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Rear Admiral William Henry Ashford


LYONSJ9

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Uniform of Rear Admiral William Henry Ashford:

 

1927 graduate of the US Naval Academy, esteemed Naval Aviator, Captain of the USS Midway, Staff Officer and close friend of Fleet Admiral Bull Halsey during WWII, recipient of the Silver Star, and one of roughly 1,900 recipients of the ultra rare Silver Lifesaving Medal.

 

RADM Ashford began his Naval career after transferring from the University of Georgia to the Naval Academy in 1923. After graduating in 1927, he was posted to the Battleship USS West Virginia as a newly commissioned officer. It was while the West Virginia was docked in Honolulu, Hawaii that Ashford would earn one of the most rarely awarded medals in America.

 

After realizing one of his fellow officers was drowning, Ashford quickly dove into the harbor to rescue him. After grabbing him and towing him to safety, Ashford was applauded by his superiors for this incredible act of heroism, and recommended for the Treasury Department’s Silver Lifesaving Medal, which he duly received (a valor award more sparingly awarded than the Medal of Honor).

 

After starting his career with a bang, Ashford attended the US Naval Flight Training School in Pensacola, Florida where he would earn his pilots wings, and would go on to serve as a reconnaissance pilot aboard USS Texas, USS Northampton, and ashore in the Panama Canal Zone. After serving in various dive bombing squadrons aboard USS Langley, Lexington, and Saratoga, Ashford would join his old flight school friend Bull Halsey as his Flag Lieutenant.

 

Upon the outbreak of the Second World War, Ashford once again joined Halsey as his staff officer aboard USS Enterprise and later as his Chief Air Operations Officer, having direct charge of all areal units under Halsey’s command during operations against Japanese forces on Wake Island, Guadalcanal, New Georgia, and the Gilbert Islands.

 

It was while serving with Halsey aboard the Enterprise that Ashford would receive the Silver Star for:

 

“...conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while serving on the Staff of the Task Force Commander during a series of highly successful offensive missions including the attacks on the Marshall and Gilbert Islands, the raids on Wake and Marcus Islands, the Battle of Midway and similar operations from 6 December 1941 to 28 May 1942. While under constant threat of attack by air and submarine, the Task Force to which Lieutenant Commander Ashford was attached repeatedly steamed for protracted periods in enemy waters and in close proximity to enemy territory and bases. Largely due to his skill and determination under fire, only minor damage was suffered from attacking heavy bombers in the Marshall Islands engagement. In addition, he contributed materially to the marked success of the other actions, through which the Task Force came unscathed after inflicting extremely heavy damage on Japanese installations and shipping. His gallant actions and dedicated devotion to duty, without regard for his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.”

 

In late 1943, Ashford returned to the US to command an aerial training squadron, and then took command of the Great Lakes training carrier USS Sable, serving in this capacity until the end of the war.

 

After the conclusion of the Second World War, Ashford attended the US Naval War College, and would go on to command the USS Midway, Atlantic Wing of the Fleet Logistics Support Command, Fleet Logistics Wing, Head of the Long Range Planning Branch, Head of the Air Weapons System’s Analysis Staff, the Office of Progress Review, Chief of Staff for Task Force 7, and Executive Director of Field Activities of the Bureau of Aeronautics.

 

After Retiring from the Navy in 1956, Ashford spent the rest of his life in the company of his Wife Bette and their numerous children, and would pass away in 1994 at the age of 90.

 

His Awards include:

The Silver Star, Commendation Medal with Combat “V”, Presidential Unit Citation, Silver Life Saving Medal, American Defense Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.

 

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Military_Curator

Great uniform; I really like the Silver Lifesaving Medal! It is definitely a rare one to see. Nimitz was awarded a Gold Lifesaving Medal for a similar event. A sailor had fell off the conning tower of a submarine while pulling out of port so he dove in and retrieved him.

Here are two versions of the SLM. The first is the Pre-1949 version. The ribbon is 2" wide. In 1949 they changed the design to the one on your uniform. These are both on display at the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum.

IMG-6941.jpg

IMG-6943.jpg

 

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Great uniform; I really like the Silver Lifesaving Medal! It is definitely a rare one to see. Nimitz was awarded a Gold Lifesaving Medal for a similar event. A sailor had fell off the conning tower of a submarine while pulling out of port so he dove in and retrieved him.

Here are two versions of the SLM. The first is the Pre-1949 version. The ribbon is 2" wide. In 1949 they changed the design to the one on your uniform. These are both on display at the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum.
IMG-6941.jpg.0c3a09dbd3c5522a47db46cb6e8169ce.jpg
IMG-6943.jpg.deeb7dd9d2f6a87c49fa52858604544a.jpg

Thank you Parks! And WOW! Those are beautiful examples!


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