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Biography

Discussion in 'War in the Pacific' started by Bill Murray, Feb 25, 2005.

  1. Bill Murray

    Bill Murray Member

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    Ok,after working on this for a couple days here goes my first attempt at a brief biography of some of the main players involved in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Please, if you have any suggestions that I could incorporate to make these better, don't hesitate to say so.


    Admiral Ernest J King

    Adm. King was a driving force behind US Naval operations in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters during World War II. Born in Lorain, Ohio on November 23, 1878. Raised under the strict discipline of a tough minded father, King soon developed an aggressive and determined personality that would distinguish his career. King entered the US Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1897 and graduated fourth in his class in 1901. During his time at the academy, King served in the Spanish American War onboard the protected cruiser USS San Francisco (C-5). As a junior officer, King served in a wide variety of large and small ships, as an instructor at the Naval Academy, as an engineer and on flag staffs. In the teens, King commanded the destroyer USS Terry (DD-25) and a torpedo flotilla. From 1915 through World War I, King was assigned to the staff of Adm. Henry Mayo who was Commander-in-Chief of the Atlantic Fleet during the war. After World War I and another tour at the US Naval Academy, King was promoted to Captain and commanded a submarine flotilla and the New London, Connecticut submarine base. After flight training and further service at sea as Commanding Officer of the airplane tender Wright (AZ-1), King became the Asst Chief at the Bureau of Aeronautics in August 1928. The following year he took command of NAS Hampton Roads in Virginia and in 1930 became the CO of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-2). Promoted to Rear Admiral in 1933, King returned to the Bureau of Aeronautics this time as Chief. By 1938 he was a promoted to Vice-Admiral and commanded the Battle Fleet’s aircraft carriers. In 1941, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the US Atlantic Fleet and promoted to the rank of Admiral. In this post he gained additional combat experience and, prior to America’s entry into the war headed up the Atlantic Patrol Force which was engaged in neutrality patrols of the East Coast of the US. In December 1941, King was again promoted to Commander-in-Chief of the US Fleet. During the war in 1942, King was appointed the duel hat of Chief of Naval Operations and held both positions for the remainder of the war. In the Pacific war he showed great aplomb, using amphibious and carrier resources to defeat the Japanese. He excelled in the Pacific by knowing every aspect of naval operations. More importantly as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he was instrumental in obtaining sufficient resources to begin and sustain offensive operations against Japan despite a grand strategy of directing the bulk of America’s power into the Atlantic and European theaters. Despite his strategic excellence, King did not always get his way and was overruled by Roosevelt on issues such as his proposed invasion of Formosa in 1944 – the President preferred MacArthur’s Philippines operation. King was promoted to the newly created rank of Fleet Admiral in December 1944 and a year with the Second World War won on all fronts and retired on December 15, 1945. Although retaining an advisory role in the Navy, King suffered several years of declining health and passed on June 25, 1956. The USS King (DLG-10, and later DDG-41) have been named in his honor.
     
  2. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Bill:

    Thank you very much for posting this biography. Very informative and precise, indeed. But I'd suggest you try to make it a little more extense and add some more thoughts on admiral King (not such a difficult thing, given the controversial man he was).

    Something like:

    'King was handsome, intelligent, and extremely capable. He is considered by some to have been one of the greatest admirals of the 20th century. On the other hand, he was rude and incredibly abrasive. He was loathed by the officers with whom he served. This was his primary shortcoming.'

    'He was... perhaps the most disliked Allied leader of World War II. Only British general Bernard Montgomery may have had more enemies... King also loved parties and often drank to excess. Apparently, he reserved his charm for the wives of fellow naval officers. On the job, he "seemed always to be angry or annoyed".' [John Ray Skates, The Invasion of Japan].

    Or:

    General Hastings Ismay, chief of staff to Winston Churchill, described King as: 'tough as nails and carried himself as stiffly as a poker. He was blunt and stand-offish, almost to the point of rudeness. At the start, he was intolerant and suspicious of all things British, especially the Royal Navy; but he was almost equally intolerant and suspicious of the American Army. War against Japan was the problem to which he had devoted the study of a lifetime, and he resented the idea of American resources being used for any other purpose than to destroy Japanese. He mistrusted Churchill's powers of advocacy, and was apprehensive that he would wheedle President Roosevelt into neglecting the war in the Pacific.'

    Personally, I'd be much interested in knowing more details on his strategic views and actual successes, as well as his great failures: in 1939 King made the decision not request blackouts on the eastern seaboard and not to convoy ships. The German U-boats had a very nice time in spring 1942 thanks to this. :rolleyes:

    It is interesting as well to know that of all the Joint Chiefs of Staff, King was the first advocate of the PTO and the greatest critic of 'Europe first' strategy. He fought to impose his ideas, like that of a land battle at Guadalcanal, which proved to be decisive in the outcome of the war. Or what about his (and Nimitz's) plan to invade Formosa, replaced by MacArthur's Philippines strategy?

    What a man!!! :eek:
     
  3. TA152

    TA152 Ace

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    I did not know he was a pilot. I would like to add to the Generals comments that I would like to know how much Admiral King had to do with chosing what islands the Marines invaded and what areas the Pacific the Army invaded. Such as why did they use the Army in Alaska island operations and Marines for other islands in the Pacific.
     
  4. Bill Murray

    Bill Murray Member

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    Well Fried and TA....your responses got me thinking a while back and I realized that I knew the accomplishment of the man...but didn't really have an idea of who Adm. King was. So to remedy that situation I have recently acquired "Master Of Sea Power: A Biography of Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King" by Thomas Buell. I intend to try and answer those questions that you have posed along with posting some of the more interesting passages that I come across while reading. To start with, King did seem to rankle the feathers of many he dealt with during WWII. For instance Gen. Lord Ismay, Chief of Staff to Winston Churchill wrote that King was, "tough, blunt, rude, intolerant, and suspicious of all things British". Yet after the war, in June 1946, King was invited to recieve an honorary degree from Oxford University and took with him crates of fresh citrus fruit as gifts to the King of England, Churchill, Lord Hallifax and the Chancellor of Oxford. This was very happily recieved by the recipients as fresh food, citrus fruits in particular, were still fairly scarce in England. This is just one example of the dichotomy of Ernest King.
    Another example would be that as a passed midshipman on the battleship Illinois, King would establish his own personnel standards. "He lacked toughness, he decided. He had been too soft. He never would progress in the Navy unless he got a grip on himself, or so he reasoned. His concept of softness probably included the admirable traits of sympathy, understanding and tolerance - all part of King's character. He decided he would have to supress such compassionate emotions." Yet on his very next assignment aboard the cruiser Cincinnati as an ensign and division officer, King and his division won a gunnery competition. When they arrived in Shanghai his division asked him to arrange for a group photograph. King hired a cameraman to come aboard the ship on a Sunday afternoon following the weekly inspection when his men would be at the smartest appearance. "After posing his men King walked away, but his sailors insisted that he join them for the picture. It was a compliment that King savored. Although he would never admit it, King cared how people felt about him."
    More to follow...
     

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