William Hannum Grubb Bullard, born in Medea, Pennsylvania, on 6 December 1866, was appointed a midshipman from the 6th District of Pennsylvania on 28 September 1882. Graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on 9 June 1886, Midshipman Bullard reported to his first ship, Atlanta (Protected Cruiser) on 12 July, just one week before that steel warship commissioned. Bullard then saw service along the east coast of the United States as the cruiser, one of the first warships of the "New Navy" of the 1880s, operated with the North Atlantic Squadron. On 23 June 1888, he transferred to Coast Survey Steamer Gedney and, after taking the exam at the Naval Academy that summer, was commissioned ensign from 1 July.
Detached from Gedney on 15 August 1890, Bullard reported to Philadelphia (Protected Cruiser No. 4) on the 27th, where he served as watch and division officer. Detached from the warship on 1 September 1892, he received an electrical course at the Naval Academy between 5 September and 29 October before reporting for duty at the Bureau of Equipment on 1 November 1892. Over the next three years, Bullard gave instruction at the Naval Academy, and served in gunboat Bancroft and screw sloop-of-war Lancaster, reporting to the latter on 5 March 1896. He was commissioned lieutenant, junior grade, from 5 September 1896.
Bullard then served in Columbia (Cruiser No. 12) and training ship Monongahela, and was commissioned lieutenant from 3 March 1899. Bullard then travelled to the Asiatic Station and reported for duty in gunboat Princeton on 4 August 1900. After service as navigation officer he detached 20 October 1902 for transit back to the United States for temporary duty at the Naval Academy the following year. During this time he wrote an electrical engineering handbook, Naval Electrician's Text and Handbook, which was published in 1904.
Reporting to training ship Severn as executive officer on 2 May 1904, Bullard served in the bark for three months as that ship decommissioned. After another tour at the Naval Academy, Bullard then reported to Galveston (Cruiser No. 17) on 15 February 1905, then at the Navy Yard, Norfolk, Virginia. While enroute, Bullard was commissioned lieutenant commander from 1 January 1905. Detached from Galveston on 20 May 1905, Bullard served in Maine (Battleship No. 10) as navigator and then as executive officer. On 1 August 1907, Bullard reported to the Naval Academy for duty as an instructor. He was commissioned commander from 1 February 1909.
Starting on 14 May 1909, Bullard commanded Chicago (Protected Cruiser) during decommissioning, detaching on 24 August when that warship went into reserve. After briefly commanding Iowa (Battleship No. 4) during summer battle practice during the summer of 1910, Bullard received his first permanent command on 21 August 1911 when he reported to San Francisco (Cruiser No. 5), then at Norfolk. He was commissioned captain from 1 July 1912.
Following the Naval Review at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in October, Bullard reported to the Navy Department for duty as Superintendent, Naval Radio Service, Radio Station, Arlington, Virginia, on 14 November 1912. The following spring, he assisted the Department of Commerce during an International Conference on radio use to promote safety at sea. On 20 December 1915, Bullard represented the Navy Department at a conference to write regulations and instructions for the operations of the Coast Guard. Four days later he took on the responsibilities of a delegate to the Second Pan American Scientific Congress in Washington, DC, with his focus the use of radio.
Detached as Superintendent of the Radio Service on 24 June 1916, Bullard took command of battleship Arkansas (Battleship No. 33) on 7 July, then in the New York Navy Yard for overhaul. Following the declaration of war on the Central Powers on 6 April 1917, Arkansas carried out patrol duty along the east coast as part of Battleship Division 7 and trained gun crews for duty in armed merchantmen. In July 1918, the battleship sailed to Rosyth, Scotland, to relieve Delaware (Battleship No. 28), where she operated in the 6th Battle Squadron as part of the British Grand Fleet. Shortly after arrival, Bullard was detached 31 August for duty at the U.S. Naval Base at Malta. He received a wartime promotion to rear admiral on 1 July 1918.
He then served as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Eastern Mediterranean between 3 November 1918 and 5 January 1919, helping put into effect the surrender of the Austro-Hungarian Fleet in the Adriatic Sea. Bullard then travelled to Paris, France, for a Naval Radio Conference at the Inter-Allied Commission meeting site. Returning to New York in Liner Olympic in March 1919, he reported for duty as Director of Naval Communications, Navy Department, Washington, DC, on 7 April. Two of his significant accomplishments that summer was to prevent the sale "to foreign interests" of the patent rights to a radio-oriented alternator and to encourage the establishment of the future Radio Corporation of America. He was commissioned, regular, rear admiral from 20 October 1919.
Detached from communications duty on 11 July 1921, Admiral Bullard travelled to Manila, Philippine Islands, via San Francisco to assume command of the Yangtze Patrol Force, Asiatic Fleet, on 12 October of that year. He travelled to Peking, China, in November for special duty in connection with his command, and visited the upper Yangtze River in May 1922 to investigate how to improve radio communications among the station gunboats. Detached from the Yangtze Patrol Force on 26 July 1922, Admiral Bullard proceeded home to Washington, DC, at his own expense, arriving home via commercial transportation on 25 September.
Admiral Bullard was relieved from all active duty and placed on the retired list on 30 September 1922. He then served as chairman of the Federal Radio Commission until his death in Washington, DC, on 24 November 1927.
On 30 December 1941, Admiral Harold R. Stark, then Chief of Naval Operations, wrote a memorandum to Chief, Bureau of Navigation, recommending that a destroyer be named "in honor of the memory of Rear Admiral W. H. G. Bullard." In the memorandum Admiral Stark noted "Admiral Bullard's well-known contributions to the naval and national communications set-up are historical, and, in addition, his service record was outstanding."
(DD-660: displacement: 2050 tons; length 376'5"; beam 39'7"; draft 17'9"; speed 35.2 knots; complement: 329; armament 5 5-inch guns, 10 40mm guns, 7 20mm guns, 2 depth charge tracks, 6 depth charge projectors, 8 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Fletcher)
Bullard (DD-660) was laid down 16 October 1942 at Kearny, N. J., by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co.; launched on 28 February 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Beirne Saunders Bullard, widow of Rear Admiral Bullard; and commissioned 9 April 1943, Commander Glen R. Hartwig in command.
After conducting brief operations along the eastern seaboard and in the Caribbean, Bullard proceeded to the Pacific, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 29 August 1943. With the exception of one voyage to California for overhaul (10 September 1944-18 February 1945), she operated constantly in forward areas of the Pacific rendering fire support, plane guard, patrol, and radar picket services. She participated in the Wake Island raid (5-6 October 1943); Rabaul strike (11 November); the invasion of Tarawa (19 November-1 December); the occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls (22 January-March 1944); Admiralty Islands landings (30 March-13 April), Hollandia operation (16 April-4 May); seizure of Saipan and Guam (10 June-17 August); and the Okinawa operation (15 March-31 May 1945).
On 11 April 1945 during the Okinawa operation Bullard was slightly damaged by a Japanese suicide plane. With repairs completed at Okinawa, she departed on 31 May and steamed to Leyte. Departing Leyte Gulf, on 1 July, Bullard next participated in the 3d Fleet raids against Japan (10 July-15 August).
After the cessation of hostilities Bullard remained in the Far East engaged in occupation duties until 10 November 1945 when she departed for San Pedro, Calif., arriving on 3 December. She operated along the west coast during most of 1946 and then reported to San Diego for inactivation. Bullard was placed out of commission in reserve on 20 December 1946.
While in reserve, Bullard was towed by Koka (ATA-185) to Long Beach in November 1949, was towed back to San Diego a month later, and then finally towed to Long Beach again by Koka on 13 May 1951. Later transferred to the Stockton Division, Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Vallejo, California, the warship was moved to San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard on 16 December 1966 for the removal of machinery. After being towed back to Vallejo on 4 January 1967, the hulk remained there until stricken from the Naval Vessel register on 1 December 1972 and sold for scrap to American Ship Dismantlers, Inc., Portland Oregon, on 3 December 1972.
Bullard received nine battle stars for her World War II service.
Updated, Dr. Timothy Francis, 6 February 2008