Among the famous names of U.S. Navy notables can be found George Dewey, the hero of Manila Bay. Following his overwhelming victory of 1 May 1898, the then-commodore would be elevated in rank to rear admiral then to admiral then to a unique title and grade: Admiral of the Navy. No other member of the Navy has ever held this title.
Within the military collection of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History is a series of shoulder strap insignia once worn by Dewey. Together, they chart the course of this Navy legend’s unprecedented rise.
When first posted as commander of the Asiatic Squadron in 1896, Dewey wore a single star as a commodore. After his victory at Manila Bay, he received promotion to rear admiral. The pair of rear admiral straps in the museum’s collection presumably were made in the Philippines for Dewey. In March 1899, Congress authorized creation of the grade of “Admiral of the Navy.”