In the history of the U.S. Navy, many a brave soldier is to be found. Be
it John Paul Jones, who, from the cluttered deck of his severely damaged
frigate Bonhomme Richard, shouted back at the British aboard the
frigate Serapis who asked him if he had surrendered, “I have not
yet begun to fight” and eventually captured that British vessel, a deed
which made his name and that of his gallant ship an integral part of the
Or be it Stephen Decatur, who intrepidly steered a small open boat into Tripolis harbor under the guns of the forts to burn the grounded American frigate Philadelphia before she could fall into enemy hands.
Or be it Admiral George Dewey, America’s only Admiral of the Navy, who won America’s first victory in a fleet battle and earned highest praise for it.
WWII would bring another generation or two of flag officers to the command of smaller and larger forces, operating as part of major events or just making the occasional small sortie. It was men like King, Nimitz, and Hart, responsible for the vast areas covered by each pre-war fleet command, or the entire Navy, that made the strategic decisions and that shared the ultimate responsibility for each operation. It was men like Raymond Spruance, like Bill Halsey or Thomas Kinkaid, commanding the numbered fleets of later war years, who saw to the implementation of the grand strategic plans and sometimes shaped and created them themselves.
was men like Norman Scott, Walden Ainsworth, Marc Mitscher, Frank Fletcher,
Willis Lee, and Arleigh Burke, who then took their assigned ships and slugged
it out with their Imperial Japanese counterparts on the high seas, with
carriers or surface ships, until the last resistance had been overcome.
This section is devoted to winners and losers alike, to admirals on the edges of the war and admirals in the middle of the fighting. Their careers are traced here, their actions evaluated, their importance examined.