Captain David Spencer Bill, Jr. USN (Ret.) former director of amphibious warfare on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations
Born Oct. 22, 1916, in Richmond, Virginia, he descended from John Bill who settled in Boston in the 1620s. Part of his family migrated to Southwest Virginia in 1853 and his ancestors included the founders of Snowville and Spencer, Va. Captain Bill was a 1939 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He attended Ohio State University for one year prior to his appointment to Annapolis where he was captain of the tennis team and excelled academically.
During his distinguished naval service he held nine commands: three during World War II; an anti submarine patrol craft, PC583, USS O'Neill (DE 188) and USS Hughes (DD410) - serving in the Atlantic on convoy escort duty and Pacific in the battles for the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Following World War II, Captain Bill commanded Destroyer Division 1 during the Bikini Tests and was chief of staff to the commander of the Middle East Force from 1953-54, during which time the Bill's family became one of the first U.S. Navy families to live on Bahrain Island in the Persian Gulf, now the site of a major US naval installation and a key ally in the region.
His subsequent commands at sea included USS Shea (DM 30), Landing Ship Medium Rocket (LSMR) and Landing Ship Tank (LST) Squadrons, USS Francis Marion (APA 249) during the Cuban missile crisis, and Amphibious Squadron Eight based in Little Creek, Va.
While in the final post of his 30-year naval career, Bill was responsible for the development of the Riverine Force deployed extensively in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam, and for the Amphibious Helicopter Carrier (LHA) program which marked a major advance in amphibious operations for the Navy and Marine Corps.
Captain Bill retired from the US Navy in 1969.
In 1991, his eldest son, Rear Admiral David Bill III was the Honorary Grand Marshal of Skeston's Veteran's Day Parade (Alexandria VA), having served in the first Gulf War as Commanding Officer of the Battleship Wisconsin.
RIVERINE FORCES VIETNAM
In Washington the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Horacio Rivero, Jr., supported the concept of a riverine force and approved a proposal to send a planning group to Saigon to work with the MACV staff. The group was asked to develop a complete plan and to specify the means to support it. Headed by Captain David Bill, U.S. Navy, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, and consisting of representatives of the Bureau of Ships, the Marine Corps, and the Amphibious Command, Pacific, the planning group arrived in Vietnam in January of 1966. Together the MACV staff and the Navy group studied in detail the experience of the French and Vietnamese with river assault forces in order to establish a similar American force, but one with greater capabilities. Under the leadership of Captain Welsh and Captain Bill, requirements were drawn up for self-propelled barracks ships (APB's), LST's, large covered lighters (YFNB's), large harbor tugs (YTB's), landing craft repair ships (ARL's), and a mine countermeasures support ship (MCS) ; all were to carry appropriate armament for the area of operations. The LCM-6 would be used instead of the LCM-8, which was in limited supply.
Chain of Command The USS Lexington, Gunnery Division Officer, was his first duty assignment upon graduation from the Academy in June 1939.
Other Memories Then to Anti-Submarine Warfare School, Miami, FL, where he spent three months learning ASW. LTjg Bill was assigned commander of PC-583 (approximately a 200? patrol craft) which ran with the smaller sub chaser, SC, slightly more than 100? long; together these vessels gave yeoman service. He served as Commanding Officer for one year. LT BILL then commissioned and took command of USS O'Neill DE-188.