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Adapted from "Rear Admiral Walter Kenneth Kilpatrick, United States Navy, Retired" [biography, dated 15 December 1947] in Modern Biographical Files collection, Navy Department Library.

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Walter Kenneth Kilpatrick

29 October 1887 - 26 September 1949

Photo of Walter Kenneth Kilpatrick from the digitized version of 1908 edition of the U.S. Naval Academy yearbook 'Lucky Bag'.

The following biography is an electronic version of an item held by the Navy Department Library in our Rare Book Room.  Aside from minor technical corrections, this electronic transcription is a faithful reproduction of the original paper item.  Those wishing to see a pdf version of this item can download it here [274KB].

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Rear Admiral Kilpatrick, born in New York, New York, October 29, 1887, was appointed to the US Naval Academy from his native state in 1904. Graduated in 1908, he served the two years at sea then required by law before he was commissioned Ensign in June 1908. He subsequently progressed in grade until his promotion to Rear Admiral, July 28, 1942. He was retired August 11 1947.

After graduation in 1908, Rear Admiral Kilpatrick joined the USS Charleston, operating with the Pacific Fleet, and cruised in her to Asiatic Station. Detached in February 1909, he had consecutive duty in the USS Arayat, the USS Rainbow, the USS South Dakota, the USS Lawrence and the USS Maryland until February 1914.    From April of that year until April 1916 he had duty at the Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts. In April 1916 he joined the USS Ozark in which he was serving when the United States entered the World War a year later. In April 1919 he was transferred to duty as engineer officer of the USS Virginia which operated with the Atlantic Fleet during the World War. Detached from that battleship in January 1919, he served as engineer officer of the USS Delaware until August 1920.

Rear Admiral Kilpatrick had duty with the Board of Inspection and Survey, Navy Department, Washington, DC, from September 1920 until March 1922. He completed the course in chemical warfare at the Edgewood Arsenal, Edgewood, Maryland, in June of that year, and completed the senior course at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, in May 1923. Returning to sea, he served as navigator of the USS Maryland until December 1923, in command of the USS Doyen until May 1925; and in command of the USS Hatfield until the following August. He was stationed at the Navy Yard, New York, New York, from September 1925 until July 1927, and completed the course at the Army War College, Washington, DC, in June 1928. After commanding the USS Busnell from July 1928 until July 1929, he served from August 1929 until September 1931 as aide and flag secretary on the staff of Admiral Charles Butler McVay, Jr., USN, Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet, of which the USS Pittsburgh, and later the USS Houston, was flagship. 

Returning to the United States, Rear Admiral Kilpatrick had duty in the Office of Naval Intelligence, Navy Department, Washington, DC, from October 1931 until March 1934. From April of that year until April 1935 he was executive officer of the USS Pennsylvania flagship of the US Fleet. Following duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, he was District Intelligence Officer, Fourteenth Naval Dis­trict, Pearl Harbor, T. H., from June 1935 until August 1937. After his return to the United States, he had a second tour of duty in the Office of Naval Intelligence, Navy Department, from January to June 1938. He commanded the USS Chester from July 1938 until February 1940 when he was transferred to duty as Chief of Staff and Aide to the Commander, Cruisers, Scouting Force, serving under Rear Admiral (now Retired) Gilbert Jonathan Rowcliff USN and Rear Admiral (now Vice Admiral) John Henry Newton, Jr. USN, in the flagship CHICAGO. Detached from that assignment January 31, 1941, he was Chief of Staff and Aide to the Commandant Twelfth Naval District, San Francisco, California, until December 1941, serving under Rear Admiral (now Retired) Arthur J. Hepburn, USN, and later under Vice Admiral John Wills Greenslade, USN. He continued duty as Chief of Staff to Vice Admiral Greenslade when the latter was appointed in December 1941 Commander, Pacific Southern Naval Coastal Frontier, designated in February 1942, Commander, Western Sea Frontier, serving in that assignment until April 25, 1943.


From May 2, 1943, until August 25, 1945, Rear Admiral Kilpatrick was Chief of Staff and Aide to the Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, serving under Admiral Royal Eason Ingersoll, USN and Admiral Jonas H. Ingram, USN. For his services in that assignment, he was awarded the Legion of Merit, and Gold Star in lieu of the second 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 and Aide to the Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, from Nay 1943, to November 1944. Throughout this important period of anti-submarine warfare, Rear Admiral Kilpatrick exercised sound judgment in his efficient employment of vital equipment and procedures which notably increased the effectiveness of units operating against enemy submarines and, through his tireless effort, was responsible for the establishment of new practices in the conduct of joint air and surface activities of vital Naval groups. Capably relieving the Commander in Chief of many responsibilities, Rear Admiral Kilpatrick, by his brilliant administrative ability and steadfast devotion to duty, contributed in large measure to the success of Atlantic Fleet operations."

“For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Chief of Staff and  Aide/to the Commander in Chief, United States Atlantic Fleet, from November 15, 1944, to August 25, 1945. A forceful leader and brilliant administrator, Rear Admiral Kilpatrick rendered invaluable service to the Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, in the expert direction of operations of Fleet units employed in final offensive anti-submarine measures and was in large measure responsible for bringing the Battle of the Atlantic to an effective conclusion. Following the surrender of Germany, he immediately turned his efforts to the redeployment of Atlantic Fleet units to the Eastern Hemisphere and, by his superb ability in coordinating and directing the staff and his complete understanding of all phases of the momentous project contributed  materially to the rapidity with which these vessels were made available to the Pacific theater. Rear Admiral’s keen foresight, sound judgment and constant devotion to duty were essential factors in  the successful achievements of the Atlantic Fleet throughout this extended period."

Following duty as General Inspector, Western Sea Frontier, Rear Admiral Kilpatrick was ordered in October 1945 to duty as Deputy Commander, Western Sea Frontier, in connection with the inactive Fleet, Pacific.  He was transferred to the Retired List of the Navy on August 1, 1946.

In addition to the Legion of Merit with Gold Star, Rear Admiral Kilpatrick has the Nicaraguan Campaign Medal (USS Maryland), the Victory Medal, Atlantic Fleet Clasp (USS Virginia), the Haitian Campaign Medal (USS Delaware), the Yangtze Service Medal (USS Houston), and is entitled to the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp, the American Area Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.


Published: Wed Oct 05 13:50:09 EDT 2022