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VADM Bernard Lige Austin
Birth: Dec. 15, 1902
Wagener
Aiken County
South Carolina, USA
Death: Sep. 21, 1979
Bethesda
Montgomery County
Maryland, USA

US Navy Admiral. Nicknamed "Count," he was a decorated World War II Navy officer. He served as commander of the US 2nd Fleet and later became President of the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. Born in Wagener, South Carolina, he attended The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina from 1918 to 1920 before receiving an appointment to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland in July 1920. He graduated with a commission as an ensign in June 1924 and was assigned temporary duty at the Bureau of Ordnance at the US Department of the Navy in Washington DC, during which he was under instruction at the Naval Gun Factory at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, the Naval Proving Ground at Dahlgren, Virginia, and the Naval Powder Factory at Indian Head, Maryland. In August 1924 he was assigned to the battleship USS New York, serving until July 1926 when he sent to the Naval Torpedo Station at Newport, Rhode Island until December of that year. From January until June 1927 he trained on board the minesweeper USS Chewink, which was the station ship at Submarine Base New London, Connecticut. In June 1927 he reported aboard the submarine USS R-10, based in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii. Two years later he transferred to the submarine USS R-6, serving until May 1931. He then returned to the Naval Academy as an instructor in Department of Electrical Engineering and Physics, where he taught physics and chemistry. In May 1934 he returned to sea duty as the commanding officer of the submarine USS R-11 until June 1937 when he became executive officer of the presidential yacht USS Potomac. In December 1937 he became the Press Relations Officer for the Department of the Navy, delivering speeches prepared by US Secretary of the Navy Charles Edison and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Harold R. Stark. During this time he also wrote articles on submarine warfare for "Encyclopedia Britannica" and the "World Book Encyclopedia." In August 1940 he was assigned to the US Embassy in London, England, as deputy to Rear Admiral Robert L. Ghormley who, as Special Naval Observer there, was charged with negotiating the operational and technical details of cooperation between the British Royal Navy and US Navy, in the event the US entered World War II. After the US entered World War II, he became commanding officer of the destroyer USS Woolsey from February 1942 until December 1942, during which time he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander. While in command, he operated in the Atlantic Ocean, escorting convoys from North America to Iceland, the British Isles, and Puerto Rico. He also participated in Operation Torch, the Allied amphibious invasion of North Africa in November 1942, by which time he was promoted to the rank of commander. During Operation Torch, his destroyer detected and assisted the destroyers USS Quick and USS Swanson in sinking the German submarine U-173 off Casablanca, French Morocco, on November 16, 1942. In December 1942 he assumed command of the newly commissioned destroyer USS Foote, and took her to the Pacific Theater, where in May 1943 he become Commander, Destroyer Division 46, which along with Destroyer Division 45 made up Captain Arleigh Burke's Destroyer Squadron 23, the famed "Little Beavers." He saw action in the Solomon Islands campaign, participating in the naval battles off Bougainville Island, the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay on November 2, 1943 and the Battle of Cape St. George on November 25, 1943. AS a result, his Destroyer Squadron 23 was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, the only destroyer squadron to receive a Presidential Unit Citation during World War II. In December 1943 he became the commander of Destroyer Squadron 14, with additional duty as Commander, Destroyer Division 27. He was promoted to the rank of rear admiral (lower half) for his service in the Solomon Islands and became the youngest flag officer in the US Navy at that time. In April 1944 he became Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations and Training on the staff of Commander, Destroyers, US Pacific Fleet and two months later, he became Assistant Chief of Staff for Administration to the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, remaining in this position through the end of World War II in August 1945. In October 1945 he returned to the US where he was sent to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations at the Department of the Navy in Washington DC. In December 1945 he became Navy secretary of the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee and following this, he became a member of the first class of the National War College at Fort McNair in Washington DC. In June 1947 he was detached to duty as the Special Assistant to the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Politico-Military Affairs at the Department of the Navy, serving in that position until October 1949. During this period, he performed a one-year special-duty assignment at the Office of the Naval Attaché, London, England, as a student at the British Imperial Defence College, and completing his studies there in 1949. In January 1950 he became Commander, Service Squadron 1. In July 1950, immediately after the outbreak of the Korean War, he was sent to the Western Pacific to organize Service Squadron 3 and command it in logistics operations in support of the United Nations combat effort in Korea. In May 1951 he was assigned to the International Affairs Division of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington DC, serving as that division's assistant director until February 1952, when he was advanced to director, serving in that position until May 1954. During this tour he served as the first US Navy member of the National Security Council staff. He then became Commander, Cruiser Division 2 and in April 1955 he joined the staff of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Paris, France. In March 1956 he was promoted to the rank of vice admiral and returned to the US to become Director of the Joint Staff for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington DC, remaining in that position through March 1958. Two months later, he assumed command of the US 2nd Fleet with additional duty as Commander, Strike Fleet, Atlantic, and in March 1959, he became the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Plans and Policy). In June 1960 he became the 32nd President of the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, serving through July 1964, with his four-year term being the longest presidency in the college's history at the time. During his presidency, he played a key role in creating the Naval Command College for senior foreign naval officers. While at the war college, he served in 1963 as president of a board of inquiry looking into the April 1963 loss of the nuclear submarine USS Thresher. He officially retired from the US Navy at the rank of vice admiral on August 1, 1964. However, he was retained on active duty as chairman of the Inter-American Defense Board in Washington DC. He was then assigned to the Bureau of Naval Personnel at the Department of the Navy in August 1967, serving there until October 1967, when he was released from active duty and entered retirement, with 43 years on continuous military service. Among his military decorations and awards include the Navy Cross with gold star, the Silver Star, the Distinguished Service Medal with two stars, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with combat "V" device, the Presidential Unit Citation, the American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Medal, and the Peruvian Cross of Naval Merit (Grand Officer). He was briefly recalled to active duty from June until August 1968 and again from November to December 1968 to serve on the staff of the Commander in Chief, US Atlantic Fleet, as president of a board of inquiry investigating the May 1968 disappearance of the nuclear submarine USS Scorpion in the North Atlantic Ocean. He died in Bethesda, Maryland at the age of 76. (bio by: William Bjornstad) 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  Elijah Andrew Austin (1878 - 1927)
  Loula Gantt Austin (1882 - 1982)
 
 Spouse:
  Isabella Leith Austin (____ - 1983)*
 
 Sibling:
  Bernard Lige Austin (1902 - 1979)
  Jackie Austin Owens (1905 - 1992)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
United States Naval Academy Cemetery
Annapolis
Anne Arundel County
Maryland, USA
Plot: Section 3 Lot 328
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Russ Jacobs
Record added: Jan 29, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 47289420
VADM Bernard Lige Austin
Added by: David Peltier
 
VADM Bernard Lige Austin
Added by: Charles A. Lewis
 
VADM Bernard Lige Austin
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Beverly Davis Valcovic
 
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