The proverbial stars seemed to be aligned for the young officer. After his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1905, he was posted to a brand-new battleship in the Asiatic Fleet, a plum assignment at the time. His early performance was so impressive that, as an ensign, he was given command of the newly commissioned gunboat USS Panay and simultaneous command of a small naval station in the Philippines, prompting him to describe his good fortune as having “one foot ashore and one at sea.”
Things continued to go well for the young ensign. When war briefly threatened with Japan in mid-1907, he was given command of the destroyer USS Decatur (DD-5). He overcame significant challenges in getting the ship ready for war in a timely manner and later successfully transported visiting Secretary of War William Howard Taft from Olongapo to Manila. It seemed apparent that the faith his superiors had placed in him was well-founded.