WILEY, Herbert Victor, RADM

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Last Rank
Rear Admiral Upper Half
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1946-1947, NOB Trinidad, BWI
Service Years
1915 - 1947
Rear Admiral Upper Half
Rear Admiral Upper Half

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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Steven Loomis (SaigonShipyard), IC3 to remember WILEY, Herbert Victor, RADM.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Wheeling, MO
Last Address
Not Specified

Date of Passing
May 15, 1954
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

WW II Honorable Discharge Pin US Navy Retired 30

 Unofficial Badges 

US Navy Honorable Discharge

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Herbert V. Wiley
Captain, USS West Virginia

Herbert Victor Wiley, Rear Admiral, born May 16, 1891, Wheeling, MO. He was appointed a midshipman at the USNA in 1911. In January 1944, Capt. Wiley, assumed command of the USS West Virginia. Under his command the ship participated in the liberation of the Philippines where the invasion of Leyte in October 1944 saw the first landing of the United States troops. On October 25, the West Virginia participated in the Battle of Surigao Strait. The first battleship to fire, she hit a Japanese battleship 13 miles away on the first salvo and fired more rounds than any other battleship. Later, under Wiley's command, the Wee Vee saw action at the landing on Mindoro and shelled the coast at Lingayen Gulf during landings there.

Rear Adm. Wiley was commissioned ensign upon graduation from the USN Academy in June 1915. On Feb. 5, 1925, Wiley was designated a naval aviator (lighter than air) and subsequently served aboard the rigid airship USS Shenandoah and the USS Los Angeles which he commanded from May 1929-April 1930. He served as executive officer aboard the airship USS Akron until her loss off Barnegat Light, NJ, on April 4, 1933. He was the only officer to survive the crash.

In June 1934, Capt. Wiley assumed command of the airship USS Macon, sister-ship of the Akron. The Macon was lost in the Pacific off Point Sur, CA, on Feb. 12, 1935. Wiley was commended by the Secretary of the Navy for his handling of the ship during the emergency and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for swimming to the rescue of a fellow officer.

Rear Adm. Wiley served aboard and commanded a number of other surface ships and was several times an instructor at the USN Academy where he later served as head of the electrical engineering department. At the outbreak of WWII, Wiley was commander of Destroyer Sqdn. 29 under Adm. Thomas C. Hart, commander of the Asiatic Fleet. A daring attack by the aging destroyers under Wiley's command temporarily stalled the Japanese and Balikapan, Borneo and in the Battle of the Makassar Strait on Jan. 24, 1942, his destroyers made a night torpedo attack which inflicted heavy damage on an enemy convoy. Under Wiley's command the destroyers continued to fight in the Battle of Java Sea before withdrawing to southwest Australia.

Retiring from the USN in 1947, Rear Adm. Wiley became a professor in the College of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He passed away in California in May 1954.
Other Comments:
Navy Cross:
For "extraordinary heroism" as commanding officer during the action of Surigao Strait, Adm. Wiley was awarded the Navy Cross. The citation reads in part, "A brilliant and fearless leader, Capt. Wiley conducted a vigorous and unrelenting attack against the Japanese in the face of intense opposition, thereby rendering invaluable assistance in sinking 10 hostile combatant vessels, including two of the enemy's powerful battleships. His expert seamanship, indomitable spirit and unwavering devotion of duty during combat contributed to the success of a significant naval battle."

Legion of Merit:
During naval operations at Iwo Jima during February and March 1945, Capt. Wiley brought the West Virginia in so close to the beach that medium caliber guns were able to be used against the entrenched enemy's bunkers and caves. For this and the Philippine action, Capt. Wiley was awarded the Legion of Merit, "for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services during operations against enemy Japanese forces." At Iwo, Capt. Wiley "fought off repeated heavy enemy air attacks throughout this extended combat and, maintaining superb control of his gallant ship, delivered devastating barrages of heavy caliber fire against hostile installations and troop concentrations."

Bronze Star:
Still under Wiley's command, the West Virginia moved on to Okinawa and was hit by a kamikaze on April 1, 1945, but was not taken out of action. During 30 days and nights, Capt. Wiley remained on the bridge. For his achievements in this campaign he was awarded the Bronze Star for "heroic achievement against enemy Japanese forces at Okinawa, from March 25 to April 20, 1945." During the pre-assault bombardment of Okinawa and in supporting operations following the amphibious landings, "Capt. Wiley skillfully maneuvered through dangerous navigational waters within unusually close range of the island and, with his vessel exposed to intense fire and enemy shore guns, delivered prolonged and effective point-blank, counter-battery fire against Japanese installations." Capt. Wiley led the ship in "fighting off repeated aerial attacks and, maintaining his vulnerable positions despite the constant threat of enemy planes, suicide boats and midget submarines, [and] provided devastating barrages to cover special off-shore operations and to support the ground units combating a ruthless and fanatic enemy."

Navy and Marine Corps Medal:
In June 1934, Capt. Wiley assumed command of the airship USS Macon, sister-ship of the Akron. The Macon was lost in the Pacific off Point Sur, CA, on Feb. 12, 1935. Wiley was commended by the Secretary of the Navy for his handling of the ship during the emergency and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for swimming to the rescue of a fellow officer.
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  1944-1945, USS West Virginia (BB-48)


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 USS West Virginia (BB-48) Details

USS West Virginia (BB-48)
Original photo pre-Pearl Harbor

The fourth and final ship of the 
Colorado Class Battleship, USS West Virginia (BB-48) was laid down at Newport News Shipbuilding on April 12, 1920.  Construction moved forward and on November 19, 1921, it slid down the ways with Alice W. Mann, daughter of West Virginia coal magnate Isaac T. Mann, serving as sponsor.  After another two years of work, West Virginia was completed and entered commission on December 1, 1923, with Captain Thomas J. Senn in command. 

: Displacement 32,600 Tons, Dimensions, 624' (oa) x 97' 4" x 31' 4" (Max). Armament 8 x 16"/45 14 x 5"/51, 4 x 3"/50AA 2 x 21" tt.Armor, 13 1/2" Belt, 18" Turrets, 3 1/2" + 1 1/2" Decks, 16" Conning Tower. Machinery, 28,900 SHP; Turbines with Electric Drive, 4 screws. Speed, 21 Knots, Crew 1080. Operational and Building Data: Laid down by Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, VA, April 12, 1920.
Launched November 19, 1921. Commissioned December 1, 1923. Decommissioned January 9, 1947. Stricken March 1, 1959. Fate: Sold August 2, 1959 and broken up for scrap.

USS West Virginia (BB-48) - Pearl Harbor:

On the morning of December 7, 1941, West Virginia was moored along Pearl Harbor's Battleship Row, outboard of USS Tennessee (BB-43), when the Japanese attacked and pulled the United States into World War II.  In a vulnerable position with its port side exposed, West Virginia sustained seven torpedo hits (six exploded) from Japanese aircraft.  Only rapid counter-flooding by the battleship's crew prevented it from capsizing.  The damage from the torpedoes was exacerbated by two armor-piercing bomb hits as well as a massive oil fire started following the explosion of USS Arizona(BB-39) which was moored aft.  Severely damaged, West Virginia sank upright with little more than its superstructure above the water.  In the course of that attack, the battleship's commander, Captain Mervyn S. Bennion, was mortally wounded.  He posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his defense of the ship.  

USS West Virginia (BB-48) - Rebirth:

In the weeks after the attack, efforts to salvage West Virginia commenced.  After patching the massive holes in the hull, the battleship was refloated on May 17, 1942 and later moved to Drydock Number One.  As work commenced 66 bodies were found trapped in the hull.  Three located in a storeroom appear to have survived until at least December 23.

  After extensive repairs to the hull, West Virginia departed for Puget Sound Navy Yard on May 7, 1943.  Arriving, it underwent a modernization program that dramatically altered the battleship's appearance.  This saw the construction of a new superstructure which included trunking the two funnels into one, a greatly enhanced anti-aircraft armament, and elimination of the old cage masts.  In addition, the hull was widened to 114 feet which precluded it from passing through the Panama Canal. When complete, West Virginia looked more similar to the modernized Tennessee-class battleships than those from its own Colorado-class.

Rebuilt view 1944.


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Last Updated: Sep 7, 2010
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10 Members Also There at Same Time
USS West Virginia (BB-48)

Greaves, William Emil, S1c, (1943-1945) Seaman First Class
Sabbatini, Anthony J, CPO, (1939-1953) GM Chief Boatswain's Mate
Hall, Toy, PO2, (1944-1946) PhM PhM-0000 Petty Officer Second Class
RINETTI, ARTHUR, PO2, (1942-1946) FC Fire Controlman 2nd Class
Beyer, Paul W., PO3, (1942-1944) GM Gunner's Mate 3rd Class
Smith, Weed, PO3, (1943-1966) GM GM-0000 Gunner's Mate 3rd Class
AUBRY, RONALD, S1c, (1943-1946) BM BM-0000 Seaman First Class
MOHR, FRED, S1c, (1944-1945) 00 00E Seaman First Class
Wright, Leonard Kyle, LCDR, (1936-1966) BM BM-0000 Hospital Apprentice Second Class
Keith, William, PO3, (1941-1945) Hospital Apprentice First Class

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