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Naval History and Heritage Command

Bradley, Willis W.
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Bradley, Willis W.

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Lieutenant, USN (Retired) (1884-1954)

Captain Willis W. Bradley, Jr., USN (Retired), (1884-1954)


 

Willis Winter Bradley, Jr. was born on 28 June 1884 in Ransomville, New York. Appointed from North Dakota to the U.S. Naval Academy, he graduated in September 1906. For his two-year Midshipman duty, he served on board USS Virginia. Commissioned an Ensign in September 1908, he reported to USS Culgoa, where he transferred in succession to USS Perkins, USS Hancock, and USS South Carolina. In September 1911, he was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade. A year later, commanded both USS Biddle and the Reserve Torpedo Group at Annapolis, Maryland. Remaining in the area, he was promoted to Lieutenant in July 1913 and completed an Ordnance Course at the Naval Postgraduate School as well as graduating with a Masters of Science degree from George Washington University at Washington, D.C. In July 1915, he assumed command of USS Stewart, then transferred to command USS Hull. A year later, he served on board USS San Diego.


 

During World War I, Bradley received orders to USS Pittsburgh. On 23 July 1917, an accidental explosion of saluting cartridges in the after casemate left him unconscious. Regaining composure, though still dazed, he crawled into the casemate and extinguished multiple fires, preventing further explosions. For his "extraordinary heroism" on this occasion, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. That August, he was temporarily promoted to Lieutenant Commander. Returning to the U.S., he served at the Bureau of Ordnance, Washington, D.C., where he was temporarily promoted to Commander. After a brief tour at Naval Torpedo Station, Keyport, Washington, he was assigned to USS Texas, then transferred to USS California. In the spring of 1922, after his promotion to Commander became permanent, he returned to the Naval Torpedo Station at Keyport as the Naval Inspector of Ordnance in Charge. In 1924, he commanded USS Gold Star and returned two years later to the Bureau of Ordnance.

 

In June 1929, Bradley was appointed as Naval Governor and Commander, Naval Station of Guam. In May 1931, he commanded USS Bridge. In July 1933, he was promoted to Captain and became Captain of the Yard at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, then Territory of Hawaii. In June 1935, he commanded USS Portland. After attending the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, in May 1938, he was assigned as a Member of the Board of Inspection and Survey, Pacific Coast Section, located out of Long Beach, California. A year later, he became Destroyer Squadron Thirty-One, serving on flagship USS MacLeish. In the summer of 1940, he returned to the Board of Inspection and Survey. In August 1946, he retired and was placed on the retired list. During 1947-1949, Bradley was elected as a Representative of the Eighteenth District of California as a Member of the Eightieth Congress of the United States. Willis W. Bradley died on 27 August 1954 and is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California.


 

USS Bradley (FF 1041), 1965-1988, was named in honor of Captain Willis W. Bradley.


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