William A. Moffett
William Adger Moffett was born on October 31, 1869, in Charleston, South Carolina. Appointed from that state to the U.S. Naval Academy, he graduated in June 1890. For his two-year required Midshipman duty, he reported to the steamers Pensacola and Baltimore. Commissioned an Ensign in June 1892, he received orders to the sloop-of-war Portsmouth and later transferred to the protected cruiser Chicago. Remaining at sea, he was ordered to the monitor Amphitrite In October 1896, after graduating from the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, he was assigned to the training ship Constellation, then transferred to the sloop-of-war Enterprise. During the Spanish-American War, he served on board the sloop-of-war Mohican and participated in the Battle of Manila Bay in May 1898 on board the protected cruiser Charleston. Following the war, he received orders to the protected cruiser Baltimore.
In March 1899, Moffett was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade, which was followed by a promotion to Lieutenant. He then served in succession on board the sloop-of-war Monongahela, the battleship Kentucky, the gunboat Marietta, and the galley St. Mary's. In November 1902, he was ordered to the cruiser Minneapolis, later transferring to the battleship Maine. In April 1904, he commanded Naval Station, Guantanamo, Cuba, while also serving as the Executive Officer of the monitor Amphitrite. In July 1905, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. After training at the Bureau of Equipment in Washington, D.C. and at the Naval War College in September 1906, he received orders to the Bureau of Equipment. Returning to sea, he was assigned as the Executive Officer of the cruiser Maryland. In March 1911, he was promoted to Commander and reported to the Eighteenth Lighthouse District in San Francisco, California. In July 1912, he served as the Executive Officer on board the newly commissioned battleship Arkansas.
In October 1912, Moffett briefly reported to the battleship Maine, until reporting to command the light cruiser Chester, where he participated in the intervention at Vera Cruz, Mexico. On April 21, 1914, without navigational assistance during the night, he skillfully moored Chester to a position close to the enemy for successful bombardment the following morning. For his "distinguished conduct in battle," he was awarded the Medal of Honor. In September, he became the Commandant of the Naval Training Station at Great Lakes, Illinois, as well as Supervisor of the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Naval Districts. In August 1916, he was promoted to Captain. In December 1918, he commanded the battleship Mississippi. Two years later, he returned to shore duty as the Director of Naval Aviation at the Office of Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C. In July 1921, Moffett was promoted to Rear Admiral and became the first Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, qualifying as a Naval Aviation Observer a year later. Rear Admiral Moffett served in this position for the rest of his naval career. On April 4, 1933, while traveling aboard the airship Akron, he was a fatality when it crashed at sea. William A. Moffett is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia. Akron was the sister ship to Macon.
USS Moffett (DD-362), 1936-1947, was named in honor of Rear Admiral William A. Moffett. Moffett Federal Airfield, formerly known as Naval Air Station, Moffett Field, in Sunnyvale, California, is also named after Rear Admiral Moffett.
Image: NH 47731: Rear Admiral Moffett, 1933. During an inspection tour of the Anacostia Naval Air Station. NHHC Photograph Collection.