William Frederick Halsey, Jr. – Fleet Admiral, United States Navy


Born in Elizabeth,New Jersey, on October 30, 1882, he graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1904.

He served on escort vessels during World War I and later earned his Naval Aviator’s Wings at the advanced age of 52, the oldest person to do so in the history of the U.S. Navy.

He commanded the South Pacific Area in 1942 and was promoted to Commander-in-Chief of the Third Fleet in 1944. He provided support for General Douglas MacArthur’s invasion of the Philippines in 1944. The Japanese surrender in World War II took place on his flagship, the battleship USS Missouri, in Tokyo Bay.

He was promoted to Five-Star Fleet Admiral (one of only five men to have held that rank) in December 1945. He retired from active duty with the Navy in 1947, becoming President of International Telecommunications Labs, Inc.

He died on August 16, 1959 and was buried in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery, next to his father, Captain William Frederick Halsey.

His wife, Frances Grandy Halsey (1887-1968), is buried with him.


NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense

No. 033-03
January 23, 2003


Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England has selected the names of three great naval heroes for the next Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyers.  Fleet Adm. William F. Halsey, Jr., Adm. Forrest Sherman and Adm. David Glasgow Farragut will each have a guided-missile destroyer sail under their names.

The Halsey honors Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr. (1882-1959). During World War I, Cmdr. Halsey was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions while in command of USS Benham and USS Shaw during convoy escort duties.

Designated a naval aviator in 1935 at the age of 52, he took command of USS Saratoga from 1935 until 1937.  In February 1942, then Vice Adm. Halsey while serving as commander, Carrier Division Two aboard the flagship USS Enterprise, led the first counter-strikes of World War II against the Japanese with carrier raids on the Gilbert and Marshall Islands.  Later that year, his task force launched the famous “Doolittle Raid” against targets on the Japanese homeland.

Assigned as commander, South Pacific Force and South Pacific Area on October 18, 1942, Halsey led the Navy, Marine Corps, and Army forces that conquered the strategically important Solomon Islands.  Subsequently as commander, Third Fleet, his task forces consistently won hard fought victories during campaigns in the Philippines, Okinawa, and other islands.  Nicknamed “Bull” Halsey he embodied his slogan, “Hit hard, hit fast, hit often.”  On December 11, 1945, he became the fourth officer to hold the rank of fleet admiral.  One previous ship has been named Halsey (1963-1994), which earned eight battle stars for Vietnam Service in addition to a Navy Unit Commendation and a Meritorious Unit commendation, and participated in contingency operations in Korean waters (1969-1971) and in the Indian Ocean (1980).  Northrop-Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, Miss., will build Halsey.

The Forrest Sherman honors Admiral Forrest Percival Sherman (1896-1951).  Sherman served as Chief of Naval Operations from November 1949 until his death on July 22, 1951.  Following World War I service, he was designated a naval aviator and later served in USS Lexington during the carrier’s first year in commission.  He twice held squadron commands on the USS Saratoga and served as navigator on the USS Ranger prior to joining the staff of commander, U.S. Fleet in February 1940.  When World War II began, he served in the War Plans Division under the Chief of Naval Operations.

After assuming command of the USS Wasp in May 1942, he attained the rank of Captain and earned the Navy Cross for his leadership of that ship during early phases of the occupation and defense of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. After a Japanese submarine sank the Wasp on Sept. 15, 1942, he became chief of staff, to commander Air Force, Pacific Fleet and served in that capacity until November 1943, when he became deputy chief of staff to Adm. Chester W. Nimitz.

He earned a Distinguished Service Medal for his role in planning the capture of the Gilberts, Marshalls, Marianas, Western Carolines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.  Following a brief tenure as commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Mediterranean, Sherman became the youngest man ever to serve as Chief of Naval Operations on Nov. 2, 1949.  One previous ship, USS Forrest Sherman (1955-1982) was named in his honor, earned a Navy Unit Commendation and performed distinguished service off Lebanon (1958), Quemoy-Matsu (1958), Cuba (1961), and in the Indian Ocean (1980).  Northrop-Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, Mississippi, will build the Sherman.

The Farragut honors Admiral David Glasgow Farragut (1801-1870). One of the Union’s great heroes, Farragut gained famed for his exploits while in command of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron during the Civil War.  In 1862 his ships fought past Confederate forts to capture New Orleans, proving for the first time that cities could be taken by naval forces.  In 1863 at Vicksburg, he gained control of the Mississippi splitting the Confederacy.  In 1864 he boldly led his squadron through a minefield to win the Battle of Mobile Bay.  Four previous ships have been named Farragut: A Torpedo Boat (1899-1919); a destroyer (1920-1930); a destroyer (1934-1945) that earned fourteen battle stars in World War II (including Pearl Harbor, Coral Sea, Eastern Solomons, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa); and a guided-missile destroyer (1960-1989) that took part in contingency operations in the Atlantic and Mediterranean and earned a Navy Unit Commendation.  Bath Iron Works, a General Dynamics Co., in Maine will build Farragut.

The Halsey, Sherman and Farragut are Flight IIA variants of the Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, and incorporate a helicopter hanger facility into the original design.  The ships can carry two SH-60B/R helicopters.  Guided-missile destroyers operate independently and in conjunction with carrier battle groups, surface action groups, amphibious groups and replenishment groups.

Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr.
Special Military Funeral
16-20 August 1959

On 16 August 1959, less than a month after the death of Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, another five-star admiral, William F. Halsey, Jr., at the age of seventy-six died of a heart attack at Fishers Island, New York. For the second time within a month, the Potomac River Naval Command became responsible for arranging the ceremonies of a Special Military Funeral, which was held for Admiral Halsey on 20 August. The admiral’s body was meanwhile taken from Fishers Island to the chapel of the Navy Receiving Station in Brooklyn.

According to plans, which incorporated the wishes of the Halsey family, the admiral’s body was to be brought to Washington, D.C., for the funeral service and burial. The body was to lie in Bethlehem Chapel at the Washington National Cathedral from noon of 19 August until the same hour on the 20th. The funeral service was to be held in the nave of the cathedral at 1400 on 20 August, and burial was to follow in Arlington National Cemetery. The gravesite selected was in Section 2, near the grave of Admiral Leahy, and next to that of Admiral Halsey’s father, who had been a Navy captain, and mother.

Announcements of the funeral service for Admiral Halsey, which served as invitations to attend, were issued by the Secretary of the Navy, but they were sent out and the responses were recorded by the Office of the Chief of Naval Personnel. Dignitaries and their wives who were invited to attend included the President, Vice President, members of the cabinet, justices of the Supreme Court, members of Congress, members of the diplomatic corps, officials of the Department of Defense, and representatives of patriotic organizations. Flag and general officers of all the uniformed services, active and retired, residing in the Washington area also were invited.

Among the friends and associates of Admiral Halsey who were asked to participate in the funeral and burial services as honorary pallbearers was Deputy Secretary of Defense Thomas S. Gates, Jr., who at one time had been Secretary of the Navy. Asked to serve as members of a special honor guard were General Nathan F. Twining, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Lyman L. Lemnitzer, Chief of Staff of the Army; Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, Chief of Naval Operations; General Thomas D. White, Chief of Staff of the Air Force; General Randolph M. Pate, Commandant of the Marine Corps; and Rear Adm. James A. Hirshfield, Commandant of the Coast Guard. Officer aides and escorts for the honorary pallbearers and members of the special honor guard were provided by the U.S. Naval Intelligence School at the US Naval Air Station and the US Naval Weapons Plant in Washington. Officers and enlisted men to usher guests to their seats for the funeral service were supplied by the Coast Guard headquarters, the Marine Barracks, the US Naval Photographic Center, and the US Naval Security Station, all in the Washington area.

On the morning of 19 August the admiral’s body, accompanied by his son and daughter, was flown from Floyd Bennett Field, New York, to the US Naval Air Station in Anacostia, DC Upon the arrival of the plane at 1100, the Ceremonial Guard from the Naval Air Station rendered military honors. Also participating in the reception ceremony was Coast Guard Chaplain Lt. Peter Chase. After the ceremony the admiral’s body was taken in a motor procession, led by Vice Adm. Ralph E. Wilson of the Navy who had been designated escort commander for all ceremonies, to the Washington National Cathedral.

Outside the cathedral a joint honor cordon of twenty men lined the entrance leading to Bethlehem Chapel. The cordon was made up of four men each from the Military District of Washington, the Headquarters Command of the Air Force at Bolling Air Force Base, the Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, the Marine Barracks in Washington, and the Naval Air Station. The body bearers and the joint guard of honor were from the same agencies. There were ten body bearers, with one of the two men from the Naval Air Station acting as petty officer in charge. The joint guard of honor, one officer and nine men from each agency, was to stand watch at the bier while the admiral’s body lay in Bethlehem Chapel. Also standing outside the cathedral were the US Navy Band; the national color detail, of which the military District of Washington had sup­plied the color bearer and the Air Force Headquarters Command and the Marine Barracks the two color guards; and a personal flag bearer from the Naval Air Station.

When the motorcade from the airfield arrived, the Navy Band sounded ruffles and flourishes and the honor cordon saluted as Admiral Wilson, followed by the national color detail, Chaplain Chase, the body bearers with the casket, and the personal flag bearer entered the chapel. After the casket was placed on a bier in the chapel, the body bearers were dismissed and the first relief of the joint guard of honor took post. A constant vigil was maintained until 20 August.

Before 1400 on 20 August the joint guard of honor was dismissed and the body bearers moved Admiral Halsey’s casket to the nave of the cathedral for the funeral service. Among the hundreds of guests who were arriving to attend the service was Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, the sole survivor of four fleet admirals appointed to five-star rank during World War II. Admiral Nimitz was the official representative of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Last to enter the
cathe dral were Admiral Halsey’s widow and his son and daughter. Navy Chaplain Capt. John D, Zimmerman then conducted the Protestant Episcopal funeral service.

Following the half-hour service, a procession formed to escort Admiral Halsey’s body from the cathedral. As the bearers carried the casket out of the north door of the cathedral and through the joint honor cordon lining the steps, the Marine Band, posted across the driveway from the entrance, sounded ruffles and flourishes and began a hymn. While the hymn was played, the body bearers placed the casket in the hearse, which stood on the driveway. The Halsey family and others of the official funeral party then entered automobiles for the procession to Arlington National Cemetery.

As in Admiral Leahy’s funeral, the motor cortege bearing Admiral Halsey’s body to Arlington moved from the cathedral to the Memorial Gate of the cemetery via Woodley Road, 34th Street, Massachusetts Avenue, Rock Creek Park way, Memorial Bridge, and Memorial Drive. On the lawn at Memorial Gate, facing the cortege as it approached on Memorial Drive, was the military escort, which would lead the procession from the gate to the gravesite. In addition to the escort commander and his staff of four, one field grade officer or the equivalent from the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard, the escort of some 550 officers and men consisted of the Navy Band and a company each from the Army (3d Infantry), Marine Corps (Marine Barracks), Navy (Naval Air Station), Air Force (Headquarters Command), and Coast Guard (Coast Guard headquarters). Each company had four officers and eighty-five men and was organized with a commander, a guidon bearer, and three platoons. Each platoon had a commander, a right guide, and three nine-man squads. Also at the gate were the national color detail and the personal flag bearer.

In preparation for the transfer of Admiral Halsey’s casket at Memorial Gate, the caisson and caisson detail from the 3d Infantry were on the street in front of the military escort, facing south toward the cemetery’s Roosevelt Drive. Also in position for the transfer ceremony were the body bearers, who along with the color detail had come from the cathedral by a separate route to reach Memorial Gate ahead of the cortege.

When the motorcade reached the gate, vehicles were halted at designated locations by site control personnel. Cars carrying the special honor guard and clergy were lined along the left side of Memorial Drive. The others took their places on the right, with the Halsey family cars and those bearing the honorary pallbearers and dignitaries at the front. (Diagram 40) After the cortege had halted, the hearse was driven to a position at the left and slightly ahead of the caisson. As the Navy Band sounded ruffles and flourishes and played a hymn, the body bearers removed Admiral Halsey’s casket from the hearse, which was then driven away, and secured it on the caisson. After this brief ceremony, the escort commander, Admiral Wilson, led the procession into the cemetery.

The march to the gravesite in Section 2 took a somewhat circular route via Roosevelt, Wilson, and Sheridan Drives. (Diagram 41) As the military escort turned onto Wilson Drive and reached a point opposite the terminal circle of McClellan Drive, which lies east of and runs perpendicular to Wilson Drive, the band and right platoon of each escort company broke off from the procession, marched across the grass to McClellan Drive, then on it to a graveside position between Roosevelt and Sheridan Drives. To the right front of the escort’s graveside position stood a firing squad from the Navy that had taken this position earlier to fire the traditional three volleys during the burial service. (Diagram 42)

The remaining escort troops, which were not scheduled to participate in the graveside rites, continued on Wilson Drive and out of the ceremonial area to dismissal points. The escort commander and the cortege turned right off Wilson Drive onto Sheridan Drive, which passed immediately south of the gravesite. The color detail, the clergy, the caisson, and the Halsey family and other mourners halted on Sheridan, while the escort commander, the special honor guard, and the honorary pallbearers stopped on a narrow unnamed roadway leading off Sheridan and passing north of the gravesite. During the movement of the procession from Memorial Gate to the gravesite, the 3d Infantry battery, from a distant position in the cemetery, fired a slow-paced 19-gun salute. The final round was fired as the cortege came to a halt at the gravesite.

Admiral Halsey’s casket was borne to the grave through a cordon formed by  the honorary pallbearers. After the Halsey family and other mourners had been conducted to the grave, Chaplain Zimmerman read the final service. At the close, the 3d Infantry battery delivered a second 19-gun salute, which was followed by three volleys from the firing squad. The sounding of taps by a Navy bugler closed the last rites for Admiral Halsey.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 10/30/1882
  • DATE OF DEATH: 08/16/1959



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