Robert Todd Young was born in Marquette, Michigan, on 11 February 1888. He was appointed to the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, from his native state in 1906, and graduated on 3 June 1910. He served the two years at sea, then required by law, before he was commissioned Ensign on 7 March 1912, and subsequently attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander to date from 29 June 1921. On 1 June 1931 he was transferred to the Retired List of the US Navy.
Following graduation from the Naval Academy in 1910, he joined USS North Carolina, operating in the Atlantic. Detached from that armored cruiser in May 1912 he reported aboard USS Rainbow on Asiatic Station. For a month, December 1914 to January 1915, he was assigned to USS Buffalo, on general service in the Pacific, after which he transferred to USS South Carolina, a unit of the Atlantic Fleet.
In October 1915 he began his flight training in USS North Carolina and continued his instruction, between March and September 1916, at the Naval Aeronautic Station, Pensacola, Florida. Designated Naval Aviator #31, he reported in September 1916, for duty at the Curtiss Airplane Company, Buffalo, New York. He remained there until December of that year, when he joined USS Connecticut, operating in the Atlantic, and was aboard that battleship when the United States entered World War I in April 1917.
During August 1917 he had fitting out duty in USS Hamburg (later renamed USS Powhatan) and upon her commissioning on 16 August 1917, he became her Gunnery Officer. Detached from Powhatan in June 1918, he transferred to USS Minneapolis, and from December 1918 to October 1919 continued sea duty in USS Vermont.
He had consecutive duty between November 1919 and February 1922, as Officer in Charge of the Navy Recruiting Stations at Louisville, Kentucky and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, after which he joined the staff of Commander Fleet Base force, Pacific Fleet. He again returned to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, in January 1923, and remained there until March of that year, when he reported for short duty at the Receiving Barracks, Hampton Roads, Virginia.
In May 1923 he assumed command of USS Edsall, operating in European waters, and in January 1925 returned to the United States for duty in the Third Naval District, New York, New York. He continued to serve there until December 1926, after which he reported as Commanding Officer of USS Gilmer, operating with Division FORTY, Squadron TWELVE, Destroyer Squadrons, Scouting Fleet. Relieved of command of Gilmer in October 1929, he again had duty in the Third Naval District, where he was serving when relieved of all active duty in April 1931, pending his retirement on 1 June 1931.
Lieutenant Commander Young died on 4 January 1947.
He was entitled to the World War I Victory Medal.