Rear Admiral William Conrad Abhau was born in Baltimore County, Maryland, on 5 April 1912. His parents, William C. and Gertrude (Lewis) Abhau are now deceased. Upon graduation from the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in 1929, he was employed by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad prior to entering the United States Naval Academy. Graduated and first commissioned in June 1935, he served six years at sea in cruisers and destroyers, then returned to Annapolis and completed the course in Ordnance Engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School.
During World War II he was gunnery officer of the battleship, USS New Jersey. Participating in nine campaigns in the Pacific, Rear Admiral Abhau was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V" for his services in successfully repelling over thirty air attacks. In the initial occupation of Japan, he was attached to Headquarters, Sixth Army, at Kyoto. In subsequent tours of sea duty he had commanded a destroyer, USS Trippe; a radar picket unit, ESCORT SQUADRON SIXTEEN; a fleet oiler, USS Waccamaw; and a heavy cruiser, USS Helena.
Rear Admiral Abbau had extensive experience in the development and evaluation of weapons systems. In 1956 he was awarded the degree of Master of Science in Operations Analysis by the Us Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, and then completed the advanced course at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. While serving on the staff of the Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force, he developed techniques for measuring the effectiveness of weapon control systems. He had been a member of the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group, Office of the Secretary of Defense; had been in charge of fire control research and development in the Bureau of Ordnance, and of anti-submarine warfare research and development in the Bureau of Naval Weapons. He was Director, Anti-Submarine Warfare Research and Development Programs, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations from July 1964 until August 1965, then became the Chief of Naval Operations Representative for Manned Space Flight Support, headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia. Two months later he was assigned duty as Navy Deputy to the Department of Defense Manager, Manned Space Flight Support Operations, with additional duty as Chief of Naval Operations Representative for Manned Space Flight Support. During the period August to November 1965 he served additionally as Commander Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla FOUR.
In May 1967 he became Commander Anti-Submarine Warfare Systems Project Office, Naval Material Command, Washington, DC, and "for exceptionally meritorious conduct..." in that capacity was awarded the Legion of Merit. He served as such until relieved of active duty pending his retirement, effective 1 July 1970.