Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Based on four interviews conducted by Paul Stillwell in January 1998. The volume contains 449 pages of interview transcript plus an index and appendix. The transcript is copyright 1999 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee has placed no restrictions on its use.
In 1941 King graduated from Yale University and received his naval commission through the NROTC program. He is perhaps the first NROTC graduate to achieve three-star rank in the U.S. Navy. He spent most of World War II serving in two light cruisers, the Trenton (CL-11) and Mobile (CL-63). Later in the 1940s he was officer in charge of a school for gunner's mate training in Anacostia, D.C., executive officer of the destroyer Moale (DD-693), and attended postgraduate school to learn about nuclear weapons. In the 1950s served on the staff of the Surface Antisubmarine Development Detachment of the Operational Development Force, commanded the destroyer Bache (DDE-470), was the nuclear weapons requirements officer on the OpNav staff, and a student in at the Naval War College. While on the staff of Commander Carrier Division Six, he served under two future CNOs, George Anderson and Thomas Moorer. Later he commanded Destroyer Division 601, Nuclear Weapons Training Center, Atlantic, and the destroyer tender Yellowstone (AD-27). He was planning officer on the Seventh Fleet staff when the Vietnam War began in earnest in the mid-1960s. Later in that decade he was executive assistant to CNOs David McDonald and Thomas Moorer, Commander Destroyer Squadron One and Commander Antisubmarine Warfare Group One. In the latter capacity he presided in 1969 over the international inquiry into the collision between the Australian carrier Melbourne and U.S. destroyer Frank E. Evans (DD-754). Following duty in OpNav, in the spring of 1970 he succeeded Vice Admiral Elmo Zumwalt as Commander Naval Forces Vietnam. He had a difficult, frustrating tour as the war was winding down. He concluded his career in Washington as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Surface Warfare) and as J-3 on the Joint Staff. He retired from active duty in 1974. The oral history contains a detailed description of his battle against lung cancer in the 1990s. King passed away in 2008.