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Adapted from "Rear Admiral Humbert William Ziroli, United States Navy, Retired"
[biography, dated 5 December 1947] in Biographies, 20th century collection,
Navy Department Library.

  • Boats-Ships--Submarine
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  • Biography
Wars & Conflicts
  • World War I 1917-1918
  • World War II 1939-1945
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Humbert William Ziroli

21 September 1893 - 20 October 1979

Rear Admiral Ziroli, born in Fall River, Massachusetts, 21 September 1893, attended high school in Fall River before his appointment to the US Naval Academy from the Thirteenth District of Massachusetts in 1912. Graduated and commissioned Ensign in June 1916, he received temporary promotion to the grades of Lieutenant (junior grade) and Lieutenant during the World War, was commissioned in these grades in 1919 and 1920, respectively, and his subsequent promotions were as follows: Lieutenant Commander, 2 June 1927; Commander, 3 November 1936; Captain, 1 January 1942; and Commodore, 10 December 1943, to rank from 1 November 1943. He was transferred to the Retired List of the Navy in the rank of Rear Admiral on 1 December 1947.

Upon graduation in June 1916, Rear Admiral Ziroli joined USS Jacob Jones and served in her until the following October when he was transferred to duty in USS Rowan. He continued to serve in this destroyer throughout the period of the World War when she was based on Queenstown, Ireland. Returning to the United States in November 1915, he had duty in connection with fitting out USS Hopewell and served in her from her commissioning, 22 March 1919, until October of that year when he was under instruction in submarines in USS Fulton. He had duty in the submarine USS R-10 from December 1919, until November 1920, when he joined USS S-4, serving in command of this submarine, while she was on Asiatic Station, from September 1921, until May 1924.

Rear Admiral Ziroli was attached to the submarine tender Seagull at the Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor, T.H., from May 1924, until June 1927, with duty as engineer and repair officer of submarines at the Base. From August 1927 until May 1930, he served consecutively in the battleships USS Maryland, USS Pennsylvania and USS Colorado, as engineer officer of the latter ship from July 1929, until May 1930. The three succeeding years he was an instructor in the Department of Modern Languages at the Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, and was instrumental in introducing a system of foreign language qualifications and study for naval officers and in having Italian and German included in the curriculum of the Academy.

From June 1933 until April 1934, Rear Admiral Ziroli commanded the destroyer USS Simpson and the two succeeding years was in command of the submarine USS Narwhal, with additional duty in the summer of 1935 in command of Submarine Division 13. He was Officer in Charge, Submarine School, Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut, from June 1936, until June 1938, and the following year was under instruction at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. From May, 1939 until June 1941, he was executive officer of the cruiser USS Philadelphia, and in July 1941, returned to the Naval Academy as Head of the Department of Modern Languages. Detached from the Academy, he assumed command of USS Brooklyn on 20 February 1943, and for his services in command of this cruiser during the Sicilian Campaign was award the Legion of Merit with the following citation:

“For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. BROOKLYN during the Sicilian Campaign. Operating under persistent bombing attacks and well within range of enemy shore artillery in close support of the Third Division in the assault on the Island of Sicily, Commodore Ziroli skillfully directed the gunfire of his vessel in a vigorous, accurate shore bombardment, effectively destroying several hostile positions and batteries. By his expert tactical knowledge and fearless devotion to duty under extremely difficult conditions, Commodore Ziroli contributed in large measure to the success of our forces in this vital area.”

In October 1943, Rear Admiral Ziroli was ordered to duty with the McFarland Mission, Naval Forces, Northwest African Waters, and in November 1943 was appointed US Member with the Allied Control Commission, Rome, Italy. On 1 July 1947, he was ordered to the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Navy Department, Washington, DC, and on 1 December 1947 was transferred to the Retired List of the US Navy in the rank of Rear Admiral.

In addition to the Legion of Merit, Rear Admiral Ziroli had the Victory Medal, Destroyer Clasp (USS Rowan); the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp (USS Philadelphia); the European African Middle Eastern Area Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal. He also had the Abdon Calderon Star, First Class and Diploma, presented him by the Government of Ecuador.

Rear Admiral Ziroli passed away 20 October 1979.


Published: Mon Feb 11 10:55:55 EST 2019