Joseph Caldwell Wylie, Jr., was born in Newark, New Jersey, on 20 March 1911. He entered the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on appointment from his native state in 1928 and on 2 June 1932 was graduated and commissioned Ensign. Advancing progressively in rank, he subsequently attained that of Rear Admiral to date from 1 December 1960.
Following graduation from the Naval Academy in 1932, he joined the USS Augusta and in May 1936 was assigned to the USS Reid. He continued duty afloat from July 1938 until June 1939 in the USS Altair, after which he served in the Executive Department at the Naval Academy. He reported on board the USS Bristol in July 1941 and was serving in that vessel when the United States entered World War II, 8 December 1941.
He was assigned in May 1942 as Executive Officer of the USS Fletcher and for "gallantry and intrepidity in action... (in that capacity) during night engagements with the enemy Japanese off Savo Island, Solomon Islands, on November 12 and 13 and November 30 and 1 December 1942... " he was awarded the Silver Star Medal. The citation further states in part: "Using discriminating judgment and quick resourcefulness, Lieutenant Commander Wylie directed the ship, gun and torpedo control of his vessel with outstanding success, inflicting heavy damage on two enemy cruisers and sinking a third..."
In January 1943 he assumed command of the USS Trever and is entitled to the Ribbon for the Navy Unit Commendation which was awarded that minesweeper for action in the Solomon Islands Campaign. Detached from command of the Trever in June 1943, he next served as Staff CIC Officer (Combat Information Center) on the Staff of Commander Destroyer Force, Pacific. In March 1944 he reported as Commanding Officer of the USS Ault and during the period July to December 1945 served in the Office of the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, with headquarters in the Navy Department, Washington, DC. Attached to the Office of Naval Research as Special Project Officer, he had duty in Jamestown, Rhode Island, and New York, until June 1948, when he reported as a student in strategy and tactics at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island.
He was assigned to the Staff of Commander Destroyer Flotilla ONE as Staff Operations Officer from June 1949 until June 1950, after which he attended the advanced course at the Naval War College, Newport. In July 1953 he assumed command of the USS Areneb and in 1954 joined the Staff of Commander Amphibious Group TWO to serve as Operations Officer and later Chief of Staff and Aide. In July 1955 he was ordered to duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, where he remained until October 1958, when he became Commanding Officer of the USS Macon. He served on the Staff of the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic, from November 1959 until December 1960, when he assumed command of Cruiser Division THREE (later redesignated Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla NINE).
He was Deputy Naval Inspector General, Navy Department, from November 1961 until August 1962, then had duty with the Joint Strategic Survey Council, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, DC. For meritorious service in that assignment from 13 August 1962 to 1 June 1964, he was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal.
In July 1964 he reported as Deputy Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations to the Commander in Chief, US Atlantic Fleet and "for...outstanding service...(in that capacity) during Operation POWER PACK in the Dominican Republic crisis in April and May 1965..." he was awarded the Legion of Merit. The citation further states: "(He) provided invaluable assistance to the Commander in Chief United States Atlantic Fleet during a period when rapid, decisive planning and execution of joint military operations in the Dominican Republic were of the utmost importance to our national interests..." In March 1966 he became Deputy Commander in Chief, US Naval Forces, Europe and Chief of Staff and Aide to the Commander in Chief, US Naval Forces, Europe.
In October 1967 he was assigned as Chief of Staff and Aide to the President of the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island; and in October 1968 became Commander of the Naval Base, Newport, Rhode Island. His primary duty became additional duty in January 1969, when he reported as Commandant of the First Naval District, with headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts, with further additional duty as Commander of the Naval Base at Boston. In January 1969 he was relieved of additional duty as Commander of the Naval Base, Newport. "For meritorious conduct...as Commander of the First Naval District and Commander Naval Base, Boston from January 1969 to July 1972..." he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of the Second Legion of Merit. On 1 July l972 he was transferred to the Retired List of the US Navy.
In addition to the Silver Star Medal, the Legion of Merit and Gold Star, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, and the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, Rear Admiral Wylie has the American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; National Defense Service Medal with bronze star; and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon.