|Born||30 Oct 1882|
|Died||20 Aug 1959|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseWilliam Frederick Halsey, Jr. was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, United States, to Master William F. Halsey, Sr. of the US Navy. Growing up hearing his father's stories, he attended the United States Naval Academy and graduated 43 out of 62. During his early career he served aboard battleships and torpedo craft.
ww2dbaseDuring WW1, Halsey was a lieutenant commander who commanded the USS Shaw in 1918 and also saw action as the commander of Atlantic Fleet's Torpedo Flotilla; he earned a Navy Cross before the end of WW1. In the interwar years, Halsey served as Naval Attaché to Germany, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. After several sea-going commands, he attended Naval War College and then learned to pilot an aircraft in 1935, which changed the direction of his career. He went on to command the carrier USS Saratoga and then commanded the Naval Air Station at Pensacola, Florida, United States. He trained pilots who were destined to fill squadrons for the modern carriers Enterprise and Yorktown. In 1938, when the war had already broken out in Asia, Halsey was promoted to the rank of rear admiral and commanded carrier divisions. In 1940 he was promoted vice admiral.
ww2dbaseVice Admiral Halsey was at sea in his flagship USS Enterprise when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor. He was overseeing a mission to deliver Marine Corps fighters to bases in the Pacific, and luckily evaded the devastating Japanese raid. His carrier task force took parts in raids to deter further Japanese advance in the early stages of the Pacific War, as well as transporting James Doolittle's raiders on their famous raid on Tokyo. Halsey was absent from the major battle at Midway due to skin disease, which built up his later aggressiveness to hunt down Japanese carriers to avenge the deaths of so many American lives at the hands of Japanese naval pilots. Promoted to admiral in Nov 1942, Halsey was instrumental in both King and Nimitz's island hopping campaign and MacArthur's "hit 'em where they ain't" campaign. During the Guadalcanal Campaign, Halsey's forces were credited with sinking two Japanese battleships, two destroyers, and six transports at the loss of two cruisers and four destroyers.
ww2dbaseHalsey led a raid to Taiwan with the target being the land-based aircraft that might be used by the enemy during the subsequent Allied invasion of the Philippines. During an engagement that the Japanese lost 312 fighters, the exaggeration of damage inflicted on Halsey's fleet soared as high as eleven carriers and two battleships sunk. Halsey, upon hearing enemy propaganda based on the exaggerations, being true to himself sent Nimitz the sarcastic radio message "the Third Fleet's sunken and damaged ships have been salvaged and are retiring at high speed toward the enemy.
ww2dbaseFrom Sep 1944 to Jan 1945, Halsey led the US Third Fleet to assist Douglas MacArthur reclaim the Philippines. His fleet participated in the campaigns to take Palau Islands for staging the Philippines invasion, and then the Philippines campaign itself. During the Leyte Gulf Campaign, after launching a successful air strike that sank the battleship Musashi, Halsey's aggressiveness and personal ambition to sink Japanese carriers was taken advantage upon by Japanese admiral Jisaburo Ozawa, who baited Halsey with a decoy force successfully, allowing Takeo Kurita's Center Force of heavy surface ships to attack American Task Force 34 consisted of destroyers, destroyer escorts, and escort carriers. Task Force 34's message "Where is [repeat] where is Task Force 34" became a motto for those who criticized Halsey's over-aggressiveness that cost American lives unnecessarily. Despite heroic efforts by American destroyers, the Japanese fleet overwhelmed the outgunned American ships, though Kurita's over-carefulness in withdrawing the attack earlier than necessary saved the doom of entire American task forces. Halsey's subsequent run-in with typhoons, which resulted in loss of ships and lives, again put him in scrutiny.
ww2dbaseHalsey was aboard USS Missouri, his flagship, when the Japanese delegation signed the surrender document in Tokyo Bay.
ww2dbaseIn MacArthur's Reminiscences, the general wrote
ww2dbaseMacArthur regarded Halsey very highly for his aggressive style, ranking him among one of the very few naval personnel that he trusted.
ww2dbaseHalsey retired from the US Navy in Mar 1947 and became director of several large corporations. He passed away in Pasadena, California in 1959 and was interred in Arlington National Cemetery.
Douglas MacArthur, Reminiscences
William Manchester, American Caesar
United States Navy Naval History and Heritage Command
Last Major Revision: Aug 2006
- "Before we're through with them, the Japanese language will be spoken only in hell."
» On the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor, 8 Dec 1941
William Halsey Timeline
|30 Oct 1882||William Halsey was born.|
|6 Feb 1906||William Halsey was promoted to the rank of ensign.|
|2 Feb 1909||William Halsey was promoted to the rank of lieutenant.|
|29 Aug 1916||William Halsey was promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander.|
|1 Feb 1918||William Halsey was promoted to the rank of commander.|
|10 Feb 1927||William Halsey was promoted to the rank of captain.|
|1 Mar 1938||William Halsey was promoted to the rank of rear admiral.|
|13 Jun 1940||Rear Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr. relieved Vice Admiral Charles A. Blakely as Commander Aircraft, Battle Force of the US Navy on board carrier USS Yorktown at Lahaina Roads, Maui, US Territory of Hawaii. Halsey received the temporary rank of vice admiral for this assignment.|
|13 Jun 1940||William Halsey was promoted to the rank of vice admiral.|
|26 May 1942||US Navy Vice Admiral Halsey fell ill.|
|18 Oct 1942||US Navy Vice Admiral William F. Halsey was designated the commander of the South Pacific Area, and was made directly responsible for the campaign in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.|
|8 Nov 1942||William Halsey inspected Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. Staying overnight, he personally experienced a Japanese naval bombardment which he later admitted filled him with fright.|
|18 Nov 1942||William Halsey was promoted to the rank of admiral.|
|15 Apr 1943||William Halsey traveled to Brisbane, Australia aboard a PB2Y Coronado aircraft.|
|16 Apr 1943||William Halsey met with Douglas MacArthur at the latter's headquarters in Brisbane, Australia.|
|25 May 1944||William Halsey gave a farewell speech to SOPAC personnel at Emirau, Bismarck Islands.|
|16 Aug 1945||British Admiral Bruce Fraser awarded William Halsey the Order of the Knight of the British Empire aboard USS Missouri.|
|11 Dec 1945||William Halsey was promoted to the rank of fleet admiral.|
|14 Dec 1945||William Halsey was honored with a ticker tape parade in New York, New York, United States.|
|20 Aug 1959||William Halsey passed away.|
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Lt. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, at Guadalcanal