Rear Admiral Tolley graduated from the Naval Academy in 1929 before serving as a junior officer on board the USS Florida (BB-30), Texas (BB-35), Canopus (AS-9), Houston (CA-30), and Mindanao (PR-8) in the 1930s.
In the late 1930s Admiral Tolley went back to China for a short period of intelligence work, followed by a year at the Naval Academy in 1940, and then back to Asiatic duty as executive officer on the Yangtze gunboat USS Wake (PR-3), during which time he narrowly escaped capture by the Japanese.
In the last year of World War II, he served as navigator on board the battleship USS North Carolina (BB-55) during that ship's participation in action off Leyte, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. After the war, Admiral Tolley became intelligence officer on the OpNav staff, commanded the attack transport USS Vermilion (AKA-107), and directed the intelligence division at the Armed Forces Staff College.
In this excerpt from Volume II of his oral history, Admiral Tolley discusses a tense meeting between Churchill and Stalin in Moscow in August 1942, regarding the delay of a cross-Channel invasion and the North African landing known as Operation TORCH.
For RADM Tolley's Oral History on the U.S. Naval Institute website, click here.
To read more about the Naval Institute Oral History Program, click here.