William Henry Von Dreele was born in Weehawken, New Jersey, on 17 January 1900. He attended Ashland School, East Orange, New Jersey, and Stevens Preparatory School, Hoboken, New Jersey, before his appointment to the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, from the Ninth District of his native state in 1917. Resigning in February 1918 he was again appointed to the Academy from the Ninth District of New Jersey in 1919. While a Midshipman he was a member of the staff of the “Log.” Graduated and commissioned Ensign in June 1923, he subsequently advanced to the rank of Captain to date from 1 May 1943.
After graduation in 1923, he served consecutively in the battleships Arizona and Florida until June 1924. Following instruction at the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island, he reported to USS Bruce in December 1924, serving in that destroyer until May 1928. From June of that year until September 1930 he was under instruction in mechanical engineering at the Postgraduate School, Annapolis, Maryland, and Columbia University, New York, New York. In October 1930 he was ordered to USS Arkansas and served in that battleship until May 1933. In June of that year he reported for duty at the Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and in September was ordered to duty as Assistant Naval Inspector of Machinery, Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Kearny, New Jersey, serving in that assignment until July 1935.
He assisted in fitting out USS Flusser, and served as engineer officer of that destroyer from her commissioning, 1 October 1936 until July 1937. Transferred to USS San Francisco, he served as assistant engineer officer of that cruiser until June 1939. From July of that year until March 1941 he had duty in the Construction and Design Division, Bureau of Engineering, Navy Department, Washington, DC, consolidated in June 1940 with the Bureau of Construction and Repair and designated the Bureau of Ships, Navy Department.
Following detachment from the Bureau of Ships in March 1941 he fitted out and commanded the destroyer Woolsey from her commissioning 7 May 1941 until 13 February 1942. After assisting in fitting out USS Massachusetts, he served as engineer officer of that battleship from her commissioning, 12 May 1942 until 24 October of that year. On 8 November 1942 he reported for duty in the Planning Division at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia. In February 1946, he was ordered to the Executive Office of the Secretary, Navy Department, Washington, DC, for a tour of duty in the Industrial Survey Division.
He was ordered on 20 May 1948 to assume the duties of Deputy Chief, Office of Industrial Relations, Navy Department, and continued serving in that capacity until 2 June 1950, when he was designated Director, Maintenance and Repair Division, Military Sea Transportation Service, his present assignment.
Captain Von Dreele had the Victory Medal (World War I); the American Defense Service Medal with Bronze “A”; the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; the American Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal.