Martin, William I., Vice Adm., USN (Ret.)

Martin, William I., Vice Adm., USN (Ret.)


Two of the main contributions of this oral history are in describing Admiral Martin’s work as a naval aviation pioneer, particularly in the area of night and all-weather flying, and his repeated contacts with Admiral Arleigh Burke. Martin served as the latter’s executive assistant during Burke’s tenure as Chief of Naval Operations and thus observed him on a daily basis.

After Martin graduated from the Naval Academy in 1934, he served 1934–37 in the battleship USS Idaho (BB-42), then received flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, 1937–38.  Subsequent aviation assignments included: 1938–40 in Scouting Squadron Two (VS-2); 1940–42 as a flight training instructor at Pensacola and Corpus Christi. During World War II combat action, he was executive officer, then commanding officer of Scouting Squadron 10 (VS-10); commanding officer of Torpedo Squadron Ten (VT-10), and Commander Night Air Group 90 — all on board the carrier Enterprise (CV-6). In the summer of 1945 he served on the U.S. Fleet staff for anti-kamikaze experimental work.

From 1945 to 1948 he was a test pilot at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River. He served 1948–50 as executive officer of the Fleet All-Weather Training Unit Pacific (FAWTUPAC), and was a student at the Naval War College, 1950–51.  From 1951 to 1953, Martin was all-weather flight coordinator in OP-05W, the Air Warfare Division of OpNav, then served 1953–55 as commanding officer of FAWTUPAC.  He commanded the aircraft carrier Saipan (CVL-48) in 1955–56, notably in providing rescue and relief following a 1955 hurricane that hit Tampico, Mexico.

In 1956–57 Martin was CNO Arleigh Burke’s executive assistant. He served 1957–58 as chief of staff to Commander Carrier Division Five; in 1958–59 commanded the Airborne Early Warning Wing at Argentia, Newfoundland; and commanded Carrier Division 19 in the Pacific, 1959–60. In 1960–61 he was deputy chief of the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group in West Germany. After a tour from 1961 to 1963 as Chief of Naval Air Reserve Training, he commanded Carrier Division Two, leading the planning for Operation Sea Orbit, an around-the-world cruise by the world’s first nuclear-powered task force. He served as Assistant CNO (Air) from 1964 to 1967; commanded the Sixth Fleet, 1967–68; and was deputy and chief of staff for Commander in Chief Atlantic Fleet, 1968–71. After his retirement from active naval service, Admiral Martin worked for Grumman Aerospace Corporation.

About this Volume

Based on seven interviews conducted by John T. Mason Jr. between October 1979 and January 1980, the volume contains 317 pages of interview transcript plus a comprehensive index. The transcript is copyright 2013 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee placed no restrictions on its use.