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Fleet Adm. William F. Halsey
Fleet Adm. William F. Halsey
Photograph courtesy U.S. Naval Historical Center


Halsey was a 53-year-old surface ship officer when he earned his naval aviator's wings in 1935. He took command of the large aircraft carrier Saratoga.

Halsey quickly developed an understanding of the offensive potential of carriers, and by the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor he was commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet's carriers.

Halsey was aboard the carrier Enterprise on the morning of December 7, 1941, some 200 miles (322 kilometers) west of Pearl Harbor, returning after having delivered Marine fighter planes to Wake Island.

In April 1942 Halsey's task force carried the 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers for the Doolittle raid on Japan in April 1942. In 1942 and 1943 he commanded U.S. naval forces fighting the Japanese in the Solomon Islands and then commanded the Third Fleet in major Pacific campaigns.

From August 1944 to August 1945 Halsey and Adm. Raymond Spruance alternated as commanders of the U.S. Navy's main striking force in the Pacific. Under Halsey, the force was known as the Third Fleet, under Spruance, the Fifth Fleet. While one admiral was at sea, the other was at Pearl Harbor, planning the next campaign.

In the fall of 1944 Halsey was criticized for his handling of the Third Fleet in the Leyte Gulf battles and in his subsequent handling of the fleet during a typhoon. But in December 1945 he was promoted to five-star fleet admiral, one of four in the U.S. Navy.


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