Arthur W. Radford

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Arthur W. Radford bigraphy, stories - United States naval aviator

Arthur W. Radford : biography

February 27, 1896 – August 17, 1973

Arthur William Radford (27 February 1896 – 17 August 1973) was a United States Navy admiral and naval aviator. In over 40 years of military service, Radford held a variety of posts including Vice Chief of Naval Operations, commander of the United States Pacific Fleet and later the second Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

With an interest in ships and aircraft from a young age, Radford saw his first sea duty aboard the battleship during World War I. In the inter-war period he earned his pilot wings and rose through the ranks in duties aboard ships and in the Bureau of Aeronautics. After the U.S. entered World War II, he was the architect of the development and expansion of the Navy’s aviator training programs in the first years of the war. In its final years he commanded carrier divisions through several major campaigns of the Pacific War.

Noted as a strong-willed and aggressive leader, Radford was a central figure in the post-war debates on U.S. military policy, and was a staunch proponent of naval aviation. As commander of the Pacific Fleet, he defended the Navy’s interests in an era of shrinking defense budgets, and was a central figure in the "Revolt of the Admirals," a contentious public fight over policy. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he continued to advocate for aggressive foreign policy and a strong nuclear deterrent in support of the "New Look" policy of President Dwight Eisenhower.

Retiring from the military in 1957, Radford continued to be a military adviser to several prominent politicians until his death in 1973. For his extensive service, he was awarded many military honors, and was the namesake of the Spruance-class destroyer .

Early life

Arthur William Radford was born on 27 February 1896 in Chicago, Illinois, to John Arthur Radford, a Canadian-born electrical engineer, and Agnes Eliza Radford (née Knight). The eldest of four children, he was described as bright and energetic in his youth. When Arthur was six years old the family moved to Riverside, Illinois, where his father took a job as a managing engineer with Commonwealth Edison Company. John Radford managed the first steam turbine engines in the United States, at the Fisk Street Generating Station.

Arthur began his school years at Riverside Public School, where he expressed an interest in the United States Navy from a young age. He gained an interest in aviation during a visit to the 1904 World Fair in San Fransisco, California. By fourth grade, he frequently drew detailed cross-section diagrams of the . He was shy, but performed very well in school. In mid-1910, Radford moved with his family to Grinnell, Iowa, and attended Grinnell High School for a year and a half, before deciding to apply to the United States Naval Academy. He obtained the local congressman’s recommendation for an appointment to the academy, and was accepted. After several months of tutoring at Annapolis, Maryland, he entered the academy in July 1912, at the age of sixteen.

Although Radford’s first year at the academy was mediocre he applied himself to his studies in his remaining years there. He participated in summer cruises to Europe in 1913 and 1914 and passed through the Panama Canal to San Fransisco in 1916. Radford, known as "Raddie" to his fellow students, graduated 59th of 177 in the class of 1916, and was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy during the First World War.

Awards and decorations

Radford’s awards and decorations include the following accolades:

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number=1|type=award-star|ribbon=American Defense Service ribbon.svg|width=106}} number=0|type=service-star|ribbon=American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg|width=106}} number=7|type=service-star|ribbon=Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon.svg|width=106}}
number=0|type=award-star|ribbon=World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg|width=106}} number=0|type=service-star|ribbon=KSMRib.svg|width=106}} number=0|type=service-star|ribbon=Army of Occupation ribbon.svg|width=106}}
number=0|type=award-star|ribbon=National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg|width=106}} number=0|type=service-star|ribbon=Order of the Bath UK ribbon.png|width=106}} number=1|type=service-star|ribbon=Phliber rib.png|width=106}}