#WarriorWednesday: US Navy Admirals Ernest King and Grace Hopper

warrior wednesday

Saluting & Celebrating the Heroes of the United States Armed Forces

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ERNEST J. KING (1878-1956). Five-star Admiral, USN, Commander in chief, US Fleet, the first and only officer to hold the combined office of Commander in Chief and the Chief of Naval Operations. ANS as Fleet Admiral, 1p, 5¾”x7¾”, [Washington, DC], Dec 17, 1951. On his five star flag embossed letterhead sending “Seasons Greetings To The Secretary of the Navy…” At the time Dan A. Kimball was naval secretary. Darkly signed in black ink. Accompanied by color 8″x10″ photo of standing portrait in uniform, unsigned. Having retired in 1945 and suffering a debilitating stroke in 1947, King still remained active and was recalled as an adviser to the Secretary of the Navy in 1950.

Many of our U.S. Navy leaders past and present pull double duty and Adm. Ernest J. King was no different. 72 years ago today, he was the Chief of Naval Operations and Commander, U.S. Fleet at the beginning of WWII.

Fleet Admiral King led the Navy to victory over the Axis navies in World War II. The strong-willed leader oversaw the enormous expansion of the U.S. fleet and its successful employment against America’s enemies in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Mediterranean.

Fleet Admiral Ernest King meeting officers from FAW-7. Officer on the right Cdr. Thomas Durfee, Commander U.S. Naval facility, Dunkeswell in Devon in England. Admiral Stark's Lodestar in background.Photo taken 14/6/1944. Information from Dunkeswell Memorial Museum

Fleet Admiral Ernest King meeting officers from FAW-7.
Officer on the right Cdr. Thomas Durfee, Commander U.S. Naval facility, Dunkeswell in Devon in England.
Admiral Stark’s Lodestar in background.Photo taken 14/6/1944. Information from Dunkeswell Memorial Museum

Born in Lorain, Ohio, Ernest J. King graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1901. In World War I, he was an assistant to the chief of staff of Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet. After the war, he gained experience in submarine operations. Shifting to naval aviation, he eventually rose to Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics. In 1941, as Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, King directed undeclared warfare against German U-boats that preyed on American shipping. When the United States entered World War II, he was appointed Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet.

Three months later, President Roosevelt named King Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations. He served in both positions for the remainder of the war. Congress promoted him to Fleet Admiral in December 1944. King was a strong advocate for the U.S. Navy in his dealings with the other U.S. armed forces and with America’s allies. King was instrumental in building a powerful battle fleet that defeated the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Pacific and helped destroy the German U-boat menace in the Atlantic. USS King (DLG-10, later DDG-41) was commissioned in his honor.

September 1985, Commodore Grace M. Hopper, USNR, Special Assistant to the Commander, Naval Data Automation Command. Speaking during groundbreaking ceremonies for the Grace M. Hopper Regional Data Automation Center, at Naval Air Station, North Island, California.

September 1985, Commodore Grace M. Hopper, USNR, Special Assistant to the Commander, Naval Data Automation Command. Speaking during groundbreaking ceremonies for the Grace M. Hopper Regional Data Automation Center, at Naval Air Station, North Island, California.

During her Naval career and in her life as a civilian, Rear Admiral Grace Hopper defined excellence in modern computing, the benefits of which are still shared by all of us today.

Grace Murray (Hopper) was born in New York City on 9 December 1906. She graduated from Vassar College in 1928 and received a PhD in Mathematics from Yale University in 1934. She was a member of the Vassar faculty from 1931 to 1943, when she joined the Naval Reserve. Commissioned a Lieutenant (Junior Grade) 1944, she was assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance and immediately became involved in the development of the then-embryonic electronic computer. Over more than four decades to follow, she was in the forefront of computer and programming language progress.

The First "Computer Bug" Moth found trapped between points at Relay # 70, Panel F, of the Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator while it was being tested at Harvard University, 9 September 1947. The operators affixed the moth to the computer log, with the entry: "First actual case of bug being found". They put out the word that they had "debugged" the machine. In 1988, the log, with the moth still taped by the entry, was in the Naval Surface Warfare Center Computer Museum at Dahlgren, Virginia. Courtesy of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren, VA., 1988.

The First “Computer Bug”
Moth found trapped between points at Relay # 70, Panel F, of the Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator while it was being tested at Harvard University, 9 September 1947. The operators affixed the moth to the computer log, with the entry: “First actual case of bug being found”. They put out the word that they had “debugged” the machine.
In 1988, the log, with the moth still taped by the entry, was in the Naval Surface Warfare Center Computer Museum at Dahlgren, Virginia.
Courtesy of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren, VA., 1988.

Leaving active duty after the war’s end, Dr. Hopper was a member of the Harvard University faculty and, from 1949, was employed in private industry. She retained her Naval Reserve affiliation, attaining the rank of Commander before retiring at the end of 1966. In August 1967, Commander Hopper was recalled to active duty and assigned to the Chief of Naval Operations’ staff as Director, Navy Programming Languages Group. She was promoted to Captain in 1973, Commodore in 1983 and Rear Admiral in 1985, a year before she retired from the Naval service. She remained active in industry and education until her death on 1 January 1992.

USS Hopper (DDG-70) is named in honor of Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper.

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