Vice Admiral Fairfield, born in Saco, Maine, October 29, 1877, attended Thornton Academy at Saco, and Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, before entering the Naval Academy from the First District of Maine in 1897. While a Midshipman he was a member of the Football and Track Squads. During the Spanish American War in 1898 he served as naval cadet on board the USS Columbia. He served the two years at sea then required by law and was commissioned Ensign June 7, 1903. His subsequent promotion were as follows: Lieutenant (junior grade) and Lieutenant, June 7, 1906; Lieutenant Commander, July 1, 1913, received temporary promotion to Commander during World War I and was commissioned in the rank October 11, 1918. He was promoted to Captain, November 1, 1923; Rear Admiral, September 1, 1934; and on November 1, 1941 was transferred to the Retired List of the Navy in the rank of Vice Admiral.
After graduation in 1901, Vice Admiral Fairfield was assigned to the USS Kearsarge and in 1902 he was transferred to the USS Olympia, flagship of the Caribbean Squadron, North Atlantic Fleet. In February 1902, he was ordered to duty as aide on staff, Commander in Chief, Atlantic Training Squadron, USS Minneapolis, flagship. He served as instructor in ordnance and gunnery at the Naval Academy from July 1906, until September 1909, and was Captain of the Naval Academy Rifle Team during the year 1908. Following that duty he served in the USS Montana; as navigator of the USS Birmingham; as executive officer and navigator of the USS Des Moines and as first lieutenant of the USS Nebraska. In September 1912, he returned to the naval Academy in charge of physical training and athletics until May 1915, when he assumed command of the USS Mc Dougal.
When the United States entered the World War in 1917 the Mc Dougal joined Destroyer Squadron based on Queenstown, Ireland. Vice Admiral (then Commander) Fairfield was awarded the Navy Cross for this service with the following citation:
“For distinguished service in the line of his profession as commanding officer of the USS Mc Dougal operating in the war zone and protecting vitally important convoys of troops and cargo ships through the area of submarine activity, and for prompt and efficient action in contract upon a convoy.”
In January 1918, he was ordered to the Fore River Shipbuilding Company plant, Quincy, Massachusetts, to fit out the USS Gregory. He assumed command when she was commissioned and served in her in war zone until August 1918, when he was ordered to duty as aide on staff, Commander, US naval Forces in European waters.
After his return to the Unites States in March 1919, he had a tour of duty as head of the Department of ordnance and Gunner at the Navy Academy. In May 1921, he joined the USS Tennessee with duty as executive officer, and in August 1922 he assumed command of the USS Argonne. He served in the Bureau of navigation, navy Department, Washington, DC, from December 1922, until May 1925. During the next two years he had command consecutively of Destroyer Division 27, Destroyer Squadrons, Scouting Fleet, operating in European waters, and of Destroyer Squadron 9, Scouting Fleet. His next duty was in charge of Ships Movements Division, office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, until February 1930, when he commissioned the USS Chester and commanded her until June 1932.
Vice Admiral Fairfield completed the senior course at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, in April 1933. He served as Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Navigation from May 1933, until April 1935, and as Commander, Cruiser Division 7, Scouting Force, from that time until September 1936. From September 27, 1936, until December 1937, he was attached to the USS Raleigh and in command of Squadron 40-T in European waters. He was a member of the General Board of the Navy from January until June 1938; following which duty he served as Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations until July 1939. He had duty as Commander, Battleship Division 3, Battle Force from July 24, 1939, until January 31, 1941, and for ten months thereafter served on the General Board of Naval Districts.
Vice Admiral Fairfield was transferred to the Retired List of the Navy on November 1, 1941, and reported on that date for duty with the maritime Commission, Washington, DC.
Vice Admiral Fairfield died on December 14, 1946 at the US Naval Hospital, Bethesda, Maryland and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
In addition to the Navy Cross, Vice Admiral Fairfield had the Spanish Campaign Medal (USS Columbia); the Victory Medal, Destroyer Clasp, (USS McDougal); the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; the American Area Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal. He had the following foreign decorations: the Order of the Crown of Leopard (personally conferred by Albert I, King of Belgians for World War service); the Order of St. Olaf, with star, from the Norwegian Government; and the decoration of Commander Military Division, Order of the British Empire from the Government of Great Britain.