Bruce McCandless was born on 12 August 1911 in Washington, D.C. Appointed to the Naval Academy from Colorado, he was commissioned an Ensign after graduation in June 1932. For his first duty, he reported to USS Louisville, where he was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade in June 1935 and served as an Aircraft Gunnery Observer with Scouting Squadron Eleven-S (VS-11S). Remaining at sea, in 1936-1938 he was assigned to USS Indianapolis and USS Case (DD-370). After completing instruction at the Post Graduate School at Annapolis in September 1939, he received orders to USS San Francisco, where he was promoted a month later to Lieutenant. McCandless was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in June 1942, a half-year after the United States entered World War II. A few months later his ship supported the Guadalcanal-Tulagi Invasion, beginning her close association with the long and bloody campaign to secure Guadalcanal.
San Francisco was Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan's flagship duriing the first phases of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. In the furious night action on 13 November 1942, the ship was repeatedly hit by Japanese gunfire, killing her Commanding Officer, Captain Cassin Young, Rear Admiral Callaghan, and most of the others on the bridge. McCandless, though wounded, took over control of the badly damaged cruiser. Working in association with Commander Herbert E. Schonland, he saw her through the remainder of the battle and took her to safety. For his "conspicuous gallantry and exceptionally distinguished service" on this occasion, McCandless was awarded the Medal of Honor. Soon after the battle, he was promoted to Commander.
In July 1944, McCandless placed USS Gregory (DD-802) in commission, commanding her during the February-March 1945 Iwo Jima Operation and the subsequent invasion of Okinawa, during which she was badly damaged by a suicide plane on 8 April. That October he reported for staff duty with Commander, Naval Operating Base, Terminal Island, California. In November 1946, he relocated to Washington, D.C. and served at the Naval District Affairs Division at the Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations. Returning to sea in May 1949, McCandless commanded Mine Division Two, flying his pennant on USS Shannon. In June 1950, he was assigned to the Executive Department at the U.S. Naval Academy and was promoted to Captain in January 1951. After a period of hospitalization, in September 1952, he left active duty and, in recognition of his distinguished combat service, was made a Rear Admiral on the retired list. Bruce McCandless died on 24 January 1968 and is buried at the Naval Academy Cemetery, Annapolis, Maryland.
USS McCandless (DE-1084, later FF-1084), 1972-1994, was named in honor of Rear Admiral Bruce McCandless and his father, Commodore Byron McCandless, USN.
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