Commodore Byron McCandless (September 5, 1881 – May 30, 1967)
Following his graduation from the United States Naval Academy in 1905, McCandless sailed with the Great White Fleet on the USS Maine. He was a gunnery and turret officer, and later became the flag lieutenant and aide to Rear Admiral Charles J. Badger, the commander of the Atlantic Fleet. When Admiral William S. Benson became the first Chief of Naval Operations in 1915, he chose McCandless to be on his three-person staff. Later, McCandless also became an aide to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.
During World War I, McCandless commanded the destroyer USS Caldwell, and was awarded the Navy Cross.
For distinguished service in the line of his profession as commanding officer of the USS Caldwell, engaged in the important, exacting and hazardous duty of patrolling the waters infested with enemy submarines and mines, in escorting and protecting vitally important convoys of troops and supplies through these waters, and in offensive and defensive action, vigorously and unremittingly prosecuted against all forms of enemy naval activity.
After the war, McCandless was the executive officer on the battleship USS Kansas. He later commanded the USS Parrott from 1921 to 1923, the oiler USS Brazos in 1927-28 and the cruiser USS Raleigh. McCandless also commanded Destroyer Division 30 and served as the Operations Officer for Destroyer Squadrons of the Scouting Fleet.
McCandless attended the Naval War College, then became the Director of the Training Division in the Navy’s Bureau of Navigation, and later headed the Branch Hydrographic Office in Boston. After completing another course at the Naval War College, he served as the Chief of Staff for Destroyers, Battle Force, from 1935 to 1937.
McCandless became the commanding officer of the Destroyer Base, San Diego in January 1937. He was transferred to the retired list on June 30, 1940, but remained on active duty and in command. He oversaw an expansion in scope of the base, adding fleet training schools and an amphibious force training unit, and accordingly it was renamed the Repair Base, San Diego in 1942. Helped by the addition of several floating dry docks, between 1943 and 1945 the base performed conversion, overhaul, maintenance and battle damage repair to more than 5,000 ships. He remained the commander until the end of the war, leaving on September 8, 1945. For his service at the base, McCandless was awarded the Legion of Merit. He retired on September 25, 1946.
During his career, McCandless made several inventions. One of them was the “Jeheemy”, an apparatus used to salvage landing craft swamped and stranded on invasion beachheads. It consisted of portable crane hauled along the beach by a tractor. McCandless also patented several other inventions, including a camera and other photographic equipment, a projection system, and a portable lamp.
Rear Admiral Bruce McCandless (August 12, 1911 – January 24, 1968)
McCandless served on USS Indianapolis (CA-35) and USS Case (DD-370). He was serving as communications officer of San Francisco when the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
On November 13, 1942, during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, Japanese gunfire killed Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan and his staff, including Captain Cassin Young and all other officers on the San Francisco’s bridge, except Lieutenant Commander McCandless, who took the conn for the rest of the battle. For his conduct, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, and promoted to full Commander. The San Francisco received the Presidential Unit Citation for this battle and, by the end of the war, was credited with 17 battle stars.
Cmdr. McCandless continued to serve on the San Francisco until 1944, when he took command of the newly commissioned destroyer USS Gregory (DD-802) on July 29 of the same year. On April 8, 1945, during the Battle of Okinawa, Gregory was attacked and damaged by four kamikazes and McCandless was awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry during the battle.
Captain McCandless retired on September 1, 1952, with a terminal promotion to the rank of Rear Admiral. He died in Washington, D.C., on January 24, 1968, and was buried in the Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Md.