STEELE, George, Jr., CAPT

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Last Rank
Last Primary NEC
131X-Unrestricted Line Officer - Pilot
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1943-1944, Navy Pre-Flight School, Del Monte, CA
Service Years
1896 - 1932
Official/Unofficial US Navy Certificates
Kiel Canal
Panama Canal
Plank Owner

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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Steven Loomis (SaigonShipyard), IC3 to remember STEELE, George, Jr. (Navy Cross WWI), CAPT.

If you knew or served with this Sailor and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Marion, Indiana
Last Address
Not Specified

Date of Passing
Feb 08, 1955
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

WW II Honorable Discharge Pin US Navy Retired 30 Navy Recruiting Gold Wreath Award (10th)

 Unofficial Badges 

Order of the Shellback US Navy Honorable Discharge Order of the Golden Dragon

 Military Association Memberships
Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS)
  1919, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS) - Assoc. Page

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

George Washington Steele, Jr.
Boxer and Nicaragua Rebellions,
Great White Fleet, WWI,
NC and ZR airship commander
and WWII Pre-Flight School C.O. 

George Washington Steele, Jr., graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Class of 1900. He retired as a U.S. Navy Captain.
Captain Steele was born on 19 June 1879, in Marion, Indiana. He was the son of George Washington Steele, Sr., a former United States Representative and Territorial Governor of Oklahoma. Steele attended Shattuck School in Fairbault, Minnesota and public schools in Marion. Following this education he received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. While in the Academy he was elected adjutant of the Naval Academy twice, "an honor probably never before given to another cadet in the history of the school". He graduated from the Academy on 8 June 1900.

Commanding Officer of:
USS Bary DD-2
USS Henderson, AP-1 (Transport # 1)
USS Shawmut CM-4
Fleet Air Detachment commander, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
USS Los Angeles ZR-3, airship
USS Omaha CL-4
USS Pittsburgh ACR-4, former USS Pennsylvania
United States Naval Attache; Paris, Madrid, and Lisbon
Aircraft, Scouting Force, and Carrier Division One/USS Wright
USS Saratoga CV-3
St. Mary's College and Del Monte Pre-Flight Schools

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, 1900.
Ensign, July 1, 1902;
Lieutenant junior grade and Lieutenant, July 1, 1905;
Lieutenant commander, July 1, 1912;
Commander, May 23, 1917;
Captain (temporary), September 21, 1918;
Captain (permanent), December 31, 1921;
Court-martialed/move to retired list, December 31, 1932,
Guaranty Trust Co, Paris France 1938, c/o 3rd Naval Distirct;
Recalled to Active Duty, 1942/'44 to head Pre-Flight Schools.

In 1901, midshipman Steele was assigned to the USS Brooklyn on Asiatic Station by choice. He arrived during the Boxer War in China, aka China Relief.

In 1903, the American Consul in Beirut was reported murdered. The USS San Francisco was ordered there in order to retrieve the Consul's body. Ensign George W. Steele, Jr., was placed in command of a machine gun and ordered to land and retrieve the Consul or his body. Fifteen minutes after going ashore Steele returned to the San Francisco with the Consul, who was alive.

1907, while on board the USS Illinois, Steele took part in the Great White Fleet's cruise around the world. Following this, Illinois was moved to Rome. Steele participated in the recovery of bodies after the Messina earthquake.

In 1912, Steele was assigned to the USS California as navigator. California was sent to Nicaragua to restore order. Steele led 400 Marines ashore and rebuilt many roads and bridges within three days. For this he received numerous commendations. As the United States entered World War I, Steele was serving as navigator on board the Battleship USS Pennsylvania.

Assigned at outbreak of the World War as aide to British vice admiral on board H.M.S. Leviathan, and in Washington; transferred, May 24, 1917, to Navy convoy service, commanding USS Henderson; in command of the USS Henderson in the first convoy to France; made fourteen trips (seven round trips) with her; on the fifteenth trip, five hundred miles out, fire of spontaneous origin was discovered in the hold; after fighting the fire all day, the troops were transferred to other vessels and the ship returned to port. Still in service as naval attache at the American Embassy, Paris, France. 

Commanded the airship Los Angeles. Sent to Germany to observe the transfer of the airship to the United States in 1924, made the transatlantic voyage, and commanded the airship thereafter until May, 1926.

In July of 1932, he was given the prestigious command of the USS Saratoga, the third aircraft carrier in the United States Navy. It seemed certain that Captain Steele would soon be promoted to Admiral. These hopes were dashed when Saratoga ran aground in foggy weather later that year. Steele successfully refloated the ship with no damage. Though he was not responsible, Steele was court-martialed in October. He was then passed over for promotion in December. He retired from the Navy on December 31, 1932 after 36 years of service in the United States Navy.

Note: Captain George Steele, USN, Naval Pre-Flight School, Del Monte, Calif.  

Apparently, Captain George W. Steele, Jr., was recalled to active duty as commanding officer at Del Monte during WWII (Aviation News January 1943).

Awards and Citations

Navy Cross

Awarded for actions during the World War I

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Captain George W. Steele, Jr., United States Navy, for distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the USS HENDERSON, engaged in the important, exacting and hazardous duty of transporting and escorting troops and supplies to European ports through waters infested with enemy submarines and mines during World War I.

Action Date: World War I
Service: Navy
Rank: Captain
Company: Commanding Officer
Division: USS
Other Comments:


Steele, George Washington, Jr.
Captain, U.S. Navy

Navy Cross. Navy Department, November 11, 1920: The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Captain George W. Steel, U.S. Navy ......: For distinguished service in the line of his profession as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Henderson, engaged in the important, exacting, and hazardous duty of transporting and escorting troops and supplies to European ports through waters infested with enemy submarines and mines. For the President: Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy.

Silver Medal of the Red Cross Society of Italy, April 21, 1910, for services rendered in connection with the work for the suffers of the Messina earthquake, 1908.

Awarded the French Legion of Honor, Officer, by Presidential Decree of May 7, 1931, in recognition of his services as naval attache, American Embassy, at Paris, 1928 - 1931.

Letter of Commendation. Navy Department, Washington, September 5, 1918: The Department quotes from the report of a Board of Investigation convened at the Navy Yard, Philadelphia, PA, July 10, 1918, to inquire into the fire which occurred on board the U.S.S. Henderson, July 2, 1918, as follows: "That good discipline prevailed on board throughout, and that all possible efforts were made to preserve the ship and personnel; all in a thoroughly seamanlike and officer like manner."

"That, in general, the officers and men concerned are worthy of commendation for the service rendered in saving the ship, and in the safe and successful transfer at sea of a large number of men, from the Henderson to other ships, such transfers taking place at night."

"The Department hereby accordingly very highly commends you for the efficiency of the organization on board the U.S.S. Henderson under your command, which enabled you to successfully cope with a very difficult situation. It is hoped that it will be your endeavor to maintain such a high standard of efficiency in the future, upon any vessel under your command. A copy of this letter will be filed with your official efficiency record." Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy.

Commendation. War Department, Washington, D.C., July 31, 1919. Captain G.W. Steele ......(through the Secretary of the Navy): "The joint operations of the Army and Navy in connection with our overseas force is rapidly drawing to a close, Before the Navy forces engaged in the Army Transport Service are demobilized, I desire to extend to you and the officers and men under your command, the thanks and appreciation of the War Department for the splendid service you have rendered in connection with the transportation overseas of the American Forces."

"I know of no one thing that stands out more prominently than the close cooperation that has existed between the services during the past emergency and I am sure it is equally gratifying to you to know that we are near the end of successful operation of transporting overseas and returning to the American shores, a force of over two million men." Newton D. Baker, Secretary of War.

Commendation. Flagship of Cruiser and Transport Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, August 15, 1918: "I have written letters of commendation to the officers and men whom you recommended for conspicuous service during the fire which occurred in the Henderson while carrying troops during the early part of July."

"To you, as Commanding Officer of the ship during that emergency, I take great pleasure in expressing my admiration for the discipline exhibited by all on board and in complimenting you upon the manner in which you so successfully handled the Henderson.

It is gratifying to know that under the trying and dangerous circumstances which you encountered, there was no loss of life."
Albert Gleaves, Commander, Cruiser and Transport Force.
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 Duty Stations
US NavyCommander Naval Recruiting Command (CNRC)Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV)Commander, US Fleet Forces Command (COMUSFLTFORCOM)/Naval Air Forces Atlantic Fleet
School Assignments - StaffUSS Los Angeles (ZR-3)Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV)/US Defense Attache Office  (USDAO)USS Saratoga (CV-3)
Advancement Schools and Courses
  1900-1902, USS Brooklyn (ACR-3)
  1902-1904, USS San Francisco (C-5)
  1904-1904, Navy Recruiting Region Central
  1905-1906, USS Barry (DD-2)
  1907-1911, USS Illinois (BB-7)
  1912-1916, USS CALIFORNIA (ACR-6)
  1916-1917, USS Pennsylvania (BB-38)
  1917-1917, Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV)/Aide for Operations
  1917-1918, USS Henderson (AP-1)
  1918-1918, USS Henderson (AP-1)
  1919-1922, Commander, US Fleet Forces Command (COMUSFLTFORCOM)/Naval Air Forces Atlantic Fleet
  1919-1922, USS Shawmut (CM 4)
  1923-1923, Naval Flight School
  1923-1923, Bureau of Navigation
  1924-1926, USS Los Angeles (ZR-3)
  1926-1927, USS Omaha (CL-4)
  1927-1928, USS Pittsburgh (CA-4)
  1928-1929, US Defense Attache Office (USDAO)/Paris, France
  1929-1930, US Defense Attache Office (USDAO)/Madrid, Spain
  1930-1931, US Defense Attache Office (USDAO)/Lisbon, Portugal
  1931-1931, Commander, Aircraft, Scouting Force
  1931-1932, USS Wright (AV-1)
  1932-1932, Carrier Division 1 (COMCARDIV 1)
  1932-1932, USS Saratoga (CV-3)
  1933-1938, 3rd Naval District
  1933-1942, Broken Service
  1942-1944, Navy Pre-Flight School
  1943-1944, Navy Pre-Flight School, Del Monte, CA
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1900-1902 China Relief Expedition
  1915-1934 US Occupation of Haiti
  1918-1918 World War I/Convoy Duty
 Colleges Attended 
United States Naval Academy
  1896-1900, United States Naval Academy
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