Arthur William Radford—born in Chicago on 27 February 1896—graduated from the Naval Academy on 2 June 1916 and served in South Carolina (Battleship No. 26) before seeing duty in three successive staff assignments with: Commander, Battleship Division 1; Commander, Division 1, Pacific Fleet, as aide and flag lieutenant; and as aide and flag lieutenant on the staff of Commander, Train, Pacific Fleet.
In the spring of 1920, Radford arrived at the Naval Air Station (NAS), Pensacola, Fla., for flight instruction and received his "wings" in November. After a tour as an instructor at Pensacola, he spent two years in Washington with the Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer) before joining Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet. Service in observation squadron VO-1,from April 1925 to June 1927 followed before he saw duty at NAS, San Diego, Calif.
In the spring of 1929, Radford was again assigned to Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet, commanding the Alaskan Aerial Survey Detachment which investigated forest and mineral resources in that region. In November 1929, Radford moved to Saratoga (CV-3) and took command of her fighter squadron, VF-1B, the following spring. Assigned to the staff of Commander, Aircraft, Battle Force, in May 1931, he served as Rear Admiral Harry E.Yarnell's aide and flag secretary on a staff that included other naval aviation luminaries such as Capt. John H. Towers and Comdr. Forrest Sherman.
Following another stint with BuAer beginning in June 1932, Radford became navigator of the seaplane tender Wright (AV-1). Duty as an aide to ComAirBatFor lasted until he took command of NAS, Seattle, Wash., in June 1937. In May 1940, Radford became executive officer of Yorktown (CV-5). In May 1941, Radford went back to Washington for a few more months at BuAer and then became the first commanding officer of NAS, Bermuda.
America's entry into World War II in December 1941 found Radford directing the Navy's pilot training program. He inaugurated a program of intensive expansion to include all phases of operational flight training and established functional training commands to carry out his plans. Under his direction, the program, which grew through the spring of 1943, provided the Navy with the skilled pilots who spearheaded the war against the Axis. For this work Radford received the Legion of Merit.
Radford went to Carrier Division (CarDiv) 2 in April 1943 and received flag rank on 21 July of that year. Then as Commander, CarDiv 11, he directed his division's air strikes in support of the landings in the Gilberts in November and received his first Distinguished Service Medal (DSM). Then, after serving as chief of staff and aide to Commander, Aircraft, Pacific Fleet, from December 1943 to January 1944, he returned to Washington to serve as Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air into the fall of 1944.
Breaking his flag in Yorktown, (CV-10) as Commander, CarDiv 6, in November 1944, Radford directed his task group's attacks against targets in the Japanese home islands. His planes also supported the conquest of I wo Jima and of Okinawa, earning him a second DSM.
Following a stint as Commander, Fleet Air, Seattle, lasting into the winter, Radford journeyed to Washington once more in January 1946, to fill the billet of Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air. He returned to sea duty in March 1947 as Commander, 2d Task Fleet, and held that post into December of that year before returning to Washington to become Vice Chief of Naval Operations. Becoming Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, with the collateral duty of High Commissioner, Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands, in the spring of 1949, with the rank of admiral, he was serving therein when the Korean War broke out in June 1950.
According to the citation for his third DSM, Radford "quickly and effectively prepared his command for full scale offensive operations . ..." He skillfully placed his warships ". . . to provide coordinated support of land operations to aid the Republic of Korea in her fight against domination and oppression." During his time as CINCPACFLT, Radford met Dwight D. Eisenhower in Korea following the 1952 elections and impressed the presidentelect so favorably that "Ike" soon appointed him Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The first naval officer to hold that high office. Admiral Radford served as Chairman from June of 1953 until his retirement on 1 August 1957, winning his fourth DSM. Admiral Radford died at the Bethesda Naval Hospital on 17 August 1973.