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Adm. Ernest J. King

As the second Distinguished Service Medal honoree at The American Legion's national convention in 1943, King - commander of the U.S. Fleet and chief of naval operations - said, "It is my conviction that the action of the Legion, in conferring this signal award, will serve to confirm to all officers and men of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard - and to our country and our allies, even to our enemies - that our fellow citizens, veterans of another great war, believe in us and our will to win."

From his boyhood days in Ohio, King had his mind on a naval career. He received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, and served as a naval cadet in the Spanish-American War in 1898. He also served during World War I, and by 1919 he had advanced to captain. The man of the sea was accustomed to life on destroyers, submarines and battleships when his career shifted to naval aviation in the late 1920s.

Shortly before the bombing at Pearl Harbor in 1941, King was promoted to admiral and became commander in chief of the Atlantic Fleet. In late December 1941, he was elevated to commander in chief of the U.S. Fleet. Finally, in March 1942, he assumed the additional duties of chief of naval operations. He continued in the dual role through much of World War II.

According to King's Department of the Navy biography, "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."

A year before the war's end, King was again promoted, this time to fleet admiral. He served as adviser in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy until his death in Portsmouth, N.H., in 1956, at 77.

For more on King, click here (http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq36-3.htm).

 

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