Captain Young was born in Washington, DC, 6 March 1894. He attended public schools in Washington and St. John’s College, Annapolis, Maryland, before receiving his appointment to the Naval Academy in 1912. After graduation in 1916, he served in USS Connecticut. His service in this vessel continued through the World War and until June 1919, when he reported at the Submarine School, New London, Connecticut, for instruction. After completing that course he served continuously in submarines until 1923 and in command of a ship of that type from September 1920. In 1922 he assisted in fitting out USS S-51 at the Lake Torpedo Boat Company, Bridgeport, Connecticut, and served in her after she was commissioned. From January 1923, until June 1925, he was on duty in the Office of Naval Communications, Navy Department, Washington, DC, and from July 1925 to July 1928, he was aid on staff, Commander, Submarine Division, Battle Fleet.
He was instructor in the Department of Engineering and Aeronautics at the Naval Academy from August, 1928 until May 1931, and during the summer of 1930 made the practice cruise with the midshipmen to Northern European ports. From June, 1931 to December 1932, he served as communication officer in USS New York, and during the next five months, as her first lieutenant. Following that duty he commanded USS Evans for two years. He was on duty at Headquarters, Eleventh Naval District, San Diego, from March, 1935, until March 1937, when he assumed command of Submarine Division Seven, with additional duty in 1938 as Commander, Experimental Division Two. In July 1939, Captain Young reported for duty as executive officer, Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut, and in October 1941, returned to sea as commanding officer of USS Vestal.
Captain Young was awarded the Medal of Honor for service as set forth in the following citation:
“For distinguished conduct in action, outstanding heroism and utter disregard of his own safety, above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of the a U.S. Naval Vessel, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. He proceeded to the bridge and later took personal command of the anti-aircraft gun. When blown overboard by the blast of the forward magazine explosion of the U.S.S. ARIZONA, to which his ship was moored, he swam back to his ship. The entire forward part of the U.S.S. ARIZONA was a blazing inferno with oil afire on the water between the two ships. Despite severe enemy bombing and strafing at the time and his shocking experience of having been blown overboard, Commander Young with extreme coolness and calmness moved his ship to an anchorage distant from the U.S.S. ARIZONA.
On February 19, 1942, Captain Young was advanced to the rank of Captain for meritorious service.
On 13 November 1942, while serving as commanding officer of USS San Francisco, he was killed in action when that cruiser led the attack against an enemy force of battleships, cruisers, and destroyers approaching Guadalcanal.
Captain Young was award the Navy Cross, posthumously, with the following citation:
“For extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession during action with enemy forces, on which occasion the force to which he was attached engaged at close quarters and defeated a superior enemy force. His daring and determination contributed materially to the victory which prevented the enemy from accomplishing their purposes.”
Captain Young has posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal, and was entitled to the ribbon for, and a facsimile of, the Presidential Unit Citation awarded the USS San Francisco with the following citation:
“For outstanding performance in action against enemy Japanese forces off Savo Island in the Solomon Islands on the night of October 11-12 and again in the early morning of November 13, 1942. In the latter engagement, the SAN FRANCISCO silenced and disabled an enemy battleship at a range of 3,000 yards, sank one enemy destroyer and damaged two other enemy vessels. Although heavily damaged by fifteen major caliber hits, she lived to fight again, her survival a distinctive tribute to the valorous spirit of her officers and men.”
He had the Victory Medal, Atlantic Fleet Clasp; the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; and the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal.
A Destroyer, the USS Cassin Young, has been named in his honor. She was sponsored by his widow, Mrs. Eleanor McFadden Young, when she was launched at the Bethlehem Steel Company plant, at San Pedro, Terminal Island, California, on September 1, 1943.