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First Name: Donald

Last Name: Duncan


Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Bradley

Date of Birth: 01 September 1896

Date of Death: 08 September 1975

Rank or Rate: Admiral

Years Served: 1917-1956
Donald Bradley Duncan

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1917

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Donald Bradley Duncan

Admiral, U.S. Navy

Donald Bradley Duncan was born on 1 September 1896. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1917 and was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy. His first duty assignment was on the Battleship USS Oklahoma (BB-37) which operated with the British Grand Fleet in the task of protecting Allied convoys in European waters.

He received flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, in 1920-21 and was designated a Naval Aviator. He later did postgraduate study at the Naval Academy and, in 1925-26, earned a Master of Science degree in Radio Engineering from Harvard University.

Duncan's early duty at sea was on carriers. On shore, he served in several capacities at the Bureau of Aeronautics. He was also executive officer at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

On 2 June 1941, Commander Donald B. Duncan took command of the U.S. Navy's first Escort Carrier, the USS Long Island (AVG-1), on the day she was commissioned. She was also the first merchant ship converted to an escort carrier. Duncan's success on the Long Island resulted in President Roosevelt's order to proceed with more such conversions. [The Long Island was reclassified CVE-1 on 15 July 1943.] These CVE's became the first base of Composite Squadron One, which pioneered flying from a carrier.

In the early days of World War II, Duncan was the Air Operations Officer to Admiral Ernest J. King [Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet as of 30 December 1941, with the added office of Chief of Naval Operation on 18 March 1942]. Duncan made another major contribution to the allied war efforts by assisting with the planning for the Doolittle Raid, and was the one who proposed the use of both the B-25 Mitchell bombers and the Aircraft Carrier USS Hornet (CV-8), for the raid over Tokyo.

On 31 December 1942, the Aircraft Carrier USS Essex (CV-9) was commissioned with Captain Donald B. Duncan as her commanding officer. Following her shakedown cruise, the Essex steamed to the Pacific in May 1943 to begin a succession of victories which would bring her to Tokyo Bay. Departing from Pearl Harbor, HI, she participated with Task Force 16 (TF 16) in carrier operations against Marcus Island (31 August); was designated the flagship of TF 14 and struck Wake Island (5-6 October). Duncan relinquished command of the Essex on 6 November 1943. He later received a letter of commendation from the Commander Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. The Essex received a Presidential Unit Citation.

Subsequent assignments for Duncan included service on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, and as Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, with the rank of Vice Admiral.

Duncan held several important staff and operational positions following the war. He served as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air from 6 March 1947 to 20 January 1948. He was later named Commander, Second Task Fleet and was the Vice Chief of Naval Operations from 1951 to 1956. He was awarded the four-star rank of Admiral on 9 August 1951. Duncan retired from active duty on 1 March 1957.

Admiral Duncan was awarded the Legion of Merit. The USS Duncan (FFG-10), fourth ship of the Oliver Hazard Perry-class of guided-missile frigates, was commissioned on 15 May 1980 and named in honor of Admiral Duncan.

Following his retirement from the Navy in 1957, Duncan served as Governor of the Naval Home, located in Philadelphia, PA, until May 1962. He then moved to Pensacola, FL.

Death and Burial

Admiral Donald Bradley Duncan died in Pensacola, FL, on 8 September 1975. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Jane Dunham Duncan, on 28 July 1970. He was survived by his second wife, Aneila Mateja Duncan, who died on 29 March 1989. Both wives are buried with him in the Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola, FL.

Honoree ID: 502   Created by: MHOH




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