King, Ernst Joseph, born in Lorain, Ohio, on 23-11-1878, the son of James Clydesdale King and Elizabath Keam King, attended the United States Naval Academy from 1897 until 1901, graduating fourth in his class. During his senior year at the Academy, he attained the rank of Cadet Lieutenant Commander, the highest possible cadet ranking at that time. During World War I he served on the staff of Vice Admiral Henry T. Mayo, the Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet. Mayo died age 80, on 23-02-1937 in Portsmouth. As such, he was a frequent visitor to the Royal Navy and occasionally saw action as an observer on board British ships. It appears that his Anglophobia developed during this period. although the reasons are unclear. He was awarded the Navy Cross “for distinguished service in the line of his profession as assistant chief of staff of the Atlantic Fleet”. King hoped to be appointed as either CNO or Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Fleet, but on 15-06-1939, he was posted to the General Board, an elephant’s graveyard where senior officers sat out the time remaining before retirement, (see Did you know). A series of extraordinary events would alter this outcome. His career was resurrected by one of his few friends in the Navy, CNO Admiral Harold “Betty” Stark, who realized that King’s talent for command was being wasted on the General Board. Stark appointed King as Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet in the fall of 1940, and he was promoted to Admiral in February 1941. On 30-12-1941 he became Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet. On 18-03-1942, he was appointed Chief of Naval Operations, relieving Admiral Stark. He is the only person to hold this combined command. After turning 64 on 23-11-1944, he wrote a message to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to say he had reached mandatory retirement age. Roosevelt replied with a note reading “So what, old top?”. On 17-12-1944 he was promoted to the newly created rank of Fleet Admiral. He left active duty on 15-12-1945 but was recalled as an advisor to the Secretary of the Navy in 1950. General Hastings Ismay, Ismay died age 78, on 17-12-1965,
chief of staff to Sir Winston Churchill, described King as: Tough as nails and carried himself as stiffly as a poker. He was blunt and stand-offish, almost to the point of rudeness. At the start, he was intolerant and suspicious of all things British, especially the Royal Navy; but he was almost equally intolerant and suspicious of the American Army. War against Japan was the problem to which he had devoted the study of a lifetime, and he resented the idea of American resources being used for any other purpose than to destroy the Japanese. He mistrusted Churchill’s powers of advocacy and was apprehensive that he would wheedle President Roosevelt into neglecting the war in the Pacific. In spite of, or perhaps partly because of, the fact that the two men did not get along, the combined influence of King and General Douglas MacArthur increased the allocation of resources to the Pacific War.
Death and burial ground of King, Ernst Joseph.
Ernst King died on 25-06-1956, after a long illness, age 77, and is buried with his wife Martha, born Egerton, who died old age 89, on 06-12-1969, on the U S Naval Academy Cemetery, Annapolis, Maryland. His neighbours are Admiral, Howard Husband Kimmel, 2* Major General and attached to the Department of the Pacific, William Peterkin Upshur, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy Bomber Squadron Leader, Clarence Wade McKlusky and U.S. 3* Navy Admiral. Commander of destroyers in the Solomon Islands, Arleigh Albert “31 Knot Burke” Burke.
Cemetery location of King, Ernst Joseph.