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First Name: Bruce

Last Name: McCandless

Birthplace: Washington, DC, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Home of Record: Annapolis, MD

Date of Birth: 12 August 1911

Date of Death: 24 January 1968

Rank or Rate: Rear Admiral

Years Served: 1932-1952
Bruce McCandless

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Bruce McCandless

Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Rear Admiral Bruce McCandless (12 August 1911 - 24 January 1968) was a U.S. Navy officer who received the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II. McCandless was the father of NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless II.

Bruce McCandless was born on 12 August 1911 in Washington, DC. He was the son of Commodore Byron McCandless (1881-1967). Bruce McCandless graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1932. McCandless served on USS Indianapolis (CA-35) and USS Case (DD-370). He was serving as communications officer on the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco (CA-38) when the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.

On 13 November 1942, during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, Japanese gunfire killed Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan and his staff, including Captain Cassin Young and all other officers on the San Francisco's bridge, except Lieutenant Commander McCandless, who took the conn for the rest of the battle. For his conduct, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, and promoted to full Commander. The San Francisco received the Presidential Unit Citation for this battle and, by the end of the war, was credited with 17 battle stars.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Commander, U.S. Navy, USS San Francisco.

Place and date: Battle off Savo Island, 12-13 November 1942.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and exceptionally distinguished service above and beyond the call of duty as communication officer of the USS San Francisco in combat with enemy Japanese forces in the battle off Savo Island, 12-13 November 1942. In the midst of a violent night engagement, the fire of a determined and desperate enemy seriously wounded Lt. Comdr. McCandless and rendered him unconscious, killed or wounded the admiral in command, his staff, the captain of the ship, the navigator, and all other personnel on the navigating and signal bridges. Faced with the lack of superior command upon his recovery, and displaying superb initiative, he promptly assumed command of the ship and ordered her course and gunfire against an overwhelmingly powerful force. With his superiors in other vessels unaware of the loss of their admiral, and challenged by his great responsibility, Lt. Comdr. McCandless boldly continued to engage the enemy and to lead our column of following vessels to a great victory. Largely through his brilliant seamanship and great courage, the San Francisco was brought back to port, saved to fight again in the service of her country.

Cmdr. McCandless continued to serve on the San Francisco until 1944, when he took command of the destroyer USS Gregory (DD-802). On 8 April 1945 during the Battle of Okinawa, Gregory was attacked and damaged by four kamikazes; her skipper was awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry.

Captain McCandless retired on 1 September 1952 with a terminal promotion to the rank of Rear Admiral.

Notes on Personal Life

Admiral McCandless was the great-grandson of David Colbert McCanles of the Rock Creek Station, NE, shoot-out with Wild Bill Hickok. After that, the McCanles family changed its name to McCandless and moved to Florence, CO.

He was the son of Commodore Byron McCandless (1881-1967) and was the father of NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless II.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Silver Star Medal
Purple Heart


In 1971, the frigate USS McCandless (FF-1084) was named in honor of RADM McCandless and his father, Commodore Byron McCandless.

A street at the U.S. Naval Academy is named after Admiral McCandless.

A street at the Colorado State Veterans Nursing Home in Florence, CO, is also named in his honor.

Death and Burial

Rear Admiral Bruce McCandless died in Washington, DC, on 24 January 1968 at age 56. He is buried at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, MD, in Lot 1021.

Honoree ID: 1522   Created by: MHOH




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