Frank Brooks Upham was born at Fort Apache, Arizona, on 7 September 1872, son of the late 1st Lieutenant Frank Kidder Upham, USA and Mrs. (Sarah Elvira Camp) Upham. He died 15 September 1939 at San Francisco, California, three years after his retirement from the Naval Service. A high speed transport, USS Upham (APA-99) was named in his honor, launched on 9 March 1944 at the Navy Yard, Charleston, South Carolina, and sponsored by his widow, Mrs. Mabel Bostwick Upham of California.
He entered the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, in 1889 by appointment at large from Montana, and graduated 2 June 1893. After serving two years at sea in USS Philadelphia, he was commissioned Ensign to rank from 1 July 1895. He attained the rank Rear Admiral on 2 June 1927, and served in the temporary rank of Admiral from 18 August 1933 to 27 December 1935, and was transferred to the Retired List of the Navy on 1 October 1936.
From 19 July 1895, he served five years in USS Olympia, flagship of Admiral George Dewey, Asiatic Fleet Commander. As a junior aide on his staff, he was received by the Emperor of Japan in January 1898, and the following May, on board Olympia, he participate in the Battle of Manila Bay. From 1 January 1900 he had duty in USS Pensacola, USS Mohican, USS Oregon, successively; and after a tour of duty on shore, from 10 December 1904, as Inspector of Ordnance at the Fore River Shipbuilding Company, Quincy, Massachusetts, he served as Ordnance Officer in the newly commissioned battleship New Jersey from March 1906. He reported on 12 June 1908 in USS South Dakota for duty as Navigator, and in July 1909, upon returning to the United States, had instruction at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, until the following September.
After serving in the Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Department, Washington, DC, in August 1911, he was assigned as Assistant Naval Attaché , Tokyo, Japan and Peking, China. When detached he commanded USS Scorpion from February 1912 until April 1913, when he returned to the Navy Department for temporary duty. Thereafter he served in USS Nebraska, and had additional temporary duty in command of Brooklyn, and the Receiving Ship, Boston, Massachusetts, from September 1914 until detached on 4 January 1915. He then commanded USS Olympia until placed out of commission the following 5 June, when he reported for duty as Aide to the Commandant, Navy Yard New York, New York. When detached, he assumed command of USS Columbia on 16 August 1917, transferring to command of USS Pueblo after a year. He received a special Letter of Commendation from the War Department for his World War I service in command of these cruisers, and for distinguished service in command of Columbia, he was awarded the Navy Cross and cited as follows:
“For distinguished service in the line of his profession...engaged in the important, exacting and hazardous duty of transporting and escorting troops and supplies to European ports through waters infested with enemy submarines and mines.”
The Government of France conferred upon him the Legion of Honor, rank of Officer, and later promoted him to the rank of Commander of that order.
When detached from command of Pueblo in July 1919, he was assigned as Chief of Staff to Commander, Squadron TWO, Division 3, Atlantic Fleet, USS Connecticut, flagship, and later in USS Minnesota for passage to the United States. He was transferred to duty on the staff of Commander, Battleship Force, Atlantic Fleet, in USS Utah, later in Pennsylvania, from September 1920.
From July 1921 he was US Naval Attaché at the American Embassy, Paris, France, and from January 1923 had additional similar duty at Madrid, Spain, until July 1924. Upon returning to the Navy Department, he had temporary duty in the Office of Naval Intelligence, before assuming command of USS Tennessee, serving from September 1924 to March 1926, and thereafter served as Commandant of the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, until June 1928. During that period he had temporary additional duty as Commandant, 8th Naval District, New Orleans, Louisiana.
He served consecutively from June 1928 until May 1930, as Commander Battleship Division 3, Battle Fleet, and Commander Control Force, in the latter command having additional duty as Commander, Submarine Divisions, Control Force. On 15 May 1930 he reported in the Navy Department to serve a four year term as Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, with the rank of Rear Admiral, but on 1 July 1933 he transferred to Naval Operations for temporary duty, and was ordered as Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet, with the rank of Admiral, serving from August 1933 to October 1935. During that time his flag was in USS Houston until 14 November 1933, and later in USS Augusta.
Completing duty in the Far East, he returned to the Navy Department, and was given duty as Chairman of the General Board, serving from December 1935 until his transfer to the Retired List of the Navy on 1 October 1935, having reached the statutory retirement age. In signing the order for Rear Admiral Upham’s retirement, Secretary of the Navy Swanson stated: “. . .During the time which you have so faithfully and efficiently served, you have witnessed many advancements in the morale, strength and efficiency of the Navy, and you have the satisfaction of knowing that you have contributed to the accomplishments of these results. . .”
In addition to the Navy Cross and the Legion of Honor, rank of Commander, from France, Rear Admiral Upham had the following medals; Dewey Medal, Spanish Campaign Medal (USS OLYMPIA); Philippine Campaign Medal; Mexican Service Medal (1914); Victory Medal, Atlantic Fleet Clasp (World War I), with star denoting Special Commendation.