Joseph King was born in Lorain. Ohio, on November
23, 1878, son of James C. and Mildred Keam King. He attended Lorain
High School before his appointment
in 1897 to the U. S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, by the Honorable
Winfield Scott Kerr of Mansfield, Ohio, Representative from the Fourteenth
District of Ohio. In July and August 1898, during the Spanish American
War, he served in the grade of Naval Cadet in the USS SAN FRANCISCO, flagship
of the Northern Patrol Squadron. Graduated with distinction in the Class
of 1901, he served the two years at sea then required by law before commissioning,
commissioned Ensign to rank from June 7, 1903. With subsequent promotions
he attained the rank of Rear Admiral to date from April 26,
1933. He served as Vice Admiral in 1938-39, was appointed Admiral in 1941,
and Fleet Admiral to date from December 17, 1944.
from the Naval Academy in 1901, he served successively in the USS EAGLE,
converted gunboat, engaged in the survey of Cienfuegos,
Cuba; in the USS CINCINNATI, a protected cruiser employed in the Asiatic
Fleet during the Russo-Japanese War; and in the USS ILLINOIS, flagship
of the European Squadron. Rejoining the CINCINNATI
in January 1903, he cruised in that vessel to Asiatic waters. He returned to
the United States in August 1905 for duty in the USS ALABAMA, flagship of the
Second Division Atlantic Fleet.
On duty at the Naval Academy from September 1906 until June 1909,
he served for two years as instructor in the Department of Ordnance and Gunnery,
and one year on the Executive Staff. He next served as Aide
on the staff of Commander, Second Division, Atlantic Fleet (USS MINNESOTA,
flagship), and in March 1910 was transferred to the USS NEW HAMPSHIRE, with
duty as first assistant to the Senior Engineer Officer, and from August 1910
served as Senior Engineer Officer. From June 1911 until June 1912 he had duty
as Aide and Flag Secretary on the staff of Commander in Chief, U. S. Atlantic
Fleet (USS CONNECTICUT, flagship).
From June 1912 until April 1914 he had shore duty at the Engineering
Experimental Station, Annapolis, Maryland. Upon detachment he reported
to the destroyer TERRY for his first command, On July 18, 1914 he was
transferred to command of the USS CASSIN, and on August 10 was assigned
additional duty as Aide to Commander Torpedo Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet.
From June until December 1915 he had command of the Sixth Division, Torpedo
Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet, with his pennant in the CASSIN. He then served
on the staff of the Second in Command, Atlantic Fleet (Admiral H. T.
the World War I period, he continued staff duty as Aide and Squadron
Officer in the
flagship ARKANSAS, and later the USS WYOMING
and USS PENNSYLVANIA, while Admiral Mayo served as Commander in Chief, U.
S. Atlantic Fleet. He was awarded the Navy Cross "For distinguished
service in the line of his profession as Assistant Chief of Staff for the
Commander in Chief, U, S, Atlantic Fleet.
the rank of Captain, Fleet Admiral King served as Head of the Postgraduate
Department, U. S. Naval
Academy, from May 1919 until July 1921, and the
succeeding year commanded the USS BRIDGE. In July 1922 he reported for
duty on the staff of Commander, Submarine Flotillas, Atlantic Fleet,
and on November 20, 1922 assumed command of Submarine Division Eleven,
with additional duty from April 1923 as Commander, Submarine Division
Three. From September 1923 until July 1926 he had command of the Submarine
Base, New London, Connecticut, and Submarines based at New London, and.'
also served as Naval Inspector of Ordnance in Charge, Navy Mine Depot,
New London. During that tour of duty he was
in charge of the Salvage of the USS S-51 which was sunk off Block Island, September
25, 1925, He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal "For exceptionally
meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility as officer in charge
of the salvaging of the USS S-51."
On July 28, 1926 he assumed command of the aircraft tender WRIGHT, with
additional duty as, Senior Aide on the staff of Commander, Aircraft Squadrons,
Scouting Fleet. Detached in January 1927, he reported to the Naval Air
Station, Pensacola, Florida, for flight training, and was designated
Naval Aviator #3368 on May 26, 1927, He rejoined the WRIGHT in June 1927
to serve as Commanding Officer until June 1928. When the
USS S-4 was sunk off Provincetown, Massachusetts, in December 1927, he was
assigned temporary duty in command of the Salvage Force that raised that submarine.
was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Distinguished Service Medal
meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility as Commanding
Officer of the Salvage Force entrusted with
the raising of the USS S-4 sunk as a result of a collision, off Provincetown,
Massachusetts, 17 December 1927..." The citation continues; "Largely
through his untiring energy, efficient administration and judicious decisions
this most difficult task, under extremely adverse conditions, was brought
to a prompt and successful conclusion,"
After serving as Commander, Aircraft Squadrons, Scouting Fleet, from
June 1 until August 2, 1928, he was named Assistant Chief of the Bureau
of Aeronautics, Navy Department, Washington, D. C., and served in that
capacity from August 1928 until April 1929, He commanded the Naval Air
Station, Norfolk, Virginia, the next year, and in June 1930 assumed command
of the USS LEXINGTON, which, he commanded for two years. He completed
the senior course at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, in
April 1933, after which, with the rank of Rear Admiral, he served as
Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department, until June 1936.
During the period June 1936 until September 1937, he had duty
as commander of Aircraft, Base Force, and for four months thereafter was Commander,
Aircraft Scouting Force, with additional duty as Commander Patrol Wing ONE.
In January 1936 he was designated Commander Aircraft, Battle Force, with
the accompanying rank of Vice Admiral. In August 1939, in his permanent rank
of Rear Admiral, he reported for duty as a member of the General Board of
the Navy, and in December 1940 returned to sea as Commander Patrol Force,
U. S. Fleet.
On February 1, 1941 he was designated Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet,
to serve in the rank of Admiral. He was appointed Commander in Chief
of the United States Fleet on December 20, 1941, and assumed command
December 30, 1941. The duties of Commander in Chief, United States Fleet,
and Chief of Naval Operations, were combined under Executive Order of
March 12, 1942, and the next day he was nominated Chief of Naval Operations
by President Roosevelt, and confirmed to that Office by the Senate for
a term of four years from March 18, 1942.
Magazine cover for
December 7th 1942 - Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King
By Act of Congress approved December 14, 1944, the grade of Fleet Admiral
of the United States Navy - the highest grade in the Navy - was established
for certain officers on the active list of the Navy. The President of
the United States, on December 15, 1944, nominated, and by and with the
advice and consent of the Senate, appointed Ernest J. King a Fleet Admiral
of the United States Navy. Admiral King accepted the appointment and
took the oath of office on December 20, 1944. (His confirmation by the
Senate on April 2, 1945, dates from December 17, 1944).
Executive Order 9035 transferred, to the Chief of Naval Operations the
major functions of the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, and the
position of Commander in Chief. United States Fleet ceased to
as an office established by the President, In accordance with this Order,
Fleet Admiral King's title of Commander in Chief, United States Fleet,
of Naval Operations, became Chief of Naval Operations on October 10, 1945,
For distinguished service concurrently as Commander in Chief of the U. S.
Fleet, and Chief of Naval Operations, during the World War II period, Fleet
King was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of the third Distinguished Service Medal
with citation in part, as follows:
his dual capacity, (he) exercised complete military control of the
Naval forces of the United States Navy, Marine Corps and
Coast Guard and directed all activities of these forces in conjunction
with the U.S. Army and our Allies to bring victory to the United States.
As the United States Naval Member of the Joint Chief of Staff and the
Combined Chiefs of Staff, he coordinated the naval strength of this country
with all agencies of the United States and of the Allied Nations, and
with exceptional vision, driving energy, and uncompromising devotion
to duty, he fulfilled his tremendous responsibility of command and direction
of the greatest naval force the world has ever seen and the simultaneous
expansion of all naval facilities in the prosecution of the war…”
On December 15, 1945, Fleet Admiral King was relieved by Fleet Admiral
Chester W. Nimitz, USN, as Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department,
Washington, D. C., and from that time has served in an advisory capacity
in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy. He died at the Naval Hospital,
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on June 25, 1956.
addition to the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal with
two Gold Stars, Fleet Admiral
King had the Spanish Campaign Medal; the
Sampson Medal; the Mexican Service Medal; the Victory Medal, Atlantic
Fleet Clasp; the American Defense Service Medal, with Bronze "A";
the American Campaign Medal the World War II Victory Medal; and the National
Defense Service Medal.
following Orders and Decorations have been conferred upon Fleet Admiral
King by governments of foreign
countries; Order of Vasco Nunez
de Balboa, Grade of Commander (Panama); Ouissam Alouite Cherifien and
Certificate (French Morocco); Naval Order of Merit with Diploma (Cuba); "Estrella
Abdon Calderon," First Class (Ecuador); Order of Naval Merit, Grande.
Official (Brazil); Special Class, Order of Pan-ring (China);
Grand Cross of the Order of George I, with Swords (Greece); Knight Grand Cross
of the Military Division of the Order of the Bath (Great Britain); and Grand
Officer de la Legion d'Honneur (France).
He had also been awarded the Grand Lodge Medal for Distinguished Achievement,
by the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York;
the Pennsylvania, Society (of New York City) Gold Medal for Distinguished
Achievement, and the American Legion Distinguished Service Medal. The
following honorary degrees have been conferred upon him Doctor of Lass,
by the College of William and Mary, Harvard University, Northwestern
University, Princeton University, and Miami University (Oxford, Ohio);
Doctor of Science by Bowdoin College; and Doctor of Civil Law by Oxford
University (England), He received the Gold Medal for the Prize Essay
awarded by the U. S. Naval Institute, in 1909.
in 1905 to the former Martha Rankin Egerton of Baltimore, Maryland,
Admiral King had six daughters and a son, Commander Ernest J. King,
USN (USNA 1944). All survive. The King residence is at 2919 Forty-Third
Street, Northwest, Washington, D. C.