Edward Walter Eberle—born on 17 August 1864 at Denton, Tex., and reared at Ft. Smith, Ark.—entered the Naval Academy on 28 September 1881 and graduated on 5 June 1885. Following the two years of sea service—spent in screw sloops-of-war Mohican and Shenandoah and in steamer Ranger—then required before commissioning, Eberle was promoted to ensign on 1 July 1887. Brief duty in Washington, D.C., in the late summer and early autumn preceded his reporting to Albatross on 22 November 1887 to begin three years of duty in that Fishing Commission steamer.
Following leave from 22 November 1890 to 28 January 1891, he received instruction in new developments in naval ordnance at the Washington Navy Yard while awaiting orders for sea duty. Here, he demonstrated an interest in and an aptitude for naval gunnery which ever after was central to his career.
On 20 March, he reported to Lancaster and, in the veteran screw sloop-of-war, steamed across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans to the Far East. A year and a half later, while still in the Far East, he was transferred to the sailing sloop-of-war Marion to close out this tour of duty in Asiatic waters. He returned to the United States in the summer of 1894 and reported for duty at the Naval Academy on 20 August.
In the waning days of this service at Annapolis, Eberle's commission as lieutenant, junior grade, arrived on 12 June 1896, only to be followed a week later by orders sending him across the continent to San Francisco where Oregon (Battleship No. 3) was being completed.
Eberle reported for duty on 10 July, five days before the new battleship was first placed in commission; and he was placed in charge of her forward gun turret. Oregon was still operating along the Pacific coast in the spring of 1898 when Congress declared war on Spain; and she promptly won great renown by her race south from Puget Sound to Cape Horn and then north to the Caribbean to join American forces blockading Cuba. Eberle distinguished himself during the Battle of Santiago by the outstanding performance of his turret in its duel with Spanish cruiser Cristobal Colon and, later, in its bombardment of Spanish troop concentrations at Caimanera.
From this time on, Eberle enjoyed the favor of powerful officers in the Navy. His promotion to lieutenant came on 3 March 1899, some three months before he was detached from Oregon and transferred to Baltimore in which he served as flag lieutenant of the Asiatic Squadron. Late in the summer, Eberle returned to Annapolis to become aide to the superintendent of the Naval Academy. Besides carrying out the duties of that position, he busied himself in studying ordnance and in writing manuals for the use of guns and torpedos and for the operation of wireless communication by warships.
A year in Indiana (Battleship No. 1) on training duty ended in September 1902 when Eberle became aide to the commandant of the New York Navy Yard. Six months later, he was named Rear Admiral Albert S. Barker's flag lieutenant; and, during this two-year tour with the Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, he won his commission as a lieutenant commander.
Much in demand by this time, Eberle received a number of choice assignments: instructor at the Naval War College, executive officer of Louisiana, commandant of the San Francisco Naval Training Station with collateral duty as commanding officer of Pensacola. During the latter tour, he was promoted to commander on 15 December 1908.
By successfully carrying out progressively more responsible duties during the next few years, he earned a captain's commission which arrived on 1 July 1912. The short course at the Naval War College was the highlight of 1913; and command of Washington and, later, of the Naval Gun Factory at Washington, D.C., preceded Eberle's appointment as Superintendent of the Naval Academy on 1 September 1915. After overseeing the Academy during the hectic period of World War I when the need for officers brought the great problems of acceleration, he left Annapolis on 30 January 1919 to command the battleship divisions of the Atlantic Fleet.
On 30 June 1921, Eberle took command of the Pacific Fleet. Some two years later, on 17 July 1923, he became Chief of Naval Operations and held the office until relieved by Admiral Charles F. Hughes on 14 November 1927. During the years he held this post, he fought to minimize the adverse effect upon the Navy of arms limitations negotiations and from Congressional thrift, hurried the completion of aircraft carriers Lexington and Saratoga, and upheld the Navy's right to maintain its own air arm.
After relinquishing the duties of Chief of Naval Operations, Eberle served on the General Board until retired on 9 August 1928. He died in Washington, D.C., on 6 July 1929.
(AP-123: dp. 20,120; l. 608'11"; b. 75'6"; dr. 26'6"; s. 19 k.; cpl. 618; a. 4 5", 8 40mm., 16 20mm.; cl. Admiral W. S. Benson; T. P2-SE2-R1)
Admiral E. W. Eberle (AP-123) was laid down on 15 February 1943 under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 681) by the Bethlehem Steel Corp., Alameda, Calif.; launched on 14 June 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Earl Warren, the wife of the Governor of California who later became Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court; and acquired by the Navy and commissioned on 24 January 1945, Capt. G. C. Carlstedt, USCG, in command.
The transport was operated by the Naval Transportation Service and manned largely by Coast Guard personnel. On 6 March, she departed San Francisco with troops and supplies bound for New Guinea. She made stops at Finschhafen and Hollandia before dropping anchor at Manus Island on 25 March. While there, a Navy plane crashed into the starboard side of the ship. Both occupants of the plane were killed, and casualties on board Admiral E. W. Eberle numbered one dead and five wounded.
On 26 March, the ship sailed in convoy for the Philippines. After loading troops at Leyte, Admiral E. W. Eberle proceeded to Manila. There, she embarked over 2,000 civilians for transportation to the United States. These passengers were mainly American citizens who had been interned in the Philippines since Japanese forces captured the islands in the spring of 1942. Admiral E. W. Eberle returned to Leyte on 13 April to pick up Army personnel; then sailed, via Ulithi, for the west coast of the United States and reached San Pedro, Calif., on 2 May.
The ship's next voyage took her across the Atlantic to Italy. Arriving at Naples on 4 June, she embarked Army personnel and baggage for transportation to Trinidad. The transport reached Trinidad on 18 June and soon reversed her course, bound for France. At Le Havre, Admiral E. W. Eberle embarked over 4,000 homeward-bound troops whom she put ashore upon her arrival at Norfolk on 6 July.
Admiral E. W. Eberle stood out to sea again on 14 July for another voyage to France. She touched at Marseilles and took on board troops destined for the Philippines. Admiral E. W. Eberle steamed via the Panama Canal and Ulithi, arrived at Luzon on 29 August, debarked part of her passengers, and moved on to Manila. The transport returned to the United States in September and put into Seattle, Wash., for upkeep. Between October 1945 and March 1946, Admiral E. W. Eberle made three voyages to Japan and Korea.
Admiral E. W. Eberle was decommissioned on 8 May 1946 and returned to the Maritime Commission for transfer to the Army. Her name was struck from the Navy list in June 1946. The Army acquired the transport that same month and subsequently renamed her General Simon B. Buckner.
The ship was once again transferred to the Navy on 1 March 1950 and assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service. The transport steamed across the Pacific throughout the Korean conflict, transporting troops and equipment to Japan and other staging areas. General Simon B. Buckner continued operations in the Pacific until 15 February 1955, when she departed San Francisco, bound for New York.
Upon arrival two weeks later, she was assigned to the New York-Bremerhaven runs. During the next 10 years, General Simon B. Buckner made over 130 Atlantic voyages from New York to Bremerhaven, Southampton, and the Mediterranean.
Departing New York on 11 August 1965, she returned to the west coast, arriving at Long Beach on the 27th to assist in the movement of troops and equipment to southeast Asia. After two cruises to Vietnam, the veteran transport resumed operation in the Atlantic, arriving at New York on 3 December.
During the next eight months, she steamed across the Atlantic 10 times, making stops at Bremerhaven and Southampton. Returning to the west coast in August 1966, General Simon B. Buckner was once again pressed into service to carry war material to Vietnam. She departed San Francisco on 8 September and reached Danang 20 days later. Following her return to San Francisco on 16 October, she continued to support American operations in southeast Asia until President Nixon's Vietnamization program decreased the Navy's need for transports. She was returned to the Maritime Administration on 24 March 1970.