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Radford, Arthur William (1896-1973)


Photograph of Arthur W. Radford

National Archives #80-G-426284

Cropped by author

"Raddy" Radford was born in Chicago and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1916. He served on battleship South Carolina throughout the First World War. He completed flight training at Pensacola in 1920, and served with the Bureau of Aeronautics and with spotting units in the Battle Fleet before commanding an Alaskan aerial survey in 1929. He then alternated service between staff positions with the Bureau of Aeronautics and sea duty aboard carrier Saratoga. He commanded naval air stations in Seattle and Trinidad, was executive officer of Yorktown, and served as head of Aviation Training after war broke out. He was credited with maintaining high standards of training under tremendous pressure, which likely helped him achieve flag rank without ever having commanded a ship.

Radford was promoted to captain on 2 January 1942, served briefly with Carrier Division 2, and was promoted to rear admiral and command of Carrier Division 11 in July 1943. He participated in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands operations before returning to Washington to serve on King's staff. In November 1944 he took command of Carrier Division 6 for the campaigns against Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Postwar Radford became fleet air commander at Seattle before being promoted to vice admiral and deputy chief of naval operations for air in January 1946. In January 1948 he was promoted to full admiral and vice chief of naval operations. He participated in the "Revolt of the Admirals" in May 1949, seeking to preserve the Navy as an independent service. His career survived, and he became the first naval officer to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, from June 1953 until his retirement in August 1957. He became a business consultant during his retirement.

Radford was considered a brilliant and aggressive officer, a natural pilot, and an excellent administrator. His recommendation to Halsey in June 1945 to steer clear of heavy weather was ignored, and Halsey put 3 Fleet in the path of a typhoon.

Service record

1896-2-27    

Born at Chicago
1916-6-2
Ensign     
Graduates from Naval Academy, standing 59th in a class of 177. Assigned to BB South Carolina
1920

Flight training, Pensacola
1920-11

Instructor, Pensacola
1922

Bureau of Aeronautic
1925-4

VO-1
1927-6

Naval Air Station, San Diego
1929

Commander, Alaskan Aerial Survey Detachment
1929-11

CV Saratoga
1931-5

Staff, Aircraft, Battle Force
1932-6

Bureau of Aeronautics
1934

AV Wright
1937-6

Commander, Naval Air Station Seattle
1940-5
Commander
Executive officer, CV Yorktown
1941-8-1

Commander, Naval Air Station Trinidad
1942-1-2     
Captain
Director of Aviation Training
1943-4

Staff, Carrier Division 2
1943-7-21     
Rear admiral     
Commander, Carrier Division 11
1944-1

Chief of staff, Naval Air Force, Pacific Fleet
1944-5

Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Air
1944-11

Commander, Carrier Division 6
1946-1

Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air)
1946-5
Vice admiral
1947-3

Commander, 2 Fleet
1948-1
Admiral
Vice Chief of Naval Operations
1949-4-7

Commander, Pacific Fleet
1953-6

Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
1957-8-1

Retires
1973-8-17     

Dies at Bethesda Naval Hospital

References

Boatner (1996)

Dupuy et al. (1992)

Naval Historical Center (accessed 2006-6-24)
Pettibone (2006)
Tuohy (2007)


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