Smedberg, William R. III, Vice Adm., USN (Ret.)

Smedberg, William R. III, Vice Adm., USN (Ret.)

(1902–1994)

A man of considerable enthusiasm and energy, Smedberg was in the class of 1926 at the Naval Academy and reported afterward for a year of duty in the USS New Mexico (BB-40). He then spent three years in the destroyer USS Mullany (DD-325) before reporting to the commissioning crew of the heavy cruiser USS Northampton (CA-26). After postgraduate education in communications, he served on the staff of Commander Cruiser Division Three and Commander Cruisers Battle Force, Rear Admiral Harold Stark. Stark took Smedberg as aide when he became CNO in 1939, so this memoir contains a close-up view of Stark in the period just before World War II. 

During the war, Smedberg was commissioning CO of the destroyers USS Landsdowne (DD-486) and USS Hudson (DD-475), both of which operated in the Solomons. He then served as chief of staff to Rear Admiral A. S. "Tip" Merrill in the Solomons campaign before reporting as intelligence officer to Admiral Ernest J. King's Commander in Chief, U.S. Navy staff. After the war Smedberg was aide to Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, a destroyer division commander, and a Naval Academy department head. He put the battleship USS Iowa (BB-61) back into commission as skipper during the Korean War and then was chief of staff to Commander Destroyer Force Atlantic Fleet. 

The second volume begins with a discussion of Smedberg's service in the Politico-Military Division of the OpNav staff. While there, he was selected for rear admiral and moved up to become division director. From 1956 to 1958, he was Superintendent of the Naval Academy, involved in raising funds for a new football stadium and in upgrading both the faculty and methods of instruction. 

He then spent a few months as Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Force Pacific Fleet and one year as Commander Second Fleet. During the course of the latter command, the fleet was involved in war games against the U.S. Air Force and a NATO exercise. Admiral Smedberg's final tour, as Chief of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, was from 1960 to 1964. 

His discussion concerns such facets as the introduction of computers to the order-writing process, detailing of flag officers to various billets, interaction between the Navy and political figures, the budgetary process as it concerns naval personnel, and Smedberg's dealings with Admiral Hyman Rickover. Admiral Smedberg's memoir is a particularly interesting one because of his degree of candor.

Transcripts of this oral history are available in many formats including bound volumes, and digital copies.

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About Volume I

Based on four interviews conducted by John T. Mason Jr. from May 1975 through September 1977, the volume contains 475 pages of interview transcript plus an index. The transcript is copyright 1979 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee placed no restrictions on its use.

About Volume II

Based on three interviews conducted by John T. Mason Jr. in December 1978, the volume contains 304 pages of interview transcript plus an index.  The transcript is copyright 1979 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee placed no restrictions on its use.