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First Name: Charles

Last Name: Snyder

Birthplace: Charleston, WV, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Philip

Date of Birth: 10 July 1879

Date of Death: 03 December 1964

Rank or Rate: Admiral

Years Served: 1900-1946
Charles Philip Snyder

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1900

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


Charles Philip Snyder

Admiral, U.S. Navy

Charles Philip Snyder was born on 10 July 1879 in Charleston, WV, to future West Virginia Congressman Charles P. and Jane Goshorn Snyder. He attended Washington and Lee University for one year before entering the U.S. Naval Academy in 1896. Graduating fourth in his class in 1900, he served the standard two years at sea as a passed cadet before being commissioned Ensign in 1902 and assigned to the battleship USS Alabama.

Promoted to Lieutenant, he reported to the Naval Academy on 16 August 1905 as an Instructor in Navigation and Mechanics. In February 1906, he was called before a Congressional subcommittee to testify about his role as the disciplinary officer in charge during a notorious hazing incident that had resulted in an upper class man being acquitted at court-martial for the injury of a fourth class man on the grounds that he and other upper class men had understood Snyder to have tacitly encouraged the hazing.

During World War I, he commanded the battleship USS Oregon, flagship of the Pacific Fleet; the cruiser USS Minneapolis; and the transport USS Mongolia. He graduated from the Naval War College in 1925. Promoted to Captain, he served as Commandant of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy, on staff at the Naval War College, and as Manager of the Portsmouth Navy Yard.

Service as Flag Officer

Snyder was promoted to Rear Admiral with date of rank 1 March 1933 while serving as Chief of Staff to Admiral David F. Sellers, who was Commander Battleships, Battle Force, U.S. Fleet from 1932-33 and Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Fleet 1933-34. Snyder was Commandant of the Portsmouth Navy Yard from 1934-35, then commanded a heavy cruiser division of the Scouting Force, followed by a battleship division of the Battle Force, before serving as President of the Naval War College from 2 January 1937 to 27 May 1939. He returned to sea in 1939 as Commander Battleships, Battle Force, with the temporary rank of Vice Admiral.

On 6 January 1940, he hoisted his four-star flag on board the battleship USS California as Commander Battle Force with the temporary rank of Admiral. As Commander of the Battle Force, he was second-in-command of the U.S. Fleet, under Admiral James O. Richardson. In January 1941, Richardson was relieved over a dispute about fleet basing and replaced by Husband E. Kimmel, a junior Rear Admiral. Simultaneously, the fleet was reorganized and the position of Commander Battle Force was downgraded to three stars, a change scheduled to take effect upon the completion of Snyder's tour that summer. For reasons of his own, Snyder had no desire to serve under Kimmel, and asked to be relieved immediately. He was succeeded by Vice Admiral William S. Pye on 31 January 1941, one day before Kimmel ascended to command and eleven months before most of the Battle Force's battleships were sunk at anchor during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

World War II

Upon relinquishing command of the Battle Force, he reverted to his permanent rank of Rear Admiral and became a member of the General Board with additional duty as the President of the Board for Inspection of Military Readiness in Naval Districts. As a member of the General Board, Snyder participated in the debate over the role of African-American sailors in the Navy. The Navy's policy was to confine black sailors to menial duties as stewards and messmen, excluding them from general service on the grounds that they were unable to maintain discipline among white subordinates and therefore had to be segregated, which was impractical at sea. When the General Board convened on 23 January 1942, Snyder suggested expanding black enlistment in rigidly segregated support roles outside the service branches: in the Aviation Branch, following the Army's lead; aboard auxiliaries and minor vessels, especially transports; or in the Musician's Branch, because "the colored race is very musical and they are versed in all forms of rhythm."

From May 1942 until April 1946, he served as the first Naval Inspector General. The Naval Inspector General was used as a troubleshooter during World War II, inspecting shore facilities and investigating misconduct. As one of 24 inspection authorities concerned with Navy procurement and administration of activities ashore, he was instructed to keep the organization small and to rely on augmentation from the Fleet. He retired in August 1943 upon reaching the statutory age, and was advanced to the four-star rank of Admiral on the retired list as the highest rank in which he had served, but remained on active duty as Inspector General until the end of the war.

In early 1946, he investigated the sinking of the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis in his official capacity as Inspector General, but agreed to curtail his investigation so that Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King and Navy Secretary James V. Forrestal could immediately court-martial Indianapolis' Commanding Officer, Captain Charles B. McVay III.

Medals and Awards

His award include the Navy Cross for eminent and conspicuous service in World War I, and a special letter of commendation from the War Department.


• On 24 January 1943, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree (LL.D.) from Washington and Lee College.

• In 1940, he received the Sigma Chi fraternity's Distinguished Medal for Conspicuous Public Service.


Snyder married Cornelia Walcott on 10 July 1902, and they had three children: Elizabeth; Philip, who retired from the Navy as a Rear Admiral; and Jane.

Death and Burial

Admiral Charles Philip Snyder died on 3 December 1964 at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, MD. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in Section 3, Site 1802-A.

Honoree ID: 651   Created by: MHOH




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