Admiral William Harrison Standley, USN

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William Harrison Standley

Birthdate: (90)
Birthplace: Ukiah, Mendocino County, California, USA
Death: October 25, 1963 (90)
San Diego, California, USA
Place of Burial: Arlington, Arlington County , Virginia, United States of America
Immediate Family:

Son of Jeremiah M. "Doc" Standley and Sarah Charity Standley
Husband of Evelyn Curtis
Father of Rear-Admiral William Harrison Standley, USN; Helen Standley; Vivian Beatrice Wincote; Marie Standley and Evelyn C. Standley
Brother of Minnie Jane Jamison; Harry Standley; Nellie Francis Gibson and Jessie Norma Standley

Occupation: Admiral in US Navy
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Admiral William Harrison Standley, USN


Admiral William Harrison Standley is the son of Jeremiah M. Standley and his wife, Sarah Charity Clay. He was born at Ukiah in Mendocino County, California, in the United States of America, on 18 December 1872, and died at San Diego there on 25 October 1963 [California, Death Index, 1940-1997, index, FamilySearch] He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery [Find A Grave]


Ensign William Harrison Standley and his wife, Evelyn Curtis, were visiting his widowed mother-in-law when the US census of 1900 was enumerated. Mrs. Curtis resided in Ukiah Township, Ukiah city, Mendocino, California, United States of America [United States Census, 1900, index and images, FamilySearch]


In May 1915 Ensign William Harrison Standley, at age forty-two, became commander of the USS Yorktown, the second ship to carry this name. It was a steel hulled, twin-screw gunboat. She was commissioned on 23 April 1889. She was 244 feet long and 36 feet wide, while displacing 1,910 tons. Her armament included six 6-inch breech-loading rifles, two 6 pound guns, two 3 pound rapid fire guns, two 37-mm Hotchkiss revolving cannons and two Gatling guns. This Yorktown spent her first 4 years in the Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific Ocean. She also sailed to the Bearing Sea to protect Seals from poachers. In 1893 she returned to the East Coast of the United States for repairs, after which she returned to the Pacific where she remained until Earth's first World War [


William Harrison Standley assumed command of the pre-dreadnought battleship Virginia soon after he was detatched from the Naval Academy in July 1919. He is noticed aboard USS Virginia when the US census of 1920 was enumerated [United States Census, 1920, index and images, FamilySearch]


He was at home in Washington with his wife, Evelyn Curtis, and their three daughters, when the US census of 1930 was enumerated [Washington, Washington, District of Columbia [United States Census, 1930, index and images, FamilySearch]



The cruiser USS William H. Standley (CG-32) was named in his honor Admiral William Standley State Recreation Area, a California state recreation area, is named for him as is a middle school in San Diego,_California



William Harrison Standley (18 December 1872 - 25 October 1963) was a U.S. admiral. He served as the chief of naval operations between 1933 and 1937. He also served as the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1941 until 1943.

Born at Ukiah, California, Standley graduated from the Naval Academy in 1895. He then served the required two years' sea duty in the cruiser Olympia before he received his commission as an ensign in 1897. During the Spanish-American War, he served in the monitor Monterey and later in Alert. After the fighting with Spain had ended, he joined the gunboat Yorktown, during the Philippine-American War. He won a commendation for bravery during a volunteer reconnaissance mission carried out at Baler, on 11 April 1899. In conjunction with a feint conducted by Lt. J. C. Gilmore, Standley—-then an ensign—-ventured into enemy territory to reconnoiter insurgent positions.

Ordered to the gunboat Marietta on 29 May 1901, Standley later became Officer in Charge, Branch Hydrographic Office, San Francisco, California, in October of the same year. Assigned to the training ship Pensacola in June 1902, he later served as engineer in the ship Adams and as aide to the Commandant of the Naval Station at Tutuila, Samoa. Designated as the captain of the yard there in 1905, Standley discharged his duties as officer in charge of the native guard and chief customs officer until detached with orders to the United States in October 1906.

Reporting to the receiving ship Independence in January 1907, Standley served as executive officer of the cruiser Albany from February 1909 to August 1910. From January 1910, he also discharged duties as Albany's navigator as well. Standley then reported to the armored cruiser Pennsylvania on 3 November 1910 and was navigator of that ship until becoming aide to the Commandant of the Mare Island Navy Yard at Vallejo, California. After three years in that post, Standley became executive officer of the battleship New Jersey and later took command of the gunboat Yorktown on 15 May 1915.

Returning to the Naval Academy on 14 October 1916, as Assistant to the Superintendent in charge of Building and Grounds, he later served for 11 months as Commandant of Midshipmen. Under his direction, the new seamanship and navigation buildings were constructed, and over four million dollars were expended in enlarging Bancroft Hall to accommodate the increased number of midshipmen appointed during the World War I period. For his "highly meritorious" service in those posts at Annapolis, Standley received a special letter of commendation from the Secretary of the Navy.

Detached from the Naval Academy in July 1919, Standley soon thereafter assumed command of the pre-dreadnought battleship Virginia and, a year later, received orders to attend the Naval War College. After completing his studies at Newport, Standley returned to sea, serving as Assistant Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, Battle Fleet, from 5 July 1921 to 30 June 1923, before he reported to Washington for duty heading the War Plans Division in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). Completing the latter tour on 1 February 1926, Standley then commanded California (BB-44) from 15 February 1926 to 11 October 1927.

He returned to shore duty in Washington, D.C., as Director of the Fleet Training Division, Office of the CNO, and held that post until 14 May 1928. He then served as Assistant CNO until 17 September 1930, when he became Commander, Destroyer Squadrons, Battle Fleet, a title that changed to Commander, Destroyers, Battle Force, United States Fleet, on 1 April 1931, with additional duty as Commander, Destroyers, United States Fleet. Designated as a member of the Navy Department's Selection Board on 18 November 1931, Standley became Commander, Cruisers, Scouting Forces—-with additional duties as Commander, Cruisers, U.S. Fleet, and Commander, Cruiser Division 5—on 16 December of the same year.

Appointed vice admiral, on 20 January 1932 while in command of the Battle Force's cruisers, Standley was placed in command of the Battle Force, U.S. Fleet, with the rank of admiral, on 20 May 1933. Breaking his flag in his former command, California, the admiral remained at sea until 1 July 1933, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him CNO.

Before being retired, at his own request, on 1 January 1937 and handing over the reins of office to Admiral William D. Leahy, Admiral Standley frequently performed the duties of Acting Secretary of the Navy, due to the declining health of Secretary of the Navy Claude A. Swanson. Standley represented the United States as a delegate to the London Naval Conference between 7 December 1935 to 25 March 1936 and signed that accord on behalf of the United States. In addition, during his tenure as CNO, Standley initiated the Vinson-Trammell Naval Bill that provided for establishing, building, and maintaining the United States Navy at treaty strength.

Recalled to active duty on 13 February 1941, Standley served as naval representative on the planning board of the Office of Production Management (OPM) for seven months. After leaving the OPM in the autumn of 1941, Standley served as the American naval member on the Beaverbrook-Harriman Special War Supply Mission to the USSR. Upon his return from Russia, Standley became a member of the Navy Board for Production Awards.

When President Roosevelt established the Roberts Commission to investigate the attack on Pearl Harbor, he selected Admiral Standley as one of the members of that sensitive body that studied the attack into early 1942. In February 1942, Standley was appointed American Ambassador to the USSR, a post he held into the autumn of 1943.

Subsequently recalled to active duty once more, in March 1944, Standley served in the Office of Strategic Services throughout the remaining period of hostilities. Relieved of all active duty on 31 August 1945, Standley lived in retirement at San Diego, California, until his death on 25 October 1963.

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Admiral William Harrison Standley, USN's Timeline

December 18, 1872
Ukiah, Mendocino County, California, USA
December 12, 1903
Age 30
California, USA
Age 30
California, USA
Age 33
Cook Island, Samoa
Age 36
California, USA
Age 39
Califormia, USA
October 25, 1963
Age 90
San Diego, California, USA
Arlington, Arlington County , Virginia, United States of America