Based on one interview conducted by John T. Mason, Jr., in May 1981 and two interviews conducted by Paul Stillwell in October 1982. The volume contains 360 pages of interview transcript plus an index and appendices. The transcript is copyright 1990 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee has placed no restrictions on its use.
Even though in his 90s when the interviews were completed, McCrea demonstrated a remarkable memory for details in telling of his naval career. He was a Naval Academy midshipman in 1914 when his ship, the USS Idaho (BB-24) was sold to Greece on the eve of World War I. After graduating in 1915 he served in the USS New York (BB-34) and was present when the German fleet surrendered following the war. In the 1920s and 1930s he matured as a naval officer, serving in a number of destroyers and taking time to get a law degree. He served a tour in Guam in the 1930s, then was executive officer of the battleship Pennsylvania. In 1941, as an aide to CNO Harold Stark, he made a trip to the Pacific to deliver revised war plans to the top commanders. At the beginning of the war he served a year as naval aide to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, then was first skipper of the battleship Iowa (BB-61). After the war he held a series of positions, including DCNO (Administration) and Deputy Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet. After duty as Commandant First Naval District, he retired in 1953 and worked for John Hancock Insurance Company.