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Adapted from "Captain Leon Otto Alford, United States Navy, Retired" [biography, dated 13 September 1949] in Modern Biographical Files collection, Navy Department Library

  • Boats-Ships--Submarine
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  • Biography
Wars & Conflicts
  • World War I 1917-1918
  • World War II 1939-1945
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Leon Otto Alford 

15 September 1893 - 1 January 1956

Captain Alford was born in Grangeville, Louisiana, on 15 September 1893, son of Andrew J. and Mary Strickland Alford. He attended Amite, Louisiana, High School, before entering the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, on appointment from the Sixth District of his native state on 21 July 1910. He was graduated and commissioned Ensign on 6 June 1914, and subsequently attained the rank of Captain to date from 1 January 1942. He was transferred to the Retired List of the Navy on 1 May 1946.

Following graduation from the Naval Academy in June 1914, Captain Alford was assigned to USS Louisiana. He was detached on 11 May 1915, for torpedo instruction aboard USS Montana. Sea duty continued in USS Utah and in USS Fulton, in which he had submarine instruction, and later in USS Pittsburgh and USS K-8. On 9 October 1917, during World War I, he joined USS Alert, as Division Torpedo Officer, and for further submarine instruction. In February 1918 he was ordered to command USS H-2, continuing in command of that submarine until after the cessation of hostilities.

In December 1918 Captain Alford became Torpedo Officer of USS Beaver, and served as such until transferred in the same capacity to USS Alert on 1 March 1920. From December 1921 to August 1922 he had successive duty in USS Charleston and USS Prairie, with additional duty during the latter assignment as instructor in the Torpedo Training School. After fitting out duty with USS S-36 at the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, San Francisco, California, he commanded that submarine from her commissioning, 4 April 1923, until July 1924.

Following three months' temporary duty in USS Argonne, Captain Alford reported to USS Mississippi, in which he served as Assistant Fire Control Officer until 22 June 1926. He then reported for duty as Naval Inspector of Ordnance, Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Quincy, Massachusetts, with additional duty as Naval Inspector of Ordnance for the New England District. Again ordered to sea, he served as First Lieutenant of USS Texas from 18 March 1928, to 8 May 1929, and for the two years following was Gunnery Officer of USS Mexico.

On 14 February 1931, Captain Alford reported to the Navy Department, Washington, DC, for duty in the Division of Fleet Training, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. After his two year tour of duty was completed he again returned to sea in March 1933, in command of Submarine Division 11. Two years later he was transferred to USS Nevada as First Lieutenant and Damage Control Officer, in which assignment he remained until January 1936.

After two years' duty in connection with the Naval Reserve Officers' Training Corps Unit of the University of California, at Berkeley, California, Captain Alford served as Executive Officer of USS Northampton from 1 May 1939 to 26 February 1941. He then became Professor of Naval Science and Tactics with the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Unit of the University of California at Los Angeles. He was in the latter duty when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, and continued his assignment there until May 1942.

Captain Alford served throughout the greater period of the war as Inspector in Charge of Ordnance at the Naval Ammunition Depot at New Orleans, Louisiana, and for outstanding services in that capacity from 27 May 1942 until November 1945, shortly after the Japanese Surrender, he received a Letter of Commendation, with authority to wear the Commendation Ribbon, from the Secretary of the Navy.

He was relieved of all active duty on 12 December 1945, pending his retirement on 1 May 1946.

In addition to the Commendation Ribbon, Captain Alford had the Mexican Campaign Medal (Vera Cruz, 1914); the World War I Victory Medal, Submarine Clasp (USS H-2); the American Defense Service Medal; the American Area Campaign Medal ; and the World War II Victory Medal.


Published: Wed Apr 10 10:12:14 EDT 2019