Copeland, Robert Witcher
Robert Witcher Copeland was born at Tacoma, Washington, on 9 September 1910. Enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1929, he was commissioned as a Naval Reserve officer in 1935. Copeland practiced law from 1935 until 1940, when he was ordered to active duty during the Navy's pre-World War II expansion. During the War, he commanded USS Pawtucket (YT-7), USS Black Douglas (PYc-45), USS Wyman (DE-38) and USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413).
During the Battle off Samar, 25 October 1944, while commanding Samuel B. Roberts, Lieutenant Commander Copeland led his ship and crew in an attack on a greatly superior Japanese battleship and cruiser force. Though his ship was lost, this action helped defeat the Japanese counter-offensive against the Leyte invasion. For this, he was awarded the Navy Cross.
Following World War II, Copeland resumed his law career while remaining a member of the Naval Reserve, in which he rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. Robert W. Copeland died at Tacoma, Washington, on 25 August 1973.
USS Copeland (FFG-25) was named in honor of Rear Admiral Robert W. Copeland.
This page features photographs of Robert W. Copeland.