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"Illumino Marem"

Personal History of Commodore Byron McCandless (1881-1967)

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Ship's History 1972-79

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Commodore Byron McCandless was born 5 September 1881 at Endicott, Nebraska. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1905, cruised around the world with the Great White Fleet, and later was flag lieutenant and aide to Rear Admiral Charles J. Badger, Commander-in-Chief of the Atlantic Fleet. During 1915-1917, he was aide to the Chief of Naval Operations William S. Benson and to the Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels. He was awarded the Navy Cross for distinguished service as Commanding Officer of destroyer CALDWELL engaged in convoy and anti-submarine patrols in European waters during World War I. He later was Executive Officer of battleship KANSAS, commanded Destroyer Division 30, and was aide and Operations Officer for Destroyer Squadrons of the Scouting Fleet.

Commodore McCandless commanded fleet oiler BRAZOS during 1927-1928, then attended the Naval War College before serving as Director of the Training Division, Bureau of Navigation. He headed the Branch Hydrographic Office at Boston, completed another advanced course at the Naval War College, then served as Chief of Staff for Destroyers, Battle Force, 1935-1937.

He was commanding the Destroyer Base at San Diego when transferred to the Retired List on 30 June 1940 but continued on active duty as Commandant of the Naval Repair Base throughout World War II. His achievement in this command was recognized by the award of the Legion of Merit for outstanding service that insured the success of an unprecedented program of far-reaching significance in many diverse fields. This included the repair of ships, training and housing of personnel, and the post-war berthing and preservation of ships. His further contribution to the war effort included experimentation with infra-red rays for use as recognition signals between darkened ships; construction of Fleet Schools for handling 2,700 men simultaneously and the development and installation of audio-visual aid devices for instructional purposes.

He provided facilities for such activities as the Armed Guard school which trained 45,000 men; the training of 31,000 men for repairing some 400 ships each month; and the addition of five piers and a cruiser graving dock. He also invented the "Jeheemy", a rescue apparatus used to salvage hundreds of small craft wrecked on invasion beachheads. His foresight, initiative and brilliant leadership resulted in extraordinary service that contributed materially to the successful prosecution of the war.

Commodore Byron McCandless again transferred to the Retired List on 25 September 1946. He died 30 May 1967 at Mariposa, California.

In addition to his other accomplishments, he had the distinction of designing the presidential flag. This work was carried out in 1915 at the request of the then Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Source: "Commissioning Pamphlet" provided courtesy of Ms Rosemary McCandless (granddaughter)