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Adapted from "Vice Admiral Daniel Edward Barbey, United States Navy"[biography, dated 28 August 1946] in Modern Biographical Files collection, Navy Department Library.

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Daniel Edward Barbey

23 December 1889-11 April 1969

Photo of Vice Admiral Daniel E. Barbey copied from page 50 of the 1912 edition of the U.S. Naval Academy yearbook 'Lucky Bag'

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Vice Admiral Barbey, born in Portland, Oregon, December 23, 1889, was appointed to the US Naval Academy from his native state in 1908. Graduated and commissioned Ensign in June 1912, he was promoted to Lieutenant (junior grade), June 8, 1915, to Lieutenant, June 8, 1918, received temporary promotion to Lieutenant Commander during the World War, was commissioned in that rank, October 15, 1922, and his subsequent promotions were as follows: Commander, September 1, 1933; Captain, February 1, 1940; Rear Admiral, June 1, 1942; and Vice Admiral, December 9, 1944.

After graduation in 1912, Vice Admiral Barbey served in the armored cruiser California until May 1944 when he was transferred to USS Lawrence, serving consecutively as engineer officer, as executive officer, and later in command of that destroyer. Detached from the Lawrence in October 1916, he joined USS Annapolis 1917. During that period, while the Annapolis was operating in Mexico waters, he received a Letter of Commendation from the Secretary of the Navy for carrying a lifeline through dangerous surf to effect the rescue of members of the crew of the stranded steamship Paddleford. After assisting in fitting out USS Stevens, he served as executive officer of that destroyer from her commissioning, May 24, 1918, until December of that year, during which period of the World War she operated on anti-submarine patrol and convoy duty in European Waters. Following detachment from the Stevens, he was assigned duty in January 1919 at the Naval Base, Cardiff. Transferred to duty at US Naval Headquarters, London, England, he served in that assignment until November 1919.

In November 1919, Vice Admiral Barbey reported for duty as Naval Port Officer, Constantinople, Turkey, and in October 1920 was assigned additional duty as aide on the staff of Admiral (then Rear Admiral) Mark L. Bristol, USN, Commander, US. Naval Detachment in Turkish Waters, and High Commissioner to Turkey. In July 1921 he was relieved of duty as Naval Port Director at Constantinyle, continuing duty as aide and flag secretary on the staff of Admiral Bristol until December 1921. During that assignment he was the US Delegate on the Allied Commission for the Control of Trade with Turkey, and also acted as an observer with the Russian Army in the Crimea. After his return to the Unites States in February 1922, he served in the USS Capella until May 1922. In June of that year he joined the USS Oklahoma, serving as assistant engineer officer of that battleship until June 1923. The two succeeding years he was Officer in Charge, Navy Recruiting Station, Portland, Oregon. In June 1925 he joined USS Cincinnati and served as engineer officer of that cruiser until August 1926.

Vice Admiral Barbey served as executive officer of USS Ramapo from February 1927 until June 1928. The three succeeding years he was Aide to the Superintendent of the Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland. Returning to sea, he commanded the USS Lea from June 1931 until July 1933 when he reported for duty as Office in Charge, later designated Inspector of Ordnance in Charge, Naval Ammunition Depot, Mare Island, California. Detached from that assignment in February 1935, he joined the USS New York, serving as first lieutenant and damage control officer of that battleship until April 1936 when he rejoined the Ramapo, commanding that oiler for two months. From June 1936 until June 1937 he was Commander, Destroyer Division 17. In June 1937 Vice Admiral Barbey reported for duty in the War Plans Section, Bureau of Navigation (later Bureau of Naval Personnel), Navy Department, Washington, D.C and during that assignment, which extended to May 1940, he wrote mobilization plans for personnel utilized in the war. His interest in amphibious warfare dates back to this period which he studied pictures of the small, crude boats, with then-unusual landing ramp, which had been used by the Japanese in the Sino-Japanese war. What little emphasis given a modern program of amphibious warfare up to that time had been made by the Japanese. During this period, Vice Admiral Barbey began the long slow grind which gave him perhaps the greatest claim to the title of founder of modern amphibious warfare than any other Navy man.

After commanding the battleship New York from May 1940 until January 1941, Vice Admiral Barbey assumed duty as Chief of Staff and Aide to Rear Admiral Randall Jacobs, USN, Commander, Train, Patrol Force, redesignated in April of that year, Service Force, Atlantic Fleet. In that assignment, which extended to May 1942, he was engaged in experimentation with then available types of amphibious craft, the development of amphibious techniques, and in training personnel of the First Marine Division in modern amphibious warfare during maneuvers in Puerto Rico. He took part in this training maneuver with the First Marine Division at Puerto Rico, the first U.S. amphibious venture.

For service in that assignment he was awarded the Legion of Merit with the following citations:

Legion of Merit:

    “For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding     services to the Government of the United States as chief of Staff,     Commander, Service Force, Atlantic Fleet, during the period January 1941 to     July 1942. During this period of intense enemy submarine activity, strenuous     anti-submarine measure, and intensity amphibious training in the Atlanti      Rear Admiral (then Captain) Daniel E. Barbey displayed marked ability and     exceptional foresight in the overall planning, development and execution of     the logistic plan for the first large scale amphibious operation involving both     United States Army and Navy forces. His keen analysis of the diversified     requirements of a powerful landing and occupation force coupled with his     comprehensive knowledge, energy, and foresight in solving the logistics and     supply problems of both the Atlantic Fleet and its widespread bases , aided     materially in the success attained in future operations. The immeasurable     contributions which he made to the success of the war effort by his soluti      of vital and pressing problems reflect great credit the United States Naval     Service.”

From May to December 1942, Vice Admiral Barbey served on the Staff of the Commander in Chief, US Fleet, and in hat assignment organized and became Head of the First Amphibious Warfare Section on the Navy Department, engaged in developing and trying out designs for landing craft. Japanese tactics and equipment used in hops along the Chinese coast were studied, and designs for our own landing craft were developed. He not only spent countless hours in paper work, by many times was one of the first men to navigate some of the queer looking craft which began to turn from paper to reality. Once he was arrested in Washington while “driving” a sea-going truck into the Potomac River during experimental demonstrations.

During this period he was concerned with the two-ocean amphibious problem. Distance, tides and beach obstacles in the two major theaters made it impossible to treat every problem of ship construction and personnel training the same wat. One of the earliest vessels to come out of research was the LSD, landing ship dock, which could sail a long distance and then, when it reached the uploading area, could partly submerge, open its doors and spill out the necessities of success, alligators, troop barges, buffaloes, tank carriers, bulldozers and ducks.

On January 8, 1943, Vice Admiral Barbey reported for duty as Commander, Amphibious Force, Southwest Pacific Force, and Commander, Amphibious Forces, Seventh Fleet. The job ahead looked impossible and staggering. The Japanese were in control of the air and shipping lanes, and were firmly entrenched throughout the area assigned for offensive operations. A small personnel training command was operating under the Army in Australia when Vice Admiral Barbey and his group of less than a dozen officers from Washington arrived. Post Stevens, Australia, was selected as the location of the new amphibious training center. The whole problem was placed in Vice Admiral Barbey’s lap. Australians and Americans were assigned by General MacArthur, and a growth began which finally resulted in a force numbering hundreds of thousands of officers and men expert in their field. As soon as he was set in Australia, Vice Admiral Barbey conducted a practice landing with the First Marine Division, inviting Allied army and navy officials, to show them the basic facts and problem involved in amphibious warfare. The USS Henry T. Allen, an auxiliary, was obtained for a flagship. Later, Vice Admiral Barbey managed to get the USS Rigel, an old repair ship, which was so small that part of his staff had to stay in Australia. A transport was obtained from Australia and another from the South Pacific command. A few landing craft and small vessels began trickling in from the United States around April, and by June 1943, the 7th Amphibs were ready to make their first strike against the enemy.

On August 15, 1943, in conformity with the reorganization of the Amphibious Forces, Vice Admiral Barbey was designated Commander, Seventh Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet. Fortunately, enemy opposition at the first landing, Kiriwina and Woodlark, on June 30, 1943, was weak. Neither surface nor air interference was encountered with the initial phase but there was troubles just the same. The LST’s had difficulty navigating the tricky currents, and charts and information supplied from various sources were inaccurate. But it was a start and the nucleus of the world’s mightiest amphibious force was formed. A little more than two months after Woodlark strike at Lao. This time, the Japanese opposed him in every department. The destroyer on which he was riding was straddled with bombs. Nevertheless the operation went off on schedule. During the landings at Lao, two of his landing craft were installed with rockets to blast snipers out of hiding and were silence shore batteries, and thus was born the Rocket Ship. Another landing was made September 22 at Finshhafen, and two more before the end of the year, December 15 at Arawe and December 26 at cape Gloucester. The latter two were included in three mighty thrusts at the Japs in an 18 day period.  The triple play was completed with landings at Sauder on January 2, 1944. Fierce enemy aerial resistance was encountered on the beaches at Arawe. What since has been called the “perfect show” came when the First Marines were put ashore at Cape Gloucester and US Army troops at other points. The LSD’s were unloaded and departed before dawn Approximately 36 LST’s accounted for 14 Jap planes on D-Day. The LCT’s, LCI’s, and LST’s performed beautifully, and the whole invasion program either met or exceeded the schedule.

In their first all-out offensive year, 1944, Vice Admiral Barbey’s men planned and executed 20 highly successful operations, removing to neutralizing the Jap strength in New Guinea, Schouten  Islands, Moluccas Islands, and a major portion of the Philippines. Thirty thrusts were made in 1945, the majority of which were widely scattered in the Philippines and Borneo. The last amphibious operations of the war was made at Balipapan, Borneo, on 1 July 1945 under Vice Admiral Barbey’s leadership.

Amphibious landing were not counted individually in Vice Admiral Barbey’s record unless they were at least 100 miles apart and separated by one day. He was on-the-scene commander for more than 30 of his shows and would have been present at all of them except that they came so fast someone had to plan the next one. In the beginning he wrote many of the plans himself. He was the guiding hand behind every Southwest Pacific beach assault from June 30, 1943, until July 1, 1945, directing in loss than two years the landing of more than 1,000,000 soldiers and Marines and upward of 1,500,000 tons of supplies and equipment in 56 amphibious operations.

For his services in the Pacific Area, Vice Admiral Barbey was awarded the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Services Medal, and Gold Star in lieu of the Second Distinguished Service Medal, with the following citations:

Navy Cross:

    “For extraordinary heroism as Commander of the Amphibious Force, Seventh     Fleet during the attacks of Japanese-occupied Lao and Finschhafon      September 4 and 22, 1943. With singular skill and inspiring courage, Rear     Admiral Barbey personally led his forces to the beachheads under relentless     air attacks and expertly directed the brilliantly executed landings which     ultimately resulted in victory to our forces. The sound tactical knowledge,     fearless leadership and inspiring devotion to duty displayed by Rear Admiral     Barbey were in looping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval     Service.”

Distinguished Service Medal:

    “For exceptionally meritorious service to the Government of the United States     in a duty of great responsibility as Commander of the Amphibious Forces of     the Seventh Fleet from January 8, 1943, to May 12, 1944. Skillfully building     and developing an organization from men and material untried in battle, Rear     Admiral Barbey succeeded in bringing the forces under his command to the     high state of combat readiness within a few months which enabled them to     enter upon the New Guinea operations at the peak of their efficiency. Working     in closet cooperation with associated Army Commanders and ably planning for     determined aggression, he aided essentially on overcoming Japanese     resistance invaluable support for forces until they were firmly established in     various strategic positions in this vital area. An inspiring and forceful leader,     Rear Admiral Barbey contributed immeasurably to the success of the     campaigns in New Britain, New Guinea and the Admiralties and his brilliant     administration of exacting responsibilities throughout this period reflects the     highest credit upon the United States Naval Service.”

Gold Star in lieu of the second Distinguished Service Medal:

    “For exceptionally meritorious service to the Government of the United     States in a duty of great responsibility as Commander Amphibious Force,     Seventh Fleet, in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Southwest     Pacific Area from July 2, 1944, to February 1, 1945. Initiating a series of ably     executed operations, Vice Admiral Barbey and the intrepid forces under his     command effected successful surprise landings at Noemfoor on July 2, at     Sanapor on July 30, and at Morotai on September 15, 1944, thereby     establishing Southwest Pacific Air Forces within effective striking distance of     the Philippines. As Commander of the Northern Attack Force at Leyte on     October 20, he participated with distinction in the highly successful operation     which gained lodgment for our forces in the Philippine Islands and, as     Commander of the Northern Attack Force at Lingayen Gulf on January 9,     1945, he again shared equally with the Commander Southern Attack Force the     credit for the brilliant amphibious operation which finally assured the     reconquest of Luzon and the Philippine Archipelago. By his inspiring leadership     and outstanding performance of duty in the planning and execution of these     vital operations, Vice Admiral Barbey upheld the highest traditions of the     United States Naval Service.”  

When on August 14, 1945, Japan declared her acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Proclamation and fleet assignments were correlated with the various zones of responsibility assigned the various Army commands, the Seventh Fleet, and Vice Admiral Barbey’s Amphibious Force of the Seventh Fleet, was assigned to the zone of the Fourteenth Corps (Korea) and to any operations which might be carried out the Chinese waters, the Seventh Ampib to transport any troops required to China. Vice Admiral Barbey as in charge of the movement of American occupation troops to Korea and North China, and the redistribution by sea of Chinese Nationalist troops, and the repatriation of Japanese personnel from that are. During the execution of this difficult assignment he gained wide repute as a statesman due to his ability in successfully dealing with leaders of the Chinese Central Government, Chinese Communist, Russian, and Japanese troops. During this period American policy had to be more or less on the spot, and Vice Admiral Barbey showed keen foresight and a thorough understanding of the Chinese political scene in the decisions he made. That American policy in China initiated by him is being presently applied by General Marshall is another instance of the superb leadership of this “amphibious admiral”.

In November, 1945, when Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid, USN, was relieved as Commander, Seventh Fleet, Vice Admiral Barbey assumed that command as temporary additional duty. Relieved of command of the Seventh Fleet on January 8, 1946, by Admiral Charles M. Cooke, Jr., USN, he continued duty as Commander, Amphibious Forces, Seventh Fleet. In December 1945 he was ordered to duty as Commander, Amphibious Forces, Atlantic Fleet. It is only fitting that command of this vital, revolutionary arm of the Navy be entrusted to Vice Admiral Barbey. The lessons learned, and the experience gained during the grueling years of combat will now be applied to the development of newer and better amphibious ships and craft, and it is certain that under the capable direction of Vice Admiral Daniel E. Barbey, the Amphibious Forces of our Navy remain second to none in the world.

In addition to the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal with Gold Star, and the Legion of Merit, Vice Admiral Barbey has the Nicaraguan Campaign Medal (USS California), the Mexican Service Medal (USS Lawrence), the Victory Medal, Transport Clasp (USS Stevens), and Silver Star (Letter of Commendation, Secretary of the Navy), and is entitled to the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Claps (USS New York), the American Area Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal, the Philippine Liberation Campaign Ribbon, and the World war II Victory Medal. He has also the Grand Order of Orange Nassau by Royal Decree, from the Government of Netherlands, the Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire, by the Government of Great British, and the Grand Order of the Cloud and Banner from the Government of China, personally presented to him by Generalissimo Chinag Kai Shek.

 Familiarly known as “Uncle Dan, the Amphibious Man”, Vice Admiral Barbey keeps fit mainly by keeping busy and taking a swim whenever the opportunity presents itself. He has an insatiable curiosity and took many of the early bugs out of his war machine by personally interviewing his commanders after operations. He is an exacting boss, who believes that split second timing and almost unbelievable attention to details can mean success or failure and can save lives. He demands care, preciseness and coordination from each member of his staff. He is quick to praise good work, and just as quick to dismiss an incompetent.

One of his chief diversions is contract bridge which he plays with the hand of an expert.


Published: Mon Feb 01 08:06:33 EST 2021