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First Name: William

Last Name: Harrill

Birthplace: USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Keene

Date of Birth: 03 May 1892

Date of Death: 11 May 1962

Rank or Rate: Vice Admiral

Years Served:
William Keene Harrill

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1914

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


William Keene Harrill
Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy

William Keene Harrill was born on 3 May 1892. He graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy in 1914 and was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy.

Harrill was a participant in World War I and was awarded the Navy Cross for his service. The following is an abbreviated version of the citation:

Action Date: World War I

"The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant William Keene Harrill, United States Navy, for distinguished service in the line of his profession. During the mine laying operations in the North Sea during World War I, Lieutenant Harrill, as Aide on my staff was responsible for the maintenance and operation of radio and signal communications of the mine laying vessels and naval vessels arriving in the north of Scotland. His energy, zeal, and foresight enabled the vessels to adjust themselves to the new conditions of operations and adopt the foreign codes and ciphers without mishap or interruption. On account of my very small staff it was necessary to utilize this officer for much additional duty in connection with the planning and execution of the mine-laying operations. Later, during the mine sweeping operations as the Senior Officer present on my staff, he was charged with the details of the administration of a force consisting of 50 to 75 vessels. His devotion, zeal, and relentless efforts in this responsible position highly merit the award recommended."

Harrill underwent flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida and was designated a Naval Aviator in 1921.  

In the fall of 1941 through the spring of '42, Captain Harrill was Commanding Officer of the Aircraft Carrier USS Ranger (CV-4), the largest carrier in the Atlantic fleet. During his command of the Ranger, the carrier was primarily on patrol duties and there was no record of combat operations. As a Commodore, Harrill was Commander of Patrol Wing 1 from June 1942 to March 1944.

By June 1944, Harrill had been promoted to Rear Admiral and was assigned command of Task Group 58.4, consisting of three carriers; Essex, Langley, and Cowpens. Task Force 58 (the Fast Carrier Task Force), was under the command of Admiral Marc A. Mitscher. Harrill was teamed with Task Group 58.1, under the command of the aggressive Rear Admiral Joseph J. "Jocko" Clark, for air interdiction strikes against Iwo Jima early in the Marianas campaign. Harrill lacked aggression and had to be prodded into action by "Jocko" Clark, who flatly told him that: "If you do not join me in this job, I will do it myself." Harrill, who was four-years senior to Clark, responded to the ultimatum by joining him in the strikes. When Harrill had an attack of appendicitis on 28 June, it provided Mitscher with an excuse to gracefully ease him out of his combat command.

Death and Burial

Vice Admiral William Keene Harrill died on 11 May 1962. He is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, CA.

Honoree ID: 3283   Created by: MHOH




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