Lieutenant Caplan was born in Elmira, New York, July 13, 1915. He was graduated from the University of Michigan, at Ann Arber, in June 1939, and enrolled in the U.S Naval Reserve July 31, 1940. He took his training cruise in USS New York from August to September 1940, and attended the USNR. Midshipman’s School in USS Illinois from November 22, 1940 to February 27, 1941, receiving his commission as Ensign, February 28, 1941. He reported for duty in USS Aylwin a Pacific Fleet destroyer, April 4, 1941. For his services during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, when he assumed command of USS Alywin on which he was stationed as communications officer, he received a Letter of Commendation, with authorization to wear the Commendation Ribbon, from the Secretary of the Navy. The citation is as follows:
“For distinguished service in the line of his profession and utter disregard of the own safety during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941, when being senior officer present on board USS Aylwin and having been at sea a total of only eight months, he assumed command of the ship, took her to sea, and conducted operations for a period of about 36 hours in a most outstanding manner.
While still serving in the Aylwin, Lieutenant Caplan was promoted to Lieutenant (junior grade), June 15, 1942 and Lieutenant, December 1, 1942. The following January he was ordered detached from that destroyer and to proceed to the United States for further assignment. In April 1943 he reported to the Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, for duty in connection with fitting out USS Erben; went aboard when he was commissioned that spring and in, December 1943, became her executive officer. In May 1944 he was transferred to command of USS Long.
In addition to the Commendation Ribbon, Lieutenant Caplan has the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; and the Asiatic Pacific Area Campaign Medal.