As Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Louis E. Denfeld emphasized the
importance of naval forces to the conduct of nuclear warfare in the new
Cold War era. At the cost of his career, he stood firm to assure the U.S.
Navy a vital role in the national defense establishment.
Born in Westborough, Massachusetts, Denfeld graduated from the U.S. Naval
Academy in 1912. He served in the fleet in the following years and took
command of destroyer USS McCall in 1919. Over the next two decades,
Denfeld commanded numerous ships and stations. During World War II,
Denfeld served in the Bureau of Naval Personnel, helping coordinate
the recruitment and training of the millions of Sailors who joined
the Navy. Following the war, Denfeld served as Chief of the Bureau
of Naval Personnel. Command of the Pacific Fleet capped his operational
service. Promoted to Chief of Naval Operations in December 1947, Denfeld
worked to integrate the Navy into the postwar defense establishment. He
helped ensure that the Navy would have a role in the development and
deployment of nuclear weapons crucial for naval warfare. Denfeld took
a strong stand in support of the Navy during Congressional hearings in
1949 over the role of naval aviation in national defense. Because of
Denfeld's principled advocacy of sea power, which was at odds with the
position taken by the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Navy
requested the admiral's resignation. Denfeld's purposeful stand during
the so-called "Revolt of the Admirals," however, helped persuade Congress
of the continuing value of aircraft carriers and naval aviation.
Admiral Denfeld passed away on March 28th, 1972.