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Boorda, Jeremy Michael (28 November 1938–16 May 1996), admiral and chief of naval operations, was born in South Bend, Indiana, on 26 November 1938, the son of Herman Boorda, a clothing merchant, and Gertrude Frank Wallis Boorda. At the age of sixteen he dropped out of high school and enlisted in the navy after lying about his age. Thereafter he took readily to discipline and was assigned to the Naval Air Technical School in Norman, Oklahoma. In March 1957 he married Bettie Ray Moran; they had four children....

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Jeremy Michael Boorda. Courtesy of the United States Navy.

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Burke, Arleigh (19 October 1901–01 January 1996), admiral and chief of naval operations, was born Arleigh Albert Burke in Boulder, Colorado, the son of Oscar A. Burke and Claire Mokler Burke, farmers. After being educated at numerous preparatory schools, Burke gained admittance to the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1919. He graduated four years later, 71st in a class of 413. On his graduation day in 1923 he married Roberta Gorsuch; they had no children. Over the next two decades Burke fulfilled routine naval service duties ashore and at sea; in 1931 he received a master's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan. Following a two-year tour with the navy's bureau of ordnance in 1937, he became executive officer of the destroyer ...

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Arleigh Burke. Aboard the USS Lexington. Courtesy of the USS McCampbell.

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Coontz, Robert Edward (11 June 1864–26 January 1935), naval officer, was born in Hannibal, Missouri, the son of Benton Coontz, a newspaper owner and mayor of Hannibal, and Mary Brewington, schoolmates and neighbors of Samuel Clemens, “ Mark Twain.” Robert studied at Ingleside and Hannibal Colleges and was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1881, graduating in 1885. Developing a reputation for a sharp wit and a well-developed sense of humor, Coontz was considered something of a politician at academy. During his second year at the academy, the Naval Committee of the House of Representatives heard testimony from selected midshipmen on the effect of only allowing about one-quarter of a graduating class to secure a commission and that after six years of service. Making an eloquent plea for more commissions, Robert earned the nickname “Senator.” In 1887 he continued his unusual advocacy role by becoming secretary of an Ensigns’ Committee, a group that supported the causes of young naval officers....

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Denfeld, Louis Emil (13 April 1891–28 March 1972), admiral and chief of naval operations, was born in Westborough, Massachusetts, the son of Louis Denfeld, an attorney, and Etta May Kelley Denfeld. He graduated from Duluth (Minn.) High School in 1908, was admitted to the U.S. Naval Academy that year, and graduated as an ensign four years later. Following routine assignments aboard the battleships ...

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Eberle, Edward Walter (17 August 1864–06 July 1929), chief of naval operations, was born in Denton, Texas, the son of Joseph Eberle, a Confederate officer, and Mary Stemler. The family moved to Arkansas in 1865, and he grew up in Fort Smith, where he attended the local schools. He received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, graduating in 1885....

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Pratt, William Veazie (28 February 1869–25 November 1957), admiral and chief of naval operations, was born in Belfast, Maine, the son of Nichols Pratt, a Union naval officer turned master’s mate in the China trade, and Abbie Jane Veazie. With his father established in Shanghai, young William and two brothers were sent to live with their maternal grandmother in Maine in 1877. Pratt entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1885, graduated in 1889, and earned a commission as ensign in 1891 after serving the required two years of duty at sea as “passed midshipman.” In the Spanish-American War of 1898, he served in the Caribbean area on board a yacht converted for blockade duty. In 1899 he tasted combat for the only time, when he participated in a naval landing party during the Philippine Insurrection. In 1902 he married Louise Johnson, resolving a tenuous seven-year courtship; they had one child. Pratt’s career progressed steadily, and by 1911, after twenty years of commissioned service and with a solid reputation in hand, he envisioned a ship command of his own. However, the department had other needs and assigned him as an instructor to the U.S. Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island....

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Sherman, Forrest Percival (30 October 1896–22 July 1951), admiral and Chief of Naval Operations, was born in Merrimack, New Hampshire, the son of Grace Allen and Frank James Sherman, a textbook salesman. Sherman entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1913, but the following year was admitted as a midshipman to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. At the academy, Sherman excelled academically, displaying even then the studiousness, leadership, and driving sense of professional accomplishment that would distinguish him throughout his naval career. Graduating second in his class in 1917, Sherman reported for duty aboard the USS ...

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Standley, William Harrison (18 December 1872–25 October 1963), chief of naval operations and ambassador to the USSR, was born at Ukiah, California, the son of Jeremiah M. Standley, a sheriff of Mendocino County, and Sarah Jane Clay. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1891, graduated in 1895, and earned an ensign’s commission in 1897 after serving the requisite two years duty at sea. During the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection, Standley served with the Asiatic Fleet. He obtained his first command, a cruiser, in 1915 and took command of his first battleship four years later. He attended the Naval War College in 1920–1921. Known as a resolute leader, Captain Standley was boosted to flag rank ahead of several other captains who were higher on the selection list when he became rear admiral in 1927. He became vice admiral five years later....