Arthur William Radford (1896 - 1973)

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Birthplace: Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
Death: Died in Bethesda, Montgomery County, Maryland, United States
Cause of death: Cancer
Managed by: Doug Robinson
Last Updated:
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About Arthur William Radford

Click here to view the rich history of Arthur William Radford at Wikipedia.

Click here to view the video of the sinking of the USS Arthur W. Radford, DD-968 in the Atlantic off the coast of Philadelphia. At 563 feet long, it was the longest ship ever reefed in the Atlantic.

Arthur William Radford (February 27, 1896 – August 17, 1973) was a United States Navy Admiral, Commander-in-Chief of the United States Pacific Command and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


Arthur Radford was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1896. After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1916, Radford served on board the battleship USS South Carolina.


In his career as a U.S. Navy officer, Radford served during World War I as a surface ship warfare officer. After the end of the war, Radford entered naval aviation, and he completed training as a pilot in 1921. After service aboard aircraft carriers, and periods of service ashore, Radford was appointed as the Chief of Aviation Training in 1941, months the entrance of the United States into World War II on December 7, 1941.

Duty during World War II

During World War II, Admiral Radford commanded Carrier Division Eleven in the Pacific during 1943 and Carrier Division Six in 1944. However, more importantly, Radford commanded aircraft carrier Task Groups TG 38.4 and TG 58.4 during 1943 - 45 that were parts of the Fast Carrier Task Force of the U.S. Pacific Fleet (either as part of Task Force 38 or part of Task Force 58.)

Postwar duties with the U.S. Navy

In 1948, Radford was appointed by President Harry S. Truman as the Vice Chief of Naval Operations. Then, in 1949, Truman appointed Radford as the High Commissioner of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.


In 1949, President Truman appointed Radford to the position of Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and Radford served in this post from then until mid-1953: vital years for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps because of their commitment to the Korean War - which began in 1950 and ended in 1953.


In 1953, as the Korean War was winding down - but the time was in the depths of the Cold War, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Admiral Radford as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Radford served in this position for two, two-year terms during 1953 through 1957, when he retired from active duty in the Navy.


During his retirement, Admiral Radford continued to advise Presidents Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson whenever called upon to do so, and Radford was also selected as a member of the Draper Committee.


As the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Radford paid close attention to both the tense situation in Korea and to the activities of the French Army and the French Air Force in French Indochina, especially in Viet-Nam. The crucial turning point in the French struggle against a communist rebellion in Viet-Nam came during the siege of the French Army in North Vietnam during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, where it had become completely concentrated and surrounded. At that time Radford urged the President, to send units of the U.S. Air Force to Viet-Nam to support the French Army. This support was granted in the form of just two B-26 Invader light bomber squadrons of the Air Force. These were sent in what turned out to be a vain attempt to aid the besieged French Army garrison at Dien Bien Phu. In any case, the North Vietnamese communist rebels were able to assault and rout the French Army there, caputuring many prisoners. After long negotiations between the French and the North Vietnamese in 1954, the French government decided to concede all of Vietnam north of the 17th Parallel to communist rule.


Admiral Radford and his staff had foreseen what would happen following a French defeat at Dien Bien Phu. It has been reported that Admiral Radford discussed with the French government the possibility of using nuclear weapons to defend the French garrison at Dien Bien Phu.(3) However, in any case, President Eisenhower declined to take such a drastic and dangerous step into nuclear warfare, and from 1946 on, none were ever used in warfare anywhere in the world.


During his second two-year term as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1955–57), Admiral Radford was instrumental in establishing the Navy's program of Polaris missile nuclear submarines, which required the development of all of these: the ballistic missiles, the new ballistic missile submarines to carry 16 apiece of them, and the appropriate thermonuclear warheads for them. This took on elements of a crash program, and the first Polaris submarine, the U.S.S. George Washington (SSBN 598), was commissioned at the beginning of 1960, and she took to sea for submerged patrol as a nuclear deterrent. Between 1960 and 1967, 41 of these Polaris submarines entered service with the U.S. Navy.


Also, during his four years in this post, several of the large Forrestal class aircraft carriers entered the U.S. Navy's fleet to give it a large amount of conventional and nuclear striking power, especially in the Western Pacific Ocean and in the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, construction work was commenced on the two somewhat-improved supercarriers of the Kitty Hawk class aircraft carriers, and the design work was begun on the world's first two nuclear powered surface warships, the guided-missile cruiser USS Long Beach (CGN-9) and the supercarrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65), which entered service in 1960 - 61.


In 1957, at the end of his second term as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Radford retired from active service in the U.S. Navy, and he then assumed a relatively-quiet private life, except when the three Presidents mentioned above called up him for his advice.


Admiral Radford died at the age of 77 in 1973 at Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Radford was buried with the full honors accorded to a former four-star Admiral, and a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Section 3 of the Arlington National Cemetery, in grave Section 3, in Arlington, Virginia.


Later on, the new anti-submarine warfare-specialized Spruance class destroyer USS Arthur W. Radford (DD-968) was named to honor Admiral Radford. Furthermore, Radford High School in Honolulu, Hawaii, was named in his honor. This school, opened in 1957, overlooks Pearl Harbor in Oahu.

Personal life

Radford married, in 1939, Mariam J. Spencer (1895-1997), the former wife of Earl Winfield Spencer, Jr., Commander, USN; the former wife of A. Cressey Maze; and a daughter of Simon Caro. By this marriage he had one stepson, Robert C. Maze Sr., USMC, who was killed in action in 1945.

Radford's obituary

Obituary from an unknown and undated naval publication supplied by a niece of Admiral Radford to this writer:


ARTHUR WILLIAM RADFORD '16


Adm. Arthur W. Radford, USN (Ret.), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Eisenhower administration, died on 18 August of cancer at the Bethesda Naval Hospital


Born in Chicago, young Radford entered the Naval Academy from Iowa in 1912 and graduated in 1916. His first assignments were to USS South Carolina and as Aide and Flag Lieutenant to Commander Battle Division One during World War I. Foreseeing the future importance of naval aviation, Radford requested flight training, from which he was designated a Naval Aviator in November 1920. Following a tour in BuAer [the Bureau of Aeronautics], he served with aviation units in the tender USS Aroostook and battleships USS Colorado and USS Pennsylvania.


From 1927 to 1929 Adm. Radford was attached to the Naval Air Station in San Diego, then headed the Alaskan Survey Detachment investigating forest and mineral resources in Alaska by airborne surveys. He then joined USS Saratoga, commanding Fighter Squadron One from July 1930 to May 1931 and then shifting to the staff of Commander Aircraft Battle Force. Another tour in BuAer was followed by duty as Navigator of the USS Wright, further assignment to the staff of ComAirBatFor, command of NAS Seattle from 1937 to May 1940, and a year as Executive Officer USS Yorktown.


Radford was then ordered to OpNav as Director of Aviation Training, to the Tenth Naval District to establish and commission NAS Trinidad, and returned to BuAer in December 1941.


In July 1943, Adm. Radford was appointed Commander of Carrier Division 11 and led it into action against the Japanese at Baker, Makin and Tarawa Islands. As a result of this campaign he was given the Distinguished Service Medal. The citation read in part:


"Through his courageous initiative and aggressive determination, the first carrier-borne Night Fighter teams were organized and trained at sea, later proving their value by effectively dispersing a hostile night torpedo attack."


The words, "courageous initiative and aggressive determination," could be applied to most of Adm. Radford's activities. His mind was a happy combination of the imagination necessary to conceive a plan and the ability to carry it out successfully.


For ten months in 1944 Adm. Radford served as Asst. DCNO (Air) in OpNav with additional duty on the Special Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee on Reorganization of the National Defense, then returned to the Pacific as ComCarDiv 6 for the remainder of the war. In December 1945 he became Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air) and, after a year in command of the Second Fleet, returned to the Navy Department as Vice Chief of Naval Operations. At the outbreak of the Korean War, he was serving as Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, and as High Commissioner of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. In addition he was given increased responsibilities concerning Military Assistance Programs in Southeast Asia.


In June 1953, Adm. Radford was appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by the President and on August 15, 1955 was reappointed for a second term. He retired from Naval service August 1, 1957.


Throughout his career, Adm. Radford was a staunch advocate of a firm U.S. stand against Communist gains. Toward this end he pressed for establishment of a Naval Air Station in the Far East. He strived at all levels to make this vital link in the defense posture of Southeast Asia a reality. The Korean War soon made the need all too obvious and it was finally decided to build it at Cubi Point. Construction companies, considering the feat to be impossible because of the tremendous amount of earth to be moved and the problems of maintaining a vast work force in jungle terrain, refused to bid. The Navy's SeaBees stepped in and completed the project in five years.


"Radford's folly" became a reality. In July 1956, as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he returned to Cubi Point to commission the new station. President Magsaysay of the Philippines joined the U.S. officials in dedicating the field "to the peace and security of the Free World." Almost twenty years later, on 21 December 1972, the Cubi Point Naval Air Station honored Adm. Radford in ceremonies changing the name of its airfield to Arthur W. Radford Field. Adm. Radford had the unusual honor of being able to make the dedication speech himself. The plaque reads:


"Dedicated in honor of Admiral Arthur W. Radford, whose foresight in founding U.S. Naval Air Station Cubi Point has enabled the United States Navy to provide invaluable support to the Seventh Fleet and to carry out its obligations under the Philippines-United States Mutual Defense Treaty."


In addition to his Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Adm. Radford also received three gold stars in lieu of a second, third and fourth Distinguished Service Medal; the Legion of Merit with a Gold Star in lieu of a second medal; a Presidential Unit Citation with two service stars (3 awards); Navy Unit Commendation; World War I Victory Medal with Atlantic Fleet clasp; American Defense Service Medal with Fleet clasp; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one silver and two bronze service stars (7 awards); World War II Victory Medal; Korean Service Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one bronze star; and Companion of the Order of the Bath by the Government of Great Britain.


After his retirement, Adm. Radford resided in Washington, D.C., where his wisdom and counsel were sought by a wide range of agencies and organizations in the fields of finance, industry, strategic research, public service, and government.

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Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's Timeline

1896
February 27, 1896
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
1973
August 17, 1973
Age 77
Bethesda, Montgomery County, Maryland, United States
????
????
Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, United States