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Nimitz Library

William F. Raborn Collection, 1932-1964: Finding Aid

Published in April 2019

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 490
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: William F. Raborn Collection
  • Dates: 1932-1964
  • Size: 1.67 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 flat box containing 9 items
  • Creator: Raborn, William F., 1905-1990
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: William F. Raborn was an officer in the United States Navy, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1928. The William F. Raborn Collection, consisting of nine certificates, photographs, and plaques, spans from 1932 to 1964. The collection primarily documents Raborn's commissioning in the United States Navy and his honorary membership is several societies and organizations.

Biography of William F. Raborn

William Francis Raborn, Jr. was born on June 8, 1905 in Decatur, Texas to Cornelia and William Francis Raborn, Sr. Appointed to the Naval Academy in 1924 by Senator Elmer Thomas of Oklahoma, Raborn graduated as a member of the Class of 1928. Following his commissioning as an Ensign on June 7 of that year, he was assigned to gunnery duty aboard U.S.S. Texas (Battleship: BB-35) until December 1932, after which he served aboard the destroyers U.S.S. Twiggs (Destroyer: DD-127) and U.S.S. Dickerson (DD-157).

Completing his destroyer duty in June 1933, Raborn was assigned to flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola and designated a Naval Aviator on April 16, 1934. That June, he was assigned to Fighting Squadron Five aboard U.S.S. Lexington (Aircraft carrier: CV-2). In June 1936, he transferred to Scouting Squadrons Eleven and Ten aboard U.S.S. Portland (Heavy cruiser: CA-33) before returning to Pensacola as an instructor in June 1937.

Following duty with Patrol Squadron Eleven and Patrol Wing One, Raborn reported to Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay in August 1942 as Officer in Charge of the Free Gunnery School. In March 1943, he reported to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air where he served as Head of the Aviation Gunnery Training Division.

In the fall of 1944, Raborn reported aboard U.S.S. Hancock (Aircraft carrier: CV-19) as Executive Officer, serving aboard her during operations in the Philippine Islands, in the South China Sea, and against Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the Japanese homeland. In June 1945, he was appointed Chief of Staff to Commander Task Force Thirty Eight and Commander Carrier Division Two in the Western Pacific, remaining there through the end of World War II until June 1947.

Postwar, Raborn served as Operations Officer on the Staff of Commander Fleet Air, West Coast until July 1949, when he was assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance. In July 1950, he returned to sea as Commanding Officer of U.S.S. Bairoko (Escort carrier: CVE-115), training his crew in anti-submarine warfare off the coast of Japan. Detaching from U.S.S. Bairoko, he attended the Naval War College from August 1951 until June 1952, after which he reported to the Chief of Naval Operations as Assistant Director of the Guided Missiles Division until April 1954.

In April 1954, Raborn assumed command of U.S.S. Bennington (Aircraft carrier: CV-20). During his command, U.S.S. Bennington suffered a crippling catapult explosion on May 26, 1954. Nine months later, Raborn was detached for duty as Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations on the Staff of the Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. In December of 1955, he was appointed Director of Special Projects for the Navy Department, where he led efforts to develop a Fleet Ballistic Missile System. These efforts culminated in the successful tests of the first Polaris missiles from U.S.S. George Washington (Fleet ballistic missile submarine (nuclear powered): SSBN-598) on July 20, 1960. Following this success, Raborn was promoted to Vice Admiral on September 1, 1960. Raborn's final duty was as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Development) beginning March 9, 1962, and he was transferred to the Retired List on September 1, 1963.

Following his retirement from the U.S. Navy, Raborn initially returned to Texas and later accepted a position with Aerojet-General, serving as Vice President for project management. On April 11, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson selected Raborn to serve as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, a position Raborn held until resigning in June 1966. After leaving the CIA, Raborn returned to Aerojet-General and served on numerous corporate boards, including the Board of Directors of E-Systems and AVEMCO, as well as founding his own consulting firm, W. F. Raborn Co., Inc. William Francis Raborn died on March 6, 1990 in McLean, Virginia.

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Description of Contents

The William F. Raborn Collection, consisting of nine certificates, photographs, and plaques, spans from 1932 to 1964. The collection primarily documents Raborn's commissioning in the United States Navy and his honorary membership is several societies and organizations.

The William F. Raborn Collection is arranged alphabetically by document into a single series with no subdivisions. The majority of the collection is composed of certificates, including Raborn's commissions as a Lieutenant and Lieutenant (junior grade) in the United States Navy, the statutory conference of his Bachelor of Science degree from the Naval Academy in 1938, two Texas Navy certificates, an honorary membership in the American Institute of Industrial Engineers, and honorary citizenship of New Orleans. Accompanying the certificates are group portrait from the 1963 .S. Atlantic Fleet Type/Operation Commanders Conference and a plague honoring Raborn's participation in the 1963 Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade as military reviewing officer.

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The William F. Raborn Collection is arranged alphabetically by document type.

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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The William F. Raborn Collection is the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. William F. Raborn, Jr. in January 1992. Accession No. 92-01.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional materials pertaining to William F. Raborn in this repository include his Midshipman Personnel Jacket (sealed until 2025) and Alumni Jacket.

The bulk of Raborn's personal papers are available in the William F. Raborn Papers, 1916-1963 at Syracuse University.

Materials Cataloged Separately

A Replogle Heirloom Glove, presented to Raborn by the AVEMCO Board of Directors, has been removed from this collection and permanently displayed in the Annapolis Room.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

William F. Raborn Collection, MS 490

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:

Raborn, William F. Alumni Jacket, RG 405, Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in April 2019. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in April 2019.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Raborn, William F., 1905-1990

Genre Terms

  • Certificates
  • Manuscripts
  • Photographs
  • Plaques (flat objects)
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Certificates, 1932-1964

U.S. Navy commissions, Naval Academy diploma, and honorary certificates.

Box 1 Folder 2

Photograph, 1963

U.S. Atlantic Fleet Type/Operation Commanders Conference group portrait.

Box 1 Folder 3

Plaque, 1963

500 Festival Parade reviewing officer plaque.

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