Samuel Wood Bryant – Rear Admiral, United States Navy

Samuel Wood Bryant (24 May 1877 – 4 November 1938) was an Rear Admiral in the United States Navy.


Bryant was born in Washington, Pennsylvania, on 24 May 1877 and attended Bryant School and Pittsburgh Academy before receiving an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in May 1893. Though he resigned the appointment soon thereafter, Bryant secured another in 1896 and returned to the Naval Academy to complete the course. In June 1898, while still a naval cadet, he was assigned to the battleship Massachusetts of Admiral William T. Sampson’s Atlantic Squadron in which he took part in the bombardments of Santiago on 31 May and 6 June and in other engagements in the West Indies during the Spanish-American War. He also served in the gunboat Leyden before returning to the Naval Academy.

Graduating in June 1900, he then served the two years at sea then required by law before being commissioned as an Ensign. During that interval, he served briefly in the armored cruiser New York (Armored Cruiser No. 2) before reporting on board the converted yacht Yankton on 1 September. About a year later, he left the converted yacht for duty in the battleship Illinois (Battleship No. 7). It was late in this assignment, on 7 August 1902, that Bryant received his commission as an Ensign. On 19 September 1902, he was detached from Illinois for a short tour of duty as a watch and division on board Nashville (Gunboat No. 7). That assignment concluded with the year and Ens. Bryant transferred to Machias (Gunboat No. 5) on 30 December 1902 and remained in her until April 1904. Thereafter, until October 1907, he did successive duty on board Marblehead (Cruiser No. 11) and Preble (Torpedo-boat Destroyer No. 12) and finally as navigator of Lawton and Buffalo. While serving in Preble, he was promoted to lieutenant (junior grade) on 21 August 1905 and to full lieutenant on 11 September 1905.

In the fall 1907, Lieutenant Bryant returned to the Naval Academy as a navigation instructor and remained there almost three years. After being detached in June 1910, he joined Nebraska (Battleship No. 14). On 28 October 1912, in the rank of lieutenant commander, he assumed command of Yankton which duty he carried out until 31 May 1913. Ordered to the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., he pursued the short course until 4 October when he transferred to the Naval Radio Station, Norfolk, Va. There, he took up duty as assistant to the superintendent on 10 November. He next fitted out and assumed command of Allen (Torpedo-boat Destroyer No. 66) at her commissioning on 24 January 1917.

Continuing in command of Allen after the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Bryant was promoted to Commander on 22 June 1917. In December 1917, however, he was appointed an aide on the staff of the Commander, U.S. Destroyer Flotillas Operating in European Waters. He served in that capacity until late in August 1918, being promoted to captain on 15 August 1918. Capt. Bryant returned to the United States to fit out Gamble (Destroyer No. 123). On 4 November 1918, he was appointed to command the destroyers based at Norfolk, Va., which he did until 7 February 1919 when he was transferred to command of Flotilla B and Destroyers based at Charleston, South Carolina.

In June of that year Captain Bryant received orders to Washington, D.C. for duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations with the Director of Naval Communications. He left that office at the beginning of June 1922 to take command of Division 39, Destroyer Squadrons, Atlantic Fleet, with additional duty as the commanding officer of McCormick (DD-223), positions which he held for 17 months. In addition, he left these assignments temporarily in December 1922 to serve as an assistant to the naval advisor to the American delegate to the International Commission on the Rules of Warfare at the Hague in the Netherlands.

Returning to Division 39 and McCormick early in 1923, he resumed those commands until the following fall. Detached from Division 39 on 17 November, Captain Bryant went back to the Office of Naval Communications, where he served as assistant director from 11 December 1923 to 31 May 1924. He then returned to the Naval War College, and, after completing the course in May 1925, served on the staff there until July 1926. After that, he went to sea again, commanding Detroit (CL-8) for two years, before starting another tour of duty on the Naval War College staff in July 1928.

In June 1930, he became Chief of Staff to the Commander, Scouting Fleet. During the 24 months in which he served in that position, Scouting Fleet was redesignated Scouting Force. Detached early in the summer of 1932, he reported for duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations on 7 July 1932 as officer-in-charge of the War Plans Division. Near the end of that assignment, on 18 February 1934, he was promoted to rear admiral. In July 1934, Rear Admiral Bryant received orders to break his flag afloat as the Commander, Battleship Division 2, Battle Force, and did so on 4 September 1934. He remained so employed until 30 March 1935 when he became chief of staff to the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, in which capacity he served until 29 August 1935.

Hospitalized for more than a year, he was discharged from the Naval Hospital, San Diego, on 15 December 1936 and, on 1 March 1937, was transferred to the retired list by reason of physical disability. Rear Admiral Bryant died at Asheville, North Carolina, on 4 November 1938, and he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on 7 November 1938.

In 1943, the destroyer Bryant (DD-665) was named in his honor.


  • RA United States Navy
  • DATE OF DEATH: 11/04/1938

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