John Arthur Snackenberg was born in Brooklyn, New York, on 22 April 1900, son of John C. Snackenberg and the late Mrs. Charlotte Kingsberry Snackenberg. He was graduated from Boys High School, in Brooklyn before his appointment to the US Naval Academy from the Fifth District of New York in 1917. During World War I he served as a Midshipman in USS Ohio, operating with the Atlantic Fleet. Graduated and commissioned Ensign on 3 June 1920, with the Class of 192l-A, he subsequently attained the rank of Captain to date from 30 June 1942. He served in the temporary rank of Commodore from 5 March 1946 until September 1946, and was selected to the rank of Rear Admiral on 28 November 1946, his nomination confirmed by the Senate to date from 7 March 1944.
After Graduation from the Naval Academy in June 1920, he was assigned to USS Pennsylvania, in which he served until November 1923. In February 1924 he joined USS Galveston, operating with the Special Service Squadron, and was aboard when that cruiser participated in the unveiling of the Theodore Roosevelt Monument at Santiago, Cuba on 31 December 1924. Detached from the Galveston in July 1925, he returned to Annapolis for instruction in Ordnance Engineering at the Postgraduate School, and continuing the course at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, received the decree of Master of Science in June 1927.
Successive duty in USS Pennsylvania and USS Oklahoma preceded duty from May 1931 until June 1933 in the Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Department, Washington, DC. He then joined USS Memphis, flagship of Commander Cruisers and Cruiser Division 2, Battle Force, to serve for two years. He was then ordered to the Staff of Commander Cruiser Division 2, Cruisers, Battle Force, US Fleet, and was attached first to the USS Memphis and later USS Trenton, flagships while in that assignment until June 1936. For two years thereafter he again had duty in the Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Department, where he served in the Design, Turret Mount and Machinery Sections. Returning to sea in June 1938, he served as Gunnery Officer of USS Idaho until January 1940. He was then transferred to duty as Assistant Operations Officer on the Staff of Commander Battle Force, and was attached to USS California flagship, until May 1941.
He served in the Research Division, Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Department, until March 1942, and after brief duty as Aide to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, he returned to duty in the Bureau of Ordnance. In December 1942 he was assigned additional duty as the Navy Department Representative on the War Department Munitions Assignment Committee, and continued duty in the Bureau of Ordnance until July 1944. He received the following Letter of Commendation with authorization to wear the Commendation Ribbon from the Secretary of the Navy:
"For outstanding performance of duty as Ammunition Type Assistant for the Bureau of Ordnance from June l942 to July 1944. Devoting his exceptional technical skill, keen judgement and resourcefulness to the many and varied problems connected with the development of the rocket, high capacity ammunition and VT fuse programs, Captain Snackenberg played a major part in the ultimate success of these programs and in the successful outcome of the war. The initiative, tenacity of purpose and untiring devotion to duty displayed by him reflect great credit upon Captain Snackenberg and the United States Naval Service."
As Commanding Officer of the attack transport George Clymer from 5 September 1944, until 25 January 1945, he participated in the Invasion of the Philippines. He returned to the United States to fit out USS Los Angeles, and assumed command of that cruiser on her commissioning, 22 July 1945. Under his command the Los Angeles was assigned to San Pedro, California, as one of the vessels designated to take port in the Navy Day Celebration on 27 October 1945. In January 1946 he was ordered relieved of command of that cruiser, and to duty (temporary) in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, DC.
He was named Chief of Staff to Commander Joint Army-Navy Task Force ONE, formed by direction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with the approval of the President of the United States, to conduct the atomic bomb tests against Naval vessels to gain information of value to the national defense. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for "... outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Chief of Staff to Commander Joint Task Force ONE, during Operation CROSSROADS, from 15 February to 2 September 1946..." The citation continues in part: "Rear Admiral (then Commodore) Snackenberg was responsible for the functioning of a staff of approximately 600 officers and a force in excess of 42,000 officers and men. He supervised the preparation of Commander Joint Task Force ONE Operation Plan No. 1-46, which involved unique radiological and technical considerations vital to the safety of the personnel of the force. In addition, he successfully coordinated the functions of the Deputy Task Force Commanders for Technical Direction and for Aviation as well as the work of the Assistant Chiefs of Staff for Personnel, Intelligence, Operations and Logistics and maintained liaison with the Army Ground Force Advisor...(He) effected the smooth, efficient functioning of the large divisions of the staff and a sound coordination between the staff and the force, thereby contributing materially to the success of Operation CROSSROADS..."
On 16 September 1946 he again reported for duty in the Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Department, and on 2 December, became Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance for Ordnance Establishments, in which capacity he served until March 1947. After temporary duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, he was assigned duty as US Naval Attaché and US Naval Attaché for Air, Greece. On 15 July 1947 he was appointed Chief of the Naval Group of the United States Mission to Greece.
He died 17 December 1979.