Being a warden was the least of my functions. All the flooding equipment of the Academy — sailboats, motor boats, everything except racing shells — was in my charge, and the Reina furnished barracks space for the men who maintained it, as well as for the enlisted instructors in practical work and for a number of mess attendants. Presently the Reina had a new and unprecedented responsibility. That spring, the spring of 1927, she became the base of the Academy's first permanent aviation detail, and my whole naval career changed right there.

 p51  My first contact with naval aviation had been made in 1910, when I was in Norfolk. Ken Whiting, commanding three submarines at the Navy Yard, and "Spuds" Ellyson, supervising the commissioning of another, were dining with me.

Ken asked, "Spuds, have you thought anything about this flying game?"

"No, not especially."

"Well, I'm very much interested," Ken said. "I've been watching the Wright brothers and Curtiss, and I've put in an official application to the Department for a course of training in flying."

"That sounds good to me," Spuds said. "Send me a copy of your letter, and I'll put in one too."

He did, and to Ken's irritation, Spuds was ordered to flying — thereby becoming Naval Aviator No. 1 — while Ken was ordered to take over the commissioning of Spuds's sub, and did not get his own flight training until two or three years later, when he became Naval Aviator No. 16.​b

Mention of Spuds and Ken brings to mind a rather curious coincidence. On June 22, 1945, when my Third Fleet was operating off Okinawa, kamikazes caused considerable damage to several of our ships, including the fast mine sweeper Ellyson, named for Spuds, and the aircraft carrier tender Kenneth Whiting. Come to think of it, another aircraft carrier tender damaged that same day was the Curtiss!

The aviation detail based on the Reina was commanded by Lt. Dewitt C. Ramsey, whose exec was Lt. Clifton A. F. Sprague. I disliked being in charge of something I did not understand, so I told "Duke" Ramsey he would have to educate me.

"Fine!" he said, "Let's go flying!"

I had flown twice before, once in 1913 and again the following year. Pat Bellinger took me on my first flight, at Annapolis. The plane was a Curtiss A‑3, which was not much more than an engine, a prop, a pair of wings, and a float. My seat was no bigger than a bicycle saddle, and I had no safety belt. However, we staggered into the air, stayed there fifteen minutes, and splashed down again. When we taxied back to the ramp, a yeoman made me fill out a questionnaire which he had forgotten before the take‑off: name, rank, residence, weight, religion, next of kin, and so on. I had  p52 climbed close to my peak weight about then — more than 210 pounds. When the yeoman read what I had put down, he told me, "You're the heaviest passenger we've ever carried!"

When all the records in early naval aviation are compiled, enter my name for that one!

My next flight was at Pensacola. This time Jack Towers was the pilot, and the plane was a seaplane with a real fuselage. Just before we took off, Jack told me about a particularly fine man in his detachment, a Marine sergeant, who had invented a fancy measuring stick to show the exact amount of fuel in an offset tank. We had been in the air only a short time when the engine suddenly conked. Jack made a beautiful dead-stick landing, then began to search for the trouble. Finally he discovered it: our tanks were dry. The fancy measuring stick had been a little too fancy. We had to borrow a bucket of gas from a near‑by destroyer to get us home again.

Incidentally, while we were off Mexico that year, Pat Bellinger flew over the Mexican defenses and was fired at many times. I mention this only because I believe it is the first time an American naval plane — and probably a war plane of any kind — was ever brought under fire.

Now, after thirteen years, I flew again. Like most other novices, I became fascinated with it. I flew as often as Duke or "Ziggy" Sprague would give me a ride. It wasn't long before they were letting me handle the controls, and it wasn't much longer before I thought I was an ace. When I said, a while back, that the arrival of the aviation detachment changed my whole naval career, I was not exaggerating. Soon I was eating, drinking, and breathing aviation, and I continued to do so during the remainder of my duty on the Reina.

In the spring of 1930, the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, Rear Adm. James O. Richardson, wrote me that he understood I was interested in aviation, and asked if I would like to take the course at Pensacola. I jumped at the chance. Shortly before this, all line officers had been required to take the full aviation physical examination, and I had passed easily. But now, for the first time in my career, I failed, on my eyes. I had never noticed anything wrong with them beyond normal age reactions, and I was confident  p53 that the disability was temporary. I let a week go by, then took the exam again; still no dice. I had to accept defeat.

That June I was detached from the Reina and ordered to command DESRON 14 in the Atlantic Fleet. This squadron consisted of nineteen destroyers — three divisions of six, and my flagship, the Hopkins, all modern 1,200‑tonners.

Lt. William F. Halsey III:​2

I was working as an usher at NBC that summer. One day a public relations executive sent for me and told me he had seen in the papers that Dad's squadron was coming to New York. He said, "We'd like to extend your father the privileges of NBC, and we'd like to get a picture of the two of you together, both in your uniforms."

Me in an usher's uniform, and Dad in a Navy captain's! I didn't dare tell Dad about it until long after I'd left the job. He'd have pulled the guy's arm off and clubbed him to death with it.

Returning to sea duty was wonderful after more than three years on the beach, and I was particularly pleased to return to my favorite ships. I could also continue to indulge my love of flying. Planes had now become an integral part of the fleet; the pilots would spot our torpedo runs for us; so I began to watch half our torpedo practices from my bridge and half from the air.

However, not all the officers present with me were quite so raptly aware of our planes as was I. There was a day when one of the battle­ships flew off her scout with orders to rendezvous at a given spot. Something prevented the battle­ship from keeping the rendezvous, but she forgot to notify the plane. The pilot orbited as long as he dared and finally landed near the coast of Haiti, with barely enough gas to make the beach. The battle­ship's exec, a certain commander, was a friend of mine. I bought a doll, dressed it in a commander's uniform, chained a miniature plane to its wrist, and presented it to him as a future reminder.

 p54  In January, 1932, the Atlantic destroyers were ordered to the Pacific, where the major part of the fleet would be concentrated from then on. Another change in organization was made about this time: the division was reduced from six ships to four, so a squadron became a thirteen-ship command. I hardly had time to become accustomed to the difference. In June I said good‑by to destroyers forever. In the twenty-three years that had passed since I took command of the Dupont, all my sea duty had been in destroyers, except my one year in the Wyoming. I had spent more time in them than had any other officer in the Navy, and my sea duty had been less diversified than any other officer's of my rank. In Proverbs' phrase, I had been "a companion of the destroyer." Now the companion­ship was broken; I never sailed in one again.

My new duty was student officer in the Naval War College, at Newport. Few years in a naval officer's life are more pleasant than this one. It is restful because you have no official responsibilities, and it is stimulating because of the instruction, the exchange of ideas, the chance to test your pet theories on the game board, and the opportunity to read up on professional publications.

Another story, apropos of nothing, comes crowding in here. We were dining with some War College friends, and a young Navy bride asked Fan for her dominant impression of Navy life. Fan told her flatly, "Buying and abandoning garbage cans all over the world!"

It was the Army and Navy's occasional custom to exchange a few officers between their War Colleges, and when I finished my course at Newport in 1933, I was ordered to the Army War College at Washington for further instruction. This was my first close association with the Army; here I met Maj. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Omar Bradley and Lt. Col. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Jonathan Wainwright, who were among my classmates. At Newport we had studied the strategy and tactics of naval campaigns, with emphasis on the problems of logistics. At Washington we studied on a larger scale — wars, not campaigns — and from the viewpoint of the top echelon, the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Shortly before my year expired, I received a letter from Ernie King, then Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, offering me command of the carrier Saratoga if I would take the aviation observers' course at Pensacola. The world of aviation suddenly reopened to  p55 me; I was so excited that I regarded the privilege of commanding the Sara merely as a pleasant bonus.

I told my wife about Ernie's offer and asked her to consider it for forty-eight hours before giving me her opinion. When the time was up, she said she would consent if the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, Adm. William D. Leahy, for whose judgment we both had enormous respect, agreed that the idea was sound. Bill Leahy not only agreed, he was enthusiastic.

I settled my family for the summer and started the long drive south to Pensacola. My last night on the road I spent at Tallahassee. Suddenly it occurred to me, "Bill, you're fifty‑one years old and a grandfather, and tomorrow morning you'll begin competing with youngsters less than half your age!"

That night I took my last drink of liquor for a solid year.

The Author's Notes:

1 Editor's note: Admiral Halsey's mother died in May, 1947, as this book went to press.

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2 Editor's note: Admiral Halsey's family and many of his associates were reminded, on reading the completed typescript, of anecdotes which deserved inclusion. When such a contributor is or was an officer, the anecdote is ascribed to him under his present rank or the last rank he held before retirement to inactive duty. All other ranks and rates are as of the time of mention. Hence, for instance, Admiral Halsey's Chief of Staff's comments on the South Pacific campaign and the operations of the Third Fleet are ascribed to Vice Admiral Carney, as he is now, rather than to Rear Admiral Carney, as he was at the time.

Thayer's Notes:

a His grave may be seen at Find-a‑Grave; Admiral Halsey is now buried near his father.

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b Kenneth Whiting's initiatives in setting up American naval air forces in Europe in World War I are detailed in Turnbull & Lord, History of United States Naval Aviation, pp119‑126 and Ralph Paine, The First Yale Unit, pp140‑144; and his name continues to recur regularly in both books, up to the 1930's in the case of the former.

Theodore Ellyson's contributions to naval aviation are detailed in Turnbull & Lord, pp12‑23, passim.

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